Some of this country’s outstanding producers of cars have had very close connections with the aviation industry. This is perhaps not surprising considering the extreme limits of accuracy and standards of reliability required for aircraft. You think immediately of Rolls-Royce and Bristol, who are both still making quality cars today. One such manufacturer, no longer in the business of car production, was Armstrong Siddeley, a Company which had developed a reputation for the high quality and finish of their cars.
In 1952 Armstrong Siddeley produced an entirely new model in the form of the Sapphire 346. This vehicle was of considerable note, partly helped by being the only completely new British car at the Earls Court Motor Show that year, and much was written about it at the time.
One of the reasons that the car was of particular interest was its six-cylinder 3,435 cc engine. Being of entirely new design throughout and described by the motoring press at the time as outstanding, it gave a particularly refined driving experience for the period.
The front suspension was independent coil springs with a rigid axle and leaf springs at the rear. The body was available as a four- or six-light (two or three windows on each side) at the same cost and with either a bench or individual front seats.
The upholstery was beautifully trimmed in leather and that air of refinement which only wood can give was achieved by the use of burr-walnut for the attractively designed fascia and window fillets.
It was introduced with the choice of a Wilson electrically-controlled finger-tip four-speed pre-selector gearbox as a £30 option or four-speed synchromesh gearbox. It also became available with an automatic transmission, shared with Rolls-Royce, upon the introduction of the revised model (Mark 2) in 1954. By the time production finished in 1958, 7,697 examples had been assembled.
You will notice that the front doors do not open in the same way as you are used to. Wedding photographers tell us that this is a real bonus as it enables them to take much better pictures of the happy couple in the rear of the vehicle.
The Green Lady, like The Count, is a Mark 2 Sapphire 346. She was supplied by Pass & Joyce, the London distributors for Armstrong Siddeley Motors Ltd., to Mr L H Bennett of Woking and registered 509 APC, a Surrey registration, on 28 March 1956. The car then disappeared and her history up to 1973 is unknown. We are unaware therefore how many hands she has passed through over the years but since 1973 there have been only 3 owners, including ourselves.
She is also a six light model with automatic gearbox. In fact, apart from the colour The Count and The Green Lady are pretty much identical.
Like the Count, The Green Lady does not carry her original colour scheme. The body was originally painted Corinthian Green over Langham Grey. The lower colour was changed at some stage prior to 1973 in favour of the Ivory that she now wears. She also benefits from a lovely Leaf Green leather interior.
In addition to weddings we have been proud to take The Green Lady to a number of classic car shows where we have frequently received comments regarding her condition and imposing looks of luxury from a bygone age.
The previous owner of The Green Lady had lovingly cherished her for 21 years and she came to us with a comprehensive history file confirming her recorded 58,000 miles from new as genuine. Her one claim to fame is that she appeared in an episode of the Antiques Roadshow filmed at Ascot Races.
Our policy is to have a rolling programme of maintenance and preventative care for all our vehicles to ensure that they remain at the highest possible standard of condition and reliability. Pursuant to that policy, The Green Lady has undergone over £2000 worth of mechanical work this winter (2016/17). In addition to routine servicing this has included braking system overhaul, new battery and a full set of new tyres.