1927 Lanchester 40, 6,200cc. Registration number YF 1847, not recorded with DVLA. Body number 1974 (see text). Engine number 1951 (see text).
In 1896 Frederick Lanchester was the first person in Britain to successfully build a 4-wheeled, petrol-engined motor car. The Lanchester Engine Company Limited was later formed in 1899. Frederick patented a harmonic balancer to cancel out the unbalanced secondary forces in a four-cylinder engine, which are still common fitments in four-cylinder engines today. He went on to invent an early form of fuel injection and turbocharging, he was the first to employ detachable wire wheels, bearings that were pressure-fed with oil, stamped steel pistons, piston rings, hollow connecting rods and the accelerator pedal. In 1904 he became disillusioned with the company’s directors and his brother George took over design work.
After the end of the First World War, George’s engine for the new Forty was a 95hp, 6.2-litre, overhead-camshaft six that was meticulously designed with twin ignition – battery/coil and magneto – and inlet porting that ensured an equal air/petrol mix to all cylinders. The Forty also broke new bodywork ground, employing welded aluminium panelling over a cast-aluminium frame. It was the most expensive car in the world, in 1919 and many considered it superior to the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.
However, despite upgrades to engine and running gear over the next nine years, the Lanchester Forty ran out of time and George had a new model ready to launch in 1928 after some 392 examples were built. The Thirty was powered by a straight-eight, overhead-camshaft 4.4-litre engine. However, the Wall Street Crash hit hard in 1929 and, despite Lanchester displaying two of the new eight-cylinder cars on their stand at the Olympia Motor Show in October 1930, only 126 Straight Eights were made before the Great Depression effectively killed demand and the bank foreclosed on the company. BSA bought the assets in a fire sale and production was transferred to Lanchester’s new sister subsidiary, Daimler, in Coventry.
YF 1847 has been family owned since 1934 and is known to the club but has not been seen since the 1960's. It is was built as a six light, four door car with a Lanchester tall body, it is believed to have been used as a taxi before coming into the ownership of undertaker Frank Simms of Tunbridge Wells who bought it in 1934.
The records on file are a bit confusing as Simms had several Lanchesters. In 1929 he had a hearse built by Rock Thorpe & Watson of Tunbridge Wells. In 1935 he had a hearse body fitted to a Lanchester chassis by Gibson & Brown of Tunbridge Wells and in 1936 he bought chassis 1974 from Stephen Peerless of London. This chassis number is on YF 1847 although the R.F. 60 states it should be chassis 1999. The engine fitted is numbered 1951 (the R.F. 60 states 1971, the bellhousing is stamped 1954.
Along with MK 2428, a 1926 Lanchester hearse, chassis and engine 1962, YF 1847 was in regular use up until being taken off the road in c.1956, MK came off the road c.1974.
When our vendors father inherited the cars from Frank Simms widow, Emma, he kept YF selling MK through sold by Brooks Auctioneers in 1999. He was an RAF engineer and started the restoration of the car, although his first love, a Chipmunk aeroplane took precedent over his time. The car appears complete, although a none runner due to ignition/firing issues, the odometer has been rebuilt and set back to zero and several other parts are present but not fitted. It can easily be pushed and the engine turns over. There is a list of items that he has attended to, including refurbishing the radiator and renewing the wiring harness.
This rare machine, the cataloguer was only able to find one other example selling in recent years, is offered for sale with no reserve after long-term family ownership. The family ask only one thing, that when it is up and running that they can visit and have a ride.
Sold with the R.F. 60, see notes above, various period receipts relating to this and MK 2428 and other paperwork.