Sunbeam Motor Car Company
Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited was a British motor car manufacturer with its works at Moorfields in Blakenhall, a suburb of Wolverhampton in the county of Staffordshire, now West Midlands. Its Sunbeam name had been registered by John Marston in 1888 for his bicycle manufacturing business. Sunbeam motor car manufacture began in 1901; the motor business was sold to a newly incorporated Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited in 1905 to separate it from Marston's pedal bicycle business. In-house designer Coatalen's enthusiasm for motor racing accumulated expertise with engines. Sunbeam manufactured their own aero engines during the First World War and 647 aircraft to the designs of other manufacturers. Engines drew Sunbeam into Grand Prix racing and participation in the achievement of world land speed records. In spite of its well-regarded cars and aero engines, by 1934 a long period of slow sales had brought continuing losses. Sunbeam was unable to repay money borrowed for ten years in 1924 to fund its Grand Prix racing programme, a receiver was appointed.
There was a forced sale, Sunbeam was picked up by the Rootes brothers. Manufacture of Sunbeam's now old-fashioned cars did not resume under the new owners, but Sunbeam trolleybuses remained in production. Rootes had intended to sell luxury cars under the Sunbeam name, but four years after their purchase, in 1938, the two brothers instead chose to add the name Sunbeam to their Talbot branded range of Rootes designs calling them Sunbeam-Talbots. In 1954 they dropped the word Talbot. Sunbeam continued to appear as a marque name on new cars until 1976, it was used as a model name, firstly for the Chrysler Sunbeam from 1977 to 1979, following the takeover of Chrysler Europe by PSA Group, for the Talbot Sunbeam from 1979 through to its discontinuation in 1981. John Marston, the London-educated son of a sometime mayor of Ludlow and landowner, had been apprenticed to Edward Perry, tinplate-works master and twice mayor of Wolverhampton. In 1859 aged 23 Marston bought two other tinplate manufacturers in Bilston, four miles away, set himself up on his own account.
On Perry's death Marston bought his Jeddo Works in Paul Street Wolverhampton, left Bilston and continued Perry's business. An avid cyclist he established his Sunbeamland Cycle Factory in 1897 in his Paul Street premises manufacturing and assembling pedal bicycles he branded Sunbeam, his Sunbeam trademark was registered in 1893. In 1895 a company, John Marston Limited, was incorporated and took ownership of John Marston's business; the Sunbeam trademark was registered for motor-cars in 1900. Rugby-educated Thomas Cureton 1863–1921 began as his apprentice became Marston's right-hand man in the cycle works and the cautious advocate of a motor-car venture, their board of directors did not favour it but Marston and Cureton continued their project. Between 1899 and 1901 Sunbeam produced a number of experimental cars driven about Wolverhampton but none was offered for sale. In late 1900 they announced the purchase in Blakenhall of "a large area of land in Upper Villiers Street for the erection of works for the manufacture of cars" alongside the premises of Marston's Villiers Engineering business.
The first announcement of their new autocar was in 22 September 1900 issue of The Autocar but no full description was provided to the public until February 1901. It would be supplied with a 2-seater body on a channel steel frame powered by a 4-horsepower horizontal engine with electric ignition intended to run at 700 rpm and have two forward speeds and reverse using belt drive to differential gears on the live axle. Dimensions: weight 10 cwt, overall measurements 84 inches by 57 inches; the first production car branded Sunbeam was not Marston and Cureton's but a car designed and developed by a young architect, Maxwell Mabberly-Smith, powered by a single-cylinder 2¾ horsepower De Dion engine. Described as a "sociable" it carried two passengers sitting close together facing the roadside from above a central belt-drive. To begin with they faced opposite roadsides; this layout provided propinquity while maintaining propriety. Their driver at his tiller sat behind them his body facing the opposite roadside.
Wheels were arranged in a diamond formation. They used a frame like a motorised quadracycle version of Starley's Coventry Rotary and were to be referred to by The Automotor Journal as "the curiously light vehicles with which their name has for some time been associated"; the Sunbeam Mabley was a limited success, several hundred sold in 1901 and 1902 at £130. More stock was still in the Sunbeam catalogue in early 1904 with the following specification: single cylinder 74 x 76 mm. 327 cc engine designed to run at 1,800 rpm, 2-speed gearbox, central wheels driven by belt chain drives from the differential. Weight 4½ cwt. Price £120 At the annual Stanley Cycle Show in November 1902 Sunbeam approved by the magazine's correspondent, displayed beside more Mableys a 12-horsepower four-cylinder car with the engine beneath a bonnet at the front, camshaft within the "crank chamber", a four-speed gearbox and all four artillery wheels of the same size fitted with pneumatic tyres. Price 500 guineas or £525.
Listed in February 1904 its specification was: four cylinders 80 × 120 mm. 1527 cc engine designed to run at 1,000 rpm, four-speed gearbox, rear wheels driven by chain drives from the differential. Weight 16 cwt. Price £512. In February 1904 the 12-horsepower car was given a six-cylinder 16-horsepower stablemate. Like the 12 the new engine was designed to give its full power at what were then considered low engine speeds. Particular note was made that special attention had once more been paid to further controlling the airflow beneath the car's apron and the chassis to reduce t
The Rootes Group or Rootes Motors Limited was a British automobile manufacturer and, separately a major motor distributors and dealers business. Run from London's West End, they were based in the Midlands and south of England. In the decade beginning 1928 the Rootes brothers and Reginald, made prosperous by their successful distribution and servicing business, were keen to enter manufacturing for closer control of the products they were selling. One brother has been termed the other the steering and braking system. With the financial support of Prudential Assurance, the two brothers bought some well-known British motor manufacturers, including Hillman, Singer, Talbot and Karrier, controlling them through their parent, Rootes' 60-per-cent-owned subsidiary, Humber Limited. At its height in 1960, Rootes had manufacturing plants in the Midlands at Coventry and Birmingham, in southern England at Acton and Dunstable, a brand-new plant in the west of Scotland at Linwood. From its offices in Devonshire House, Piccadilly, in London it controlled exports and international distribution for Rootes and other motor manufacturers and its own local distribution and service operations in London, Kent and Manchester.
There were assembly plants in nine countries outside the UK. Rootes Group was under-capitalised and unable to survive industrial relations problems and losses from the 1963 introduction of a new aluminium-engined small car, the Hillman Imp. By mutual agreement, from mid-1964, Rootes Motors was taken over in stages by Chrysler Corporation, which bought control from the Rootes family in 1967. By the end of 1978 the last of the various elements of Chrysler UK had been sold to Peugeot and Renault. Rootes was founded in Hawkhurst, Kent, in 1913 by William Rootes as a car sales agency independent from his father's Hawkhurst motor business. Rootes had moved his operations to Maidstone by 1914 and there he contracted to repair aero engines. In 1917 he formed Rootes Limited to buy the Maidstone branch of his father's motor business, founded by his father in 1897, to expand his aircraft engine repair business and the manufacture of aircraft parts. In 1919 the distribution of cars and commercial vehicles resumed and operations extended to London and other part of the country.
As early as 1924 Rootes had become the largest car distributor in the United Kingdom. They advertised that their showrooms in Devonshire House Piccadilly could supply new cars priced from £145 to £3,000 manufactured by Rolls-Royce, Sunbeam, Hillman, Fiat or Clyno. A particular effort was put into overseas sales and it became clear the export opportunities warranted a move into car manufacture, achieved in 1928 by the purchase of controlling interests in first Hillman Motor Car Company Limited followed a year by Humber Limited and Commercial Cars Limited. Hillman and Commer were made wholly owned subsidiaries of Humber Limited and the Rootes brothers' holding became 60 percent of the Humber ordinary shares; the Rootes brothers could now show their ability to manufacture handsome cars with a strong sales appeal. Humber Cycles There was a resurgence in domestic and export demand for pedal bicycles, in February 1932 Raleigh acquired all the Humber cycles trade marks. Manufacture was transferred to Raleigh's Nottingham works.
Rootes Securities Limited Rootes Limited was renamed Rootes Securities Limited in 1933. During the Depression more businesses were picked up as they came available: Karrier Motors Limited 1934, Sunbeam Motor Company Limited 1934, Clement Talbot Limited 1934 and British Light Steel Pressings Limited 1937 were all bought and made subsidiaries of Humber Limited. London's Mayfair coachbuilders and Rolls-Royce and Daimler dealers Thrupp & Maberly Limited had been bought in 1926 their royal warrant always proudly displayed. Home and export division and overseas interests A new Rootes Limited was incorporated in 1933 to hold the profitable core business of the Rootes brothers: the motor distribution and servicing functions, its extension and development of export markets, it had been the largest truck and car distributor in the United Kingdom in 1924 and generated the capital to buy manufacturer Hillman, merge Hillman with manufacturer Humber and give the Rootes brothers control of Humber and the manufacturing subsidiaries they would have Humber buy.
Overseas representation of British motor manufacturers was not limited to group members. Ownership and control, Rootes family Rootes Motors Limited was the new name assumed 16 November 1949 of holding company Rootes Securities Limited; the whole of 1917's initial capital had been provided by the two Rootes brothers. Thereafter the business's expansion was financed by retained profits supplemented where necessary, for example the purchase of Hillman, by loans from The Prudential Assurance Company Limited and the company's bankers principally Midland Bank. On 24 November 1949 shares in Rootes Motors Limited were issued to the public in exchange for £3,025,000. Rootes was now a public listed company and the new capital repaid the Prudential and Midland Bank loans; the listed shares however were preference shares. The equity capital remained in the hands of the Rootes family now with new partner Prudential who had taken up all of the offered £1,000,000 of ordinary shares. External shareholders continued to hold a large proportion of Humber Limited.
The preference shares issued to the public by Humber remained listed. In addition there were external shareholdings in the Rootes Acceptances vehicle exporting business and in Automobile Products of India Limited. At this time employees totalled 17,000. Rootes owned, on average, about 80 per cent of the capital of its subsidiaries; the manufacturing subsidiaries were held
Talbot or Clément-Talbot Limited was a London automobile manufacturer founded in 1903. Clément-Talbot's products were named just Talbot from shortly after introduction, but the business remained Clément-Talbot Limited until 1938 when it was renamed Sunbeam-Talbot Limited; the founders, Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 20th Earl of Shrewsbury and Adolphe Clément-Bayard, reduced their financial interests in their Clément-Talbot business during the First World War. Soon after the end of the war, Clément-Talbot was brought into a combine named S T D Motors. Shortly afterward, S T D Motors' French products were renamed Talbot instead of Darracq. In the mid-1930s, with the collapse of S T D Motors, Rootes bought the London Talbot factory and Antonio Lago bought the Paris Talbot factory, Lago producing vehicles under the marques Talbot and Talbot-Lago. Rootes renamed Clément-Talbot Limited Sunbeam-Talbot Limited in 1938, stopped using the brand name Talbot in the mid-1950s; the Paris factory closed a few years later.
Ownership of the marque came by a series of takeovers to Peugeot S. A. which revived use of the Talbot name from 1978 until 1994. In December 1919 A Darracq and Company Limited of London with its factory in Suresnes, bought the entire capital of Clément-Talbot and bought Sunbeam and renamed itself S. T. D. Motors Limited; those initials referred to Sunbeam and Darracq. But in the depth of the Great Depression S T D Motors became unable to pay its debts, its subsidiaries managed to find buyers and in 1936 S T D Motors ceased to exist. Clément-Talbot continued to be famous for the design and quality of its products and it remained profitable during the depression. Clément-Talbot was bought by Rootes Group and renamed Sunbeam-Talbot. Sunbeam alone twenty years after that. In 1920 Suresnes products were branded Talbot-Darracq but the word Darracq was dropped in 1922. If exported to England Paris-made Talbots were rebadged Darracq or Talbot-Darracq Dragged down by the 1924 borrowing to pay for the Sunbeam racing programme S T D Motors and Automobiles Talbot France suffered a financial collapse in late 1934.
Following the financial collapse of its parent, S T D Motors, Clément-Talbot remained financially sound with marketable products. Clément-Talbot was bought by Rootes Securities and continued to manufacture the same catalogue of vehicles introducing components from Hillman and Humber cars; as the genuine Talbot parts bins ran dry a modified Hillman Aero Minx was introduced to the production line and given the Talbot brand name. In 1938 this Talbot Ten and its stable mates were badged Sunbeam-Talbot and owner, Clément-Talbot Limited's, name changed to fit. Following the financial collapse of S T D Motors and Paris's Automobiles Talbot Antonio Lago, the Suresnes' manager, arranged a management buyout of the French operation. Antonio Lago involved Talbot in sports car and Grand Prix racing as well as producing high quality luxury cars. In the postwar world of austerity and socialism the French government introduced punitive annual taxation on cars with engines larger than 2.6-litres and Talbot sales were restricted.
Lago continued the Talbot business until 1958. The dormant Talbot marque was sold to Simca. Simca was bought by Chrysler Europe in 1970. PSA Peugeot Citroën acquired the still dormant Talbot marque when it bought Chrysler in 1978. PSA Peugeot Citroën began to use a Talbot badge on former Simca and Chrysler models Chrysler Europe had struggled to make a profit for much of its existence, had relied on government bailouts to ensure its survival. With mounting pressure on its core North American business, the decision was taken by Chrysler's CEO Lee Iacocca to offload the ailing European operations; the French Government persuaded both PSA Peugeot Citroën to bid for the company. In August 1978, PSA purchased Chrysler Europe for a nominal $1, resurrected the Talbot name — using it to re-badge the former Simca and Rootes models. Although PSA took responsibility for Chrysler Europe's considerable debts and liabilities, the move was a strategic one; the Peugeot takeover saw the end of the Rootes' Chrysler Hunter production, but the Simca-designed 1510, Horizon continued as Talbots.
All former Chrysler products registered in Britain after 1 August 1979 bore the Talbot badge. Talbot's UK branch manufactured the Alpine and Horizon at their aging Ryton plant in Coventry after the British developed cars had all been retired – excepting the UK arm's largest revenue source, building CKD kits of the Hillman Hunter to be sent to Iran where they were assembled as the Peykan; the last remaining car produced by the Rootes group, the Chrysler Avenger, remained in production as a Talbot until the end of 1981. The entry-level model in the Talbot range from 1982 onwards would be the Talbot Samba, a three-door hatchback based on the Peugeot 104. In 1981, Peugeot began producing the Talbot Tagora, a boxy four-door saloon marketed as a Ford Granada or Vauxhall Carlton/Opel Rekord rival, but it was not popular in either Britain or France and production ceased in 1983. At the end of 1984, the Alpine hatchback and its related Solara saloon were rebadged Minx and Rapier depending upon specification rather than body shape.
The new names were inherited
Vinyl roof refers to a vinyl covering for an automobile's top. This covering was designed to give the appearance of a convertible to models with a fixed roof, but it evolved into a styling statement in its own right. Vinyl roofs were most popular in the American market, they are considered one of the period hallmarks of 1970s Detroit cars. Vinyl roofs were popular on European- and Japanese-built cars during the 1970s, tended to be applied to sporting or luxury trim versions of standard saloon models The first use of this technique goes back to the 1920s, when leather and vinyl were sometimes used along with landau bars, to give a accurate reproduction of a horse-drawn carriage's movable top. An early example of this was the 1928 - 1929 Ford Model "A" Special Coupe, that featured a roof covered with a vinyl-like material; this Model "A" Special Coupe's vinyl roof had two exposed seams on the back corners, with a lateral seam on the top covered with a narrow trim strip. The technique fell out of favor in the 1930s and 1940s, when smoother, "envelope" bodies began to be fashionable.
Lincoln used the convertible look on some of its Cosmopolitan coupes in the 1950s, as did the Kaiser firm on its Manhattan sedans, although the material was still canvas. In the late-1950s, Chrysler's Imperial made a limited use of true vinyl on some models; the first modern vinyl roof as it would be accepted, was the 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Seville that came standard with a roof covered in an early vinyl material called "Vicodec" with two parallel seams running the length of the roof. Ford followed a few years with a vinyl roof option on the 1962 Ford Thunderbird, a car which re-introduced landau bars as a styling touch; the vinyl covering proved popular, some form of vinyl trim would be seen on Thunderbird roofs for the next two decades. Other manufacturers noticed that the new look could be profitable – it did not cost much to add, but many buyers willingly paid a premium for it. Vinyl appeared on some coupe models in GM's 1962 full-size line. Chrysler made a vinyl roof available on the Dodge Dart.
Ford soon offered it on the first Mustang as well. By mid-decade, four-doors as well as coupes could be topped with a number of colorful vinyls. From that point on, vinyl proliferated and became common in most car classes by the late-1960s appearing on some station wagons. Vinyls were produced that mimicked other materials such as canvas, alligator or snake hide. Chrysler produced some patterns, with paisley or floral designs – this was called the "Mod Top" option; the Mercury Cougar offered a houndstooth pattern. There was an aftermarket spray-on product that claimed to add that factory vinyl look. By 1972 the humble Ford Pinto sported a vinyl roof option, a Ford sales brochure of the time conceded that vinyl was for looks. At about that same time, the modern opera window first appeared, it went so well with a vinyl surround that the two together became emblematic of American body design in the 1970s. During this period, vinyl with padding under it was sometimes used, allowing the top to somewhat mimic the feel as well as the look of a genuine convertible.
European and Japanese manufacturers were not immune to this trend. Chrysler used it on upmarket models of its Avenger saloons. British Leyland had vinyl roofs on the last Wolseley and top-end Princess models, optional for all other models. Toyota adopted vinyl roofs for its Corona Mark II, Crown and Century sedans in the mid-1970s, they could be found on Nissan Laurels and Glorias. Vinyl continued to appear in many car lines through the 1980s, but the coming of the "aero look," first introduced to the U. S. market by the 1983 Thunderbird, tended to militate against both opera windows and vinyl roofs, as their more formal style did not go well with the sleek profile designers were beginning to emphasize. During this final phase, canvas-look tops called cabriolet roofs, with simulated convertible top bows under the fabric, gained some popularity; the availability of all vinyl styles dwindled in the 1990s, until the 2002 Lincoln Continental offered one of the last factory applied versions. Hearse and limousine bodies universally still have vinyl tops.
Not only are they part of the expected style of those vehicles, but they have a practical advantage in covering up the welded body seams that result when standard sedans are stretched to greater length. Aftermarket customizers continue to install vinyl roofs of various types; these are seen on Cadillacs and Lincolns, but can be fitted to any kind of car. Four styles of vinyl roof evolved during the 1960s and 1970s, with a couple of variants: Full - this is the most seen style, in which the vinyl covers the whole top of the car, including the C pillars; the windshield pillars may not be covered. If a center sedan pillar exists, it is not covered, but exceptions to this rule were made; this is the type, always used on four-door models. Halo - this type is similar to the above, but the vinyl stops just short of the tops of the side windows and windshield, allowing a "halo" of painted sheet metal to appear between the vinyl and the glass area. Canopy - in this style, the vinyl covering is applied only to the front half or two thirds of the roof ending at the trailing edge of the rear side windows.
The windshield pillars are commonly covered in this style, but the C pi
British Leyland was an automotive engineering and manufacturing conglomerate formed in the United Kingdom in 1968 as British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd, following the merger of Leyland Motors and British Motor Holdings. It was nationalised in 1975, when the UK government created a holding company called British Leyland BL, in 1978, it incorporated much of the British-owned motor vehicle industry, which constituted 40 percent of the UK car market, with roots going back to 1895. Despite containing profitable marques such as Jaguar and Land Rover, as well as the best-selling Mini, British Leyland had a troubled history, leading to its eventual collapse in 1975 and subsequent nationalisation. After much restructuring and divestment of subsidiary companies, it was renamed as the Rover Group in 1986 becoming a subsidiary of British Aerospace and subsequently, BMW; the final surviving incarnation of the company as the MG Rover Group, which went into administration in 2005, bringing mass car production by British-owned manufacturers to an end.
MG and the Austin and Wolseley marques became part of China's SAIC, with whom MG Rover attempted to merge prior to administration. Today, Jaguar Land Rover and Leyland Trucks are the three most prominent former parts of British Leyland which are still active in the automotive industry, with SAIC-owned MG Motor continuing a small presence at the Longbridge site. Certain other related ex-BL businesses, such as Unipart, continue to operate independently. BLMC was created on 17 January 1968 by the merger of British Motor Holdings and Leyland Motor Corporation, encouraged by Tony Benn as chairman of the Industrial Reorganisation Committee created by the first Wilson Government. At the time, LMC was a successful manufacturer; the Government was hopeful LMC's expertise would revive the ailing BMH, create a "British General Motors". The merger combined most of the remaining independent British car manufacturing companies and included car and truck manufacturers and more diverse enterprises including construction equipment, metal casting companies, road surface manufacturers.
The new corporation was arranged into seven divisions under Sir Donald Stokes. While BMH was the UK's largest car manufacturer, it offered a range of dated vehicles, including the Morris Minor, introduced in 1948 and the Austin Cambridge and Morris Oxford, which dated back to 1959. Although BMH had enjoyed great success in the 1960s with both the Mini and the 1100/1300, both cars were infamously underpriced and despite their pioneering but unproven front wheel drive engineering, warranty costs had been crippling and had badly eroded those models' profitability. After the merger, Lord Stokes was horrified to find that BMH had no plans to replace the elderly designs in its portfolio. BMH's design efforts prior to the merger had focused on unfortunate niche market models such as the Austin Maxi and the Austin 3 litre, a car with no discernible place in the market; the lack of attention to the development of new mass-market models meant that BMH had nothing in the way of new models in the pipeline to compete with popular rivals such as Ford's Escort and Cortina.
Lord Stokes instigated plans to design and introduce new models quickly. The first result of this crash programme was the Morris Marina in early 1971, it used parts from various BL models with new bodywork to produce BL's mass-market competitor. It was one of the strongest-selling cars in Britain during the 1970s, although by the end of production in 1980 it was regarded as a dismal product that had damaged the company's reputation; the Austin Allegro, launched in 1973, earned a unwanted reputation over its 10-year production life. The company became an infamous monument to the industrial turmoil. Industrial action instigated by militant shop stewards brought BL's manufacturing capability to its knees. Despite the duplication of production facilities as a result of the merger, there were multiple single points of failure in the company's production network which meant that a strike in a single plant could stop many of the others. Both Ford and General Motors had mitigated against this years before by merging their separate British and German subsidiaries and product lines, so that production could be sourced from either British or Continental European plants in the event of industrial unrest.
The upshot was that both Ford and Vauxhall overtook BL to become Britain's two best selling marques, a title they hold to the present day. At the same time, a tide of Japanese imports, spearheaded by Nissan and Toyota exploited both BL's inability to supply its customers and its declining reputation for quality – by the end of the 1970s, the British government had introduced protectionist measures in the form of import quotas on Japanese manufacturers in order to protect the ailing domestic producers, which it was helping to sustain. At its peak, BLMC owned 40 manufacturing plants across the country. Before the merger BMH had included theoretically competing marques that were
The B-segment is the second smallest of the European segments for passenger cars, described as "small cars". It is equivalent to the subcompact category in the United States and the supermini category in Great Britain; the European segments are not based on weight criteria. In practice, B-segment cars have been described as having a length of 4 metres; the term B-Segment is used in India, however the definition of the segment differs from that used in Europe. The five highest selling B-segment cars in Europe are the Renault Clio, Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Citroën C3 and Toyota Yaris. Car classifications Euro Car Segment Supermini Subcompact
Front-wheel drive is a form of engine and transmission layout used in motor vehicles, where the engine drives the front wheels only. Most modern front-wheel-drive vehicles feature a transverse engine, rather than the conventional longitudinal engine arrangement found in rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel drive vehicles. By far the most common layout for a front-wheel drive car is a with the engine and transmission at the front of the car, mounted transversely. Other layouts of front-wheel drive that have been produced are a front-engine mounted longitudinally, a mid-engine layout and a rear-engine layout. Experiments with front-wheel-drive cars date to the early days of the automobile. According to various sources, sometime between 1895 and 1898 Gräf & Stift built a voiturette with a one-cylinder De Dion-Bouton engine fitted in the front of the vehicle, powering the front axle, it was thus arguably the world's first front-wheel-drive automobile, but it never saw mass production, with only one copy made.
In 1898, Latil, in France, devised a front-wheel-drive system for motorising horse-drawn carts. In 1898/9 the French manufacturer Société Parisienne patented their front-wheel drive articulated vehicle concept which they manufactured as a Victoria Combination, it was variously powered by 1.75 or 2.5 horsepower De Dion-Bouton engine or a water cooled 3.5 horsepower Aster engine. The engine so was rotated by the tiller steering; the name Victoria Combination described the lightweight, two-seater trailer known as a Victoria, combined with the rear axle and drive mechanism from a motor tricycle, placed in front to achieve front wheel drive. It known as the Eureka. By 1899 Victoria Combinations were participating in motoring events such as the 371 km Paris-St Malo race, finishing 23rd overall and second in the class. In October a Victoria Combination won its class in the Paris-Rambouillet-Paris event, covering the 100 kilometre course at 26 km/h. In 1900 it completed 240 kilometres non-stop at 29 km/h.
When production ceased in mid-1901, over 400 copies had been sold for 3,000 Francs each. J. Walter Christie of the United States patented a design for a front-wheel-drive car, the first prototype of which he built in 1904, he promoted and demonstrated the vehicle by racing at various speedways in the United States, competed in the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup and the French Grand Prix. In 1912 he began manufacturing a line of wheeled fire engine tractors which used his front-wheel-drive system, but due to lack of sales this venture failed; the next successful application of front-wheel drive was the supercharged Alvis 12/50 racing car designed by George Thomas Smith-Clarke and William M. Dunn of Alvis Cars of the United Kingdom; this vehicle was entered in the 1925 Kop Hill Climb in Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire on March 28, 1925. Harry Arminius Miller of Menomonie, Wisconsin designed the Miller 122 front-wheel-drive racecar, entered in the 1925 Indianapolis 500, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 30, 1925.
However, the idea of front-wheel drive languished outside the motor racing arena as no major auto manufacturer attempted the same for production automobiles. Market experiments in the United States were left to small endeavors such as the Ruxton, the Cord L-29 of 1929. Neither automobile maker was successful on the open market. Alvis Cars introduced a front-wheel-drive commercial model of the Alvis 12/50 in 1928, but it was not a success either; the first successful consumer application came in 1929. The BSA produced the unique front-wheel-drive BSA three-wheeler. Production continued until 1936. In 1931 the DKW F1 from Germany made its debut. Buckminster Fuller adopted front wheel drive for his three Dymaxion Car prototypes. Other German car producers followed: Stoewer offered a car with front-wheel drive in 1931, Adler in 1932 and Audi in 1933. In 1934, the successful Traction Avant cars were introduced by Citroën of France; the Cord 810 of the United States managed a bit better in the late 1930s than its predecessor one decade earlier.
These vehicles featured a layout that places the engine behind the transmission, running "backwards,". The basic front-wheel-drive layout provides sharp turning, better weight distribution creates "positive handling characteristics" due to its low polar inertia and favourable weight distribution.. Another result of this design is a lengthened chassis. After the 1930s, front-wheel drive would become abandoned for the following twenty years. Front-wheel drive continued with the 1948 Citroën 2CV, where the air-cooled lightweight aluminium flat twin engine was mounted ahead of the front wheels, but used Hooke type universal joint driveshaft joints, 1955 Citroën DS, featuring the mid-engine layout. Panhard of France, DKW of Germany and Saab of Sweden offered front-wheel-drive cars, starting with the 1948 Saab 92. In 1946, Lloyd Cars, the English car company, had produced the front-wheel-drive roadster, Lloyd 650; the two-stroke, two-cylinder motor was mounted transversely in the front and connected to the front wheels through four-speed synchronised gearbox.
The high price and lacklustre performance had doomed its production. Only 600 units were produced from 1946 to 1950. In 1954, Alfa-Romeo had experimented with its first front-wheel-drive compact car named "33" (not related or ref