1900 MMC Tonneau 'Charette',
Lot 661
1900 MMC 6-hp “Charette” Rear-entrance Tonneau 290
Sold for £115,000 (US$ 145,170) inc. premium

Lot Details
1900 MMC 6-hp “Charette” Rear-entrance Tonneau 290 1900 MMC 6-hp “Charette” Rear-entrance Tonneau 290 1900 MMC Tonneau 'Charette', 1900 MMC Tonneau 'Charette', 1900 MMC Tonneau 'Charette', 1900 MMC Tonneau 'Charette', 1900 MMC Tonneau 'Charette', 1900 MMC Tonneau 'Charette',
1900 MMC 6-hp “Charette” Rear-entrance Tonneau
Registration no. AP 163
Chassis no. 290
Engine no. 343


  • The Motor Manufacturing Company - successor in 1898 to Harry Lawson’s Great Horseless Carriage Company - shared the famous Motor Mills at Coventry with Daimler, which initially supplied the engines and chassis while MMC built the bodywork. Indeed, this car is virtually identical to the contemporary products of the Daimler company which, until the two companies went their separate ways in 1905, occupied the lesser of the Motor Mills buildings.
    Indeed, ‘Petrol’, writing in Motoring Illustrated, commented that: ‘To go down to Coventry without taking a run over the Motor Mills of the Motor Manufacturing Company, Limited, would be like paying a visit to Paris without having a look at the boulevards.’
    Under the management of former railway engineer George Iden, the Motor Manufacturing Company’s works represented the most advanced practice in the infant British motor industry: ‘They believe extensively in automatic machine tools at the Motor Mills, and some of the ‘cutest ideas in the machinery line emanating from the United States, Germany, France, and our own little country are represented in the tool shops,’ noted ‘Petrol’.
    But once Iden abandoned the Daimler design, much time and money was wasted on a complex model programme with ‘costly experiment and neglect of production’. Inevitably, MMC was placed in receivership at the end of 1905, Daimler took over the whole of the Motor Mills for a modest £14,500 and MMC moved away to smaller works at Parkside in Coventry
    The car offered here, powered by a 1527cc vertical twin Daimler engine with dual (hot tube and trembler coil) ignition, represents MMC at the height of its success. It was purchased in 1900 for £380 by Colonel Blake of Woodhams Farm in Winchester and remained in the ownership of his family for the next 53 years. In 1913 its body was removed and the engine was coupled to a band-saw lathe, while during the Great War the old MMC is recorded as having provided power ‘for making parts for bombs, shells and wheelbarrows’.
    With the growth in interest in early cars that followed the revival of the Brighton Run in 1927, the young Blake brothers, Billy and Richard, who had become great friends with that archetypal veteran vehicle enthusiast Richard Shuttleworth, recommissioned the old MMC, which they found ‘in exactly the same position as it had been placed twenty years previously’. Richard Blake entered it for the 1930 Brighton Run as an ‘1897 Daimler’ (but failed to make the start).
    In 1931, now correctly identified as an MMC (but still dated as 1897), the car finished at an average speed of just over 14 mph, repeating the feat the following year. It missed the 1933 Run, but was back in 1934, again finishing in good time.
    In 1935 the MMC was entrusted to a real pioneer of motoring, Lt-Cdr Montague Grahame-White, who successfully steered it to Brighton despite ‘steady and depressing’ rain. The MMC took part in the Brighton Runs of 1936-37-38, and in 1939 ownership passed to another of the Blake family, Frank. The MMC changed hands within the family again in 1952, reverting to William Henry Cundall ‘Billy’ Blake (Richard had died in the interim), but he kept it only a short time. In 1953 it was acquired by Ernest Hare of Rotherham, who decided to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II by driving the MMC from John O’Groats to Land’s End, accomplishing the 876 miles in 10 days on 4-13 August, accompanied by his 16-year-old son Geoffrey.
    That November, the MMC made its first postwar Brighton Run and in 1954 it was officially dated as ‘1900’ by the Veteran Car Club; the next year it was featured in Veterans of the Road, the silver jubilee history of the Veteran Car Club by VCC secretary Elizabeth Nagle.
    Mr Hare retained the car until the end of 1960. It was then sold by VCC stalwart G.F. ‘Uncle Fred’ Hodgkinson to Joseph Vernon Murcott for £1749. It remained part of the Murcott Collection until 1996, when it was acquired by the Loder family and underwent extensive restoration to remove past modifications and return the car to its original specification for exhibition as part of the display of pioneer motor cars at Leonardslee Gardens in Sussex, the inspiration for the setting of Rudyard Kipling’s famous motoring story Steam Tactics. It was entered in the Centenary London to Brighton Veteran Car Run that year and has taken part in several subsequent runs.
    This is a most important early motor car with an impressive provenance, and one of very few veterans to have been at the centre of the old car movement for three-quarters of a century. As MMC’s catalogue stated about their Daimler-engined car, ‘It has been thoroughly tried and proved by the test of time to be the best, most efficient and most economical on the market.’ What better recommendation could there be for a Brighton Runner?

Saleroom notices

  • Included with this lot are several books, 'At the Wheel, Ashore and Afloat' and 'Veterans of the Road' illustrating this MMC within. The car is also MoT'd to August 2006, taxed and has a new V5C document.
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