The British auto industry is one of the oldest globally and is renowned for its luxury vehicles. The second area in which she also excelled in the production of quality motorcycles. Its rise took place in the early thirties of the last century. Developing this type of industry in constant competition with world leaders in this field, British manufacturers have relied on vintage models. This trend has become especially popular among collectors of motor vehicles and representatives of the richest families in the world. They, with the acquisition of such models, indulged their lofty aesthetic tastes.
During the general industrial recession in Europe from 1939 to 1945, the UK motorcycle industry endured with dignity. And already in the fifties, she reached the pre-war level. Even though British motor sportsmen lost their laurels to Italians in the sixties, the production of two and three-wheeled cars only increased, giving rise to the first famous British brands on the world stage – Triumph Bonneville and Ariel Square Four. In the 70s, some of the famous British brands have become a thing of the past. However, even today, many of the representatives of this trend have remained and continued their legendary march.
In 1946, the British motorcycle brand Ambassador was born, founded by British racing driver Kaye Don, champion of the twenties. Light motorcycles became the basis of production. The company existed until 1963, headquartered in Ascot, Berkshire when it was taken over by rival DMW. It closed in 1965. In 2016, an attempt was made to reform the brand – the 2017 Ambassador Supreme was released in a vintage “cafe racer.” In 2021, the Ambassador 400 “saw the light” in a classic design.
The brand logo is presented in two versions, the use of which depends on the location. The first is the text version. It was the brand name in gold with dark edging on each letter. The second is the capital letter of the name and several important elements that forever define the style and visual identity of the brand – the spread wings and the royal crown. The wings symbolized movement, speed, and the feeling of flight that riding the brand’s motorcycles gave. The crown is a tribute to the heraldry of the past. But its presence, together with the color of gold, demonstrated the presence of a claim to royal status among the manufacturers of this type of transport.
The oldest British brand, Ariel, has been known to cycling enthusiasts since 1870. During this time, founders James Starley and William Hillman began assembling penny-farthing bicycles with 48-inch wheels. In 1902, a motorcycle with a Kerry engine was released. Pioneering in many ways, the company never became the largest in British motorcycle history. Her notable products include SuperSport, Red Hunter, HF 4, and Arrow. The brand ceased to exist in the seventies of the last century.
The brand name of the model line was simple and laconic – the correct oval, which contains the name in lowercase letters. It was used on all signs and emblems of the Ariel technique. The most common variant was a circle with a thin black edging and several circles inscribed in succession to decrease the diameter. The first is yellow, the other four are red, separated by a black edging. The interior space had a stylized image of a radiator, nine stripes of which were inscribed along the radius of the third red circle in yellow-black. On top of it, there was an oval with the brand’s name in the center of the entire emblem. The text was executed in the same yellow, characteristic of the entire symbol, on a black field, as the edging of the oval.
The world-famous brand of British motorcycles, Brough Superior, began its history in the 19th year of the last century. Its first flagship model, the SS100, appeared in 1924. Unlike mass manufacturers of the same type of machines, the son of the founder of the company, George Brough, relied on the individual production of each new motorcycle according to the requirements of customers. These were Rolls-Royces on two wheels in terms of production and price. However, the beginning of the war led to the mandatory reorientation of production for military needs. Upon completion, the brand never recovered its previous production.
The brand’s emblem was also distinguished by its exclusive design. Having practically excluded graphic elements from their symbolism, except for the oval, which appears in one of the versions, the creators of the logo directed all their creativity to the development of the text. The name of the brand – Brough Superior, becomes its main and unique emblem. The typeface has become a central element that can be easily connected to various advertising schemes and perfectly with any design. The connection of Q and S provides a very effective visual symmetry, allowing the logo to be considered an option not tied to the traditional “top” or “bottom.”
The beginning of the history of the BSA company is considered to be 1863 when the production of weapons began in Birmingham. It will become a motorcycle brand in 1910 with the release of the first motorcycle. During the First and Second World Wars, the company actively specialized in producing two-wheeled vehicles for the UK Department of Defense. However, in the 50-the 60s of the last century, mistakes in marketing led to a drop in demand for outdated models in the absence of new developments. In 1973, the company was taken over by Norton-Villiers.
The brand’s logo was characterized by the conciseness and conciseness that has characterized many brands in this area. One of its elements was the wing, an element widely used by auto and motorcycle manufacturers. The logo itself was an abbreviation of the company, executed in large lowercase letters and, placed under it, the word MOTORCYCLES in a smaller font, aligned with the extreme letter of the logo. The font is sloped to the right, symbolizing acceleration and aspiration. The letter “B” has a wing emanating from the top and its line, the image of which created the illusion of the action of the wind at high speed. The sign was made in bright red to enhance its impact, simplicity of perception, and memorability.
It is the oldest motorcycle brand, founded in 1919 by Gordon Francis and Arthur Barnett. The first models of the brand were presented by motorcycles equipped with two-stroke engines from Villiers and AMC. Their volume was 125 cubic meters. The company’s office was located at Lower Ford Street, Coventry, England. Their Cruiser was the first motorcycle to offer rider protection from dirt and oil. 1947 saw the takeover of the more successful Associated Motor Cycles. But in 1966, they announced their closure. The first models of the brand were presented by motorcycles equipped with two-stroke engines from Villiers and AMC. Their volume was 125 cubic meters. The company office was located at Lower Ford Street, Coventry, England. Their Cruiser was the first motorcycle to offer rider protection from dirt and oil. 1947 saw the takeover of the more successful Associated Motor Cycles. But in 1966, they announced their closure.
Today, an attempt is being made to revive Francis Barnett under their brand, creating equipment equipped with the latest components and assemblies. At the same time, the classic color scheme of the emblem is preserved – warm bronze, which added aristocracy and luxury to the brand in combination with black. The company logo was a name with a unifying arc that enclosed the text at the bottom. Its modern design has acquired the shape of a circle within a circle, whose circles are made in the color of warm bronze. The field between the large and small circles is filled with black. The central one is in burgundy color, on which the bronze monogram of the company is placed, consisting of the first two letters of the name ¬ “F” and “B,” united by a semicircular arc.
1899 is the year that the world’s oldest English brand Matchless began installing motors on its bicycles. Founded in 1878 as bicycle manufacturer Henry Herbert Collier, the company was headquartered in London. Their first production model appeared in 1901. And after four years, production launched the first two-cylinder version. The Silver Hawk, the world’s first dry-sump V4, brought historic fame to the company, which ended in 1966. Les Harris’ attempt to revive the brand in 1987 was unsuccessful.
The brand’s logo was one of the first to use the winged symbol on its products. They were located on both sides in the upper part of the brand sign – the letter “M,” executed on a dark red background of a small circle, which covered two semicircles. The wings had a stylized heraldic design and went beyond the circle. The semantic meaning put into the logo was supposed to convey the essence of the brand’s existence – the creation of two-wheeled vehicles (two rims) and the provision of high speed, flight – wings. The red color contrasted very effectively with the metal of the badge and rims, making the emblem especially memorable.
The company was founded by Lansdowne Norton in the late 19th century, like most of the oldest British motorcycle businesses. His first motorcycle was released in 1902. The line of produced light motorcycles under this brand was distinguished by the greatest popularity, the best indicators of speed and handling. And also, their design was considered especially sexy. The Norton Commando, produced from 1969 to 1977, was the world’s first superbike and the best of all. The subsequent change of several owners led to the closure of the company in 1995.
The company’s classic logo was the name of the brand, executed in Gothic script with monograms. The spirit of the Middle Ages was enhanced by the separation of the upper end of the leg of the letter “N” in an ornate design. The letters “O,” made in the form of screw heads with slots tilted to the left, created an original dissonance of visual perception. Outgoing from the upper part of the second leg of the letter “N,” a curving line encompassed the entire text and ended at the bottom between the last two letters. Monochrome design implied the possibility of using the emblem, both in metal design and bronze, gold, or silver paint.
Famous in the fifties of the last century, motocross and scrambling athletes, brothers Don and Derek Rickman, decided to express their dissatisfaction with the quality of the British motorcycle industry by creating a car that, in their opinion, would reflect all the expectations of real bikers. In 1959, their model, equipped with a new racing frame, conquered not only the championship but also motorcycle enthusiasts worldwide. But in 1980, the brothers sold their assets and closed the business. But in 1982, Pat French acquired the rights to the brand. In the crisis 90s, he teamed up with the enthusiast Gerry Lisi, which allowed the production of the legendary Rickman to survive to this day.
For the entire period of the brand’s existence, it practically did not change its logo. Her background – closer to light olive – was the color of the Rickman brothers’ uniform. The absence of various additional graphic elements, except for the frame with arched upper and lower parts, did not distract the viewer from the integral visual perception of the title. The font had an individual graphic design. The roundness of the letters suggested the shape of the race track. The font style characteristic of the mid-50s has been retained to this day.
Founded in 1901, Royal Enfield launched its first motorcycle the very next year. But after two years, the passion for cars led to a reorientation of production. However, there was no success in this area, and in 1910 motorcycle production resumed. The brand successfully presented its equipment in the 30s of the last century. During the war, he created lightweight airborne motorcycles. But the post-war difficulties and stagnation of the fifties led to the sale of the company to the Indian Madras Motors, where in Chennai, continuing the brand’s history.
The emblem is made in an original combination of a poisonous bright red-orange font color and elements that soften their outlines’ warm, deep, light yellow color. The sign is inscribed in a circle and represents the first letter of the name with wings on both sides. The name of the company is made in a modified Medin Medin typeface, with original transitions symbolizing the bends of the tracks – the leg of the letter “R” smoothly forms the letter “O.” The bottom line of the letter “E” with a bend overlaps the leg “N,” like another level of the track. Combining two letters, “L” and “D,” in a single connection, enhances this impression. The general visual perception refers the viewer to the smooth curves and beauty of the forms of the brand’s products.
Triumph brand is very serious and strict in the appearance of its logo and design forms of motorcycles. Since 1937, the brand has been producing some of the most elegant models globally, which will keep this palm until the stylish “Japanese” emerge. In the sixties, the brand became part of the BSA, which already collapsed by 1972. The history of Triumph could have ended in 1983, when the company, already owned by the company’s workers under its new name Meriden Co-Op, announced its closure, becoming a victim of creditors. However, the enterprising John Bloor, a brand lover, gradually bought up all the remnants of the enterprise and the right to the brand, and in 1991 released two lines of triple motorcycles.
Tracking the history of the development of British brands, you can see a lot of similarities in the formation of their emblems. The Triumph logo has a basic element for all types of its signs – a text name. Its accent element is the lower arch, which is found in other motorcycle manufacturers in one form or another. It connects the leg of the “R” and returns as a continuation of the middle line of the last letter of the name “H.”
Founded in 1905 by John Goodman (Gutgemann) and William Gue originally as Taylor, Gue Ltd., the company, which later became the well-known British motorcycle brand Velocette Motorcycles, mastered the production of the first Veloce motorcycles. Their name became branded within a year, creating the reason for its renaming to Veloce Ltd. In 1913, a radically new model was released, called the Velocette. It was so successful that it overshadowed the name of the manufacturer itself. The result was the need to change the brand name again in favor of Velocette Motorcycles. Roadster racing models became the backbone of the brand’s production until the early 50s. The beginning of the production depression of the 60s led to the closure of the brand in 1970.
An interesting solution was the original executed logo of the brand. Traditionally, he represented the full name of the company – Velocette. Stylishness and memorability were its important advantages. Made in the form of a handwritten uppercase font in gold or bronze, it gave the impression of aristocracy and luxury. After the signature, the final monogram, in the form of a stroke, seemed to certify quality, stability, and high technical characteristics.
The history of the British brand Vincent begins in 1917 in a German prison, where the future founder Howard Raymond Davis, a pilot of the British Air Force in the First World War, ended up. At the end of the war, with EJ Massey, he assembled several models under the company name HRD. But the crisis of 1928 led to the sale of the brand with all its capacities to Ernest Humphries of OK-Supreme Motors, who immediately resells it along with the blueprints and new designs of Phil Vincent. From that moment, Vincent HRD Co., Ltd. appeared, with the TM “Vincent,” from the logo of which the HRD mark was excluded in 1949. The brand closed in 1955.
Her logo is very memorable and original. Perhaps because Phil Vincent was American. The badge is completely different from the traditional British emblems. Made in the form of a ribbon curved along an arc with rounded edges, like those of old scrolls, on its main field, made in gold, it showed the name of the brand – Vincent. It was made in pure white with black edging for each letter. The font was simple, without any additional elements, monograms, or curls. With its bend, it repeated the shape of the ribbon. Above this name, the preposition “THE” was inscribed in small print in black as a tribute to the English language rules.