1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis

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Lot 101
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
Registration no. CE 261

Sold for £ 92,220 (US$ 116,695) inc. premium
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
Registration no. CE 261

*Rare British make
*A pre-war London to Brighton Run participant
*Restored in the early 1950s
*Offered from long-term museum display

Footnotes

  • One of Britain's top six motor manufacturers prior to World War One, the Wolverhampton-based Star Motor Company produced its first automobile in 1898. A close neighbour of Sunbeam, the company had been founded by Edward Lisle Sr, proprietor of the Star Cycle Company that would later build its own Starling cars under the guidance of his son, Edward Jr. Star's first automobile was a built-under-license Benz, though it was manufactured entirely in Wolverhampton, which remained in production into 1902.

    German engineer Carl Benz is credited with making the first internal combustion engined automobile that performed with any degree of success. By the turn of the 20th century Benz was producing the popular Velo, amongst other models, sales of which outstripped those of its other major European competitors. The Benz engine design, both in single- and twin-cylinder form, was licensed to other manufacturers, including Star. The basic Benz design was to influence car production for some 15 years from 1885 to 1900, until the arrival of the new Système Panhard and also De Dion-Bouton's fast revving vertical engines sounded its death knell.

    Progressing from that first single-cylinder 3½hp Benz-based design, Star added twin- and four-cylinder cars to a diverse and expanding range of De Dion, Panhard and Mercedes types, and built its first six in 1907. For the 1905 Gordon Bennett Cup, the firm built two monstrous 10.2-litre 70hp four-cylinder racers, based on the Mercedes Sixty, though neither was selected to take part.

    Although technically un-adventurous in its early years, Star built up a deserved reputation for building luxuriously appointed and well constructed cars, aided by the fact that it made most of its parts, chassis frames excepted, in house. Commercial vehicle manufacturer Guy Motors acquired Star in 1927 and the firm changed hands again in 1932, but by then the ongoing economic downturn was hitting luxury car manufacturers hard and by 1935 Star was gone.

    Nothing is known of the early history of this Star Benz, which first came to the Veteran Car Club's attention in 1932 when it was rescued by C C Hayward of Ashford in Kent, who discovered it powering a saw-bench. The car was complete apart from the carburettor, which had been replaced with a Zenith. C C Hayward was an early member of the VCC, and 'CE 261' was entered in the 1938 Brighton Run, driven by D Copley and L Lloyd-Jones.

    Along with its stablemates - a Beeston Humber forecar, a Humberette and two early Cadillacs - 'CE 261' was severely damaged by enemy action during the war. The body was completely burnt away and the wire wheels were a tangled mess, but apart from a few small fittings the rest of the metalwork survived intact.

    C C Hayward passed away before the war's end and his cars were put away and stored in a shed. The least damaged Cadillac was re-commissioned in 1946 or '47 by his son Gordon Hayward (who with C F B Hayward ran C Hayward & Sons, Automobile Engineers of 20/46 New Street, Ashford, Kent) while the Star was restored in 1954 and submitted for VCC dating. The biggest headache seems to have been the replacement of the wheels and tyres, which were eventually rebuilt by Dunlop. Details supplied by the VCC were used to recreate the body to as near original pattern as possible, although it first reappeared with flat, square-cut wings which the Dating Committee felt should have been curved.

    The Star was entered for eleven Brighton Runs from 1956 to 1966 by the Haywards, and seems to have completed all successfully. In 1967 and 1968 it was entered by Gordon S Fowler and in 1969 by Mrs Jessie Fowler and Mr G S Fowler, reaching Brighton on every occasion. The latter couple entered it in 1970, '71 and '72, but it did not reach Brighton in 1970 and did not start in '71 or '72.

    We are advised by the vendor that for the last 25-30 years the car has been on display in a private museum on the Isle of Man, and is offered now in need of re-commissioning prior to further use. Accompanying documentation consists of an old-style continuation logbook and a V5 registration document.
Contacts
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
1899 Star Benz 3½hp Vis-à-Vis
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