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The Unique Burney R-100 Rear-Engined Streamline – Images and Film

The Burney R-100 Rear-Engined Streamline was designed and built in England by Sir Charles Dennison Burney who earlier engineered the R-100 airship. Next turning to automobiles, he came up with this interesting Streamline design based on a modified Alvis chassis.

Only about a dozen R-100’s were built at Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK between 1929 to ’31, the most notable purchaser being the Prince of Wales, none are known to have survived. Production cars were fitted with either Armstrong-Siddeley or Beverley-Barnes, engines, and one with straight eight Lycoming power.

After failing to find someone to license and produce the machine in America, Burney sold the patents to Crossley in 1933, who built twenty-five Crossley-Burney’s using their own two-liter engine before ending its production in 1936.

The unique vehicle featured: front and rear independent suspension, twin radiators, hydraulic brakes, a heater, seating for seven, a spare wheel inside of one rear door, and a cocktail cabinet in other. The underside was covered with sheet metal to enhance its aerodynamic efficiency. It was priced at around $1850 (£1,500.)

  • Expandable views of the Burney R-100 Rear-Engined Streamline.

The video shows two of the earliest Burney R-100 cars constructed being driven in a slow speed tour in London. At 1:27 the man demonstrating one of the cars pauses, but continue watching because at 1:53 he goes on to show the automobiles unique features including the o.h.c. engine.

14 responses to “The Unique Burney R-100 Rear-Engined Streamline – Images and Film

  1. The British R100 airship made one Atlantic crossing during the summer of 1930, but was laid up after the R101 airship crashed on her maiden voyage in France in October 1930. Both airships were to supply long distance air service in the British Empire. The R100 was later scrapped.

    Interesting that the automobile was called R-100.

  2. I suppose the steering must have been pretty light…so much weight in the rear overhang. Wow. But what an interesting concept. I wish there were sound with the film.

  3. According to an article in the November 1931 Everyday Science and Mechanics, the R-100 weighed 4,250 pounds, had an 80 horsepower engine, and had a top speed of 80 miles per hour. Motor magazine puts the Lycoming as a six-cylinder unit rather than a straight eight. The original engine was prone to catching fire from overheating.

    The price was about 350 pounds less than a Rolls-Royce of the period, so it was quite pricey.

    Three of the Crossley Streamliners have survived. They were shorter, had a 60hp engine, mounted the radiator at the front (pumping water 13 feet back to the engine), and cost half as much as the Burney.

  4. The Prince of Wales, the future Edward the eighth, had a Burney. He can be seen arriving at a society in it, all the other cars are very proper chauffeur driven Rolls and the like, then up rocks the Prince in what looks like the batmobile!
    I don’t know if this constitutes a link, if so sorry, but the film can be found by searching, Princess May of Cambridge’s wedding, Balcombe, pathe news.
    Please feel free to delete the link, if it is one, but it really is worth a look!

    • I thought the gent inspecting the engine of RX7014 looked a bit like the Prince himself but the plate number and color scheme do not correspond to the Burney shown in the film you noted.

      The headlights shining thru the tunnels in the hood look like they would cut off a good bit of the illumination of the road directly in front of the vehicle. Aside from being a bit of an eye-popper, it appears the one thing the car did have going for it was that it could sure hold up traffic!

  5. While there’s plenty on the R100, including an article by OM dated Sept. 21, 2015, but it doesn’t come up. I’m fascinated by the motor, which seemed quite advanced for 1930. It was a 2.9 litre DOHC straight 8, that one source claimed it put out 80 hp made by Beverly-Barnes. The car was essentially a FWD Alvis turned around.

        • In RX7820/043MO configuration, glass-covered headlights could illuminate the raindrops! (Or, sadly, not too many years later, the Dornier, Heinkel and Junker in the night sky.) And for “Downton Abbey” watchers, Sir Charles’ wife, Gladys, was, like Cora Levinson Crawley, an American.

  6. In the Pathe film are my personal favorite Ford trucks: The 1928 Ford AA with the wire wheels and the 1925-1927 Ford TT owned by Ricketts. Note the Ricketts truck with the spare tire on the roof. If you work for Ricketts you have to ride with the load in the back even though you have a suit white shirt and necktie. At 0:38 in back of the AA Ford is a light colored panel truck with a roof mounted advertising panel placed fore and aft. Cuts down on wind resistance. I love the “pause” button so I can check out this scene in detail

  7. Too bad no Burney R-100 sedans have survived. One would surely spice up a modern-day car show or auction! Also, I have to see if I can find anything on that Beverly-Barnes engine, it sounds “very interesting” for the 1929-31 period.

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