Built by the Daimler Motor Company of Coventry in 1897, this 4hp model has eight-seater Wagonette coachwork by Stirling of Hamilton, South Lanarkshire. Stirling's ordered substantial quantities of cars from Daimler, both complete and in chassis form; consequently, Daimlers were plentiful in Scotland before 1900. This particular model was produced from 1897 to 1900 and priced, when new, at £370.
This car's engine is a vertical twin-cylinder of Panhard type, mounted at the front. With a bore and stroke of 90x120 mm, it displaces 1,527cc and produces four horsepower at a governed 800rpm. Although described as 4hp, it performs with surprising alacrity and is a reliable early finisher on the London-Brighton Run. Other noteworthy features include dual ignition, by both 'hot tube' and trembler coil; drip-feed lubrication; and water cooling by means of a semi-rotary pump, with a large water tank at the rear.
The engine drives via a four-speed sliding-gear transmission, with tram-style selector levers on the dashboard ahead of the driver. There are contracting brakes on the rear wheel drums, and 'spoon' brakes on the rear tyres, which we are advised work well. Steering is by means of a Panhard-type tiller, while fitted equipment includes two candle lamps and a 'ting-tang' foot bell. Cruising speed is about 15mph.
The first British-made Daimler took to the road in 1897, and this example is one of the earliest that survives in original condition. Most were converted to wheel steering and electric ignition using a contact maker and trembler coil, whereas this car has always retained its tiller steering. Fortunately, the tube ignition, ignition box and fuel supply are intact, with only the burners missing, should a future owner wish to run this car in its original specification.
This Daimler's earliest known owner was Andrew Wright of Bainsford, Falkirk, who first registered the car as MS 172 on 4th June 1905 and used it locally as a public service vehicle. Its history for the next few years is unknown until it was acquired by John Gibson of Bennington Road, Edinburgh. In November 1965, the Daimler was sold at auction by Fred Hodgkinson and purchased by J V Murcott, who drove it on many Brighton Runs in the 1970s.
The car was acquired by the current vendor's family in 1996, since when it has participated in numerous local events and successfully completed many Brighton Runs. Events attended include several South East Section Veteran Car Club runs; the Centenary London-Brighton Run, November 1996; Paris - Dieppe, 1897-1997 Centenary, September 1997; Lac Leman 'Tour du Leman' (120 miles), September 1997; and (thanks to its early history as a Public Service vehicle it successfully took part in the Historic Commercial Vehicle Society Run in 2009. In 2016 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, 'MS 172' won the 'Coach & No Horses' class in Cartier's 'Style et Luxe', 'The Dawn of Motoring' concours.
All the wheels have recently been rebuilt and re-tyred by Douglas Andrews, while the drive chains have been replaced by Fowlers (it was found that the chains needed to be wider than those of other Daimler cars of the same period). The seats have been re-upholstered, and Henal Engineering has serviced the front axle, steering linkages, and stub axles. 'MS 172' has always been MoT'd, the current certificate expiring in June 2017. The car also comes with a V5 registration document and a Veteran Car Club Dating Certificate (number '597').
We are advised that this Daimler is a delight to start, simple to use and a joy to drive, happily taking four people up Clayton Hill or on Isle of Wight rallies. Victorian Daimlers were renowned for their plodding reliability, while their performance, albeit far from sporting, compared very favourably with the best horse-drawn vehicles of the day.
'MS 172' has an entry for this year's London-Brighton Run. With a Start Number of No. 4, it is capable of keeping ahead of the scrum and giving the occupants a memorable run to the seaside.
In readiness for The Run, the axles have been greased and the car is fully prepared: lubrication, starting, and running instructions are available with the car. So long as the car is kept lubricated it will perform well on the open road, as so many of the vendors' friends have discovered. A superb and reliable British motor car embodying the finest Victorian engineering.