Coventry hails Lanchesterian genius
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.’