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London to Brighton Run Sale, Veteran Motor Cars and Related Automobilia / 1900 MMC 6hp 'Charette' Rear-entrance Tonneau Chassis no. 290
Sold for £224,250 inc. premium
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The Motor Manufacturing Company (MMC) was successor to The Great Horseless Carriage Company, which had been founded in 1897 by the infamous entrepreneur and fraudster, Harry J Lawson, and was part of his British Motor Syndicate. Lawson had sought to establish a monopoly of motor manufacturing in Britain by obtaining as many related patents as possible, starting with those of the German Daimler company. His efforts, like those of the Selden patent's owners in the USA, would be frustrated by the courts.
The Great Horseless Carriage Company shared the Motor Mills in Coventry with Daimler's British offshoot and commenced production in 1897 using Daimler engines and gearboxes, while the bodies and wheels were of its own manufacture. Reorganised as The Motor Manufacturing Company in 1898, it continued with Daimler based designs alongside rear-engined types designed by railway engineer George Iden. Motorcycles, tricycles and quadricycles were added to the portfolio and MMC also supplied its engines to other manufacturers. Simplification of the range saw only three models offered for 1902: a single, twin and four, all with front-mounted engines.
In receivership in 1904, MMC relocated to Parkside in Coventry and the company staggered on for the next few years, producing a handful of cars, before being reorganised again in 1907. MMC moved to London but its new owner's ambitious plans came to nought and it effectively ceased to exist in 1908.
Representing MMC at the height of its success, this example is powered by a 1,527cc Daimler vertical twin-cylinder engine with dual ignition (hot tube and trembler coil). It was purchased in 1900 for £380 by Colonel Blake of Woodhams Farm in Winchester, and remained in his family's ownership for the next 53 years. In 1913 its body was removed and the engine coupled to a bandsaw, while during the Great War the 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 London to Brighton Run in 1927, the young Blake brothers, Billy and Richard, who had become great friends with that archetypal Veteran vehicle enthusiast, Richard Shuttleworth, re-commissioned 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 14mph, 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 notable motoring pioneer, Lt-Cdr Montague Grahame-White, who successfully steered it to Brighton despite "steady and depressing" rain. The MMC also took part in the Brighton Runs of 1936, 1937, and 1938. In 1939, ownership passed to another member of the Blake family, Frank. The MMC changed hands within the family again in 1952, reverting to William Henry Cundall 'Billy' Blake, who kept it only a short time. In 1953, the car was acquired by Ernest Hare of Rotherham, who decided to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's coronation by driving the MMC from John O'Groats to Land's End, covering the 876 miles in 10 days between the 4th and 13th of August, accompanied by his 16-year-old son, Geoffrey.
That November, the MMC made its first post-war 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 £1,749, and remained part of the Murcott Collection until 1996 when it was acquired by the Loder family. The MMC then underwent extensive restoration to remove past modifications and return it to 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.
Sold to the current custodian in 2005, the MMC benefited from having the inlet valves removed and compression tested in 2007. New exhaust valves were fitted at this time, and new cables for the braking system installed (details on file). Works continued during 2010 and 2011 when all wheels and chains were removed and checked. The chassis was inspected and lubricated, and the engine checked. Bills for this period totalling over £6,500 are on file.
Included with this Lot are several books including At the Wheel, Ashore and Afloat, and Veterans of the Road, both of which illustrate this MMC. Described by the vendor as in very good/excellent condition, the car passed the UK MoT test from 2006 to 2011 inclusively and is offered with a new V5C document. Prospective purchasers will be delighted to learn that it has an entry into this year's LBVCR.
This is a most important early motor car with an impressive provenance, and is 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?