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Racing or Sports Car Serves as Competition Cycle Car Hauler

Updated – This special photo shows a circa-1908 Mercedes or Fiat light 25-45 h.p. sports or racing car chassis with a Gordon Watney-like body carrying a pair racing cycle cars on a rack. The building behind the rig may be a cycle car factory as the well-used ramp on the far left in the foreground is about the track width of a cycle car chassis, and there is a Stewart speedometer box on the ground.

The small cars appear to be of the same design but have different rear-mounted engines; the machine on the top is powered by single cylinder engine and lower one by a V-twin with its rear cylinder protruding into the passenger compartment of the hauler.

chain-driven-mercedes-racing-cycle-car-hauler-circa-1910

Hopefully, our readers can identify the make and model of the car hauler and tell us more about the cycle cars, the building, and the location of the scene. The photo found by Keith Canouse was posted by Bob Apalsch at the H.A.M.B.

Update below.

cardan-mono-car-cycle-car

  • Photo caption -“Owing to the extreme lightness of the racing Carden mono car it is sometimes conveyed like this.” 

Thanks go out to well-known vintage car author, automobile historian and friend David Burgess-Wise of the UK for sending in this pair of images of both Carden racing cars in the July 20, 1914, “The Light Car and Cyclecar.” David pointed out that the date of the magazine was only eight days before the start of World War I.

8-hp-v-twin-j-a-p-powered-carden-racing-car

20 responses to “Racing or Sports Car Serves as Competition Cycle Car Hauler

  1. Definately Fiat as the hub caps ,12 bolt circle on the hubs, radiator filler neck and front spring shackle support are
    deciding markers. Might have been a touring chassis with unusual forward mounted muffler not unlike many pointed
    racing mufflers. Front sprocket looks similiar to touring use rather than racing usage. Year probably post 1908
    and most likely a 35/50 typo 5.

  2. If it’s between Mercedes or Fiat, then I would choose Fiat. Mercedes normally had 8 bolt front and rear wheels. Also the filler tube and cap is more Fiat than Mercedes. The cyclecars seem to be 1913 or 1914 Carden (from Farnham, Surrey, England). A really interesting combination, never seen something like this! The question now is: has the photo been taken in Europe or the USA?

  3. I’ve seen many cars of that era that used chains to drive the rear wheels. It seems to me that adds more parts, they are more exposed to the elements, are more likely to fail suddenly and catastrophically, and requires more maintenance compared to a driveshaft geared directly to the rear axle via a differential. I’m curious, what is it about chain drives that led so many presumably intelligent engineers to use them? Is there some advantage I’m not seeing?

  4. Now this is the way I was ! Love this pic, and yes, I have been called Jed Clampett or “the Hillbilly” more than once, ha !!

  5. Its me or it looks as if the rig was just been finished?There appears to be some wood chips and sawdust on the floor and the car´s footstep… .

  6. The cyclecars certainly do look like Cardens.
    Pretty sure this was taken in the US. The box is labelled Stewart Speedometers and they were/are American. They didn’t acquire the name Stewart-Warner until 1912 so this perfectly fits the suggested period.
    Not conclusive proof but at least likely.

      • Indeed I have a 1913 Mestre & Blatgé accessories catalogue, in which Stewart speedometers were offered with (of course) French display. On ebay I spotted a 1909 Stewart speedometer ad by a London agent, so they were exported to several countries including England.

      • They were but first choice in the UK would probably be Smith’s which had been established much longer.
        On the other hand, if the transporter was a Fiat, that would be an unusual choice in either the US or UK.
        Not so odd in Europe though.
        Quite a conundrum.

  7. Hi David
    Surely these are in the UK. The V-twin car is certainly the same car in both the 2nd and 3rd images as it has the same registration number (prefix P being a Surrey number local to the Carden Factory), and it appears identical to the one in the 1st image (note the distinctive un-silenced exhaust). The second image must be in England, driving on the left, outside a pub. I suggest the first image is outside the Carden factory with the newly created transporter ready to go to a race meeting. Did any racing Cardens really get to the States before WW1, I doubt it?

    • Hi Mark,
      Have to agree entirely. Pictures 2 and 3 are without doubt in the UK and you’re right about the two cars being the same as in picture 1. One’s a single cylinder and one’s a twin. As you say, the exhaust of the twin is very distinctive.
      Hadn’t noticed that. Well spotted!
      Dave

  8. This is a wonderful find, I am thrilled to see this photograph. It was taken in the spring of 1914 at the Carden Works in Somerset Road, Teddington. The cars were assembled on the first floor and were lowered down the ramp on the left. At this time Carden was taking class records at Brooklands, a mere fifteen miles away, in cars that had engines of 350 to 1000ccs capacity. These engines appear to be air-cooled ohv JAPs. They had solid rear axles with an inboard brake drum and externally-contracting brake band. It was after two world wars and many decades before F1 designers agreed with his layout: recumbent driver, rear engine, monocoque construction.
    Carden was a most ingenious and imaginative designer and worked in many fields. By the time he was making these monocars at the age of twenty, he had built his own aircraft and a working model of a tidal-powered generator for the Severn estuary. Although he was a Baronet, he had no money and had to sell his designs to finance his next enterprise. Although he was a busy captain in the RASC during WW1, he found time to sell the cyclecar business including the Teddington factory to Ward & Avey, the car becoming the AV Monocar.
    At the end of the war he sold his second design, a mid-engined staggered two-seater which became the Tamplin. The third design came in 1921 with a twin cylinder engine in-unit with the back axle. You can read what it is like to run one of these cars in my article in The Automobile magazine, June 2012.
    I transport my Carden in the back of my Citroen Berlingo to continental and distant VSCC events. Carden’s own Fiat transporter makes my effort look pretty feeble ( you can find images, googling my name).
    In 1922, with the coming of the Austin Seven, Carden knew the game was up with cyclecars, sold the company and took to making tanks. He won a government competition with the Carden-Lloyd Tankette. He made his fortune selling this design to Vickers, which subsequently became the Bren Gun Carrier. He became Technical director at Vickers until his death in an air crash in 1936.
    The Vickers-built tanks at el Alamein, the tipping-point battle of the Second World war, had tracks that could run ten times the distance of the German opposition.

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