Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,352 pages of information and 245,904 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

1906 Motor Show (Cordingley)

From Graces Guide
March 1906.

Cordingley Motor Show held in the Agricultural Hall, London from 24th to 31st March 1906


The Cordingley Show [5]

It hardly seems ten years ago since Mr. Charles Cordingley was inaugurating the successful series of motor shows which bear his name at the Agricultural Hall, London. This year's show, which opened on Saturday, bids fair to be thoroughly successful. The hall, the side halls, and the gallery are well filled, and a thoroughly representative collection of exhibits await the inspection of the visitor. Many of the cars shown have, of course, been shown before at the Olympia and Paris shows, but there are a great many new things which make their first bow to the public at Islington this week.

A careful examination of the numerous exhibits — there are over 300 distinct exhibitors — would take a great deal of time to effect and a great deal of space to describe. We have contented ourselves in the following report with describing those things which are most novel and most interesting. A great many of the vehicles shown have already been described in our columns.

Two or three cars, quite new to this country, are shown for the first time in London, and many little improvements on well-known cars are to be noticed. The heavy vehicle section is well represented, some very fine examples of public service vehicles being on view. The Prunel Bus, which recently made the journey from Paris to London by road and steamer, attracted considerable attention. While as an example of high-class English motor bus construction we may place the four-cylinder petrol omnibus, shown by the Lancashire Steam Wagon Company, easily amongst the first.

Motor boats are not so much in evidence as was the case at the Olympia Show, but some good examples are, nevertheless, shown. There is, perhaps, nothing at Islington to mark a radical departure from accustomed practice. Generally speaking, the cars follow accepted lines.

Body Work

Body Work is now carried to a high pitch of excellence, both as to artistic finish and comfort and roominess. Side entrances are the rule and not the exception, as they were two years ago. The tonneau body is seen on very few cars at the Show. Limousine and brougham bodies seem to be the fashion, and in nearly all cases chassis have been increased in length. The bodies turned out by W. and F. Thorn, of Great Portland-street, bore evidence of how carefully the coach-builders have studied the motor vehicle's requirements. Elaborate finish and upholstery are now the order of the day, and it is interesting to note that so numerous are the styles of bodies that makers, as a rule, now quote prices for the chassis only, leaving the body to be quoted for to suit customer's requirements.


There seems, so far as this Show is concerned, a consensus of opinion on the part of manufacturers as to the four-cylindered engine being the correct thing. Very few are the numbers of six-cylindered cars shown. Single-cylindered cars are only represented by about half a dozen examples. In nearly all cases valves are mechanically operated and interchangeable. There is but one 3-cylindered car, and practically no cars with other than vertical engines. Governing of the engines appears to be mostly by the throttle, and variable lifts for the exhaust have given place to variable lift to the inlet, on a number of cars.


There is nothing really new in clutches at the Show, and it is remarkable that the leather-faced cone clutch holds its own and is used in the majority of cases. It is simple, and when properly designed seems to fill the bill. Even on the heavy public service vehicles the leather-faced cone clutch appears to be the favourite.


On the cars shown may be roughly divided into two classes, the counter shaft and side chains, and the cardan shaft and live axle. Driving by direct chains from gear box to live axle is practically only shown on one car in the Show — the Starling — and worm drive to the differential is practically confined to the Lanchester, the pioneer car for this class of drive, It is still retained on these cars, in spite of the fact that the horizontal engine has been discarded in favour of the vertical engine in front and between the two front riders. One or two slight exceptions to standard methods of transmission we shall mention later. They are, however, the exceptions which emphasise the rule.

Change speed gears are generally of the Panhard or the Mercedes type, the latter appearing to be more popular. The difference, of course, is in the Mercedes type; two pairs of sliding gears are used instead of the one long set in the Panhard, the result being that the length of gear shafts is considerably reduced, with the advantage that springing and twisting of the shafts is obviated. The type, however, makes some sort of gate control necessary, in order to prevent two different gears being engaged at one and the same time.

In one or two instances, as in the case of the British Motor and Engineering Company's car, friction clutches are used to operate the different gears, the wheels being always in mesh. Then, again, in the case of the Premier car, the gears, which are of the sliding type, are so actuated by cams and racks, that the lay shaft is entirely out of gear and idle when the through top drive is being used.

There was one gear, to which we shall refer later, which opened up quite a new field in the way of fool-proof change speed gears.


There is little to learn from the Show as to the trend of things in the ignition department. The three systems — high tension coil, high tension magneto, and low tension magneto — seem pretty evenly divided, except that perhaps high tension, coil and accumulators may be a little more numerous than either of the other two systems. In some cases low tension magneto is relied on solely, but in no case which we saw was high tension magneto relied on solely. There is a distinct tendency towards synchronised ignition, which is correct practice for multiple cylinder engines, and will probably extend in popularity. As far as the ignition appliances themselves go, there is nothing really new.

Tyres and Non-skids.

The Show has really nothing new to offer in the way of either tyres or non-skids, though, of course, the most prominent devices are shown. The Parsons, the Eyre, and the numerous examples of detachable studded bands are all on view, but nothing really novel has eventuated, as the Americans say.

Such, then, is a general outline of the trend of design and construction as evidenced at the Agricultural Hall this week. We may now deal with specific examples of cars and construction shown, in which there were novel or interesting feature.

There were three cars shown for the first time in London — the new six-cylinder Humber, of 30-40 h.p.; the new 40 h.p. Crossley, shown first in the recent Glasgow Show; and the Marchand, an Italian car, shown for the first time in this country.


The new Humber car has a 30-40 h.p. engine, with six cylinders, having a bore and stroke of 100 mm. All the cylinders are cast separately, as is the Humber practice, and have large water jackets. The engine develops its full power at 1,200 revs. per minute. The ignition is by high tension magneto and high tension coil and accumulator, both systems being always available. The clutch is of aluminium, and is of the leather-faced cone type, with a special arrangement to prevent too sudden engagement. The springs are so arranged as to prevent any end thrust, either on gear box or engine bearings.

The gear gives four speeds forward and reverse, with a direct drive on the top gear. The changes can be made directly from any one speed to the other without having to pass through intermediate gears. All the shafts run on ball bearings, and the main shaft is fitted with an auxiliary ball bearing to prevent springing on the shaft under the drive.

From the gear, the transmission is by cardan shaft to the rear live axle. This is exceptionally strong, and is split horizontally to allow of easy inspection. The differential box carries between it and its crown wheel a spring intermediary device which allows three-quarters of a revolution of the engine crank shaft before the rear axle commences to move. All shafts are on ball bearings, and the road wheels run on ball bearings outside the axle case, thus taking all strain, except the driving strain, off the differential shafts.

In other respects the car mechanism is similar to the earlier standard Humber machines. The firm also show their 16-20 h.p. Beeston, into which some improvements have been introduced, and which is the car which they particularly wish to push this season, as the new car is practically booked up. The principal improvement is in the universal adoption of ball bearings throughout the car.


The new Crossley 40 h.p. car attracted considerable attention at the Show. This was first shown the other week at Glasgow. In this car the general features of Crossley design have been retained. The four-cylindered engine has the cylinders cast in pairs, with the valves all mechanically operated on either side of the engine. Simms magneto low-tension ignition is fitted solely. The special carburetter is retained. This has the mercury dash pot as before, but the hydraulic control is below the mercury instead of above, as in the older types. Owing to the wide range of the carburetter adjustment, it is possible to drive the car on the top gear at practically any speed. Ball bearings are fitted throughout the car.


The Marchand car is a new Italian car introduced by the Premier Motor Company of Birmingham. The chassis shown is of the highest class in manufacture and finish. It is not a cheap car, but is intended to combine the very best practice. The engine is of 20-24 h.p., with four cylinders cast separately, with valves on either side. The transmission is by a metallic disc clutch, with a progressive engagement, so that the load is taken up very gradually and without shock. From the clutch the power is transmitted by means of a change-speed gear, with some distinct features of novelty. Both the primary and secondary shafts of the gear have on their rear ends bevel gears engaging with two crown wheels mounted on the differential box. When driving through the gear, all the power is transmitted through the secondary shaft and its bevel pinion. When driving direct on the top gear the bevel pinion on the primary shaft is engaged to that shaft by a dog clutch, and drives the differential direct. From the gear box, which contains the differential counter-shaft, the transmission is by side chains in the usual way. Ball bearings are used throughout the car, and the axles, both back and front, are very well and strongly designed.

The ignition is by means of a Simms-Bosch high-tension magneto, no other ignition being fitted. The carburetter is of special design, and has an automatic air regulator to give a constant mixture at all speeds of the engine. Lubrication is mechanically operated, and under pressure from the exhaust. The cooling is effected by a honeycomb radiator and fan, and the circulation is maintained by a direct gear driven pump. In every way this new car is quite up to the very best engineering practice of the Continent. The cars are manufactured by the Fabbrica di Vetture Automobile, of Piacenza, a firm of engineers founded thirteen years ago and with a big reputation in Italy and Southern Europe.

New Leader

A car which attracted some attention was the Leader, shown by the New Leader Motors, Ltd., of Aspley, Nottingham. It is a very stylish little car, fitted with four-cylinder engine, the cylinders being cast separately. The general arrangement of the mechanism is on standard lines. The gear, which is of the Panhard sliding type, with three speeds forward and reverse, and direct drive on the top gear, is very neatly arranged, and is operated by one lever only. The transmission is by cardan shaft and live axle.

The wheels and differential shafts are carried on long roller bearings, and the thrust on the cardan shaft is taken up by ball-bearings. The carburetter is a special feature. In the carburetter the air is all delivered past the jet, and not above it, as in some types. The petrol nozzle orifice is adjustable, and the choke or choke area around the jet variable, so that the proper mixture is always available under varying conditions of load and speed. The choke area around the jet is regulated from the steering wheel, so that fuel control and economy of fuel consumption is obtained. The cars are shewn in 8 and 10-12 h.p. sizes, and appear to be well thought out and finished.


Another finely designed car is the National, shown by Lamb Brothers and Garnett, of 85 Shaftesbury avenue, London, W. This is about the only three-cylindered car in the Show, and is distinctive on that account. The engine gives 18 h.p. at 900 revolutions per minute. The transmission is by Panhard type gear and rear live axle, the engine clutch and gear being carried in a secondary pressed steel frame suspended from the chassis frame proper. A great deal of attention has been given to the sound and substantial construction of the brakes on this vehicle, these being all metal to metal. The springs, too, are exceptionally long.


The Star Cars, shown by the Star Engineering Co, of Wolverhampton, are good examples of first-rate English manufacture. Interest centres around the 14 h.p. car. This has a four-cylinder engine, the cylinders being cast separately, and with no water joints whatever. The normal speed is 900 revolutions per minute. The ignition is by high tension coil and accumulator, and_ the lubrication by pressure feed from the exhaust. A Panhard type of gear, with direct drive on top speed is fitted, and side chains transmit the power to the road wheels. Three metal to metal band and internal expanding brakes are used. The car, with long wheel base and side entrance body, sells at the very low price of £375, and is amongst the best value to be found at the Hall.


A good display is made by Friswell Bros. of the Peugeot cars. There is no particular departure in these cars from the firm's standard construction. The "Baby Peugeot" still retains its popularity, and is a remarkably reliable little car at a low price.


"Friswells New Baby" is a new type of small car shown by this firm. It is a well-designed little car, of good appearance. The engine is a 6.5 De Dion, with extra outside fly-wheel, developing 8 h.p at 1,200 revolutions per minute. The clutch is of the usual leather-faced cone type. The gear provides for three forward speeds and a reverse, and all shafts run on ball bearings. The transmission from the gear to the rear live axle is by means of a cardan shaft. The chassis frame is of pressed steel, and all brakes are of the external expanding metal to metal type. High-tension coil and accumulator ignition is fitted, and the cooling is by thermo-syphonic action. Fitted with artillery wheels and a well-made French-built body, with two seats, the car presents a handsome appearance and is good value at the £175 asked.


The arrangement for mounting the differential gear of the Aries car, shown by Aries Ltd., of 6 Great Marlborough-street, London, W., is exceedingly neat, and the chassis shown by this firm is worth careful attention. The back axle, which is of H section steel, is dropped considerably in the centre, and on it is bolted a heavy gear box containing the differential gear and the bevel wheel drive. From this box side torsion shafts transmit the motion to the wheel hubs, which are mounted on ball-bearings outside the fixed axle ends. This method of mounting entirely prevents cross strain of any kind on the shafts. In many other points, notably in the strength and completeness of the design, the "Aries" chassis is worth study.


A very fine example of motor engineering is seen in the Spyker car, made at Amsterdam. The great point of novelty about this car is the frame, which is made in one piece of sheet steel, curved round underneath to form a protecting apron for the whole length of the under mechanism of the car. Another feature is the spherical steering heads to the front wheel axles. It is something like a very large ball and socket joint, giving plenty of wearing surface, and preventing slackness and back lash, which are serious when they occur in the steering gears of large cars. The change speed gear, too, is novel. It is very compact, gives a direct drive on top speed, and is operated by one lever. The inspection cover to the gear can be removed instantly, without any tools, for inspection. In many other points the Spyker car is worth careful study. The chassis shown at Islington is a remarkably fine piece of workmanship.

Richard Brasier

A remarkable number of points of interest are to be found in the Richard-Brasier car for 1906, shown by Mann and Overtons, Ltd., of Lincoln place, Dublin. For instance, the low tension magneto is operated on novel lines. A longitudinal shaft is arranged near the top of the cylinders, and operates the sparkers by means of face cams. This shaft is driven by a vertical shaft from the engine, and does away with all the noisy and troublesome reciprocating plunger rods used in most types of low tension magneto ignition. The carburetter is of special design, having an automatic auxiliary air valve controlled by a vacuum chamber under control of the engine suction. The change speed mechanism is on Panhard lines, with a direct drive on top gear. A novelty is the extra reducing gear for mountainous districts, the gear consisting of a secondary gear box with two speeds and a direct through drive on the top speed. It is in a separate gear box, and coupled up to the usual three speed gear. All the gear shafts run on ball-bearings.

Other cars shown having features of interest, which space prevents us describing here, are the Mass, the Brouhot, and the Gnome. All three are very fine examples of high class motor vehicle construction.

Three Light Cheap Cars.

There were not many examples of the 100 guinea car at the Show. The Starling car, made by the Star Cycle Company, of Wolverhampton, and selling at £110, is a well-made and simple little machine. It has a two-seated body and wire suspension wheels. The engine, which is of 6 h.p. with a single cylinder, water-cooled, is placed in front, with its crank shaft transversely. It drives direct by chain to a gear box, and from thence by another chain direct to the rear live axle. The gear is of the sliding type, operated by one lever, and giving three speeds and a reverse, with a direct drive on top speed. Cooling is by thermo-syphonic action, and high tension coil and accumulator ignition is used.

Remarkable value is given in the 100 guinea car shown by the British Motor and Engineering Company, of Reading. This car has a coach-built bucket-seat body and artillery wheels. The engine is of 6.5 h.p., with two cylinders, water-cooled, with pump circulation and honeycomb radiator and variable lift to the inlet valves. The engine is started from the seat by means of a crank handle on the dashboard. The clutch is of the leather cone type and the gear is exceptionally good, giving three speeds and reverse with direct drive on top speed. All the gears remain in mesh, and each is operated by a friction clutch. The gear box is so arranged that it can be completely taken off the gears, which remain in position, thus allowing great facilities for cleaning, inspection, and adjustment.

The drive is by cardan shaft and live axle. Three internal expanding metal to metal brakes are fitted. The control is by variable lift inlet valve, throttle, and advance spark, all operated from the steering wheel. For a car at the price it contains more points of interest than any other too guinea car we have seen.

An adaptation of the Rover car is shown by Auto-Cars and Accessories, Ltd., who have designed some special detachable bodies for this car, so that it may be used as a two-seater for pleasure, or as a light delivery car for tradesmen, such as grocers, butchers, etc. Either body is attachable or detachable in a few moments, and complete with artillery wheels and two bodies the car sells at 135 guineas, which cannot be considered dear. Our readers are already acquainted with the mechanism of the light Rover, so that it is unnecessary for us to repeat the description here.

A novel form of change speed gear was that shown by Scowen, Ltd., of 84 Ding's-road, Reading. The usual side change lever is dispensed with, and the change is made by declutching with the clutch pedal. Having previously set an indicator on the steering post to the speed desired, the pedal is depressed, and the gear at once jumps into mesh in the required gear. The gear is perfectly fool-proof. We hope to describe this fully in a future issue.

See Also


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