Thornycroft 20HP Double Phaeten

Car producer : 



20HP Double Phaeten





In 1896, naval engineer John Isaac Thornycroft formed the Thornycroft Steam Carriage and Van Company which built its first steam van. This was exhibited at the Crystal Palace Show, and could carry a load of 1 ton. It was fitted with a Thornycroft marine launch-type boiler. The engine was a twin-cylinder compound engine arranged so that high-pressure steam could be admitted to the low-pressure cylinder to give extra power for hill-climbing. A modified version of the steam wagon with a 6-cubic-yard tipper body was developed for Chiswick council in 1896 and went into service as a very early self-propelled dust-cart. While the original 1896 wagon had front-wheel drive with rear-wheel steering, the tipper dust-cart had rear-wheel drive and front-wheel steering. The Thornycroft tipper was built by the Bristol Wagon & Carriage Works, though engine by Thornycroft.

Thornycroft's first petrol vehicle was built in 1902, and the company completed the move into internal combustion engine power in 1907.

The company is best known as a manufacturer of commercial vehicles, its time as a maker of passenger cars being relatively short, lasting from 1903 to 1913. By 1903 the Thornycroft Steam Wagon Co, as they were the called. Put two types of petrol car into production: one was 10h.p. twin and the other a 4-cylinder 20 h.p. Both were well designed and carefully made, with pressed steel chassis of much greater rigidity than was common then. The footbrake, as usual, worked on the transmission, but the drum was placed on the pinion shaft of the live back axle instead of just aft of the gearbox, as to relieve the universal joints of stress. Both models had automatic inlet valves and trembler coil ignition, but the larger car had a belt-driven dynamo which was an uncommon luxury in 1903.

Clearly influenced by Mercedes practice the firm produced 24 h.p. model for the 1905 season with low tension magneto ignition, mechanical inlet valves and honeycomb radiator; this had separate cylinders but the smaller 14 h.p. Tourist Trophy model of the following year had a Monobloc casting and overhead valves – as did the new 36 h.p. 6-cylinder model.

In 1908 the 14 h.p. model became a 20 h.p., though bore and srtoke remained unaltered, and in 1909 the stroke was increased from 3 ¾ in. to 4 1/2in. whereupon, by some curious reasoning, the h.p. rating was reduced to 18. In 1911 the bore was increased from 3 ¾ in. to 4 in., and the nominal h.p. was still quoted as 18 though in view of the car`s performance it was probably developing some 40 b.h.p. In the 1909/11 period the 36 h.p. 6-cylinder model was gradually dropped in favour of the 45 h.p. model which was very similar to the contemporary Rolls Royce in specifications and price.

For 1912/13 only the 18 h.p. was listed and private car production stopped at the end of 1913, to allow for increased production of the famous Thornycroft lorries.

Sold for: 304750 GBP
Go to restoration
See other models

You may also like these cars

to top