c.1910 FN Four-Cylinder  Frame no. 35683 Engine no. U 1049

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Lot 675
c.1910 FN Four-Cylinder
Registration no. LB 645 Frame no. 35683 Engine no. U 1049

Sold for £ 27,600 (US$ 34,915) inc. premium
c.1910 FN Four-Cylinder
Registration no. LB 645
Frame no. 35683
Engine no. U 1049
Like BSA, La Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (‘FN’, for short) began as a munitions manufacturer, turning to the production of motorcycles in 1900. Today the Belgian company is best remembered for its sensational four-cylinder models, the first of which appeared in 1904 and was first exhibited publicly at the 1905 Paris Cycle Show. Designed by Paul Kelecom, the FN was the world’s first practical four-cylinder motorcycle, its smooth, almost-vibrationless operation setting it apart from rival singles and v-twins. Advanced for its day, the 362cc air-cooled four featured ‘atmospheric’ inlet and mechanical (side) exhaust valves, a robust five-bearing crankshaft, individual crankcase oil wells ensuring adequate lubrication for the connecting rods, and reliable Bosch magneto ignition. Shaft final drive was another innovation. Supported on ball bearings, the driveshaft ran inside the right-hand frame member to a bevel gear on the rear axle. At first there was no clutch, the direct-drive machine being started by pedalling away until the engine fired. Two brakes (drum and rim-type) both operated on the rear wheel. The engine was enlarged (to 410cc) in 1906 and again in 1910, on this occasion to 498cc, and in 1911 the factory introduced its own two-speed transmission, similar to that already offered by Horstmann in Britain, which was contained within the drive-shaft housing.

This FN four was purchased by George Smith who owned a garage in Chalk Farm Road, Camden Town, London circa 1910 and given to his son Rowland. Rowland Smith became a despatch rider for the RNAS in WWI and then in the early 1920s opened his own motor showroom in Hampstead High Street. When the business expanded into motorcycles it became Rowland Smith Motors Ltd, one of the largest and best known operators in the trade. The FN was exhibited in the showroom for advertising purposes before being brought to the family home in Devon (Coleton Fishacre, now National Trust owned) when the company was wound up in the 1960s. Rowland Smith died in 1979, followed by his widow died in 1982, and the motorcycle then passed to a descendant who kept it in a centrally heated garage at his home. Earlier this year it was decided to clear the garage and the FN was brought out, its flat tyres pumped up and the dust of years wiped off. Offered for restoration, it represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire an original, four-cylinder, Pioneer-qualified motorcycle benefiting from long-term, single-family ownership.
c.1910 FN Four-Cylinder  Frame no. 35683 Engine no. U 1049
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Buyer's Premium Rates
27.5% on the first £2,500 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £2,500 up to and including £300,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £300,000 up to and including £3,000,000;
and 13.9% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £3,000,000.

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