The UK has a long history of car manufacturers, and they aren’t just confined to England. Scotland has a diverse range of marquees, with Argyll being one of the oldest. First started in 1899 by Alex Govan, Argyll enjoyed early success. We’ve decided to look back at the beginning of Argyll and chart their journey up to the modern day.
Originally, Argyll was called the Hozier Engineering Company, due to the factory being situated on Hozier street in Glasgow. Alex Gowan came from a motorcycle background and wanted to expand on his fascination with cars. He started selling and servicing different vehicles like Renaults and De Dions.
Govan wanted to create his own car and he set up the company with W.A Smith. Production of the Argyll started in 1900, with it featuring a De Dion engine. 90 models were produced at the rate of six per week and the Argyll came with Govan’s three-speed gearbox.
In 1901, Govan entered the Argyll into a five-day reliability trial hosted by the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Argyll was the only car to finish without penalty.
The Argyll continued to be a success throughout 1903, 1904 and 1905. Govan believed in the value of competition and raced in as many events as possible.
From Hozier to Argyll
By 1905, the company name had been changed to Argyll to coincide with a new factory opening up on the banks of Loch Lomond. 2500 units were produced per year, which was necessary to keep the factory in business. Govan wasn’t prepared to accept the compromises that mass production entailed. A car with a hand-built engine and 30 coats of paint couldn’t be mass produced. As a result, production targets were never reached.
When Govan died in 1907, the company went into decline. By 1908, Argyll had made a loss of £360,000 and it went into liquidation. This lead to a new firm called Argylls Ltd forming in 1909. Around this time, the famous Argyll ‘Flying Fifteen’ was introduced.
Argyll changed hands in 1914 and the company made its last appearance at the London Motor Show in 1927.
A brief revival
The Argyll name was brought back to Bob Henderson with the intention of creating a new car. He came up with the idea of the 1976 Argyll GT, which came with a turbocharged Rover V8 engine. Production delays stopped the car from being revealed to the public until 1983, but it was poorly built from other manufacturer’s components. For example, it had door handles from a Morris Marina and a Volvo dashboard.
Argyll might not have been able to sustain its success, but it’s still a memorable Scottish car manufacturer.