I am sending you some old photographs of our family “chariot” in my youth. It was a 1911 15/20-11-hp SCAT—the forerunner of the Ceirano–the initials standing for Societa Ceirano Automobile Torino, it was, I believe, actually built in the FIAT works at Turin. The engine was of four-cylinder, side-valve type, 857 by 120 mm bore and stroke, and it was started by compressed air, a small air-cooled compressor, driven from an eccentric at the forward end of the crankshaft, delivering, in a single stage, at 400 lb/sq in to a receiver beneath the car. On pressing the starting lever, air was passed through a rotary distributor to starting valves in each cylinder. The engine developed far more power on air than on petrol and often, when nearing the top of a hill, it was easier to press one’s foot on the starter than to swap ratios with the mangle-like cogs, the resulting top gear acceleration being quite remarkable!
I believe that this air-starting system was originally developed by a Mr Harper, of Newton & Bennett Ltd, who were concessionaires in this country for the SCAT. The car was originally equipped with acetylene headlamps, the CAV electric headlamps of the photographs having been fitted by my father in 1914. It would be interesting to know it there are any survivors, in this country, of this unusual marque. This one finished Its days in the engineering department of the Harris Technical College, Preston. As far as I know, the engine, gearbox and rear axle are still there!
I am, Yours, etc,