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Lot 126: Lanchester LA 14 Roadrider

Classic Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (27 November 2013)

Genius is a much overused term these days but in the case of Frederick Lanchester, polymath, engineer and inventor, it is a label that is utterly deserved. Born in London in 1868, he went on to acquire a towering reputation in fields as diverse as aerodynamics, mechanical engineering and operations research. In the automotive field he not only designed Britain's first ever petrol-driven four-wheeled motorcar in 1895, but he also pioneered many other features that we now take for granted including: turbochargers; fuel injection; disc brakes; epicyclic gearing; detachable wire wheels; stamped steel pistons; piston rings; hollow con rods; the torsional vibration damper and the harmonic balancer. Indeed, 'Autocar' once wrote that of the 36 primary features in modern motorcars, Frederick Lanchester was responsible for 18. In 1899 he and two of his almost equally gifted brothers, George and Frank, founded the Lanchester Engine Company (later the Lanchester Motor Company). Over the next 30 years the brothers turned out a succession of technically advanced cars that were easily on a par with Rolls-Royce for their engineering brilliance and ingenuity. In 1931 the brothers got into financial difficulties, partly caused by Frederick's 'no-compromise' attitude to mechanical perfection, and the firm was taken over by BSA, owner of the upmarket Daimler brand. They still maintained an influence on the products however, the 1937 Roadrider using flexible rubber engine mounts, rubber shock absorber mountings and a flexibly mounted exhaust  all designed to reduce shock and vibration for the passengers. This car was their first to feature independent front suspension, whilst the new six-cylinder 1,809cc engine was a paragon of smoothness. This De Luxe Roadrider LA14 left the factory in 1939 and was purchased by the vendor at the start of this year from Pioneer Automobiles. Unfortunately, due to ill health, he has decided that he can no longer enjoy it. MOTd until January 2014 it started quickly and ran nicely during our visit to take the photographs, the vendor advising us that in 2011 it had a major gearbox overhaul by experts Grahame Whitehouse Autos in Halesowen. An accompanying invoice shows that the work cost a substantial 4,388. The file also includes copies of contemporary road tests, a photocopy of the handbook and a letter from Daimler themselves dated 1961 advising of service details. This rare and interesting high quality machine, with its classic late '30s styling and lovely interior is the perfect car in which to enjoy lazy summer picnics and take to local shows.

Lot Details
Auction Classic Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Herefordshire
TypeCar
Lot Number126
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£6000
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1939
Condition rating2
Registration numberJSL 542
Mileage-
Chassis number34803
Engine number87297
Engine capacity (cc)1809
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2