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Novelty Cars – A Fun Friday Newsreel Film

Early antique steam car equipped with locomotive-like bodywork

* Updated * Novelty Cars is a short 1:18 film produced in the typical British Pathe newsreel fashion, and contains three attention-getting early vehicles: an interesting motor sleigh driven by a propeller; a primitive cycle car, and what appears to be steam car that is equipped with locomotive-like bodywork.

* Update * Reader Johnny Ringo has spotted a frame on the video that identifies the location the locomotive was filmed at as Tanktown and the vehicle as CY Halkin’s Roadster. Based on this information can any of our readers tell us more about this vehicle?

We can’t help but imagine that the locomotive wearing a California license plate might have been built for Hollywood, or for some other special purpose and might be identifiable by one of our readers. Can you help or date the California tag? Take a look back at A.F. Sternad’s Road Locomotive.

5 responses to “Novelty Cars – A Fun Friday Newsreel Film

  1. I notice how the prop powered sleigh dog tracks a bit. I assume the builder got a lesson on torque with that project. Airplanes are designed with a few degrees of engine offset for that very reason.

    Great clip. I had to quickly start & stop to read the captions. Amusing that it loosely refers to Cy Hawkin’s steam tank as a “roadster”. It would appear he had to do a lot of sporty driving with his head out the side window, just like a locomotive engineer.

    Thanx for posting.

  2. The only year that California used this exact passenger car license plate format, with the year above the letters “CAL,” was 1920. Although from 1921 – 1926 California used a similar format (with placement variations), the year was always below the letters “CAL.” Since 1927 the word “California” has been spelled out on the passenger plates. The 1916 – 1919 plates had blue numbers on a white porcelain base.

    In the video there is a frame (at about 1:10) showing, “Steam makes it go – but there’s no guarantee it’ll go far!”

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