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British Motorcycles

Jack Sangster

John Young Sangster (May 29, 1896 - March 26, 1977) was an industrialist who became an important figure in the history of the British motorcycle industry. He is more commonly known as Jack Sangster.

Jack Sangster was born in Kings Norton, Birmingham, the son of Charles Thomas Brock Sangster, an engineer, and was educated at Hurstpierpoint College, Sussex.

After leaving school he began an engineering apprenticeship which was interrupted by the First World War. During the war, Sangster served with the City of Birmingham battalion of the 14th Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

In 1918 Sangster joined the Cycle Components Manufacturing Co, of which his father was managing director. Sangster designed a small low cost car which he began manufacturing. The design of the car was later sold to Rover, with Sangster joining Rover to manage the production of the car which became the Rover Eight model.

In 1923 Sangster returned to his fathers company, and by 1930 was joint managing director with him.

In 1932 Cycle Components went bust, and Sangster bought most of the companies assets from the receivers, to start a new company called Ariel Motors. Sangster rebuilt the company using the wealth of design and engineering talent employed by the company, which included men such as Edward Turner, Val Page and Bert Hopwood.

In 1944 Sangster sold Ariel to the BSA company for a considerable profit.

Sangster seized another business opportunity in 1935 when he bought the bankrupt Triumph Motorcycles company from the receivers. Sangster brought in Edward Turner and Bert Hopwood from Ariel to improve Triumph's product range. The Triumph Speed Twin designed by Turner, with its parallel twin engine was the progenitor of a line of successful Triumph motorbikes that followed.

In 1951, Sangster sold Triumph to BSA for £2.5 million pounds, which was not a bad return on the £50,000 he invested in buying Triumph in 1935.

Sangster joined the board of BSA following their acquisition of Triumph. Sangster became chairman of BSA in 1956, following a series of board room battles which ousted the previous chairman, Sir Bernard Docker. Sangster retired as chairman of BSA in 1961.

Jack Sangster died from cancer on 26 March 1977. Sources: Grace's Guide



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