Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) was founded 1861 by a group of 14 gunsmiths of the Birmingham Small Arms Trade Association. BSA was founded to meet the challenge of Royal Small Arms factory at Enfield who started using machines to manufacture arms more efficiently and cheaply.
With demand for small arms reducing , the small arms business was shut down in 1879. In order to utlise the manufacturing facilities , BSA expanded in to manufacture of bicycles. In 1880 the first Di-cycle was manufactured.
BSA was one of the leading bicycle manufacturer till about 1887, when the demand for small arms peaked again. BSA reverted to manufacture of arms for the military.
BSA experimented with Motor cars in 1907 with a Itala design car which won the 1907 Peking - Paris race.
A 1907 BSA car -
In 1908 BSA restarted bicycle production and continued till 1957 , when it was sold to Raleigh cycles. Motorcycles production was started in 1909 and continued till 1973 when it was sold to Norton-Villiers-Triumph.
In 1910 , BSA acquired Daimler Motor Company which was in financial difficulty. BSA started using Daimler engines in their cars as well as re-badged the Daimler cars as BSA cars. In 1932, BSA/Daimler acquired Lanchester Motor Company.
BSA was the first company to introduce a mass produced Front wheel drive car in 1929. The car was a 3 wheeler with 2 front wheels and one rear wheel.
Later BSA carried on the Front wheel design to a 4 Wheeled car and can be considered as pioneers in front wheel drive cars.
One of the most famous BSA cars was the BSA Scout.
A 1935 BSA Scout and a 1938 BSA Scout -
After the WWII , BSA shifted back to Rear wheel drive cars.
Financial troubles at BSA led to Jaguar Cars acquiring BSA in 1960. In between 1966 and 1968 , they were part of BMC (British Motor Corporation) and BMH (British Motor Holdings). In 1968 BSA/Daimler/Lanchester/Jaguar became part of the reorganised and nationalised British Leyland (BL). In 1984, BSA/Daimler/Lanchester along with Jaguar cars became independent of British Leyland. Ford PAG acquired Jaguar cars in 1989 and later sold it off to Tata Motors in 2007.