Lot C551


1914 Chater-Lea 10hp two seat tourer
Reg. no. LN 6411
Chassis no. 302
Engine no. 11215
The Chater Lea company was formed in 1890 by William Chater Lea, who had served his apprenticeship with leading bicycle manufacturers Linley and Biggs. Setting out to found his own company, Chater Lea’s products soon became well-regarded as being of the highest quality. In addition to whole bicycles, the company also sold all parts one could need to build a bicycle, and hence Chater Lea parts found their way into many one-off custom bicycles. This business continued to be a successful endeavour for the company well into the 1960s. As with many bicycle manufacturers, motorcycle production was an obvious step to take, and the first Chater Lea motorcycle was produced in 1903. The first car followed in 1907, an air-cooled V-twin cyclecar. As the company grew, it required a new factory, and in 1911, a fine new five-storey premises was opened in Banner Street, EC1, in the City of London. From a modern perspective, it seems amazing that there was car and motorcycle production right in the financial centre of London – how times have changed! In 1913, a more serious range of cars was launched in the form of the 8hp and 10hp. There were both light cars, but certainly more ‘car-like’ than the cyclecars that had preceded them, with water-cooled 4-cylinder engines, shaft drive and three-speed gearboxes. Car production ended in 1922, with only a few hundred cars made. Only a handful of cars are known to survive.
This 1914 example is the 10hp model. As with their motorcycles, Chater Lea used proprietary engines for their cars, and this car uses the 10hp Singer engine. An excellent choice by Chater Lea, as the 10hp Singer was one of the most widely praised of the pre-Great War light cars, being commended for its willing performance. Indeed, the 10hp Singer was chosen in 1913 by Lionel Martin, of Aston Martin fame, for special tuning, and Martin’s example proved highly successful at Brooklands. This car, then, should prove a sprightly performer. Purchased by the vendor in around 1984, it was stripped back to the chassis in 1985 and restored. The engine was rebuilt with new pistons, with machining and re-metalling carried out by Morris of Lilbourne. The car was also repainted at this time, following a cosmetic restoration in the 70s. The car has, however, not been driven on the public road since the restoration, it is now mellowed and patinated, and will need some recommissioning. The engine is free but has not been run for many years. Sure to be a delightful Edwardian light car when up and running again, this extremely rare car comes with various bills, correspondence, magazine articles, a VCC dating certificate and VSCC eligibility form, plus a V5C.

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£8,000 - 12,000

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