Locomotive engineer George Johnston turned his attention to internal combustion in 1894, not long after his experimental steam tram had burned. In 1896, George Johnston designed and constructed Scotland's first motorised dogcart style car called the Mo-Car. A company was formed in 1901 called the Mo-Car Syndicate Ltd based in Paisley, to produce it which was headed by Sir William Arrol, an engineer of the Forth Bridge.
In 1905 the name was changed to the Arrol-Johnston Car Company Ltd. The dogcart was propelled with an opposed-twin engine having four pistons; it was high, slow, and started by pulling on a rope through the floorboards; nevertheless, it was built until 1905. That year, the company introduced a 3023 cc 12/15hp model of more modern appearance; this, however, still used an opposed-piston engine. There was also a three-cylinder version of the dogcart; this was an uncouth 16hp with the centre cylinder being of greater bore than the outer two. In 1906 came the 24/30hp vertical four of 4654cc; followed in 1907 by the 38/45hp of 8832cc. The 12/15hp twin survived in production until 1909. This was the year that George Johnston left and T. C. Pullinger (formerly of Darracq, Sunbeam and Humber) joined Arrol-Johnston; he swept out the old range in favour of the new 15·9hp of 2835cc. That model featured a dashboard radiator and four-wheel brakes (the latter were dropped in 1911). For 1912 a 1794 cc 11·9hp, a 3640 cc 20·9 hp and a 3618 cc 23·8hp were introduced.
In 1913 the company moved production from Paisley to Heathhall, Dumfries, where they contracted to build 50 electric cars for Edison but it is not certain how many were actually made. The first post war Arrol-Johnston was the Victory model in 1919 designed by G. W. A. Brown and had an ohc 2651cc 4 cylinder engine. It proved "unsellable and unreliable", and was soon replaced by a modernized version of the 15·9hp. In 1921 the cheaper Galloway was launched as, in theory, a separate make from the Tongland works near Kirkcudbright. The car was based on the Fiat 501 and started with the 10/20 with a 1460cc side valve engine and in 1925 growing to the 1669 cc 12/20 and 12/30. Production moved to Heathhall in 1922. A short-lived 14hp appeared in 1924, only to be replaced the following year by a 12·3hp model. There also was a 4 cylinder 3290cc Empire model manufactured for the colonies.
In 1927 Arrol-Johnston and Aster of Wembley, London, merged; pushrod Arrol-Johnstons of 15/40hp and 17/50hp were manufactured alongside sleeve valve Arrol-Asters. The final model to be produced new was the Straight-8 sleeve-valve Arrol-Aster 23/70hp of 3292cc, which was not enough to keep the company from folding.
The company went into receivership. Production ceased in 1931.
- http://britishmm.co.uk/history.asp?id=65 (Arrol-Johnston)
- http://britishmm.co.uk/history.asp?id=64 (Arrol-Aster)