Gables Service Station
30 June 2005
1908 ROVER 8HP TWO SEATER
Registration No. LB 6197
Chassis No. 1350
Engine No. 1350
Ochre and tan with black upholstery
Engine: single cylinder water-cooled 4½ x 5ins. bore & stroke, 1,030cc, with mechanical valves and Rover carburettor, coil ignition; Gearbox: three speed & reverse, single-plate clutch, shaft-drive to bevel back axle; Suspension: front, transverse semi-elliptic rear, semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: camshaft and rear wheel brakes. Right hand drive.
With Rover's background in the nineteenth century Coventry cycle trade it might have been expected that when it came to producing its first motorcar in 1904 it would have utilised a conventional tubular-steel chassis. In fact the car created had no chassis in the accepted sense, but a substantial central chassis tube - the 'backbone' - which supported the engine and transmission and on which the other elements of the car were hung. Designer Edmund Lewis produced a motorcar layout that was highly imaginative and whose basic concept was later quite widely copied.
After a ten-day trial of an Eight in early 1905 The Autocar commented: 'At the time it was brought out, wiseacres shook their heads over the engine braking and clutch particularly; in fact they did not hesitate to criticise Mr. Lewis's design, as an experiment... in the Rover we have a small car, well made, which possesses unique features of its own, and which is a vehicle that it is a pleasure to drive... ' The engine 'brake' referred to, that was actuated from the foot pedal, moved the camshaft along so that the valves were progressively closed, and made for very easy driving.
Any doubts about the durability of the Rover Eight were dispelled when R.L. Jefferson drove one across Europe from London to Constantinople in 1905 and the following year he toured India and the Far East. 1907 saw him exploring Africa, again with a Rover Eight.
In the immediate post-World War II period this car was owned by Charles Tufnell of North London and later Essex, who campaigned it extensively in Veteran Car Club rallies. Reports in the VCC Gazettes of the time show that it was a regular award winner and that it was driven to and from events up and down the length, and across the breadth of the country.
The car is smartly turned out and appears to match in all respects contemporary illustrations of the 1908 Rover Eight both externally and mechanically. It has a good folding windscreen, a practical hood, and is equipped with a set of Lucas self-generating acetylene headlamps and oil sidelamps.
After-recommissioning it would be pleasing to see it rallying again, after a break of almost fifty years.
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