Names to Know – Triumph’s Sir John Black


Sir John Black 1895-1965

More so than any other individual, Sir John Black had the greatest influence on Triumph in the postwar era. Born in 1895 in Surrey, his nascent legal career was derailed by World War I during which he first served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve before transferring to the Royal Tank Regiment serving as a Captain (one of the youngest ever) on the Western Front.

Black and Harry Ferguson discuss the future

Black and Harry Ferguson discuss the future

He joined the growing automotive industry and took a management job with Hillman in 1921. He later became a Managing Director and after Hillman joined the Rootes group joined the Standard Motor Company becoming the Managing Director in 1933.

With a mercurial personality and often difficult to deal with, Black was nonetheless well respected and considered a fair man by his peers. He was active during World War II in manufacturing and knighted by the King for his efforts. In 1944, he purchased Triumph from Ward’s and soon announced that a new range of cars would debut after the war.

Standard Vanguard

Standard Vanguard

Under his watch came the Standard Vanguard and his decision to team with Harry Ferguson on tractor production would have great consequences on the later Triumph sports cars. Rebuffed in his efforts to purchase Morgan he was the impetus behind the TR2 and the TR range of cars would establish the company’s; reputation for all time. An injury he suffered in 1953 while driving in a Swallow Doretti allowed the board of directors to oust him and he was replaced by Alick Dick. Criticized for his largesse, manner and dictatorial style, Black would be the man most responsible for the postwar success of Triumph. He died on Christmas Eve in 1965 at the age of 70.

By Johnny Oversteer



'Names to Know – Triumph’s Sir John Black' have 2 comments

  1. September 18, 2015 @ 10:36 am David Cochran

    Thanks for the story on Sir John Black. Without his vision that a market existed in the US for a European sports car (especially for returning servicemen after the war) and his insistence on making this happen, we would never have had “Triumph” as we did. Even his foresight to buy the name back was visionary. I thought that your article should have emphasized that his major contribution was his VISION and his relentless pursuit which is historically, a formula for success. Especially thankful are all of us who love Triumphs today! Thanks of doing the article!


  2. October 2, 2018 @ 4:06 am John Fiddes

    …my (possible) connection to Sir John Black is via a 1951(?) Daimler Consort i bought off a bomb-site dealer in Hackney in the late 1960’s…it was i believe a Hooper body in well polished black (through the enamel in places) and its registration number was 3824D…i paid 70.00 for it and had it for about 2 years as a weekend car…memory may play me false after all these years but i am sure either Daimler Triumph’s or Sir John Black’s name was in the log book…to my shame i ran the ends on the engine due to insufficient maintenance and eventually sold it for 25 quid…what would the number plate alone be worth now i would rather not think…anyway i’ve always felt a bit guilty about neglecting the old girl and wonder if she did by some miracle survive?


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