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Case studies of nineteeth-century motorists

Pennington's Autocar, here advertised in The Autocar of 6 February 1897, is often seen with nine people abroad, looking as if they didn't have a care in the world. Pennington advertised his vehicle as working without any carburettor, because such cars, he said, are 'liable to blow up, or to be set on fire, at any moment, sacrificing life and property'. Instead, this featured the 'long mingling spark' arrangement which suitably baffled, and impressed, potential buyers. But I've found another ad for the same vehicle, in the same edition, with four people atop, shown here. This was rather more realistic and shows more detail of the vehicle.

Source: The Autocar, 6 February 1897, p. 84, courtesy of the Richard Roberts archive, Stockport

Source: The Autocar, 6 February 1897, p. 84, courtesy of the Richard Roberts archive, Stockport

This image of a 'passenger autocar' was found while scanning The Autocar for 1897. Made by Coulthard's of Preston, it was one of 'a number' ordered by the Western Australian Freight and Express Co Ltd. 

What I thought was unusual was its intended use - on sand. It had Pennington's 'unpuncturable' tyres, of 9 inches diameter, and was intended to carry up to ten passengers with a ton of luggage from the coast to the mines. The engine, in full view on the platform, was a 16hp Pennington four cylinder. The estimated speed was an average of 12mph, and one man 'can easily drive the engine and steer the vehicle'. Note the cycle-fork arrangement on the front wheels.

Cartoonists at the time (sometimes) took the trouble to draw real vehicles actually on the road. G.H. Jalland started drawing for Punch magazine in 1888 and two of his cartoons come to mind. The first, reproduced from Malcolm Jeal's article shows a broken down Kane-Pennington where the passing trap rider declines to give them a tow. In the second, the driver of another stricken Kane-Pennington pleads with a passing car (looking like an engrossed Coventry Motette) for a pint of oil. (Note the lovely detail in the background of the second, the sign saying 'Horses home. All play, no work'.)

Source: Malcolm Jeal, 'A Slight Diversion', Aspects of Motoring History, 9 (2013), pp. 20-21; Punch, 12 Dec. 1896, p. 279, courtesy of MMU Special Collections

Each of the Punch artists had distinctive signatures; this was Jalland's.

Source: M.H. Spellman, The history of Punch (1895), p. 574

Magazines and ephemera 

Many society and popular magazines slowly started to notice the motor vehicle in the period to 1900. Punch in particular enjoyed depicting the motor vehicle as broken down, out of control, or having dejected owners (or any combination of these).

More to follow...


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