Napier 16HP Tonneau ] ::
FROM HELP PAGE 133:
IDENTIFICATION AND DATING:
1903 Napier 16HP Tonneau
Very interesting period photo received from
our regular contributor Tom Cosens, Yorkshire, (UK)
asking if we could help with this one which he thinks is a French
Panhard et Levassor. No background on caravan. --
This one started a lively debate amongst
our experts. It looked to me much like a Star but our specialists
doubted it. Much searching later by Ariejan Bos suggests from the
details of the visible rear breaking system that this is probably a cca
1903 Napier 16HP Tonneau, similar to the one on our previous Help Page
for LARGER PHOTO
Identification of cars is a very slow and pedantic
exercise by specialists in their own marques who often have a language
and approach which is interesting. The detailed knowledge some people
have is quite astounding. I hope they are writing it all down or
it may be lost forever. One of the reasons for this website! It may
therefore be interesting to record the exchanges of emails which lead to
the eventual decision by Ariejan Bos that this car is a Napier.
Interesting to note that he also identified a Napier of a similar age on
our previous Help Page 133.
ENQUIRY September 2018:
Could you help with this photo please?
I think it’s a Panhard et Levassor but I don’t know the date
or model details. Many thanks. Tom Cosens
John Warburton & Neale Lawson: From Vintman at SVVS:
Many thanks to all for contributions to the identification of the
1905 Star 7 HP ET75 Rotherham ( Help
Page 133. ).
I have subsequently received the attached photo from another
enquirer. This one is towing a lovely little caravan of a very early design. Interesting that the caravan seems to have a single wheel where
the tow hitch seems to be. Not
quite sure how it would hitch on?
Could be that the draw bar is in the ‘up position’ and the
car has been backed up as near to the caravan as possible. So the
caravan is a three wheel device and I note an external cart type block
brake on the wheel which seems connected to an actuating cable going to
the car? To me the car looks
to be another Star of a similar period as ET75. Regretfully the
numberplate is not discernable but seems one letter and three numbers
(R?H?A?). Has to be
an early issue; likely during 1904. Would much appreciate your thoughts
on the car, and caravan? Investigations
of the caravan have yielded no results. VINTMAN
Thanks for the interesting picture.
My guess is that it is not a Star although there is not much to
go on. The knobs on the
catches for the louvre panels look to be round and fairly substantial.
I have only found Stars using very small handles like miniature
water taps, you can still get a similar ones for cabinet doors.
The other point is the massive lever operating the rear brakes.
Some Stars (the 1902 20h.p. being an example) had a cross-shaft
behind the gearbox but I think the Star levers generally went downwards
and not upwards as in the picture. The 10, sometimes 12hp, and even 15
hp (4-cyl 1903) appears to have no
intermediate cross-shaft. The
1902 10hp twin dumb irons are very similar but I cannot make out the
starting handle. Could it not be a Panhard in your picture?
Been digging a bit more on the car and
caravan on the internet and found same photo notated: “Panhard
Levassor Vintage Car and Caravan , England. Voiture et Caravane
Anciennes 1900s.“ By the
way, a number of my Star archive photos have the central bonnet handle
top on the side of the bonnet? VINTMAN
I'm inclined to agree with Neale, not a
Star; and Panhard-Levassor is more likely - but a number of makes shared
closely similar appearance at this period. Ariejan Bos in Holland is
super-good on this type of early car. That single front wheel on the
trailer / caravan has to be load-bearing, and one would guess that the
trailer was connected to the car by a draw-bar for towing. It would
certainly appear to be an over-large load for such an early car, even
for one of above average power. Wonderful and intriguing photograph,
I've never previously seen anything quite like that trailer. JOHN
This mystery picture definitely is a
lesson in humility. After days of looking at images of 1902 and 1903
Panhards, Stars and Napiers I'm still not sure about the make, but I've
learned a lot. e.g. that not only Panhard had the offset crank handle,
but Star too, at least on some models: the two cars in the background on
the 1903 Show stand as well as on the 1902 Autocar photo prove this
fact. During the process I also had to rename a few Panhard images into
Napiers, indicating the degree of increasing new insights …
As mentioned, I've taken only the makes Panhard, Napier and Star
into consideration, because these show most of the features of our
'tractor' car. The details, which are important for identification are
the following: the distinct front plate; the 'hanging' connecting rod;
the hand grip on the bonnet top side; the side panel with round knobs;
the size and location of the sprocket wheel; the absence, present and
location of the reinforcement ring on the rear wheel; and the mudguard
style. If we prefer an identification on the basis of these features,
none of these makes would fit: As
for Panhard: I did not observe any Panhard with this 'hanging'
connecting rod; I observed this type of front plate only on a few still
existing Panhards, but never on period photos; also the shape of the
hand grip is not like Panhard. As
for Napier: hand grips on bonnets are generally absent; moreover the
front mudguards always were wing-shaped.
As for Star: the side panels normally didn't have these round
knobs; the mudguard style was used indeed, but only on the smaller Star
cars (with coal scuttle bonnet), the larger models normally had wing
shaped mudguards; further the rear wheel had a reinforcement ring
attached to the off-side. If
it would be an election, it would be clear: most votes would go to
Panhard. Voting against are the hanging steering rod and the bonnet hand
grip, which seems to have a different shape from normal. The front plate
is unusual and I'm surprised that I can't find a period photograph with
a similar plate, but based on the surviving examples I suppose that it
was originally there on at least some models. When looking at it I was
wondering what is present at the lower round cutout of the plate, as we
see the crank handle offset to the right of the car. So, although I'm on
the Panhard side at the moment, it is not for a 100% . Could there be
another option (i.e. make?), or are we looking at a car which already
had a previous life and hence had been subjected to some modifications?
Perhaps 16HP Napier?
I always try to go open minded in these
puzzles and I still haven't decided yet. It's a pity that the details
are rather vague and that the photo has been taken from the 'wrong'
side, so no levers are visible. This weekend I'll make some more time to
dive into it. If I have a breakthrough, I'll let you (and John) know
I don't know whether John forwarded my
comments on the picture of the car towing the caravan?
My "gut" feeling is that it isn't a Star. Although I
made a suggestion that it might be a Panhard there is no basis for that
suggestion and even Darracq came to my mind. The only points which I
could say I have never come across on any pictures of Stars were the
large knobs for opening the louvre panels and the large lever on a
cross-shaft for the rear brakes, which incidentally on the few Stars
using this method the lever appears to be downwards. I have a very clear
picture of a 10h.p. of 1902. However, I have been going through my
pictures which show a bonnet with round knobs as used on the 1901/1902 6
h.p. bonnet, which you will
also find Stars supplied to Brown Bros. Stars seem to have used what
ever was available one might not rule them out if they had run short of
the other type.
Sorry not to have replied earlier but I have been away with my
Little Star on a rally. Regarding car and caravan. I have some concerns
that a 10h.p. could pull it! Perhaps
a larger Panhard ? However I
have persevered with the unusual brake lever and have found an earlier
16 h.p. Napier which appears to have this feature.
Unfortunately the bonnet proportions in the picture look to be
wrong. The sprocket and rear spring front hanger look to be similar. I
suspect 16 h.p. might pull the caravan with difficulty.
I guess a small detail finally led to
the solution. Well, at least I am convinced now that the car is a
Napier. I hope I can convince you with the accompanying picture of
Charles Glidden in one of his Napiers in India (from the small book
Around the World in a Napier by Andrew M. Jepson, 2013). Of interest
here is the braking stystem for the rear wheel: absolutely identical to
that on the tractor car. I do not observe that on Panhard nor on Star.
This observation, in combination with the fact that I already had a
strong Napier feeling because of several details, makes me feel certain
that the car is indeed a Napier. Only slightly modified with the bonnet
grip and the mudguards. The car definitely will need a powerful engine,
of course, so probably it is a 16hp model. ARIEJAN
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