1902 Arrol Johnston

The Collection’s exhibit

Arrol-Johnston cars were made by the Mo-Car Syndicate Ltd of Paisley, Scotland, formed by locomotive engineer George Johnston. Johnston built his first car in 1895, which means the Scot goes into the history books as being the first British car maker – beating Frederick Lanchester by almost a year.

This exhibit was purchased from Arrol-Johnston (then in liquidation) by Richard Shuttleworth in December 1931 for £12. Richard was a serving officer in the army at Tidworth, Wiltshire, at the time and so the collection of the car from its resting place in Annan, Dumfries, for delivery to Old Warden had to be carefully planned.

Richard enlisted the help of a local friend ‘Billy’ Blake and, along with his own army batman, drove his open 1912 Rolls Royce from Tidworth to Old Warden. After sustenance and a brief sleep – which involved breaking into the Shuttleworth house because by then it was 3am – the trio swapped the Rolls for a flat-bed truck (Richard had also bought a lathe that needed transporting) and set off for Scotland.

The new acquisition(s) collected, with Richard and ‘Billy’ in the Dogcart and the lorry following, the convoy set out to drive the near-300 miles south through the night – the Arrol with only candle-powered lighting! As well as needing regular replacement of candles, the Arrol was also consuming large quantities of oil as it continued at an average of 14mph. When supplies of lubricant ran out Richard ‘purchased’ some from a cabinet on the forecourt of a closed garage and left money in payment. Near Doncaster the truck reversed into a petrol pump and, again, Richard left an explanatory note and payment for the damage.

After the petrol pump incident the truck was sent ahead while Richard and ‘Billy’ continued to make slow progress with the dogcart. Eventually they arrived at Old Warden after a non-stop 23 hours journey!


Manufacturer: The Mo-Car Syndicate Ltd., Paisley, Scotland
Model: Four to six seater dogcart
Engine: 12hp flat-twin, opposed piston
Top Speed: 24 mph


This exhibit is part of the Richard Shuttleworth trail.


Top Gear (BBC). Presenter Vicki Butler-Henderson


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