The 1939 BSA Scout epitomizes the fascinating automotive journey of the Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited (BSA). Originating in 1861 as a gunsmith consortium, BSA transitioned into automobile manufacturing in 1907. Over the next 33 years, the company navigated financial ups and downs, mergers, and numerous attempts at establishing itself in the automotive industry.
In 1912, BSA, alongside Hupmobile in the US, pioneered the use of all-steel bodies, showcasing its commitment to innovation. Fast forward to 1938, and the Series 6 of the BSA Scout introduced a 12-volt electrical system and Bendix cable braking to all four wheels. This model featured front-wheel drive transmission akin to its three-wheeler predecessors but housed a more conventional side-valve, 1,204 cc water-cooled 4-cylinder engine. It marked a departure from the traditional rear-wheel drive layout.
The Great Depression prompted BSA to innovate, introducing front-wheel drive three-wheelers in 1929. These compact vehicles gained popularity due to their affordability. The four-wheeled FW32 and the Scout, introduced in 1935, extended BSA's lineup. The Scout, a sleek two-seater sports car, shared running gear with its counterparts and progressed through four series. However, post-World War II, BSA opted to focus solely on motorcycle production, concluding the era of the Scout.
The Scout, described by Autocar as "undoubtedly one of the best-looking small cars in existence," contributed to BSA's diverse automotive history. As the company shifted gears toward motorcycles, the Scout remains a symbol of BSA's foray into the world of automobiles.