1901 Locomobile Steam Car

The Collection’s exhibit

Richard Suttleworth’s first brush with steam came in 1935 when he purchased a White car. He then set about re-building this 1901 Locomobile from parts he purchased from various sources, including a complete 1899/1900 model.

In 1936 Richard was contacted by a steam car specialist, Brian Stack, who offered to help, and the following year the pair took the re-built 1901 model on the London to Brighton Run. With the car running flat out most of the way (‘singing like a kettle’, according to a press report) Richard and Brian arrived in Brighton too early and so were disqualified.

The Locomobile was also driven by Richard – who was so taken with steam power he also bought a 1904 Stanley – on the 1938 London to Brighton. It finished in time, but the boiler was damaged and thereafter Richard set about repairing it until war intervened.

The steamer lay idle for many years before it was stripped down and new parts – including the boiler – were manufactured to restore it into working condition in its original black and red colours. The restored car made its debut at the Bedfordshire Steam Fair held in the parklands of Shuttleworth House in 2011.

Like other early Locomobiles, the car in the Collection follows the original Stanley design, with a vertical boiler fired by heavy oil, and a horizontal twin cylinder, side vale, engine driving the rear wheels by chain. There is no clutch or gearbox.

This exhibit is part of the Richard Shuttleworth trail.


Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo (2016, BBC 2: Season 8 Episode 2).

What the Victorians Did for Us – Making it Big (2001, BBC) 19:34 Link to Youtube Clip below. Presenter Adam Hart-Davis.

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