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Scottish motoring – A St. Andrew’s day special.

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Loch Ness. Scotland

With St Andrews day approaching, we thought it was the perfect time to celebrate the motoring industry in Scotland.

Though Scotland is no longer a big player in the world of automobiles, there was a time when some of the most innovative early cars were built and designed in the rolling Scottish highlands.

The names Argyll, Albion, and Arrol-Johnston may not mean much now, but at the start of the 20th century, these car manufacturers were considered among the very best in British motoring, and they were all based in Scotland.

Arrol-Johnston

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A 1904 3 cyclinder Arrol Jonhston car on display in Paris

The first notable Scottish car manufacturer was Arrol-Johnston, producers of the first automobile manufactured in Great Britain and the first off-road vehicle, used by the Egyptian government. Initially they were based in Camalchie, Glasgow, but later moved to Heathhall in Dumfries, where they signed a contract with inventor of the lightbulb, Thomas Edison, to build 50 electric cars, though it is not certain how many went into production. The company closed in 1931 after going into receivership.

Three years after Arrol-Johnston started production they were joined in the market by both Argyll Voiturette and The Albion Motor Company Ltd.

Argyll Voiturette (aka Argyll Motors)

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The popular Argyll Flying FifteenArgyll Voiturette operated out of a factory in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire but later moved to premises in Bridgeton, Glasgow after becoming Scotland’s biggest brand. Their range of cars included the Flying Fifteen and the 12/14 which were regularly sold as taxis. The company closed in 1932, but a new car company which opened in 1976 used the Argyll name, and created a mid-engined sports car, the Argyll GT. Unfortunately the car wasn’t a great success, receiving mixed reviews from the public and costing more than a Porsche 911 at the time. Production of the GT ceased in 1990.

Albion Motors

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The Albion 8

Of these three major manufacturers, Albion are the only company still in operation, albeit as a subsidiary of American Axle and Manufacturing, producing automotive components only. They were based in Scotstoun, Glasgow and in 1951 were taken over by Leyland Motors. They gradually became renowned for their range of bus models, which began to overtake their car production.

Scotland and Motorsport

So what about Scotland’s influence on the modern motoring world? Despite Scotland being left out of the WRC’s race lists, the country still has a strong connection to motorsport, producing Formula One legends Jackie Stewart (aka The Flying Scotsman) and David Coulthard amongst others, and running the annual Scottish Rally Championship (SRC). In addition to this, the popular Scottish Hill Climb Championship makes use of the country’s hilly terrain to bring a new dimension to motorsport.

If all this has got you hungering for a trip to Scotland, you can visit the Scottish Motoring Heritage Centre in Alexandria, Dumbartonshire, home of the aforementioned Argyll motor company, and explore the rich history of Scottish motoring.

We can provide car finance wherever you live in the British Isles, whether it’s in Cornwall’s Lands End or Scotland’s John O’Groats. If you buy your car through one of our approved dealers, we can even have it delivered to your door on one of our very own Creditplus lorries. Apply now to see what finance rate we could offer you!

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