The A.V., which was in production at Teddington from 1919 to 1924, was a cyclecar pure and simple. Ward & Avey Ltd. bought the design from John Carden, who had evolved it before the war but who was obsessed with his £100 two-stroke cyclecar on returning to “civvy street.”
Production of this sporting-looking single-seater or monocar commenced in 1919 at a substantial factory in Somerset Road, Teddington, which today is occupied by Messrs. Grundy, who make milk churns amongst other things.
Harry Severn was with A.V. from the start and it was to A.V. Motors Ltd., who have since moved to Park Road, that I drove to interview him, a journey which involved going through Bushey Park; here London buses take their passengers for a brief space into open parkland where the deer roam free.
In the showroom window of A.V. Motors was a very splendid example of the A.V. Monocar, borrowed from its owner through a contact made by MOTOR SPORT and which he had driven down from Doncaster without trouble on three gallons of petrol. Examining this astonishing solution to the economy-car problem one is reminded that the A.V. consisted of a hull stiffened by two side-members, in the tail of which reposed an air-cooled vee-twin engine. This drove through a two-speed epicyclic gearbox to the back axle, which was sprung on 1/4-elliptic springs. An outside lever selected neutral and the change of speed was effected by a foot pedal. The Carden had been a single-speed device but Ward & Avey decided that a gearbox would be kinder to the driver. Final drive was by roller chain.
The nose of this slim cyclecar terminated in a point, the petrol and oil tanks being accommodated under this streamlined decking. Quite remarkable was the front axle, which was of centre-pivot type, as on some traction engines. It was sprung on a single central, very flimsy, leaf spring and as this spring was free to slide in a slot in the axle, the latter was not located by anything save its pivot, which Mr. Severn told me was just a plain steel bearing !
The engine stuck out of the tail and so was exposed to the weather. It was started by unclipping a wooden handle, which was attached to a length of roller chain. This was then pulled up over a sprocket, to turn the engine. Steering was by wire-and-bobbin, the bobbin consisting of an alloy pulley behind the steering wheel to which cables, passing over pulleys on the dash, were anchored. The A.V. was extremely narrow, having a track of only 2 ft. 6 in. in conjunction with a wheelbase of 6 ft. 6 in. There is evidence that when an owner lost a wheel he was able to go home on three wheels, a tribute to the rigidity of the body/chassis structure if not to the quality of the wheel spindle.
It seems that the original plan was to build a water-cooled model with side-by-side staggered seats. But in May 1919 demonstration models were not ready and customers were asked to wait until October. In the end the air-cooled model was offered in 1920. Based on the even-more-simple Carden which cost £70 before the war the A.V. was listed at £146 5s. with 5-h.p. 70 x 85 mm. (654 c.c.) J.A.P. engine, £154 2s. 6d., with 6-h.p. 76 x 85 mm. (770 c.c.) J.A.P. engine, and £156 7s. 6d. with 8-h.p..85 x 85 mm. (988 c.c.) J.A.P. engine.
A de luxe model with padding behind and above the seat and a crude back-rest, so that an extra passenger could be carried with his or her feet over the side and resting on the running board, was available for an additional £3 10s. Hood and wheel discs were also extras.
Harry Severn told me that Blackburne and M.A.G. engines were also used. He puts the total output of A.V.s at several hundreds and some 80 people were employed at the peak of production. The bodies were supplied by the Thames Valley Pattern Works, which is still operating. They were made from whatever materials were available, plywood, compressed paper or mahogany, but the last-named was prone to split. The wheels were made in the factory, boys being employed to put the spokes in, and the epicyclic gearbox was assembled there, while they made their own clutch plates and brazed proprietory hubs to the axle-ends. The standard colour of the A.V. was red, with black mudguards.
At Brooklands Major Empson raced an A.V. Monocar and he and a Mr. Lyons had the A.V. agency in Bond Street.
Later the A.V. Bicar was introduced, of which perhaps fifty were sold. It had side-by-side seats, a vee-shaped prow, stub-axle steering and the engine, either an 8-h.p. J.A.P. or an 8- or 10-h.p. Blackburne, was now fully enclosed in the tail. A three-speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox was used, with a built-on reverse gear, and the price was £160.
Mr. Severn is of the opinion that the advent of the Austin Seven killed the A.V. and similar cyclecars. At all events, production ceased in 1924 and a Jowett agency was taken. Even today A.V. Motors service and supply spares for Jowett Javelin and Jupiter cars but when Jowett closed down they took on a Rootes agency. Mr. Avey has for many years been a keen rally driver and a fine assembly of silverware in his office is proof of his prowess at the wheel of a TR Triumph.
Incidentally, the as-new A.V. lent for display in the showroom was used for but a few months of its life and only the hood required renewing. There is another A.V. Monocar in the Montagu Motor Museum but it is in nothing like such good condition. – W. B.
While driving over the route of the “Boxing Night Exeter” in a modern car we encountered an early Sunbeam motorcycle and sidecar, complete with the famous chaincase, in Honiton and an early model-A Ford tourer making its way purposefully through Dorchester.
The Vintage Motor Cycle Club announces that this year its popular Banbury Run will be held on June 26th.
Those who enjoy books about the Edwardian era should read “Inner and Outer Circles,” by Kathleen West. Two early cars are prominently referred to in this charming study of life in a more spacious age, in the area of London’s Regent’s Park and at Yockley in Hampshire. The makes are not named but we have since been told by the authoress that the fierce open car at the country house was a Clement Talbot, the dignified closed town car of her father’s Delaunay-Belleville.
We have a torch which may have been lost during the “Boxing Night Exeter” near the refuelling stop in Exeter. If the owner describes it correctly we shall be glad to hand it over or send it on to him.
It is reported that an engine from a G.W.K. of about 1924/25 vintage has lain for many years in a barn in Surrey and could be bought by anyone interested, and the chassis of a Hadfield Bean is said to be standing derelict in the West Country.
The owner of the ex-Peter Aitken 1934 T.T. Replica Blackburn Frazer Nash, AMT 415, would like to correspond with other owners of these cars.
A Bullnose Morris, circa 1923, has literally been dug up and now lies, in not too bad a condition, in Nottingham. It has a saloon body with unusual sliding doors. We have also heard of a late vintage Rolls-Royce in Leeds, with some spares for a Citroën circa 1925.
Further finds. Under a pile of sacks and farm machinery in a Norfolk barn the remains of a 1926 Bentley, minus engine, radiator and back axle, have been discovered, and in the same barn is a 1930 Talbot saloon. A repair manual for late vintage Chevrolet cars and trucks is available to anyone requiring it. Letters Can be forwarded.
The Editor of MOTOR SPORT acquired recently a 1929 Standard Nine Taignmouth fabric saloon which had never been driven by anyone but its first owner for the last thirty years but was replaced this year by a new Standard Vanguard Vignale. The old car made the 133 miles journey home without faltering, including ascending Birdlip Hill in the snow while modern cars had been brought to a standstill.
We hear that amongst cars seeking new owners for nominal sums are a 1928 Singer Junior Saloon with re-wound magneto, a 1929 Austin Twenty with truck body, and a one-owner 1928 Citroën saloon. There are also major spares for a 1922 Fiat 501 and a Wolseley Fifteen o.h.s. saloon.
In Kent, a 1926 Armstrong Siddeley 4/14 doctor’s coupé is being restored, for which a water pump is needed. A very dilapidated Rover Eight flat-twin had been keeping it company.