LightAuto

An insight into the British motoring scene ninety years ago.

 Extracts from the Sixth Edition of the Autocar Handbook.

Estimated date of publication 1914.

The Miniature Car.

The use of a motor vehicle is primarily controlled by the Motor Car Act of 1903 and Local Government Board regulations. It is also subject to the clauses of the Highway Act. Its limit of weight is fixed by the Motor Car Act, 1903 at six tons. In the eyes of the law, the cycle car, if constructed with four wheels, is a motor car; if with three wheels, and not over 3cwt (1 cwt = 112 lbs =50.8 Kg), in weight, it is a motor cycle. The cycle car is being largely developed just at present, chiefly on two converging lines, one being that of a diminutive motor car and the other that of a three or four wheeled motor cycle. The prices vary from about £80 to £180 (approximately 120 to 270 Dollars or Euro's at present day rates), the price limit just overlapping that of the cheapest motor cars, which vary in price from under £150 up to the most expensive, which may be anything in the neighbourhood of £1,500 or £2,000.
There is such a pronounced indication that the small light car, i.e. a motor car in miniature, is becoming extremely popular, that users of such cars are catered for by a weekly journal, The Light Car, devoted solely to matters of interest to them.

The Cost of Running.

With regards to running expenses, it is impossible to set these out in the form of a table, which is likely to be at all accurate in the majority of cases. Thus two men may own cars of identical types and powers, and the total yearly running expenses of one man may be £25 and the other£250. The first may drive, wash, and look after the car himself, doing only a small yearly mileage in a level country where roads are good, and keeping down to low speeds, and he may dispense with insurance and a number of petty luxuries, and may store the car in his own stable.
The other may have to leave his car at a public garage, where a lock-up shed may cost anything from 5/- to 10/- (5 shillings = 25 pence or 35 cents) per week. He may employ an expensive chauffeur, and may fit his car with all kinds of luxuries, insure up to the hilt, and run it very hard. Repairs may arise, and it will be quite understood that no hard and fast figures can be suggested for these. In the Autocar for July 22nd 1911, interesting information on the running expenses of cars of upwards of 100 medical men are given, and their experiences may be taken as something in the nature of a guide. The following are the average expenses per mile thus obtained.
 For cars of 6 h.p to 8 h.p. it is 4.9d.( d =old pence = 0.00417 of a pound sterling).
 For cars of 10 h.p.to 16 h.p. it is 5.4d.
 For cars of 20 h.p. and over it is5.6d.
 It is important to note that these figures include depreciation.
The same medical men also gave approximate costs of horse carriages, and from these the grand averages of cars and horse carriages were obtained. The following figures resulted.
Motor cars average cost per mile = 5.33d.
Horse carriages cost per mile =9.94d.
Most amateurs prefer to drive and look after their own car's, so that the sum set down for the driver would be quite wiped out, and the amounts for repairs and replacements considerably reduced.
On the other hand, paid drivers in the country will generally assist in the garden and doing certain housework, so it is hardly fair to charge all their wages to the cost of running the car.
Many people complain that the prices charged for motor cars are exorbitant. Few of them have seen a car made, and would wonder how it could be done for the money if they had the opportunity and patience to follow all the different processes through from beginning to end. It must be remembered, too, that in comparatively few cases are patterns as yet sufficiently well established, either in the factory or by fashion, to justify their being turned out in very large quantities.

Mainly for fun Part one
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