Car Built Using Only Weekly Magazine Instructions Offered at Bonhams London to Brighton Sale

On 2 November, Bonhams will offer the oldest known example of the 1900 'English Mechanic' 3HP Two Seater, a highly unusual motor car that was designed as a 'build it yourself' vehicle with assembly instructions that were published each week in the English Mechanic in January 1900.

The tuppenny magazine was one of the earliest popular motoring magazines, and in 1900 it began a series called A Small Motor-Car and How to Build It.' The series was published over 31 weeks, and ranged from engine drawings to cylinder cast patterns, everything a young motoring enthusiast needed to build their very own vehicle.

The author built his own car along with the instructions, which subtly changed as he discovered practical flaws in his work. He remained anonymous until the beginning of August -by which stage you should have had a full chassis, running engine, and the makings of a body- when he revealed himself to be a 29-year old engineer called Thomas Hyler-White.

Several English Mechanic cars were built - this is oldest known survivor - but for many years, nobody was quite sure what it was. It was discovered in 1921 in a field in Kent and had been lying there for so long that a tree had grown through the chassis. It was assumed to be a Benz thanks to its single-cylinder engine and was entered under the name in the London to Brighton Run in 1928. It sadly fell by the wayside but managed to finish in both 1929 and 1930.

The owner eventually decided that his veteran probably wasn't a Benz, and that it was more likely an example from the French marque Hurtu. This identity stuck until well after the war until a real Hurtu of similar vintage was unearthed, and the owner had to think again. It wasn't until the 1950s that the English Mechanic was correctly identified by its then owner who gave it a much-needed restoration.

In the 1960s it was acquired by the current owner's father who used it for the Run every November. On the Run in 1972, the owner pulled up at a garage in Redhill where he chanced upon an 85-year-old mechanic who happened to have been a boyhood friend of none other than Thomas Hyler White, the man behind the car's construction instructions. 'We built our on bicycles before the turn of the century, and Hyler-White managed to create a steam engine for his.' he recalled.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewellery. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit


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