Not long ago people normally glued to TV screens rushed out to look at a comet which last appeared in 1600BC apparently, which I cannot vouch for personally. But this did make me wonder if, had I gone out hoping to see a Comet car in the 1920s, I would have as much luck as the 1997 astronomers ? From its name you might think this was a car of sparkling performance, but it was only another of the forlorn light cars that soon became ‘lost causes’, although the only good photograph I have seen does show a quite racy body with abbreviated pointed tail, wire wheels with the spare vertical behind the tail, bucket seats and outside gearchange.
The Comet was said to be designed by an engineer with racing experience. Yet technically there was nothing exciting about the 60x120mm (1952cc) four-cylinder engine, apart from inclined side-by-side valves and a deep ribbed exhaust-warmed manifold with Claudel-Hobson carburettor. Otherwise it was conventional, with thermo-syphon cooling, magneto ignition, fabric-lined cone dutch and three-speed gearbox with expanding transmission brake, pedal-actuated. Although the engine had but two crank bearings, there was full pressure lubrication from a spur-gear pump and it was said to boast racing cam-profiles. The small-bore long-stroke engine gave a reasonable capacity for a modest £11 annual tax. Wheelbase (8ft), track (4ft 4in), tyre size (710×90) and half-elliptic springing gave few clues to its origins. The Preston Autocar Manufacturing Co of Holborn, who presumably imported the Comet, thought that a four-speed gearbox, dynamo and electric lighting and starting set were essentials, with steel artillery wheels standard, though in early 1921 £600 seemed excessive when the sporting Calthorpe cost £435 and the 60mph Westwood sports two-seater £550, for example. If only the prototype was built you would indeed have waited a long time to see this earth-bound Comet.