Coven­try hails Lanch­es­te­rian ge­nius

Classic Cars (UK) - - Month In Cars -

Ve­hi­cles of all kinds emerged onto Coven­try’s streets – and hur­tled round its closed-off race­track ring-road – in an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of the city’s mo­tor­ing her­itage.

But one mar­que and its poly­math founder stood above all others – Lanch­ester. Its cars fronted the li­brary of Coven­try Univer­sity, home to a new ar­chive col­lat­ing Lanch­ester’s work from pi­o­neer aero­nau­tics to mil­i­tary the­ory, and de­signs in­clud­ing the tur­bocharger, which can be ac­cessed at lanch­es­ter­in­ter­ac­tive.org.

1901 Lanch­ester Ton­neau

‘This is Fred Lanch­ester’s orig­i­nal car de­sign – the first all-bri­tish, in­te­grated-de­sign car,’ said Lanch­ester his­to­rian Chris Clark of the old­est car at Motofest. ‘The whole car is in­no­va­tive even by mod­ern stan­dards – a mas­sive chas­sis for strength, a mid-mounted en­gine, cab-for­ward de­sign like an MPV, epicycli­cal clutch­less gears, and the world’s first ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal. Also, Lanch­ester coined the term stream­lined to de­scribe the wings.’

Lanch­ester Leda dhc

This is Clark’s own car. ‘A pro­to­type Lanch­ester road­ster was built be­fore the Leda and its sis­ter car on the same chas­sis, the Daim­ler Con­quest, went into pro­duc­tion, but the Leda re­mained a saloon,’ said Clark.

‘I’d al­ways wanted a Con­quest for this rea­son, and found one that’d been in a Welsh farm­yard for 30 years. It was so rot­ten that the chas­sis fell in two on the trailer on the way home. I hap­pened to have a 1953 Leda chas­sis as part of another restora­tion project, so I took the drop­head body­work off, re­stored it, then used the Leda’s bon­net and grille to repli­cate the pro­to­type.’

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