The ex-Pictom Bradshaw of Dublin, Paul Egestorff and Killarney Motor Museum 1901 Argyll 5hp Spindle Seat Rear Entrance Tonneau Registration no. BS 8477 Chassis no. 106 Engine no. 1334
Scotsman Alexander Govan served his apprenticeship in the cycle industry in Redditch, near Birmingham, taking careful note in the very infant days of the motor car of his employer's move towards importing the new-fangled motor car for re-sale. Govan returned to Scotland in 1899, obtained financial backing from Warren Smith of the National Telegraph Company and set up business in the Hozier Street premises in Bridgeton of the defunct Scottish Cycle Company. Govan established the Hozier Engineering Co. and designed and built his first voiturette before the turn of the century. Early Argyll cars used De Dion and MMC engines. Govan's cars were immediately successful, although it is thought that this cannot be attributed entirely to his own genius as the new cars bore an uncanny resemblance in design to the contemporary Renault models. A vertical, single-cylinder engine was forward mounted, driving through a three-speed gearbox with shaft drive to a live rear axle. A distinctive wrap-around radiator was used with cooling on thermo-syphon principles. Early cars featured vertical tiller steering and were equipped with larger size rear wheels. For the 1901 season more conventional wheel steering replaced the tiller.
This car, referred to for over sixty years as dating from 1900, features the wheel steering and is therefore the 1901 model. Argyll production records do not survive, however it should be noted that Car no.85 in the Glasgow Transport Museum has been attributed the 1900 dating by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain. It is known that the first owner of this car was T Pictom Bradshaw of Dublin who accompanied the first leg of the Irish Motor Tour in this car in 1901. Pictom Bradshaw had specified the more robust wooden artillery wheels at an extra cost of £10 over and above the standard £248 list price. Motor News of November 1901 illustrated this very car, referring to Pictom Bradshaw's ownership 'for a considerable time'. Motor News reported:-
'It has the reputation of being the most silent car in Dublin, and for ease of running it would be hard to beat it. He states that it invariably starts at the first attempt, and that its hill-climbing powers are marvellous'.
Motor News also road tested this car reporting:-
'It is almost completely silent. Even sitting in the car there is no noise to be heard from the exhaust. From the gear, too, there is an entire absence of grind or grating. We noticed, also that changes of speed are effected with the greatest possible facility, and the car is under the most absolute control.'
Glowing praise indeed for Govan's light car. It is thought that this car saw minimal use during Pictom Bradshaw's ownership. It sat unused for 32 or more years in his garage and was finally acquired in 1948, in amazingly original and unscathed condition, by Dublin painter Paul Egestorff, an eccentric and prolific collector of all things, who lodged the car in the living room of his first floor flat in Morehampton Road, Dublin, the Argyll sharing that space with two grand pianos and a wealth of other collectables. Egestorff paid the princely sum of £25 at auction, an impulse buy as he thought that the brave little Argyll was 'gallant and outrageous and deserved saving from the scrap heap'. Although a contemporary newspaper report indicates the car then bore the registration number RI 50, it is thought that the Argyll was never road registered and that that registration number related to a 1903 Winton motor car, also in Egestorff's ownership.
The same newspaper cutting states that the car took part in a veteran car run in 1939, on which occasion Mrs Bradshaw, the original owner, took the wheel. It is thought that that outing was the last time that this car was run.
Irish collector the late Denis Lucey had pursued this car for many years prior to acquisition in the early 1990's. Rescue of the car from the first floor flat involved removal of the coachwork to facilitate retrieval, (see illustrations).
This car, with its remarkable history and originality, took pride of place as the oldest motoring exhibit in the Museum of Irish Transport at Killarney. The car is powered by a single cylinder engine built by the Motor Manufacturing Company, with atmospheric inlet valve and trembler coil ignition. The coachwork is remarkably original in its period varnished wood finish, the condition of the fragile spindle back seats supporting the history of minimal use. The rear entrance tonneau door still bears the Pictom Bradhsaw monogram. This time-warp and highly significant veteran motor car is equipped with FLEC oil side lamps and an oil rear lamp. The current members handbook of the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain records only two earlier surviving Argylls, one in private ownership and the aforementioned Car no.85 on exhibition at the Glasgow Transport Museum.
This car was acquired by the present owner in April 2007 at Bonhams dispersal sale of the Denis Lucey Collection at The Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon. Since acquisition its discerning owner has carried out the most careful conservation work, meticulously retaining the patina that the car had acquired in its first 106 years. Such work has included almost undetectable repair to the spindle seat coachwork and mudguards, reconditioning of the radiator, fitting new tyres and tubes and overhaul of the braking system. The coachwork has been reupholstered in black leather. During this ownership the engine has been started we believe for the first time in almost seventy years. The car has recently passed its MoT test and comes with current test certificate and road fund licence, although it should be noted that the car has not yet been driven on the road.
Full details regarding this car were submitted to the Veteran Car Services Ltd Dating Panel and Certificate No.2540 was issued in December 2007, confirming a 1901 date, modifications noted being simply push pedals in place of press-down piano type pedals and a replacement gear lever.
The vendor can only be congratulated on achieving exemplary conservation work rather than restoring the car to be as bright and shiny as a new pin. We believe this car to be probably the oldest surviving Argyll currently licenced for the road. This pioneering Scottish motor car comes with a most interesting file of historical documentation and articles.