On his way home from VSCC Loton Park a reader saw an old notice on the wall of a building in a Shropshire town (identity concealed, to prevent a rush of collectors of motoring memorabilia with ladders and chisels) which had once advertised Velocette motorcycles and the Lington cyclecar. This gentleman kindly sent me a copy of his photograph, wondering if it might spark off another “Forgotten Makes” article.
Certainly the Lington was a make of which I had never previously heard. “Georgano”, to whom most historians turn first, dismisses it as a 10hp V-twin shaft-drive car, made in 1920 only, at the engineering company of that name, in Bedford. A bit of digging about revealed rather more. It became’ apparent that this little-known cyclecar had a quite auspicious start. Why it did not survive for rather longer is a mystery, because in 1920 cyclecars had a few more years to run, the A7 not becoming truly established until 1923 or even 1924.
Moreover, the Lington Engineering Cornpany was said to have an extensive factory, 47,000 square feet of it, and claimed to be equipped with such modern machinery that, against the tide of rising prices, the company should be able to hold the Lington steady at 175 for a presentable two-seater. It seems that the Twickenham-based Cornpany was actually making what formerly had been the Elfin, which is even more obscure, installing a proprietary Novelette 57-degree air-cooled vee-twin engine intended for cyclecars, with belt-driven fans, a ribbed sump, a big flywheel and central sparking-plugs.
But not much seems to have happened by the close of 1920, because it had not been decided whether to fit a B&B or an Amal carburettor, even though at least 50mpg was guaranteed. A dry-plate clutch, which it was claimed could be slipped with impunity without harming it, took the drive to a two-speed gearbox via a nickel-steel shaft running on ball-bearings and with Hardy disc-joints at each end. A system of compound levers was said to provide a light clutch operation and the cardan-shaft incorporated a clutch-stop brake to ease gear-shifting. Probably just as well, because the ratios of 4.5 and 11.5 to 1 were rather wide… A kick-starter in the driving compartment was the means of getting the engine to fire, with a half-compression device coupled to it, which lifted the exhaust valves. A curious feature was that the alternative of chain or belt final-drive was offered, sprockets and pulleys being interchangeable. I would have thought most people would have opted for the one-inch-pitch roller-chain, but some may have regarded belts as less costly to replace, quieter and smoother.
Ferodo-lined expanding brakes stopped the Lington, and you could have right or left-hand steering to choice. The 8ft 6inwheelbase chassis was sprung on quarter-elliptics and although a rather shapely body with rounded tail was fitted, equipment was not exactly generous. Lighting was by a Tredelect dynamo supplying just two headlamps and a rear lamp, but potential customers were given a spare wheel rim, a tyre pump and a set of tools. It all sounded reasonably promising. One wonders whether that dealer whose advertising sign has survived ever sold a Lington or two to those who wanted a step-up from their Velocette motorcycles, using them on the then-peaceful Shropshire lanes? Perhaps not, for no more was heard of this fairly civilised cyclecar. Now it is up to those who are inspired by the past to find out what became of that extensive Bedford factory.