Star Benz 3,5Hp Vis-a-Vis

Car producer : 

Star

Model:

Benz 3,5Hp Vis-a-Vis

Year:

1898-1899

Type:

Vis-a-vis



The Star Motor Company was a British car and commercial vehicle maker based in Wolverhampton and active from 1898 to 1932. At its peak Star was the UK's sixth largest car manufacturer and produced around 1000 cars a year.

Star was founded by the Lisle family who like many other vehicle makers started by making bicycles, in their case in 1893 as Sharratt and Lisle. In 1896 this was changed to the Star Cycle Company.

Planning for the Star car began in 1897 when the company acquired a 3.5 hp Benz car and used it as the basis for the design of their own car. The early vehicles were heavily influenced by existing car makers and the 1898 3.5 was essentially a single-cylinder 3.5 hp Benz and often called the Star-Benz; it had two speeds, chain drive, wire spoke wheels, acetylene lighting, electric ignition, and Clipper pneumatic tires standard, for £189.[5] Star then purchased the rights to produce Star-Benz cars in Wolverhampton and began production at the Stewart Street Works. The cars were now being sold under the Star Motor Company name, a registered subsidiary of Star Engineering Limited, who adopted a policy of building as much as possible in-house. The Star-Benz model sold well and around 250 were made. The cars initially sold for £189 but in 1900 they were selling for £168 and the company was producing 20 a week.

One a week was being made in 1899, and in the first year, they made their first export sale, to Auckland, New Zealand. Exports became a major part of Star's business, particularly to Australia and New Zealand. In 1891 Lisle had adopted a 6 pointed star as their logo which led to a successful suit against Mercedes in 1902 where it was found they had infringed Star's copyright with their 3 or 4 pointed star emblem. In 1900, production had expanded to facilities in Dudley Road and Nelson, Stewart, Ablow, and Dobb Streets. A two-cylinder three-speed model appeared that year, also, at the Richmond Automobile Club Show. Encouraged by founder Edward Lisle, they were also being entered in the 1000 Miles' Trial (where it proved fragile), along with "every test or competition for which they were eligible". In 1901, the 7 and 10 with vertical twin De Dion engines and in 1902 a four-cylinder 20 hp appeared. In 1903, copying the leading maker, Mercedes, Star introduced a 12 hp four, and set a record of 39 mph (63 km/h) on a 2-mile (3.2 km) run in County Cork, Ireland, under the auspices of the Irish Automobile Club. In addition, two Stars ran in the Isle of Man qualifying races for the Gordon Bennett Cup; neither 10-litre car made it. From 1904 only four-cylinder models were made.

In 1902 the Star Motor Company changed its name to the Star Engineering company. The company rapidly expanded and diversified, expanding the Stewart Street works and obtaining additional premises in neighbouring streets. The company built a new factory in 1903 on a 40,000sq.ft. sit on Frederick Street. Star began to create their own more advanced designs and in 1903 several new models were released. Particularly popular was the 'Little Star' model released in early 1904 which had a 7 hp. twin cylinder engine and sold for £175.

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.

For 1906, there was a new 3261 cc (200 ci) 14 hp four,[5] as well as a new six, the 6227 cc (380 ci) 30 hp; the six, increased in displacement to 6981 cc (426 ci) in 1909, lasted until 1911 The main Star company continued to make well engineered models up to the outbreak of war in 1914 adding a range of vans and trucks to the output and became one of the six largest British car makers.

The Star Cycle Company run by Lisle's son, also called Edward, had continued in business building bicycles and motorcycles and in 1905 entered the car industry in its own right. The company was affected by the deep depression that hit the bicycle industry in 1905. In order to combat the decline in sales Star decided to produce a cheaper car called the 'Starling' that sold for £110. Although the name of these cars was changed to 'Stuart' the 'Starling name was readopted in 1907 and production continued until 1909.[7] In 1907, there was a 1296 cc (79 ci) single and a 1531 cc (94 ci) twin and the Stuart (Starling after 1907), with chassis from Hopper, a Barton-on-Humber cycle maker (which sold them as Torpedoes) The decision was taken in 1909 to make the Star Engineering Company a limited liability company with the Star Cycle Company becoming a subsidiary company. Joseph Lisle, one of Edward's sons, was appointed managing director of the company. To avoid confusion a new company, the Briton Motor Company was formed in 1909 and the products were badged as Britons. Briton took control of production of the 'Starling' and 'Stuart' and the first two cars were a 2282 cc (139 ci) 12 hp twin and a 2413 cc (147 ci) 14 hp four; the 14 hp (10 kW) became available as a Star in 1910.

Star proper took advantage of export sales, and saw racing success in South Africa, a 14 hp (10 kW) winning the Transvaal Automobile Club hillclimb, and the New Zealand national hillclimb championship. For 1913, there was a 1743 cc (106 ci) Briton, which became the 10/12 in 1914 Stars accorded themselves well in the 1909 Irish Reliability Trial, while a 12 hp (8.9 kW) won its class in all the hillclimbs of the Scottish Automobile Club trial, where a new 2862 cc (175 ci) '15 hp' (actually 19.6 hp) debuted; it would persist three years.

In 1912, Star introduced the torpedo-bodied 15.9 hp, with a 3016 cc (184 ci; 80x150mm) four and new bullnosed radiator; originally for export, it proved aesthetically pleasing, and was adopted for all models. It was quick, as well, running an RAC trial of 801 mile (1289 km) at Brooklands at an average 66.75 mph (107.42 km/h) that year. The 15.9 would remain in production until 1922.

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