The history of the company begins in 1897 and is connected with the beginning of The Lancashire Steam Motor Company in the city of Leyland in the north-west of England. It was then that the first developments of the company were published - a pair of lawn mowers and a 1.5-ton truck, working on steam. The company received the name Leyland Motors in 1907 after the takeover of the Coulthards company from Preston, where they also built their plant.
The debut of the first passenger car produced by the company took place much later - in 1920. Moreover, its release was the result of a decision by the company's management to start production of more cost-effective models. And the ultimate goal for which it was all started was to create a luxury car that could compete with Rolls-Royce cars. The main role in the creation of the first passenger car was played by the chief engineer of the Leyland company Godfrey Perry Thomas, who was recently a fairly famous racer, and to no one at that time Reid Railton. He received the assignment to design the best passenger car in 1917, and it was indicated that there was no need to spare money for this. Parry Thomas's collaboration with Reid Railton has brought great dividends to the latter. During his time at Leyland Motors, he created several developments that made his name famous. One of the car models was even named Railton after its developer.
The first passenger car produced by Leyland Motors was called the Eight. It was equipped with a 7 liter 8 cylinder engine. For the first time the car hit the general public at the Olympia exhibition held in 1920 in London. At that time in England, it was the first car with an engine of this kind, so a lot of attention was paid to it. It is clear that at the automobile exhibition the company presented not a production car, but only its prototype. However, its estimated price was already known. The chassis on which the car was based, at that time, cost about 2500 pounds. The journalists called this car the "Lion of Olympia". However, by the time the car was on sale, its chassis had dropped significantly in value and cost around £ 1,875. The first production Eight was sold by the company for £ 2,700. And precisely because of such a high cost, despite its advanced parameters, the demand for the car was very low. If we talk about the quality of execution and design features of the first passenger car Leyland Eight, it should be noted that the chassis was made taking into account even the smallest details. The brakes were installed only on the rear wheels and were equipped with vacuum boosters. Thanks to the installation of elliptical springs and a stabilizer on the rear axle, lateral stability of the car was achieved. And the positive camber present on the rear axle ensured good cross-country ability of the car, even on uneven roads. The body of this car was somewhat angular, the radiator was rectangular, and the headlights were round. The first car was designed for 2 people. However, after a while, the company presented an updated version that could accommodate five people in its salon and was positioned as a tourist one. Later, the company released sedan and coupe bodies. The car could reach speeds of up to a maximum of 121 km per hour thanks to the presence of a 145 horsepower engine. But all these remarkable characteristics did not add to the popularity of the car. Only 18 copies of the car were sold. Then, using the Leyland Eight chassis, Parry Thomas created two racing cars. He made the first for himself, the second for the driver J.P. Howie. A little later, in 1922, Perry Thomas leaves the Leyland company and goes to work in Brooklands. Taking as a basis a constructed sports car, he creates a completely new model, which still produces under the Leyland brand. The car, which already had a 200 horsepower engine, was named Leyland Thomas. It was the second and last passenger car produced under the Leyland brand. In 1927, another Leyland Eight car was assembled from the remains of parts, assembled by the Thomson & Taylor company. Although original parts were used to assemble this car, the car body underwent significant changes and differed from the body of previous models. This machine is the only instance of the Leyland Eight that has survived to this day. Having suffered a devastating collapse, trying to create a very powerful passenger car, Leyland still does not lose popularity in the production of trucks and buses.
During World War II, like many other companies, Leyland was engaged in the production of military equipment. In 1955, the production of trucks under the license of Leyland Motors opens in the state of Madras (India) at the Ashok plant. The firm was named Ashok Leyland. Over the years, the company acquired AEC (AIK) and Albion ("Albion"), which are engaged in the production of commercial vehicles. And in the 60s, the Leyland company actively acquires automobile companies: Standard-Triumph, Alvis and Rover. At the same time, Leyland Motors becomes the basis of a new concern, called the British Leyland Motors Corporation (BLMC). However, the ambitious plans of a large automobile concern were again not implemented. Due to certain financial difficulties, a large number of enterprises belonging to the concern and the duplication of products, the concern was nationalized and received the name British Leyland (BL). The British government bought a controlling stake in BL, closing the production of cars under the Leyland brand forever. A division of Leyland Bus & Trucks took over the production of trucks and buses. Later, the rights to manufacture Leyland buses passed to Volvo, although by the end of the 80s most of the range was discontinued. The fate of the Leyland trucks turned out to be more successful. First, the British company and the Dutch DAF merged, the resulting company was named DAF NV. But it did not last long either. The bankruptcy of DAF NV in the mid-90s led to the fact that the rights to manufacture Leyland Trucks were acquired by an American company. The Leyland plant, a division of PACCAR, in the North West of England to date produces about 14,000 trucks a year, about a third of which are sold in the EU, although they no longer bear the Leyland name. Of all the companies at various times engaged in the production of equipment under the Leyland brand, only the Indian company Ashok Leyland still produces trucks, buses and special equipment under the license of the British Leyland. In spite of the fact that some outdated technical solutions of 50 years ago are visible in the produced equipment, all cars and buses are adapted for Indian climatic, road and other specific operating conditions and completely suit not very demanding Indians.