Preserving the Legacy of Tickford Vehicles

Tickford: A History of Coachbuilding and Engineering

Tickford was originally a UK based automobile coachworks and engineering business emanating from Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, being best known for such products as the 140 mph Tickford Turbo Capri. Starting under the name Salmons & Sons and their Tickford products the firm has an over two century-long history.


Salmons & Sons: The Origins of Tickford

Tickford as a company can trace its roots right back to 1820, when a coachbuilders commenced trading in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire. This company became Salmons in around 1830 and was run from within the grounds of what used to be Tickford Abbey, a medieval monastic house established in 1140 by Fulconius Paganel, the lord of the Manor of Newport Pagnell.

George Salmons with his Sons were originally builders of horse drawn carriages, then on the turn of the century progressed into building very high specification quality bodies for motorised vehicles. In 1925 they announced their Tickford “All Weather” body, a drophead with the hood mechanism operated by inserting and turning a handle in the rear quarter-panel. During the 1930s Salmons built standard catalogued Tickford drophead bodies for various car manufacturers, such as BSA, Daimler, Hillman, Lanchester, MG, Rover, Standard, Triumph, Vauxhall and Wolseley.


Tickford Limited

In 1943, following manager Ian Boswell’s purchase of Salmons & Sons Limited from the last retiring Salmons family, he changed its name to its trademark brand and became Tickford Limited. In January 1955 a sale was announced, this being to David Brown, owner of Aston Martin since 1947 and Lagonda since 1948, both marques having been previously fitted with Tickford bodies. Brown soon moved Aston Martin onto the site at Tickford Street where it remained until final production of the original Vanquish in 2006, when car production ceased and a brand new site at Gaydon was utilised.


Aston Martin Tickford: An Engineering Service Subsidiary.

In 1981, Aston Martin created an engineering service subsidiary and chose the name ‘Aston Martin Tickford’. With the changing fortunes of Aston Martin, the Tickford part moved into a purpose-built facility in Milton Keynes and a production site at Bedworth. In March 1984 it came under the separate ownership of CH Industrials plc, being a former part owner of Aston Martin. Despite carrying out a lot of unseen, “back-room” engineering projects for major  manufacturers, the company gained most publicity from adding engineering and tuning to its coachbuilder roots allowing it to develop special products like the 140 mph, turbocharged Tickford Capri in partnership with Ford. After the Capri, Tickford worked with among others, MG to create the Maestro Turbo and Ford again to create the road-going homologated Sierra Cosworth RS500, plus engineered the road legal version of the RS200 rally car.


Going Global

In 1991, Tickford formed a joint venture with Ford of Australia, called Tickford Vehicle Engineering Pty Ltd (TVE). This was a high-performance car division of Ford in Australia, based in Melbourne, with a great deal of development work emanating from the Milton Keynes headquarters in the UK. TVE produced several models based on the Ford Falcon, such as the XR6, the XR8, and the T series (TE50, TS50, and TL50). The T series was launched in October 1999 under the FTE brand, which stands for Ford Tickford Experience. The T series was a limited edition, with less than 500 units built. The T3 was the final model from Tickford. The company now also had ties to Germany and the USA.


Return to Coachbuilding

In 1996, Tickford closed its production facility at Bedworth and moved all work back to a new site in Milton Keynes with a move away from traditional coachbuilding and embracing new technology like carbon fibre. But in 1999 Tickford made a u turn and won the contract to build the Ford Racing Puma, a road based rally version of the Ford Puma. This car was also a limited edition with only 500 units produced all built in the year 2000. For this project a new facility was created in Daventry.


The Prodrive Era

In 2001, while Tickford was producing the Focus RS for Ford, the entire Tickford Group (UK, Germany, Australia and USA) was acquired by Prodrive, a British motorsport company. Prodrive sold off the USA and Germany interests and in 2002 TVE Australia was also sold to Ford, then re-branded as Ford Performance Vehicles. The Tickford name so heavily associated with performance Fords in Australia was subsequently abandoned.


The Management Buyout

In December 2006, the former UK Tickford management were operating under the name Prodrive Test Technology, and still based at the old Tickford site at Milton Keynes, being a mostly separate entity. They initiated a full management buyout and bought back the Tickford business and the use of the Tickford wings logo from Prodrive. The business was swiftly renamed Tickford Powertrain Test, which reflected the current work of the company, (Tickford Limited was no longer available). The company was now fully independent again, with the main business focusing on engine and vehicle testing requirements for vehicle manufacturers and component companies, as well as catalyst and petroleum industries.  In June 2007, the company acquired Scott Gibbin Ltd, an engine test and development company, then in 2009, that the work was transferred to the Milton Keynes facility.


A New Chapter

Intertek announced that it had bought Tickford Test Technology Limited (Tickford), as an ongoing top vehicle engine testing company on 31 December 2012. Stating Tickford being a privately owned UK company before it was acquired by Intertek from its management shareholders. Once again the name changed on the building and is still run by Intertek to this day.


Return to Oz

In 2014 Tickford returned to Australia.  A group of former Tickford associates purchased the name back from Prodrive and started an independent tuning company, the Ford Mustang being the target car, (now the Falcon had been discontinued). The company has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and has also been quite successful in racing.