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Classic Lanchester for sale - Lanchester cars for sale
GB, 1895 – 1956
(1) Lanchester Engine Co Ltd, Birmingham, 1895 – 1904
(2) Lanchester Motor Co, Birmingham, 1904 – 1931; Coventry, 1931 – 1956The first Lanchester car was remarkable in that, like the first Benz, the Lanchester car was designed from the ground up as a motor car, not as an adaptation of the horse carriage, and in that the Lanchester car was a homogenous mechanical entity, owing nothing to the practice of the stationary engine and its power transmission. In the latter respect, the Lanchester car was unique: the power unit and belt transmission of the Benz were derived from stationary practice. Frederick Lanchester’s prototype was built in 1895 and improved upon two years later. Production Lanchester car models followed in 1900. The engine of these Lanchester cars, centrally mounted, was horizontally-opposed, air-cooled, 10hp twin; each piston and cylinder had its own crankshaft and flywheel assembly, which rotated in opposite directions. Smoothness unparalleled in other contemporary Lanchester cars resulted. By the standards of the day the engine was quiet. Epicyclic gears provided three forward speeds, with preselector control of the first and second. Engine and gearbox of the Lanchester cars had automatic lubrication. There was worm final drive. In accordance with the best modern practice, the suspension, by cantilever springs at front and rear, was soft while the unit construction of the chassis and body provided great stiffness. The steering of the Lanchester car was by a side lever which, like the wick carburetor, was apparently old-fashioned but was in practice extremely efficient. Water-cooled engines were offered as an option on Lanchester cars from 1902, and bigger, faster Lanchester cars were made in 1904. However, in that year the first model with a vertical 4-cylinder engine was introduced, the Lanchester 20hp, and the twins tailed off. The engine on this Lanchester car was moved forward to a position between the front-seat passengers, and it was given horizontal ohv’s and pressure lubrication. A 28hp six Lanchester car arrived in 1906. This and the 20hp four were replaced respectively by the Lanchester 38hp for 1911 and the Lanchester 25hp for 1912. On the original Lanchester cars, gearchanging and braking were effected by two levers, the only pedal being for the accelerator. By now, however, convention had demanded the substitution not only of a steering wheel, but also of the usual three pedals and gear lever, except that, of course, the epicyclic gears Lanchester cars, still enabled changed to be made without trouble or fuss. By 1912, Frederick’s brother George was in charge. Although Frederick’s design of the Lanchester car had gained a large and devoted following for the Lanchester car make, the public trend was increasingly towards convention, and George Lanchester’s cars were to follow it. George Lanchester was responsible for the Lanchester Sporting Forty of 1914. Although only a handful were made, this Lanchester car was a landmark because it was the first Lanchester car to have its engine in the conventional position, covered by a bonnet (it was also the only Lanchester car to be called sports car, and to have an sv engine.) From it was developed the Lanchester Forty, which was at first the sole Lanchester car offered. Its six-cylinder, 6.2-litre engine was made in unit with its 3-speed epicyclis gearbox, and had an ohc. The springs, half-elliptic at the front and cantilever at the rear, were underslung on the Lanchester car. Worm final drive was retained. This Lanchester car was a very fast, very expensive car in the Rolls-Royce class, and its makers feld bound to wide their net of Lanchester cars. Late in 1923 there appeared the Lanchester Twenty-One, which was a scaled-down, simplified, modernized Lanchester Forty. The 6-cylinder engine of the Lanchester car was of 3.1-litres, it had a 4-speed sliding-pinion gearbox, and front wheel brakes were standard. In 1926 the bore was enlarged, to provide 3.3-litres. In this form the Lanchester car was sometimes known as the Lanchester Twenty-three. Alongside this Lanchester car, the Forty (with front wheel brakes from 1925) continued until 1929. It was replaced in that year by the Lanchester Thirty, which was an up-to-date Lanchester car design with a straight-8 engine of 4½-litres, still with ohc, and a normal 4-speed gearbox. Like the Forty, this Lanchester car was a massive and magnificent car ideal for high-speed cruising. The Twenty-Three was dropped in 1931, when the BSA group of companies, in which Daimler already provided a line of luxury cars, took over Lanchester cars, although the Thirty was still catalogued in 1932 as a Lanchester car. From now on, the name of Lanchester was applied to a line of much cheaper, smaller cars, beginning with the Lanchester 15/18hp. This Lanchester car had a 2½-litre, push-rod ohv, 6-cylinder engine designed by George Lanchester, hydraulic brakes, and the Daimler fluid flywheel. It was a good car in its class, but like most Lanchester cars to come, lost its character as the Lanchester Eighteen, with fixed cylinder head and mechanical brakes, and became a cut-price Daimler. The group complicated matters further by introducing a 4-cylinder 10hp Lanchester ar as a more expensive version of the contemporary sv BSA’s. This Lanchester car had a 1.2-litre and then a 1.4-litre ohv engine. Probably the best of the Lanchester cars at this period was the Lanchester Roadrider de Luxe 14hp of 1938, a small six with a detachable cylinder head and independent front suspension. A few straight-8 Lanchester cars were made from 1936 to 1939, but these were in fact 4½-litre Daimlers with Lanchester radiators. Four Lanchester cars were supplied to King George VI. The first post-war Lanchester car was a 4-cylinder ten of 1.3-litres on pre-1939 lines, but with independent front suspension, like all Lanchester cars to come. It was replaced for 1952 by a new Lanchester Fourteen, with 2-litre, 4-cylinder engine and fluid flywheel. This Lanchester car was basically a Daimler Conquest with two fewer cylinders and was the last Lanchester car to qualify as a serious production car. In 1953 – 1954, a handful of Lanchester Dauphines were made. This was a true luxury car, consisting of a 6-cylinder Daimler engine in a Fourteen Lanchester car chassis, surmounted by a luxurious coachbuilt body by Hooper; price was an unrealistic £4.010. Finally, late in 1954, Lanchester produced a completely new and original design, which was also their last – the Lanchester Sprite. The engine was an ohv, 4-cylinder unit of 1.6-litres; there was independent front suspension on the Lanchester car, the brakes were hydraulic, but the Sprite incorporated unitary construction of body and chassis, and fully automatic Hobbs transmission instead of the fluid flywheel. The Sprite Lanchester car was never put into production, and the once-great and always respected name of Lanchester car died.
Source: Georgano, encyclopedia of motorcar; TRN
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