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British Industrial History

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Excelsior Motor Co

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August 1923
May 1925.
June 1930.
November 1935. Manxman.
1946. Excelsior Welbike folded in Parachute Container.
1946. Excelsior Welbike.
May 1952
1953. Excelsior Consort. Reg No: ODD 716.
1953. Excelsior Consort. Reg No: ODD 716.
1955. Excelsior Consort. 98cc. Reg No: USJ 540.
1955. Excelsior Road Master R4. 197cc. Reg No: 23 EWO.
1955. Excelsior Road Master R4. 197cc. Reg No: 23 EWO.
November 1955. Consort and Talisman.
Reg No. SDV 155.
November 1956
May 1957.
September 1957. 328cc Super Talisman Twin.
November 1958. 328cc Super Talisman Twin.
March 1959.
1960. Talisman.
Reg No: SAO 581.

Excelsior Motor Company Ltd of King's Road, Tyseley, Birmingham was an automobile manufacturer and a successor of (Britain's first) motorcycle manufacturer.


1874 Bayliss, Thomas and Slaughter were part of the Coventry cycle industry, established as a cycle manufacturer in 1874, using the brand name Excelsior. Initially they had premises at 287-295 Stoney Stanton Road, Hillfields, Coventry, Warwickshire, and were one of the earliest manufacturers of Penny-Farthing bicycles.

By 1882 the company name had been changed to Bayliss, Thomas and Co

1896-1965 Excelsior motorcycles were built between 1896 and 1965, originally by Bayliss, Thomas and Company.

1919/20 Bayliss, Thomas and Co was taken over by R. Walker and Sons and moved to King's Road, Tyseley, Birmingham

Excelsior Motor Company

1921 The firm moved to Kings Road, Tyseley, Birmingham, and started to trade as the Excelsior Motor Co. The Walker family (father Reginald Walker and his son Eric Walker) took over and after a couple of years, they dropped the original name of Bayliss, Thomas and Co

1923 More models were added to the range, using engines by Blackburne, Villiers and Bradshaw. These were used on a wide variety of bikes from sidecar to TT models.

1924 The company produced a 600cc side-valve single. Two more models were added with a 545cc Blackburne engine, one for sidecar work and the other a TT model.

1925 Villiers 172cc, Blackburne 249cc and Bradshaw 349cc engines joined the list, but the twins were dropped.

1926 The range was smaller, but included a 346cc ohv JAP model.

1927 A 490cc model was added to the range, when engines were either Villiers or JAP

1928 This continued with the addition of just one two-stroke of 247cc.

1929 Other models were added to the list. Their first major racing success occurred that year, when they took the Lightweight TT race on a B14, soon to be their most popular model.

1930 The range had become very extensive, ranging from a 147cc Villiers machine to a 490cc JAP

1931 Even more models appeared, including the Universal, powered by a 98cc Villiers engine and priced at fourteen guineas - the lowest of all.

1932 More variations with Villiers or JAP engines appeared.

1933 The company had always supported the TT and, for that year's 'Lightweight', produced a winning motorcycle with a special Blackburne engine known as the Mechanical Marvel - so called because of four radial valves opened by twin high-camshafts using push-rods and rockers, twin carburetors and dry-sump lubrication.

1935 The four-valve 250cc Manxman was released, later produced in 350cc and 500cc sizes, as well as a 250cc model with a fully-enclosed, water-cooled engine.

1937 They made a 98cc Autobyke, the forerunner of modern mopeds, and built a 98cc Sprite for Corgi.

1939 Trading at Tyseley, maker of motor bicycles and Autobyks[1]

WWII The firm built the Welbike, which eventually became the post-war Corgi. The Welbike was a small British single-seat motorcycle devised during World War II at Station IX - the Inter Services Research Bureau - based at Welwyn, UK, for use by SOE (Special Operations Executive). Subsequently it was not much used by SOE, but many were issued to the Parachute Regiment and used at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden. It was designed by the pseudonymous John Dolphin and powered by a Villiers 98 cm3 single-cylinder two-stroke petrol engine and was designed to fit into a standard parachute airdrop container. 3,853 units were build between 1942 and 1945.

  • Engine - 98cc, two stroke, petrol lubricated
  • Suspension - none
  • Gearbox - single speed
  • Wheels - 10 in, 20 psi front, 35 psi rear
  • Fuel Consumption - 45mpg

In the lean years following the Second World War, racing and luxury machines were sidelined in favour of relatively inexpensive two-strokes, the flagship being the Talisman twin, powered by a 243cc four-speed Villiers engine. Their best seller in this period was the Consort, achieving a peak production of 10,000 units annually.

1949 They produced the Talisman, a smooth two-stroke with 180-degree crank. A later, 328cc twin-carb sports version did not sell well.

1950 The Talisman Twin added, with a 243cc Excelsior two-stroke engine, in a plunger frame also used by other models.

1950 Became a public company.

1952 A Sports version was added.

1953 The Universal was replaced by the Courier with a 147cc Excelsior engine. Another new model was the Consort with a 99cc Villiers 4F engine in basic cycle parts.

1954 In came the Roadmaster with an 8E engine and pivoted-fork rear suspension, which also went on the twins.

1957 Saw the introduction of the Skutabyk, with side panels and a fully enclosed engine unit. The range continued to grow until the end of the decade, then sales began to slow.

1959 The company released the Monarch, a re-badged DKR scooter with an Excelsior 147cc engine.

1959 The company formed a marine division[2]

1961 Employed 350 persons. Manufacturers of auto and motor-cycles with engines from 98-238 cc; the 492 cc three-cylinder two-stroke Talisman engine for light cars; Pyramid electric trucks and Walker motor-cycle accessories. Trade names are Autobyk, Roadmaster, Universal, Skutabyke, Consort and Condor.

1960s The Monarch scooter had new bodywork and more variants, but this had little effect on sales and the range, including the Monarch, was reduced. Even the production of purchase tax exempt models in kit form failed to revive interest.

1961 Receiver appointed. The only potential purchaser who made an offer was Mr O. A. Proctor[3]

1963 The range was reduced to two models with Villiers engines.

1963 As part of a reorganisation the Britax safety belt business was injected into the company; this led to a substantial turn-around in its commercial fortunes; the company's mechanism for safety belts had been accepted in Germany and Sweden[4]

1965 Both the motorcycle models had gone; the Excelsior marque came to an end and the name passed to the Britax organization.

1966 Acquired Notek Electric Co, maker of car spot and fog lights[5]

c.1966 Acquired P. M. G. Thorpe; already owned Britax (London) and Proctor Industries; O. A. Proctor was chairman; the new legislation was expected to boost demand for car safety belts and the factory had been extended to double capacity; sales of automatic belts were rising as was demand for control cables[6]

c.1968 Name changed to Britax Excelsior Ltd[7]

List of Models


  • Note: Other products of the post-war era included outboard motors and marine engine gearboxes, and Villiers-powered industrial trolleys. Berkeley SE328 and T60 Sports Cars also used Excelsior Villiers engines.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times Apr. 14, 1939
  2. The Times Nov. 18, 1959
  3. The Times Oct. 24, 1961
  4. The Times Jan. 24, 1964
  5. The Times June 15, 1966
  6. The Times Jan. 11, 1968
  7. The Times Jan. 8, 1969