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The World’s Oldest D.I.Y. Motor Car ... Offered at Bonhams London to Brighton Sale


Lot 308 - 1901 Schaudel 10hp Four-seat Rear-entrance Tonneau, s_n 2 - Estimates_ £120,000 - 160,000 · $160,000 - 210,000 · €140,000 - 180,000

Lot 308 - 1901 Schaudel 10hp Four-seat Rear-entrance Tonneau, s_n 2 - Estimates_ £120,000 - 160,000 · $160,000 - 210,000 · €140,000 - 180,000

 

On 2 November, Bonhams will offer the oldest known example of the 1900 ‘English Mechanic’ 3HP Two Seater, a highly unusual motor car that was designed as a ‘build it yourself’ vehicle with assembly instructions that were published each week in the English Mechanic in January 1900.

The tuppenny magazine was one of the earliest popular motoring magazines, and in 1900 it began a series called A Small Motor-Car and How to Build It.’ The series was published over 31 weeks, and ranged from engine drawings to cylinder cast patterns, everything a young motoring enthusiast needed to build their very own vehicle.

The author built his own car along with the instructions, which subtly changed as he discovered practical flaws in his work. He remained anonymous until the beginning of August –by which stage you should have had a full chassis, running engine, and the makings of a body– when he revealed himself to be a 29-year old engineer called Thomas Hyler-White. 

Several English Mechanic cars were built – this is oldest known survivor – but for many years, nobody was quite sure what this example was. It was discovered in 1921 in a field in Kent and had been lying there for so long that a tree had grown through the chassis. It was assumed to be a Benz thanks to its single-cylinder engine and was entered under that name in the London to Brighton Run in 1928. It sadly fell by the wayside but managed to finish in both 1929 and 1930. 

The owner eventually decided that his veteran probably wasn’t a Benz, and that it was more likely an example from the French marque Hurtu. This identity stuck until well after the war until a real Hurtu of similar vintage was unearthed, and the owner had to think again. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the English Mechanic was correctly identified by its then owner who gave it a much-needed restoration. 

In the 1960s it was acquired by the current owner’s father who used it for the Run every November. On the Run in 1972, the owner pulled up at a garage in Redhill where he chanced upon an 85-year-old mechanic who happened to have been a boyhood friend of none other than Thomas Hyler White, the man behind the car’s construction instructions. ‘We built our on bicycles before the turn of the century, and Hyler-White managed to create a steam engine for his.’ he recalled.

This is the oldest example of the first ever 'D.I.Y' motor car in British history, and is set to be a star of Bonhams auction on 2 November and the London to Brighton Run on the 4th - the world's longest running motoring event. 

 

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Lot

Description

S/N

Estimates (£)

Result

301

1904 Star 7hp Twin-cylinder Two-seater

1064

80,000 - 100,000

£87,400
€99,465

302

1904 Cadillac Model A 6½hp

3987

65,000 - 75,000

£69,000
€78,525

303

1903 Rambler Model E 6.5hp Runabout

2112

45,000 - 50,000

£48,300
€54,967

304

ca.1903 De Dion-Bouton 8hp Two-Seater

40,000 - 60,000

£54,625 €62,165

305

ca.1902 Liberia-Dupont 12hp Twin Cylinder 2/4 Seater

4885

120,000 - 140,000

£115,000
€130,875

306

1894-5 Peugeot Type 5 2½hp Twin-cylinder 2 seater

164

300,000 - 400,000

£356,500
€405,712

307

1899 Star 3 1/2hp Vis-à-vis

4

80,000 - 100,000

Not Sold

308

1901 Schaudel 10hp Four-seat

2

120,000 - 160,000

£120,750
€137,418

309

1900 "English Mechanic" 3HP Two Seater

65,000 - 85,000

Not Sold

310

1904 Renault 9hp Type T Rear-entrance Tonneau

3107

70,000 - 90,000

£75,900
€86,377

311

1903 Darracq 24hp Model JJ Rear-entrance Tonneau

4294

550,000 - 650,000

£599,640
€682,417

312

1904 Wolseley 6hp Two-Seater Voiturette

8369

75,000 - 80,000

£69,000 €78,525

314

1902 Panhard-Levassor 1902 Panhard-Levassor

3155

170,000 - 200,000

Not Sold