AC Cars Ltd had a rather shaky start with a car that was never built. Weller Brothers presented their first car at the Crystal Palace Motor Show in 1903. It was a 20 hp, four-seat tourer and was well received. Unfortunately the Weller`s partner and financial backer, a certain Mr. Portwine, thought the project unwise due to the cost of production. End of project!
However, Mr. Portwine suggested that a lightweight goods delivery vehicle might be a good idea. Money talks, (and gives the orders) so the Wellers got to work on designing it. They renamed the company Autocars & Accessories Ltd and got very busy.
With remarkable speed they produced the Auto-Carrier in 1904. Considering how primitive many vehicles were at that time, the Auto-Carrier was lively and fit-for-purpose.
Built on a tubular steel chassis in a triangular shape, (pointy end to the rear), the Weller Auto-Carrier was powered by a single-cylinder BSA 631 cc air-cooled engine producing 5.5 bhp with a 2 speed epicyclic gearbox driving the rear wheel by chain. The driver was perched high on the rear-end, behind the load and above the engine. The solitary rear wheel was steered by means of remote-control handlebars.
It might look a little weird today but the traders and shop-keepers loved it. Cheap to buy and run, it was a lot faster than a lad on a bike! The rod-operated front brakes would have struggled to stop it when fully loaded, even at 12 mph (the national speed-limit).
The cargo area on the front (a wooden box) had paneled sides which the traders used for advertising space. The BSA 631 engine was long-stroked so two gear ratios were enough for it to make respectable progress down the High Street. The load area was a lot bigger than the basket on the lad`s bike, so multiple deliveries were invented!
Production of the Weller Auto-Carrier continued apace until interrupted by The Great War. Throughout WW 1 the factory made shells for the war effort. Total of 1500 examples were made and until now we thought there were no more left when we found one at the RM Auction.
Pictures: © RM Auctions
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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.
In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.
As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.
At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!
When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.
I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.
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