1904 Vulcan two seater
Brothers Thomas and Joseph Hampson trading as Vulcan Motor Manufacturing and Trading built the first Vulcan car which was a 4 hp single cylinder belt driven type in 1902. In 1903 this grew to 6.5 hp and the chassis was now “armoured ash”. Twin cylinder 1.5 litre models followed in 1904 now with steel chassis and in 1905 2 then 3 litre four-cylinder types appeared and the company moved from Yellow House Lane to Hawesside Street both in Southport. Things kept growing and a van version of the twin came in 1906 along with large 4.8 litre 6 cylinder models and a move to even larger premises at Crossens, Southport with a change of company name to Vulcan Motor and Engineering. The six-cylinder model grew to 6 litres in 1908. In 1912 a new small car, the 10/12 of 1.8 litres with two cylinder Aster engine was added, the first use of a bought in engine.
At the outbreak of World War 1 the ranges consisted of the 2.4 litre four-cylinder 10/15, the 2.6 litre 15.9, the 3 litre 15/20 and the last of the old sixes, the 25/30. As a sign of things to come a 30 cwt truck was also offered. During the war the factory concentrated on munitions. In 1916 the Hampson brothers left the company and it was reformed as Vulcan Motor Engineering (1916) under the control of C.B. Wardman.
In 1918 the company bought Southport F.C which was renamed Southport Vulcan – becoming the first club to take a sponsor’s name.
In 1919 Harper Bean acquired 75% of the company under a complex cash and shares deal and went into the British Motor Trading Corporation with the intention Vulcan be responsible for commercial vehicles; nevertheless, car production continued.
With peace the first new launch was the 16 with 2.6 litre Dorman engine. The cars now had a flat radiator replacing the pre-war “bullnose” type. There was also a nominal 12 model which became the main product between 1920 and 1927, which was available with a range of engines from Dorman (1.8 litre), Meadows (1.5 litre), and British Anzani (1.5 litre). The model was also sold as the Lea Francis Kirkstone as from 1922 the companies shared some manufacturing and a dealer network. The 20 available from 1920 to 1922 with 3.3 litre Vulcan engine and from 1923 to 1925 with 3.7 litres shared mechanical components with the 1 1/2 and 2 ton trucks. The final car was the 14/40 (1927-28) and 16/60 (1928-29) with their own design twin camshaft six of 1.7 and 2 litres.
During 1924, Hermann Riesler invented the first automatic transmission, which had two-speed planetary gearbox, torque converter, and lockup clutch; it never entered production. (The less-sophisticated Hydra-Matic, which used a simple fluid coupling, would only become an available option on Olsmobiles in 1940.)
Financial problems came in 1928 and C. B. Wardman resigned and officially no more cars came from Southport but some badged as Lea-Francis may have been made. From 1930 production was solely of trucks and buses.