Swift Ten Swallow Saloon

1931 Swift Ten Swallow Saloon

Like so many other Coventry motor manufacturers, Swift had its roots in the cycle industry, and had built its first car in 1900. Throughout the 1920s, their staple models were 10hp cars with four-cylinder engines of 1100-1190 cc, but they found it increasingly difficult to compete with the mass-produced cars of Austin and Morris, and production was only a few thousand cars per year. Their final model was the cheaper 8hp Cadet introduced in 1930. With a Coventry Climax engine and a centre-change three-speed gearbox, it was designed to compete with the less expensive offerings from Morris, Austin and Ford but it was not enough to save the company and the factory closed in April 1931.

The 10hp P-type with an 1190cc engine was introduced in 1926. It was reliable, but unremarkable in appearance. Costing £220 in 1929, there was little to distinguish a Swift from its less expensive competition. Perhaps for this reason, in 1929 Henlys – the Swift garage – asked William Lyons’s Swallow Coachbuilding company to produce a car using the Swift Chassis.

Swift-Swallow-badgeThe resulting Swift Swallow was introduced at the 1929 London Motor Show and was the company’s first Motor Show appearance, together with the Fiat and Standard chassis Swallows. All these cars had saloon bodies, scaled up from the design offered on the Austin Seven chassis. The Swallow-bodied Fiat 509A and Standard Nine then cost £250, but the Swift was their most expensive model at £275. It was built on the Swift Ten ‘sports’ chassis with wire wheels and was said to be capable of 65mph.

The Swift Swallow was offered in the 1930 and 1931 model years, and it is estimated that some 150 cars of this type were built, until Swift went bankrupt in 1931.

The car shown in the photograph is a 1931 version, distinguished by the central rib to the radiator. Swifts of any kind are very rare today, and this car is the only known survivor of the Swallow version.