Humber (car)

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IndustryAutomotive industry
Successor(s)Rootes Group
HeadquartersCoventry, England
Subsidiaries1929–1931 Hillman Motor Car Company
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not to be confused with Hummer.
IndustryAutomotive industry
Successor(s)Rootes Group
HeadquartersCoventry, England
Subsidiaries1929–1931 Hillman Motor Car Company
Humber Marque
CountryUnited Kingdom
Previous owners1868–1931 Humber
1931–1967 Rootes Group
1967–1979 Chrysler

Humber is a dormant British automobile marque which can date its beginnings to Thomas Humber's bicycle company founded in 1868. Following their involvement in Humber through Hillman in 1928 the Rootes brothers[1] acquired a controlling interest and joined the Humber board in 1932 making Humber part of their Rootes Group. The range focused on luxury models, such as the Humber Super Snipe.



Rotary aero engine BR2. Humber Limited
design: W. O. Bentley for Humber
Sopwith F.1 Camel and 7F.1 Snipe; Nieuport B.N.1; Vickers F.B.26A Vampire II. and others

The first car was produced in 1898 and was a three-wheeled tricar with the first conventional four-wheeled car appearing in 1901. The company had factories in Beeston near Nottingham and Coventry. The Beeston factory produced a more expensive range known as Beeston-Humbers but the factory closed in 1908 after financial problems. Before the First World War a wide range of models were produced from the 600 cc Humberette to several six-cylinder 6-litre models. In 1913 Humber was the second largest manufacturer of cars in the United Kingdom. The Humber Motor Works in Coventry still survives—a rare thing as the majority of the city was destroyed in the November 1940 air raid.

In 1925 Humber moved into the production of commercial vehicles with the purchase of Commer. In 1928 Hillman was added but independence ended in 1931 when the Rootes Brothers bought a majority shareholding.

During World War II, several armoured cars were produced under the Humber name, along with heavy-duty "staff" cars.

In the postwar era, Humber's mainstay products included the four-cylinder Hawk and six-cylinder Super Snipe. Being a choice of businessmen and officialdom alike, Humbers gained a reputation for beautifully appointed interiors and build quality. The Hawk and the Super Snipe went through various designs, though all had a "transatlantic" influence. They offered disc brakes and automatic transmission at a time when these fitments were rare. A top-flight model, the Imperial, had these as standard, along with metallic paintwork and other luxury touches. The last of the traditional large Humbers were sold in 1968, when Chrysler, who by then owned the Rootes group, pulled the plug on production. Several V8 models had been in pre-production at this time, and several of these test examples survive today.

Its last car was the second generation of Humber Sceptre, a badge-engineered Rootes Arrow model. The marque was shelved in 1976 when all Hillmans became badged as Chryslers. The Hillman Hunter (another Arrow model) was subsequently badged as a Chrysler until production ceased in 1979 when Chrysler's European division was sold to Peugeot and the marque renamed Talbot. The Talbot marque was abandoned at the end of 1986 on passenger cars, although it was continued on vans for six years afterwards.


Humber produced a number of aircraft and aero-engines in the years before the First World War. In 1909 the company signed a contract to build 40 copies of the Blériot XI monoplane, powered by their own three-cylinder engine,[2] and four aircraft were exhibited at the Aero Show at Olympia in 1910.


Humber Humberette 5 HP Voiturette 1903
Humber 11,4 HP Saloon 1924
1926 Humber 9/20 tourer
Humber 14/40 HP Tourer 1928
Humber 14/40 HP 2-Seater Sports 1929
Humber Heavy Utility 1940
Humber Pullman
1965 Humber Sceptre Mark II

Main models[edit]

Humber catalogue for 1930[edit]

"Such Cars As Even Humber Never Built Before"[3]

9/28Touring Car£240
9/28Fabric Saloon£280
16/50Imperial Touring Car£410
16/50Humber Touring Car£425
16/50Imperial Saloon£435
16/50Humber Saloon£465
16/50Six-Light Weymann Saloon£465
16/50Four-Door Weymann Coupé£475
16/50Drop-Head Coupé£495
20/65DualPurpose Car£475
Humber"Snipe" Touring Car£495
Humber"Snipe" Six-Light Weymann Saloon£535
Humber"Snipe" Saloon£535
Humber"Snipe" Four-Door Weymann Coupé£545
Humber"Snipe" Drop-Head Coupé£565
Humber"Pullman" Landaulette£775
Humber"Pullman" Limousine£775
HumberCabriolet de Ville£1,095
(Coachwork by Thrupp & Maberly)

Surviving cars[edit]

There is a thriving club, and many of these upmarket cars survive today.

The world's largest collection of Humber cars can be viewed at the Marshalls Post-Vintage Humber Car Museum in Hull. It includes 21 Humber cars dating from 1932 to 1970 on permanent display, plus 24 unrestored cars.[4][5]

When Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother visited Western Australia in the 1950s, a Humber was shipped over for her. It was left in a paddock, and was rediscovered and verified in 2002. It has since been restored and is currently privately owned.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "In December 1928 Rootes Limited, the well-known Distributors of Motor Vehicles, acquired an important financial interest in the Company and since then great improvement in the methods of manufacture and sales including the re-equipment of the Works on up-to-date lines, has taken place. In July 1932 a thorough reorganization of the financial structure of the Company was effected, unproductive capital being written off and new capital introduced, and Mr W E Rootes and Mr R C Rootes joined the Board of the Company."
    Humber Limited, prospectus for the issue of preference shares. The Times, Thursday, Feb 07, 1935; pg. 19; Issue 46982; col. F.
  2. ^ "British-Built Engines and Bleriot Monoplanes"Flight 25 September 1909
  3. ^ Display Advertising, Humber Limited The Times, Thursday, Sep 26, 1929; pg. 11; Issue 45318; col E
  4. ^ "BBC News UK Remembering the Humber". 26 April 2000. Retrieved 18 August 2006. 
  5. ^ "". Retrieved 18 August 2006. [dead link]

External links[edit]