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motor car
Daimler Wagonette
Daimler
1897
RT.1954.38
Coventry Transport Museum
This vehicle is one of the oldest surviving British cars. It was made at the Motor Mills factory in the Drapers Field area of Coventry; the first factory in Britain opened specifically to build motorcars.

The lay out of this car is based on the Panhard Levassor design with a two cylinder Daimler engine mounted in the front. The engine has an unusual feature called Hot Tube ignition. This means there is no spark plug to ignite fuel in the cylinder head. Instead one end of a tube is fitted in the cylinder head with the other end protruding out of the engine. A burner heats the external end of the tube causing the end inside the cylinder to heat up and in turn the ignition of the fuel. The burner was originally fuelled by petrol but, for safety reasons, the burners on this vehicle now run on gas.

There is no accelerator. The engine runs at constant revs and is controlled by a governor which does not allow the engine to rev higher than 750rpm. The engine drives the rear wheels through a sliding pinion gearbox. You select a gear by turning the handles mounted by the tiller arm. You can select forward or reverse with one handle and one of the four gears with the other. This means that you have four gears in forward and four in reverse.

The vehicle has a number of other unusual features including tiller steering, chain drive from the engine to the rear wheels, a wooden body with no protection from the weather, a leather hood would have cost £20 extra, solid rubber tyres and brakes that clamp down onto the tyres of the rear wheels. The lights are powered by candles.

This vehicle was acquired by the Museum from the Nash Collection in 1954.
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