Complete restoration of a 1933 Short 20HP
by Andrew Christopherson
Having finished the restoration of a Whitley I was keen to buy another Armstrong Siddeley. I liked the 1930s cars and purchased the 20HP from it’s second owner. The car’s complete history is known as the first owner owned the car until his death in 1978. Remarkably the purchase order survives to this day.
In addition to the preselector gearbox for which AS was renowned, this car was also fitted with the optional fluid flywheel. This meant it could be stopped in gear in the same way a car with automatic gearbox can be today. At the time, in order to protect the local coachwork industry, fully imported cars were subject to high tariffs. This car was imported as a chassis complete with front guards, bonnet etc and the remainder of the body constructed by Creswell of Sydney.
The car was in poor condition, so over the following 4 years a body-off chassis restoration was carried out. Much of the timber frame in the roof had rotted and there was substantial corrosion in the front guards. The chassis frame needed straightening at the rear. The rear doors had been shortened, (the reason for which remains unclear) so the restoration included reinstating the doors to correct length. The rear bumper bars and support brackets were missing altogether so new ones were fabricated. Suspension, brakes and steering were overhauled and subsequent mechanical work has been required to the engine. Finally, a GMH acrylic paint was chosen for the exterior and the interior was re-trimmed and the dash/door caps restored.
With its 3.2 litre engine, I find the car is easy to drive. The sleek, 30s styling always attracts admiring glances. My love affair with this car has resulted in the purchase of other pre-war AS cars!