There have been a variety of noteworthy British car manufacturers through the years. Some have come, while others have faded. For a time, one of the most promising brands was Trojan, which specialised in creating light automobiles. The company became known for building unusual vehicles like bubble cars and we’re charting Trojan’s history.
Trojan was founded by Leslie Hayward Hounsfield, who set up a small workshop in Clapham. He had the idea to make an economical, easy to drive car and began work in 1910. The prototype was finished in 1913. It came with a two-stroke engine with four cylinders arranged in pairs, a V-shaped connecting rod and solid tyres.
Around the time the company became Trojan Ltd, WW1 broke out and the car couldn’t be produced. The first series of cars came out in 1920 and the production versions were displayed at the 1922 London Motor Show. Trojan reached an agreement with Leyland Motors to produce the cars at their factory in Kingston upon Thames.
During this partnership, Trojan developed the Utility Car that came with a striking design. Instead of a chassis the car had a punt shaped tray which featured the engine and transmission beneath the seats. The car was started by pulling a lever on the right of the driver.
Trojan pushed to show how economical the car was by coming up with the slogan ‘Can you afford to walk?’ The company calculated that over 200 miles that it’d cost more in socks and shoes than to cover the distance in a Trojan.
Bubble cars and beyond
The partnership between Trojan and Leyland ended in the 1930s, so Hounsfield took over production back in Croydon. A new model called the RE was developed, capable of reaching 45 mph. Only 250 were sold and the next model to be made was the 1934 Wayfarer.
Hounsfield left the company to set up a new venture, which involved making ‘Safari’ camp beds. Trojan continued to make vans until WW2 broke out.
In the 1960s, Trojan was bought by Peter Agg, with the company entering the bubble car market. Trojan built and sold Heinkel bubble cars under licence, billing them as the Trojan 200.
In 1962, Trojan gained the rights to build the Elva Courier sports car. By 1965, the company had gone into liquidation, via ‘voluntary strike off.’ This put an end to a company that had produced some memorable cars.