The ex-John Bolster
1910 STANDARD 12HP MODEL J OPEN DRIVE LANDAULET
Registration No. LL 4704
Car No. 2022
Engine No. 2124
Primrose yellow with black mudguards, with black leather front seats, rear interior missing.
Engine: four-cylinder 2 5/8" x 4½" bore & stroke, 1,597cc, L-head monobloc, water-cooled, pressure lubrication, magneto ignition; Gearbox: 3-speed & reverse, cone clutch, shaft-drive to bevel back axle; Suspension: front and rear, semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: rear-wheel and transmission brakes. Right hand drive.
Reginald Maudslay, descendant of that great pioneer precision engineer Henry Maudslay, founded the Standard Motor Company of Coventry in 1903. Since his cousins were already using the family name for the Maudslay motorcars that they were making, Reginald chose 'Standard' to encapsulate his philosophy that the firm's products must be up to standard, that is of good quality. Even in late-Victorian times the word was becoming debased, synonymous with ordinary, and the adoption in 1908 of the Union Flag - a standard - for the radiator badge was undoubtedly an inspired move. This was almost certainly at the suggestion of Charles Friswell who from 1906 played the same role in relation to Standard that S.F. Edge did with Napier, with Friswell handling the whole of Standard's output between 1906 and 1911. The fact that the first motorcars produced by Napier and Maudslay both had their origins in precision engineering firms dating from almost precisely a century earlier is an intriguing co-incidence.
The first Standard motorcars were of unconventional design with horizontal engines, and even when these were replaced with vertical-engined cars of 2, 3, and 4 cylinders, followed by a six in 1905, the business was going nowhere. Friswell's arrival on the scene, at the 1905 Motor Show, marked a turning point for the firm. This successful Peugeot importer with a mixture of bombast and flamboyance, much like Edge, brought Standard motorcars to public attention, although unlike Edge he did not seriously pursue motor racing - which would probably have bankrupted the firm had he done so. His efforts were concentrated on promoting the 'affordable six' and although there is little direct advertising in the motoring press one suspects that Friswell regularly wined and dined journalists as part of his publicity scheme since there are frequent reports on the cars in the motoring journals - always sycophantically favourable. Loaned a six-cylinder car to road test a reporter for The Car Illustrated commented about it in the 17 July 1907 issue: 'The writer … feels bound to admit that it acquitted itself in an admirable manner.' And further: 'We were stopped in traffic for several times, but the car remained in top gear and glided off on each occasion in a smooth manner without shock or jar.'
Whatever the promotional method was that Friswell used, Standard prospered, and in 1910 a concise range of cars was available: two fours, and a brace of sixes. The 12 hp was the smallest offered and was an up to date design with its monobloc integral-head engine, aspirated via side-valves. A glance at just the steering wheel and the 'gas' lever of this car indicates the overall quality of the product and that the original standards set out by Maudslay had not been allowed to slip.
The car carries an attractive landaulet body of the period and the fact that the interior is still cloth-trimmed points to it having been a private motorcar rather than having been used for hire work. The chauffeur, of course, had leather upholstery on which to sit. Both mechanically and externally the car appears to be in authentic condition and presents well. It has a Friswell dealer's plate on the bulkhead together with an H.F. Welham plate, the latter showing that it passed through the hands of the one person who throughout the 1950s and sixties regularly advertised veteran cars for sale in the second-hand columns of The Autocar. In 1949 the car was owned by John Bolster who must have found the Standard's serene pace something of a contrast to the cars with which he is normally associated, but he did appreciate sound engineering in the veterans that he owned, whether it was provided by Panhard-Levassor, Rolls-Royce, or as in this case, Standard.