John Isaac Thornycroft (1843Ц1928) was the founder of the Thornycroft shipbuilding and Thornycroft lorries company.
Sir John I. The name of Thornycroft holds a pre-eminent position in the heavy motor vehicle industry, but it will he a surprise to many people, even motorists of long standing, to know that the head of the great steam wagon company of Chiswick and Basingstoke designed an automobile as far back as 1860. It is a fact nevertheless, but pressure of work in connection with his very successful inventions in torpedo boat construction necessitated Mr. Thornycroft withdrawing his attention from this subject for many years. The revival of interest in automobilism, however, in 1896 caused him to again direct his attention to the subject, and experimental works were instituted by him at Homefield, Chiswick; later he laid down a large and well-equipped factory at Basingstoke, where for some years past the manufacture of heavy-load steam vehicles, and steam passenger cars, has been undertaken. Very great success as everybody knows, has attended the venture so far, and the Thornycroft wagons are now well known and appreciated all over the world. The honour of knighthood was conferred upon Mr. Thornycroft in 1902. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Doctor of Laws, and a Member of Council of the Inst. Civil Engineers. Sir John, is, with his sons, now engaged in building petrol cars, and it is needless to say that these will be of very first-rate design and construction they will he wholly made by the Thornycroft Company. The military motors that Sir John I. Thornycroft's firm have manufactured have been greatly praised by the Pall Mall authorities, who, in the War Department trials of 1901, awarded these vehicles the first prize
During this period, the British War Department patented a flexible rear suspension for six wheeled lorries which was used by various manufacturers including Thornycroft. It involved upper and lower inverted semi-elliptical leaf springs. The connection from the end of each spring to an axle was fully articulated so that there was no twisting force on the spring leaves. Bushes at this point had a certain amount of side-play so that there were no side forces either, even with an axle at an extreme angle.
With the merger of Leyland Trucks and DAF in 1987, and the resulting closure of Scammell in 1988, Unipower Vehicles Limited bought the manufacturing and support rights for the Scammell S24 range, their rear engined crash tenders, Commander, Contractor, Explorer, Super Constructor, Crusader, LDSS, Thornycroft Nubian Major and Thornycroft Antar models. Unipower Vehicles Limited were subsequently acquired by Alvis Vehicles Limited who were subsequently acquired by BAE Systems. BAE Systems no longer actively market the product range.
The origins of the Amazon can be traced back to WW1, which highlighted a need for a military lorry combining on and off-road capabilities. The off-road performance requirements could be satisfied with a relatively simple transmission, in the form of a rigid six-wheeler with two driven rear axles and a single, undriven, front axle.
Patented by Thornycroft, the A1 RSWТs rear suspension complied with War Office requirements for off-road operation, by ensuring equal weight distribution on all four (rear) driving wheels, and freedom from spring distortion under all conditions of driving and braking and irrespective of the relative movement of the driving axle.
The XB continued with the A3 RSWТs formula, by 1) complying with War Office requirements for RSWs operating off-road, mentioned earlier, 2) using existing components, 3) using both rear axles as driven units and 4) incorporating an additional two-speed auxiliary gearbox with a low ratio for off-road use.
The Mighty Antar was a heavy-duty tractor unit built by Thornycroft from the 1940s onwards. For some decades it was the standard tank transporter of the British Army and was also used by other nations.
The civilian version of the Antar was developed in the late 1940s as an oilfield vehicle for transporting pipes over rough ground. They were of 6x4 layout (i.e. six wheels, four of them driven), with the front (steering) axle undriven and with twin wheels on both driven (rear) axles (technically ten wheels, eight of them driven, as each rear axles has four wheels). The vehicle was designed from the outset for off-road use, like the earlier Scammell Pioneer and unlike the road-going Diamond T it was eventually to replace.
Thornycroft Antar & Big Ben