Vanished Vehicles – Part 12

Filed under: Articles,Classic News |
A look back over the past century and beyond at the manufacturers that once produced transport for the masses….

Pre WW1 Brush USA – 1907-1913

Brush Runabout 1st car with coils springs and shocks absorbers all roundAlanson Partridge Brush is one name from early motoring that may not be as well-known as it should. Born in 1878, Brush was no academic but his passion for engineering was immense and knowledge great; all self-taught. He joined Henry M Leland the founder of Cadillac and Lincoln automobiles when his engineering shop was trying to fulfil an order for 2,000 petrol engines for Oldsmobile. The order was cancelled but not before Brush had made some radical alterations boosting their reliability and power output by 23%. Leland was asked to appraise the liquidation of Henry Ford’s first factory but instead of closing he introduced the Brush influenced engine, the backers renamed the marque Cadillac and the prototype was first displayed in 1902, demonstrated and driven by A P Brush. Designing the first 4-cylinder Cadillac engine in 1905 before starting out on his own with Frank Briscoe in Michigan, the Brush Motor Company arrived in 1907. The marque became most known for the 1909 ‘Runabout’, a very popular ‘light car’ with wooden chassis and a water cooled single cylinder engine that ran anti-clockwise as had his previous designs. In the days of starting handles the rotation of the Brush engine was less likely to cause injury and his cars featured a two speed plus reverse gearbox and a 35mph capability. Seven models were produced including a delivery van and the last version called the Liberty was sold for $350. In 1910 Brush joined several other smaller manufacturers in a GM style conglomerate (US Motor Company) this failed in 1913 after nearly 10,000 Brush machines had been built and its collapse resigned the ‘Runabout’ to history.

Between the Wars BSA UK – 1907-1940

Whilst most will associate BSA with two wheeled transport, Birmingham Small Arms tried several times to enter the car market and enjoyed success with both three and four wheels. Surprisingly BSA offered its inaugural car two years prior to its first motorcycle, with machines of 4.2 litres being copies of the impressive Pekin-Paris racing Italia. After taking over Daimler they offered re-badged versions of the famous marque from 1910. Post WW1 BSA began to produce its own cars, initially using Hotchkiss V twin engines of around 900cc but up until 1926 there were alternate 4 and 6-cylindBSA Scout from 1937 a rare sight at eighty years old and FWDer units used. These RWD cars were not a huge success but laid the foundations for the FWD machines that arrived as the 30s began. BSA returned to the Hotchkiss V twin with a three wheel FWD configuration and by declining the driving wheel from the rear, no oily chain would be required. They also looked to bring the ‘light car’ up to date with electric start and reverse gear, often missing from alternate manufacturers. Commercial versions of the three wheeler were £110 whilst the more civilised Standard that squeezed 4 slight adults inside was £115 from 1932. A four-wheel version of the ‘trike’ became available from 1931 also FWD, although it was the T9 model that launched BSA on route to the successful Scout arriving in 1935. The trio wheeled machines ceased production within a year and the new Scout could be purchased in a variety of engines and body types. Some 6000 three wheelers plus another 3000 Scouts were thought to have left the various BSA factories but the advent of war saw an end to one part of Birmingham’s car production.

The Zwickau P70 from 1958 offered 684cc two stroke and nice stylingPost WW2 Zwickau East Germany – 1955-1959

The VEB Automobilwerk Zwickau P70 was a car produced under Soviet control post WW2 in a small town in Saxony at the old Auto Union factory. It followed DKW’s F8 model that arrived just prior to the war and continued under Russian control in 1949. The P70 also inherited the original 2 stroke twin engine of 684cc but came with all new composite bodywork. The P70 is also to blame for the Trabant that succeeded it, for the Zwickau works developed the Duroplast construction material whilst developing ‘steel like’ materials during the war. Available in a two door saloon from 1955, an estate (1956) and a very pretty coupe version (1957) it offered water cooling and 22bhp through a three speed gearbox, all in 800kg; thus the coupe could top 60mph. Although only 1500 were produced, it is the Coupe version that enjoys a following still today, bearing a remarkable resemblance to the Nissan Figaro. With a range of three versions, the P70 became the first mass produced car to enjoy a composite body and offered front wheel drive. The other early non-metal bodied vehicle of the time, the Corvette, enjoyed a steel frame whilst the P70 was assembled with wood; one to reduce weight but mainly due to the lack of available steel. It also had a name change in 1958 when it became known as the Sachsenring P70 after the nearby race circuit but its days were numbered. The all new Trabant was already in production and featured a metal frame that not only increased weight but made it slower; it became one of the most talked about cars of the 20th century whilst the Zwickau P70 is all but forgotten.
Modern Era Talbot UK/France - 1903-1994
Chrysler Europe initiated development of the Talbot Sunbeam LotusOne manufacturer could be placed at the dawn of motoring or alternately in the modern era; that is Talbot. Charles Chetwynd-Talbot the 20th Earl of Shrewsbury enjoyed horse drawn carriages, travel and intrigued with the coming of the automobile he funded the import of Clement motor cars into the UK; assembling them as Talbot from a newly constructed factory in North Kensington. Managed by D M Weigel, the business was well promoted and by 1904 a purpose built ‘on-site’ test track was available assisting development of an all British 20hp model in 1906. The range became popular, being reliable and smooth but fast; this was confirmed in 1913 when Percy Lambert became the first man to cover over 100 miles in one hour in a Talbot at Brooklands. In 1919 the British owned but French sounding company Darracq took control of Talbot, around the same time it acquired Sunbeam. STD (Sunbeam Talbot Darracq) continued producing some fantastic models with racing success, especially at Le Mans and Brooklands, until the Rootes Group buy-out of the UK operation in 1935. Anthony Lago purchased the Paris operation and the Talbot-Lago was created whilst Sunbeam-Talbot became the new name in London. Rootes dropped Talbot in the mid-50s, a similar fate befell the French operation although the Talbot name was taken by Simca in France. They in turn were swallowed up by the giant Chrysler and its European branch, this though failed and PSA Peugeot Citroen took control for $1. The Talbot name was revived in 1979 with several UK models, including the Samba, Horizon and Sunbeam but the last vehicle to bear the Talbot badge was their Express van in 1994. Images: