Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 3rd January 2018

There was a time when British car manufacturers were all over the world. At the start of the 20th century they dominated the market and expanded at a rapid rate. But as other marques developed, some British brands weren’t able to keep up. They declined until they went out of business. Here are five British classic car brands that became extinct.


Yorkshire based Jowett Cars was founded in 1901 by William Jowett and Arthur V Lamb. The company wanted to produce a low weight vehicle at an affordable price. They developed a prototype in 1906 that became the UK’s first real light car. The 816 cc flat twin water-cooled engine was made out of aluminium.

Noteable vehicles from the company included the streamlined Jowett Javelin and Jowett Blackbird. Due to export sales collapsing, Jowett Cars shut down in 1954.


Founded in 1901, Wolseley specialised in making luxury cars. Wolseley was Britain’s biggest motor manufacturer during 1920s, creating 12,000 cars in 1921. Company owners Henry Austin and the Vickers brothers had an eye for business, which helped the Wolseley become successful.

However, over-expansion led to Wolseley being bought out by William Morris in 1927. Under Morris’ control, Wolseley went through a period of transition. After WW2, it merged with BMC, BMH and British Leyland. By 1975, the brand had become defunct.


Riley was founded in 1890 by William Riley Jr and started out as a cycle company. Riley’s son Percy started creating cars and a separate marque called Riley Engine Company was established in 1903. During the 1920s and 1930s, Riley expanded quickly, producing four, six and eight-cylinder engines. Some of their most impressive cars included the Kestrel, Falcon and Alpine. Eventually, Riley merged with BMW and production stopped in 1969.


Daimler is one of the most famous car marques in history. Founded in 1896, Daimler established itself as a luxury vehicle manufacturer. It received a Royal Warrant in 1902 and started producing cars for the British monarchy. This lasted until the 1950s when Rolls-Royce became the official motor suppliers for the crown.

Daimler have produced a number of memorable cars, like the SP250 Dart. Jaguar bought the name in the 1960s until it passed on to Ford in 1989. The name officially went out of circulation in 2007, though it’s currently owned by Tata.


Jensen Motors was founded by Alan and Richard Jensen in 1934. Originally, it provided bodies to other marques like Austin and Ford. Jensen soon produced its own vehicles, such as the luxury 1946 Jensen PW. One of the brand’s most popular cars was the 1966 Jensen Interceptor. Jensen stopped producing cars in 1976, only to be revived in 2001. The revival was short lived and production halted again in 2002.

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