This rare Belgian car was bought by George Milligen for £800 at the sale of the Sword Collection in 1965. It had been found near Edinburgh by John Sword in the late 1950s and was in part-restored condition. It was completely stripped and rebuilt by George Milligen. It now appears ready to run after gentle reconditioning. Its unorthodox 3-litre engine turns freely and has compression.
Its crankcase bears the stamped date 1915 and the crankshaft webs are engraved .Gusstahlfabrik Felix Bischoff Duisberg a/Rh Special Autostahl 1914.
Among the unusual features of this car are the engine configuration, for it has overhead exhaust valves and side inlet valves and has eight spark plugs, set four in the top of the engine, four in the side. Priming cups are fitted to each cylinder. SAVA also used an unorthodox lubrication system, in which the oil pump was driven from the gearbox, so that the oil pressure varied according to the speed. The marque claimed to be the first Continental marque to employ a worm back axle.
The pressure in the petrol tank is maintained by an engine-driven pump and the car is fitted with a Zenith carburettor. The Bosch magneto has a special distributor to supply all eight plugs, the leads for the set on the inlet side being routed through the block between cylinders 2 and 3. The bulkhead is a complex aluminium casting. The comprehensive equipment includes Geeko electric headlamps the dynamo is mounted above the magneto and driven through a Whittle link belt - and an Apollo electric horn on the offside front wing. The lamps are controlled through a fine dashboard-mounted Brolt switch-box incorporating both a voltmeter and an ammeter.
The Société Anversoise pour Fabrication des Voitures Automobiles was formed in Antwerp in 1910 as successor to the eight-year-old Royal Star marque. SAVA was represented in England by the David Brown group, builders of the Valveless car (and much later the purchasers of Aston Martin and Lagonda).
The unusual engine design gave good performance, inspiring SAVA to pursue a concentrated sporting policy, which saw Lucien Hautvast become the man of the meeting at Ostend in 1912 by winning the Coupe Williame and the Coupe Van der Linden at the wheel of a SAVA 18/24. SAVA also did well in that years Brussels-San Sebastian Rally.
In 1913, the year that SAVA adopted the stylish bullnose radiator seen on this car, works driver René Berger achieved the remarkable speed of 77 mph on cobbled roads with his 3.4-litre SAVA at the Antwerp Automobile Clubs speed trial. Later that year Berger and Sauvenière won the team prize for SAVA in the Belgian Grand Prix with their 3.2-litre SAVAs. A new 3.3-litre racer with overhead inlet valves and two plugs per cylinder was introduced for 1914 and competed in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race, but failed to distinguish itself.
The SAVA factory suffered tremendous damage in World War I and began its post-armistice activity by manufacturing signalling apparatus, later bringing out a 20 HP directly derived from the prewar exhaust-over-inlet sports chassis, but with the option of four- wheel brakes.
The company was taken over by its bitter rival Minerva in 1923 and its factory became a spare parts store and repair garage.