More recent Argyll history

The Argyll GT

In 1976 the Argyll GT appeared. The new mid-engined sports car was the brainchild of Bob Henderson, a tuning specialist, and Aberdeenshire rallying farmer Andrew Smith.

I must admit some of the liability for the car bearing the Argyll name. Sitting in the farm kitchen, I was nursing a dram with Andrew when he told me about the project and explained they needed a name. “It has to be Argyll,” I proclaimed and went on to explain about the Argyll Motors story and with production to based at Lochgilphead in Argyllshire it seemed utterly logical.
Argyll GT in Grampian Transport Museum
So Argyll it was. The inspiration for the Argyll had come from the Davrian that Andrew rallied. But the Davrian model had grown both in size and also in power. The Argyll GT was an altogether larger machine and the power was due to come from the Rover V8 engine which would be mid-mounted. There was also talk of a smaller Saab-engined version.

The Argyll GT project began in 1976. The car did not appear in its final form until 1983 when Andrew Smith took it out on a few rallies and Argyll also took a stand at the Scottish Motor Show.

Pictured above is that rally prototype.

With an asking price of £30,000 for a car that could not be described as attractive and with Morris Marina doorhandles and Nissan rear lights clearly obvious, buyers were, not surprisingly, lacking and the company disappeared around 1990.

It was a marked contrast to the attractive, well-built and carefully-marketed cars produced by the original Argyll company.

The Argyll Factory

The test track and factory had been sold for a housing development, but the lavish red sandstone frontage of the Argyll factory was left to fall into ruin after Plessey left the building. When my wife and I visited in 1996, the factory was in a sorry state (below) with the magnificent marble staircase smashed.
Argyll Factory in derelict state
Then, in 1997 the building was saved when it was renovated and opened as the Loch Lomond Factory Outlets, Main Street, Alexandria, G83 0UG. The entrance hall and staircase have been restored to their former glory.

The glory days of the Argyll Motors business are recalled in the local street names of Argyll Street and Govan Drive.

Sadly now closed, but for almost ten years the motoring connection lived on in the Motoring Heritage Centre a small, but interesting, motor museum. It showed examples of Argylls, including the 1970s Argyll sports car produced in Lochgilphead. Also exhibited were other cars with Scottish connections, like the Linwood-produced Hillman Imp and the car driven by the late Scottish World Rally Champion Colin McRae.
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