Friday, May 26, 2023

Barn-find Enfield car is rare and special

Barn-find Enfield automobile circa 1910.
It's an Enfield car, circa 1910, found in Australia. 

 An ancient (1910?) Enfield car (an actual automobile, not one of the well known Royal Enfield quadricycles) has turned up in a barn in Australia. It is something so rare and special that historical information is lacking. 

It's not in a museum; it is to be sold. But where to auction it? What kind of Enfield is it? And what is something so rare worth? 

The sellers are hoping readers of this blog can provide information. Their contact email address is below, near  the end of this item. 

Probably few people on earth collect Enfield cars. Most people probably don't even know that, in its early years in Britain, Royal Enfield built cars, not motorcycles, and quite nice looking ones, too. 

Enfield car, circa 1910, found in Australia.
Enfield car is a sporty roadster. 

But sales were slow and the Enfield car business was sold to the colorfully named Alldays & Onions car makers in 1909-'10. 

Alldays moved production from Redditch to Birmingham, but continued to call the cars Enfields, and even used the "Made Like A Gun" motto in advertising! 

Enfield cars eventually became the same as Alldays designs and the combined firm stopped making cars with the 1924 models.

Radiator logo of Enfield automobile.
Radiator badge of Enfield car used "Made Like A Gun" motto.

A 1909 Alldays & Onions car looking similar to the Australian barn-find went to auction in the UK in 2018. That would seem to answer questions about the mystery Enfield in Australia. Except: the auctioned Alldays had a two-cylinder motor. The Australian car has a similar looking, but four-cylinder, motor.

Here's what the Australian contact, Chris Dean, wrote me:

"We have discovered an Enfield roadster in a barn in Western New South Wales, Australia. It is an inland area several hundred kilometers from the coast. It has been stored in a shed and has not been effected by sea air and as such there is no rust anywhere. It is in remarkable condition.

Enfield car found in Australian barn.
Upholstery and wicker box appear fresh.

"The engine turns over but it has been in a barn for many years, although there is a registration certificate showing that it was registered until 29th November 2007 as a 1910 model.

"It may well be earlier? It has been difficult to get any history in that there is only a small population in the area that it was found and many of the old timers in the farming community have passed.

"The car is unmolested other than the seat has been reupholstered and the rear wicker basket appears to be relatively new. The paint is very good. There is the odd chip here and there but overall very good.

"It had the mandatory coating of dust, which has probably given it some protection, silly as that might sound. The brass work is excellent and has been left as it was found. The radiator badge 'Made Like a Gun' appears to be attached with the original rivets.

Enfield car with coating of dust.
Barn-find Enfield with coating of dust.

"We feel that this car should go back to the U.S. or UK for auction. We honestly don't know where to go with it.

"I am hoping that you can give us a steer as to how and where we could get an indication of price for this as we are going to sell it and because it is so rare so far nobody has given any real indication.

"Is there a chance one of your readers could throw some light on this?

"My contact information can be by either email at japanesequality@yahoo.com.au or if somebody wanted to call me (61)410630261. I am Chris Dean of 4 Maid Street, Southport Queensland 4215, Australia."

So, reader, lend a hand if you can.

"I should have mentioned earlier that this could be a real bargain for a buyer from the U.S. in that there is currently a huge difference in the currency exchange rate," Chris wrote me.

Period ad for 1912 Enfield cars.
Period ad for 1912 Enfields shows a similar car.

In my opinion the barn-find Enfield is a nice looking vehicle, being a very sporty roadster rather than one of the huge dreadnoughts typical of its era. I looked up Enfield cars in Peter Miller's book "Royal Enfield The Early History, 1851-1930" and found much to ponder.

Checking photos in the book I would say the barn-find vehicle most closely resembles a 1909 design. Chief evidence I see is the oval shape of the radiator opening, which varies a lot on Enfield cars through the years. The illustration I have in mind appears on Page 67 of the book.

Peter writes "The second new model (for the 1909 season) was the 30/35 Enfield, which was powered by a 6107cc (120X135mm) four-cylinder engine. This was derived from the 1906 24-30 model designed by Mr. Guillon (Enfield's Works Manager before the sale to Alldays) and had no equivalent in the Alldays range; it would be offered for only two years. It was priced at 367 pounds 10 shillings as a chassis for customers' own choice of body or $441 pounds with five-seater side-entrance bodywork fitted. It was also available with shooting brake bodywork for country use."

A shooting brake? Loosely speaking, could that be what we have here?

It's circumstantial evidence, but note that the Enfield "Built Like a Gun" logo on the radiator does not include a reference to the car having been made in "Birmingham," as Alldays cars were. Judging from Peter's book, Alldays seems to have added that to the logo, probably soon after it moved production from Redditch to Birmingham.

If that suggests this car was one of  the last Enfield autos still made in Redditch, it seemingly qualifies as among the last of the Enfield cars produced by the ancestor of the Royal Enfield motorcycle maker that exists today in India.

Normally I would end this blog item here, but there's one last point of interest: the motor. To my eyes the four-cylinder motor in the barn-find Enfield appears to closely resemble the two-cylinder motor in the 1909 Alldays auctioned in 2018 in Britain. The Enfield motor almost looks like a doubled version of the Alldays motor. Here are photos (click on images to enlarge them):

1909 Alldays motor.
1909 Alldays motor, left side.
Motor in barn-find Enfield.
Enfield motor, left side.
1909 Alldays motor.
Alldays motor, right side.
Motor in barn-find Enfield, right side.
Enfield motor, right side.

Note: Your eyes do not deceive you. There are indeed two spark plugs per cylinder in both motors. I understand this provides one plug for starting on the hand crank and a second plug for running once the magneto gets rolling.

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous6/15/2023

    Great photographs

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous7/02/2023

    I have an authenticated 1912 enfield autocar roadster

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous1/26/2024

    antic car

    ReplyDelete

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