The managerial notebook of Frederick Lanchester provides (among other things) insight into a test run for one of the earliest Lanchester cars; the Lanchester eight.

Frederick was one of three brothers who founded the Lanchester Engine Company in 1899 with the aim of producing motor cars to be sold to the public.

Frederick Lanchester kept the notebook between 1899 and 1901 most likely whilst working at the Company’s works in Sparkbrook, Birmingham making the notebook the first manager’s book of the company.

Title page of Frederick Lanchester’s Manager’s Notebook, 1899-1901 [LAN/1/1]

The trial trip

His “notes re Trial Trip of No. 8 car 16/12/01” provides an assessment into different aspects of the car’s performance during a 10-mile trial trip.

The handwritten notes cover four pages of text and are split into fifteen sections. Most sections consist of a grading and an explanatory note and through these sections we are provided with an insight into the design and testing process of early car manufacturing.

As a result of this test run, Lanchester describes the suspension as “Perfect”, whereas other elements such as the clutch required some improvements:

“Clutch. Very smooth but short of leverage & requires care pawl jumps out occasionally (very annoying & might result in clutch being burnt)”

Finding out more…?

If you are interested in reading more the whole notebook has been digitised and is available to view on our Virtual Archive: https://archives.imeche.org/archive/automotive/lanchester-motor-company/managers-notebook-1899-1901?

You may browse our archive catalogue entries relating to Frederick Lanchester here: http://archivecat.imeche.org/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=LAN&pos=1

Get in touch:      archive@imeche.org

                                +44 (0)20 7973 1265


Archives, Institution of Mechanical Engineers

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