Joffavan

Help With Unknown Horseless Carriage...

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I was wondering if there is anyone who is able to help me with a bit of knowledge regarding this motor vehicle (This is a UK based one so I'm unsure if AACA can help, I've reached out to some UK contacts to see if they can shed any light!)

 

In a nutshell my grandfather always loved and tinkered around with veteran and vintage cars, his lifetime ambition was to build up enough money to go on the London to Brighton with a Di dion or something but unfortunately that never happened.

 

My dad died 30 years ago but a few years before he got poorly, he saw an advert in one of the many magazines at the time he used to get for a “horseless carriage” down in Hastings, UK and he bought one and he brought it home on a trailer on a wet windy day

 

He did what he could do to it, got the solid tyres replaced and cleaned and painted cogs and gears and things. The engine or bits of he said wasn’t the right one for it and looked for ages for (I think a stationery water cooled engine with the pipe that runs around the outside, belt drive inside to a cog on the outside to drive the rear wheel with a wooden block as a brake.

 

It came with an old picture of a man sat on it obviously not a running vehicle at the time, I think it would have been out of a local paper or something because there was some writing with it claiming it was (We don't seem to be able to find that photo/brochure so we're running from memory)

 

“Mr Doug Copley sat on what was believed to be Birmingham’s first motor car!”

 

I think attempts have been made in the past to try and find out about it but now we are in a modern computerised world and sadly grandma have passed at 99 but it has been in my mums care for over 30 years since my dad passed.

 

So, if anyone can point me in any direction it'd be much appreciated! We are just wanting to get some more back story! 


Thanks

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I have no idea what car that is but it is obviously very early , maybe its a one off.  Have you tried the HCCA Forum, https://hcca-org.thenetpros.net/BOARDS/

Its far less active than this one but worth a try.  If that does not work I would write to HCCA and maybe they will publish your letter in their magazine the HCCA Gazette, it has wide circulation.  Good luck.  I hope you let us know of anything you learn.

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Thank you very much for the input, I've created an account over there so we'll see what comes, appreciate the time to reply

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Do you have the engine, a picture of the engine may also give a hint as to the identity.  I agree, that is an early car.  Do you have any known history?

Al

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No engine as far as we are aware, although we have yet to search the garage (The car belonged to my grandfather, who passed 30 some years ago) and since it's been inside untouched, we haven't seen any documents as yet. We've contacted a local Birmingham museum to see if they can shed any light on it

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As promised, the latest update as follows..

 

I found the orignal owner (However still unsure on make/model if any) was Mr Douglas Copley however the image is clearer and in it's orignal form:

 

https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/mr-douglas-copley-appointed-driver-to-the-late-king-is-news-photo/3262646?et=B46QwGgFTctPROagObMyPg&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.gettyimages.co.uk%2F

 

It mentions he owned it and it has some history, still digging!

 

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The early car is an absolute novel piece but the history really brings it to life.  Keep digging, we are all waiting for your next comment and hopefully a picture of the newly found engine!  Thanks for posting the picture.  I bet that automobile would nearly turn on a dime making the operator need to watch his "P's and Q's".

Al

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Please join the veteran car club of Great Britain and ask them to run an article on it looking for info from our VCCGB members! Sincerely George Albright,Ocala Florida 

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Not sure what it is either, but the picture looks staged. The dual drive sprockets on each rear wheel have no chains attached. That has to be one of the shortest wheel bases I have ever seen. Good luck with your search and thanks for posting.

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I am in a similar state with one of my projects. Unfortunately, I know even less about the history of mine. I do have a suspicion of who built mine and when, but NO solid evidence to support it. I am in a little better shape in that I do have most of what appears to be the original motor. However, it, too, is not identified. My engine might have been built by a Canadian company that entered the automobile engine market for all of about three years. Their motors are quite rare, and few pictures of the automobile motors seem to exist. Although several of the larger industrial, marine, and farming motors  for which they are better known do still exist.

 

I do need to start a thread myself in another attempt to find elusive information. Maybe shortly after the new year I will try to do so.

 

Good luck with your project! These little known one-offs are an important part of automotive history! They should be preserved, restored if necessary, then shown and seen so that people can see some of what early attempts at automobiles looked like. Not all early development was done by the major manufacturers.

 

I wonder if your automobile might have used a De Dion type motor? They licensed manufacture all over the major civilized world. There were dozens of automobile manufacturers in the USA that used either actual De Dion motors, or licensed knock-offs. I know that at least one company (I do not remember the details?) in England also manufactured De Dion licensed motors. Are there any bolt holes, mounting marks or wear to give good clues about the motor? There was a fellow in the USA that had a couple early De Dion knock-off motors for sale. I don't know if he still has one or not. I do know that one of two he had advertised a few months ago was sold.

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Please please start a new thread on your mystery car as well!! I noticed on the car being discussed it has a jack shaft and pulleys on it. The 1895-1900 Benz Velo cars and copies has a similar transmission setup with a horizontal engine rather than a vertical like a De Dedion  Bouton engine or knockoff. Please send photos of your car to  Austin Parkinson in the UK for his opinion. He reproduces De Dion  parts in the UK. Just google him for his email.  George Albright,Florida. Email gnalbright@gmail.com 

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Thank you all for your replies, I've sent Austin an email to hear his thoughts as well, no luck finding the engine so far however we've yet to do a deep dive, I'd hoping we might find something tucked away somewhere however my father isn't  as sure. Either way I'll update the thread with any more information we find

 

 

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This car reminds me of a Philion.

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Just a follow up to say we didn't get much further with this, Austin had a photo of Doug Copley on a Renault but no information on our car, we also found paperwork from Mr Copley's entrance to a hill climb in 1934 (We have since discovered this must have been mixed up in the paperwork when my granddad bought the car as it isn't related!) but we thought we found more! We also contacted Veteran Car Club UK and they plan to publish it in an upcoming issue to see if any other members may be able to shed light on it. 

 

"In the 1930s, 40s and 50s primitive cars were often worth more as scrap than as cars, especially if they were incomplete, and VCC members would salvage them and keep them safe until someone could be found who would restore and care for them. I would guess that your car could well fall into that category. While some cars, especially those from ‘established’ manufacturers, were and are readily identifiable, there were dozens of smaller manufacturers who’s products are much harder to name. "

 

This also could be a final update as we've since had a family discrepancy regarding ownership so this may no longer be our mystery to follow. 

 

Thank you all for the help in any regard.

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It is a real shame this family dispute over the ownership of the car has occurred. Without provenance and a motor, I would guess it has no real value, yet some one has decided it is worth disputing. As long as the ownership is disputed, no real progress on the car is likely to happen.

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If I were trying to solve this mystery, I'd start with the Birmingham newspapers. Arris's Birmingham Gazette had been published regularly since the 18th century and most of it is available online from the British Newspaper Archive. The Birmingham Library has it on microfilm but that is much more difficult to use as there is no way to search it. The Birmingham City Museum also has a few locally made motorcars (albeit in storage) but may be able to put you on to someone who knows local history and can point you in the right direction.

 

Judging from it's appearance, I'd try searching from 1898 to 1903.

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I would suggest the car may be dated as early as 1892 but remember it could be as late as 1932. These earliest cars fell out of favor quickly as the industry grew at lightening speed but by the early 30's efforts were being made to save the remaining examples, which provided the impetus for someone to make their own. The technology to make a car in the early style was still in use and appropriate pieces could be had till late in the twentieth century.

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