Birmingham Small Arms was a large munitions factory which had to find peacetime work whenever wars ended. This included making bicycles in the cycling craze of the 1880s, and motorised bicycles from 1906. They made cars under their own name from 1907, before they made 'proper' motorcycles, and later took over the famous car marques of Daimler and Lanchester. In 1910 they produced a 499cc single cylinder motorcycle, soon joined by a 557cc version. Production switched to armaments during the Great War, after which the two prewar bikes reappeared. A new S27 with a low-slung frame and an inclined engine appeared in 1921, known as the 'sloper'. This design lasted a decade, bringing many competition successes. Other successful BSA designs kept the group afloat in the difficult inter-war period, including the round tank 250. The 500cc Empire Star was the most notable BSA of the 1930s with its distinctive chrome-plated fuel tank and high performance. One lapped Brooklands at over 100mph, being awarded a 'Gold Star', which prompted the name of a new 350 Gold Star model, the most popular civilian BSA for the next quarter century. During the Second World War BSA supplied the Allied Forces with over 126,000 M20 motorcycles, and were still at high production rate when the war ended. BSA bought Triumph from Jack Sangster in 1951, Sangster becoming Chairman of BSA Group in 1956. The iconic Gold Star stayed in production until 1963. In the late 1950s the 500cc A7 and 650cc A10 were added, replaced in 1962 by the 500cc A50 and the 650cc A65. Some poor designs and marketing failures, including the 75cc Beagle, 90cc Dandy scooter and Ariel Three brought the firm down, the last BSA in production being the Rocket Three. BSA was combined into the Norton-Villiers-Triumph project and the venerable BSA name was not seen on any more motorcycles after 1971.
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