A New Industry 1900 to 1914
By 1900, Coventry was known as the cycle capital of the world. Times were changing though, and bicycle makers such as Premier, Swift, Rover, Riley, Humber, Singer and Triumph were beginning to experiment with motorcycle and car manufacture. Car firms with a background in bicycle making were able to combine both types of production during the pre-war period, thereby spreading the business risk, and it was these companies who survived the economic slump of 1906-1910.
Only aristocrats could afford models like the 1912 Siddeley-Deasy, which cost £685; more than 100 times the total weekly wage bill at Standard. It soon became clear that to reach a wider market cars would have to be priced more modestly, so lighter, smaller models with engines of less than 1.5 litres were developed.
The results were an instant success. When Standard released a car costing £185, more than 2,000 were sold. But with the Great War just around the corner, everything was about to change.