Some STEVENS CIPHER background
By Professor Anthony Stevens
Back in the early 70’s I was persuaded to stop making other
people rich by creating vehicles for them and start doing it for
myself. So I started making 20’s style Delivery Vans, then Jaguar convertibles
and estate cars and all sorts.
Then in 1978, I decided to fill the void being left by the
demise of the MG Midgets and Triumph Spitfires with a new all-British
sports car. My interest was and is always in high volume, so I talked to
the banks who said they would only support me if I could show them a waiting
list for something similar. The only waiting list was for Morgans, so I
designed a sort of updated retro style, the Stevens Sienna, with Reliant
mechanicals. It got a lot of press attention, but it was not what I wanted to do
and not what was needed. So I then ignored the banks and in 1979 designed and built
the Cipher. This was shown at the 1980 Birmingham International
Motor Show. The Cipher got rave reviews from all the press, and dealers committed
themselves from all over the country and abroad. However despite all
this interest, upon going back to the banks for funding we got
During the motor show, a team from Japan spent most of the show on our
stand. Within 3 months of this visit, they had started a development programme
with mission statement that looked very much like our
press release. To
date, they have sold one million of them,
(think Mazda MX5 Ed) and this shows the viability of the Cipher design.
Bird and George Elliott on the show stand.
It is a great pity as we are still the
most creative nation in the world, in design and many other areas including banking,
but we just don't seem able to join them up to get the national benefits
we deserve. Only 6 or 7 of the original Ciphers survive and at present
most of them are being restored. Hopefully we can get them all together for
an event at Goodwood.
Since the original Cipher there have been many
reincarnations, with potential manufacturers in America, Russia, lndia, and most
recently, Malaysia. The Malaysian Cipher is larger than the original
with front wheel drive, both open and coupe models exist, with Proton /
Mitsubishi power train. There is currently pressure to produce this latest
Cipher, possibly with an electric drive as the Stevens Company is one of the
leaders in this field. We’ll see !!
Prof. Anthony Stevens, 4th June 2013