1900 Locomobile Steam Car

The Collection’s exhibit

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

In 1936 Richard was contacted by steam car specialist, Brian Stack, who offered to help, and the following year the pair took the re-built 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 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 car was idle for many years before it was stripped down and new parts – including the boiler – were manufactured to put it into working condition in its original black and red colours. The part-restored Locomobile made its debut at the Bedfordshire Steam Fair held at Shuttleworth House in 2011, but by 2019 the boiler was again no longer serviceable and it was decided to undertake a full restoration of the complete vehicle.

Like other early Locomobiles, the car in the Collection follows the original design of American brothers Francis and Freelan Stanley who pioneered the steam car, with a vertical boiler fired by heavy oil, and a horizontal twin cylinder, side valve, engine driving the rear wheels by chain. There is no clutch or gearbox.

Richard Shuttleworth was so impressed with steam power he once said he wished his favourite Railton Sports had the same means of propulsion.


Manufacturer: Locomobile Company of America
Model: Spindle seat runabout
Engine: 5½hp 2 cylinder steam
Top Speed: 22 mph


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.

browse the Vehicle Collection