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British Industrial History

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1902 European Light Cars

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Flying Darracqs are handled in England by A. Darracq and Co, Automobilia, 532, Oxford Street, London, W. The Darracq is built on standard light car lines, having the engine in front, and driving by the usual jointed shaft to bevels on the rear live axle. Three speeds and a reverse are provided. The engine is a single cylinder, running at 1,500 revolutions per minute, and giving 9 h.p. A float feed spray carburetter is fitted, also a compression tap, to ease compression at starting. The water tank is under the bonnet, circulation being maintained by a pump. The petrol and oil tank are on the dashboard, facing the driver. Tonneau, Charette, or double phaeton bodies, of aluminium, are fitted, as customers desire. The 9 h.p. Darracq sells at £250; larger cars, with 12 and 16 h.p. engines, are proportionally more expensive.


A car, the appearance of which has been anticipated with keen interest, is the new 6 h.p. De Dion. It was known some months ago that the famous Puteaux firm were engaged on the production of a new pattern, by the completion of which they have added to their already splendid reputation as manufacturers of light motor carriages. We are certain that good business will be done with the new model, which should just hit the popular taste. Our illustration hardly shows the little car to advantage, as it depicts wire wheels, whereas the cars for the English market will have wheels of the better-liked artillery type.

In size and Weight the car is almost identical with the popular 4.5 h.p. De Dion voiturette, of which such very large numbers have been sold, the engine, however, is in front, and is connected to the gear by a universal jointed shaft. The gear itself is on the well-known De Dion-Bouton expanding clutch system, providing two forward and one backward speeds, the changes being made almost silently and without shock or jar. The gears, bevel driving wheels and differential are enclosed in an oil-tight aluminium gear-case, in which all the shafts run on ball bearings. The transmission from the differential to the road wheels is by means of the De Dion patent Cardan axles, the axle driving and revolving with the road wheels, but the latter being able to rise and fall in accordance with the inequalities of the road without lifting the frame of the car. The driving axle proper does not carry the weight of the car, which is taken by a strong tubular stay connecting the two rear springs. The exhaust valve regulator is operated either by the brake pedal or by a handle on the steering column, which is inclined and strengthened by two supporting tubes, through which run the change speed rod, the mixture and ignition rods. The lubricating force pump, which will be noticed on the footboard, conveys oil to the engine and gear. Messrs. De Dion-Bouton, Ltd., 28, Brook Street, Bond Street, London, W.; who are English agents for this car and all other De Dion products, expect to be able to supply the new model from stock almost immediately. The price will be £210.

The standard pattern 8 h.p. De Dion car, as supplied in 1902, will be supplied for next season with several little improvements and refinements, three forward speeds being fitted instead of two. The mechanism and general distribution of parts is much the same as in the new 6 h.p. Model which, in fact, is a reduced facsimile of the larger and better-known car. The 8 h.p. has now stood a season's wear; it has been weighed in the balance, and not found wanting. With tonneau or phaeton body, four seats, the price is £328.


The 6.5 h.p. Gladiator is a light carriage which is well known on this side of the Channel for case of control and satisfaction given, to purchasers. It is sold by Messrs. S. F. Edge, Ltd., of 14, New Burlington Street Regent Sheet, W., at the price of £295. The engine is placed forward below the bonnet and is water-cooled by means of radiators and a rotary pump. It is fed through a spray carburetter, the charge being electrically ignited. The engine attains its best speed at 1,400 revoulutions per minute. The power is transmitted through the Napier type of gear with single lever control, the gearing giving three speeds forward and one reverse. From the gear box the power is carried by side chains to the driving wheels. The wheels are 26 in. and 28 in. diameter respectively, and are fitted with 3 in. pneumatic tyres. The estimated speed of the car is 28 miles per hour.


The Peugeot Car. One or the first men in this country to realise the great future for the small car, and to actively cater for the requirements of those who are looking for "the pony trap of the motor trade" was Mr. C. Friswell, of 48, Holborn Viaduct. Quite early in the days of the motor movement Mr. Friswell introduced the Baby Renault to the English Market, and for the last two years he has been selling the Baby Peugeot. This car is manufactured in France by the Societie Anonyme Automobile Peugeot, whose agent is Mr. Friswell.

The Baby Peugeot is one of the most poular small cars now before the public, retailing as it does at £195, which price includes wood wheels (of equal diameter) and either Clipper Michelin or Clipper Continental tyres. The engine, which gives 5 h.p. at 900 revolutions per minute is situated under a bonnet in front, and is bolted securely to the frame of the car. The cylinder and valves are completely surrounded by a water jacket, the tank, containing about 2.5 gallons of water, being fixed to the front of the dashboard, under the motor bonnet. A little refinement which adds to the peace of mind of the driver is the fact of the bonnet being hinged to the dashboard, it easily hits up, and a little prop keeps it in mid-air while the Operator makes his adjustments in peace.

From the engine the drive is taken through the usual cone-faced clutch to the gear box containing the pinions, which give the three speeds forward and reverse. These pinions are always in mesh, so that no jar is felt when changing speeds. From the gear box a knuckle-jointed shaft runs to the back axle, on which is situated the usual differential gear (which enables one wheel to over-run when rounding corners, and yet both wheels to be drivers), this being surrounded by a large level wheel. The end of the driving shaft carries a small bevel wheel which engages with the large one on the back axle, and thus the rear road wheels arc driven either forwards or backwards, as the case may be. The knuckle joints, of which the driving shaft has two, enable the back axle to rise or drop as the springs give, while continuing to be driven — the revolving shaft being able, because of its knuckle joints, to convey power round corners, so to speak.

The Baby Peugeot has two brakes; one on the main driving shaft, just aft of the gear box — this being actuated by a foot pedal - and a lever by the driver's right hand brings into operation two bands on drums bolted to the rear wheel hubs. The petrol and lubricating oil tanks are fitted on the dashboard, facing the driver's scat, under which are the accumulators or batteries, and space for spare parts, tools, etc. Comfortable seating accommodation is provided for two riders, and at the back of the car is a lock-up cupboard for carrying extra parts or clothes, or any of the hundred and one little things which the motorist likes to provide himself with. This box will accommodate a couple of gallon petrol tins. The top speed of the Baby is about 25 miles an hour, and it will climb a gradient of 1 in 7 on its low gear.


Clement Cars. Another very well-known and justly popular voiturette is the Clement of which car the writer has had considerable personal experience. It is built on lines which have come to be recognised as the standard for small cars; the 5 h.p. single-cylinder engine being placed under the customary bonnet in front, and the drive being by revolving shaft to bevels on the back axle. Two seats are provided, and — the car having rather a longer wheelbase than many cars of its type — an extra ‘spider’ seat is fitted at the back to carry a third person. If not required for a passenger, this seat can be easily removed and replaced by a sloping box, which gives the car a very rakish appearance, its lines resembling those of a regular racing car in miniature. 28 inch wire wheels are fitted as standard (artillery wheels are obtainable at a small extra cost), with 3 inch Maison Talbot tyres. The petrol tank holds four gallons, and is placed under the driver's seat, the coil, accumulators and oil tank being contained in a box in the front of the dashboard this box being of varnished wood, tends to heighten the general good effect.

Inclined-wheel steering is fitted, and on one of the spokes of the steering wheel will be found a switch button, which, being right under the driver's thumb, is handy for switching off the current in cases of emergency. The body finish and upholstering of this ear are specially noticeable, being much more "classy" than is generally the case on small cars. Three forward speeds and a reverse are provided, and the little Clement gill do close on 30 miles an hour, all being well. On her first speed she will take three people up anything in reason. The pump for keeping the cooling water in circulation is driven by a chain off the motor shaft. Aster type of ignition is employed by Messrs. Clement et Cie., the trembler being raised by a notch on the cam, so that it comes in contact with the platinum-pointed screw — an actual make and break resulting. An oil syringe (with glass insertion) is placed on the dashboard, just in front of the driver; this has a two-way tap. The syringe draws a charge of oil from the tank and the tap being turned, closes the pipe to tank opening that leading to the engine, into which the charge of oil is pumped; the tap is then replaced. At the other end of the dashboard is a similar injector, for conveying grease to the bearings of the gear box.

As well as the 5 h.p. voiturette the makers have a light car with four seats and a 9.5 h.p. double-cylinder governed engine. The general arrangements of this car are similar to those of its small brother, the various parts being strengthened to meet the additional strain of the larger engine and greater weight.


The Decauville. The Motor Car Co., Ltd., 168, Shaftesbury Avenue, London; W.C., are English agents for the Decauville, a car which enjoys great popularity amongst French automobilists. The leading model of the Decauville people is a very fine four-cylindered car, selling at £400, but this hardly comes within the scope of an article on popular-priced cars. A new model, however, will be ready for next season. This will be a four-seated light tar, with 6 h.p. engine, and will sell at £250.


Benz Motors, 251, Tottenham Court Road, London, W.C., were perhaps the first people to introduce a popular-priced car to the English motoring public. The Benz cars have enjoyed a considerable vogue in the British Isles, their sterling workmanship having made them more friends and customers, perhaps, than have their speed capabilities - speed not having been the aim and object of their makers.

The standard 6 h.p. Benz has the engine in front; the single-cylinder being either horizontal or vertical, according to customers' choice. Option is also given as to type of body — both tonneau and double phaeton being provided. The Benz is gear driven, without a clutch, and is made either with live axle and bevel gearing, or with side chains. The cars are also amply strong enough for use with solid rubber tyres. The first, or lowest speed, is used only for hill climbing, and that when really stiff rises are encountered. The car can be started on the second speed. The combustion chamber, valve chamber and cylinder are all cast in one piece. The main frame of the car is of wood. For ease of starting, the exhaust valve can be made to keep open on the compression stroke till the piston has completed half its stroke. The engine speed is only 750 revolutions per minute.

The Benz carburetter deserves a full description. It is composed of two connected cylindrical chambers, in one of which is a metal float, which rises on the incoming petrol and closes a needle valve, which shuts off further supply. In the other chamber is an upright pipe, up which the petrol flows. The float regulates the entrance of the spirit, so that it just comes to the top of this pipe and slightly overflows. The air on its way to the engine crosses the second chamber and, catching the overflowing petrol, vaporises it and carries it to the combustion chamber in the form of "mixture." The quality of the mixture is regulated by a lever from the dashboard, which opens or shuts a valve on the top of the overflow pipe and admits more or less petrol, thus making more or less gas, as the case may be, to the engine. The price of the Benz is £265. The Benz car is illustrated on the preceding page.


The International Motor Car Co, 70, High Street, Marylebone, London, W., have a particularly cheap car in their 8 h.p. Charette, at £165, with wire wheels, 3 inch tyres, and tonneau body. The drive of this car is original. It has a 16 feet belt, 2.5 inch wide, which runs from the engine pulley right away to the countershaft, which is behind the back axle. On the countershaft is a small pinion wheel, which engages with a larger pinion on the axle, and so drives the road wheels. The engine runs at the unusually slow speed of from 350 to 650 revolutions per minute, and the three speeds of the car are 7, 14, and 32 miles per hour; a reverse of about 4 miles per hour being also fitted. The Aster type of ignition is used, and both inlet and exhaust valves can be entirely detached, with their seats, for grinding in. The steering is either by inclined wheel or upright column, and the change speed lever can be placed either on the steering column or on the driver's side, according to customer's taste.

The Charette only scales 9 cwt., and is sent out completely equipped with lamps, horn, etc.


The Rigal Car. A new car, of the Voiturette type, was staged by the British Germain Motor Car Company, Ltd., at the Stanley Show, but it did not make its appearance till after our last issue had gone to press. The car is known as the "Rigal," and has a 6 h.p. genuine De Dion engine, 3 speeds and reverse, artillery wheels with large tyres, and is seated for two persons, with ample luggage room under the seat, and on a platform in the rear. The steering is irreversible, which is rather an unusual luxury on low priced cars. We might also mention that, if customers prefer it, a 7 h.p. Aster engine can be fitted. The frame is tubular, and the change speed lever is situated at the driver's right hand. Wheel steering is used, with throttle and sparking levers on the steering column. The price of the new "Rigal" car is £195, and the English agents will be found at Hanover Court, Hanover Street, London, W.


German Cars.
In this number we give illustrations of five of the leading German cars. With the exception of the Adler they are very little known on this side of the North Sea.

  • The Adler is a four seated phaeton, and our illustration is taken from the car belonging to Mr. Paul Brodtmann, the British representative of the Continental Tyre Co.
  • The Henschel is driven by electrical power.
  • The Engelhardt still has the engine placed behind like the old pattern Benz.
  • The Ardell is made in various styles, of which we illustrate one. Our German correspondent is gathering further information on the subject of German light cars, and we shall follow up this instalment with a further batch of illustrations.


See Also

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Sources of Information

Motor Cycling magazine of 3rd December 1902