Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

Like many well-known brands, the brand Lanchester received the name from its own founder, Dr. Frederick Lanchester. Being one of the brightest intellectuals of his time, he designed not only cars, but also boats and even airplanes.

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In 1896, Lanchester built his first car, which, unlike other models, was based on a non-self-driving crew. The car was powered by a 1.3-liter single-cylinder engine; in the engine, the piston set in motion two connecting rods, each acting on its own crankshaft and flywheel. This design provided an extremely smooth ride.

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Four years later, the release of six cars equipped with an engine of 4033 cm3 with two opposed cylinders and air-cooled followed. In this design, as in the previous ones, there were two crankshafts, as well as a planetary gearbox and a lever located at the side wall instead of the steering wheel. The first Lanchester cars went on sale in 1901, the year the king ascended to the throne of King Edward.The history of the British automotive industry Lanchester and went - as "a great car no less magnificent Edwardian era." Despite the tremendous success, already in 1904, the company declared itself bankrupt, and Frederick Lanchester himself was forced to move to Daimler Motor as a consultant and technical adviser.

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In 1931, the shares of Lanchester Motor Company were acquired by BSA, which had nothing to do with the auto industry and specialized in the manufacture of small arms. And although the Lanchester brand did not cease to exist, the cars created under this brand did not constitute anything outstanding.

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Already in the first months after the end of the Second World War, the BSA tried to start producing cars as soon as possible. While the designers were developing a relatively inexpensive post-war model, the company bought and thoroughly studied the French Panhard Dyna. It was a small, but very technological for its time family machine, developed by Jean-Albert Gregoire. He designed it right under the nose of the German invaders. The most original feature of the car was the use of aluminum in a light but rigid chassis, to which an independent suspension was attached,2-cylinder engine, 4-speed gearbox, located at the rear axle, and 4-door aluminum body.

It seemed that the company had almost made the decision to conclude a contract with Panhard and build the Dyna model. However, in those years, the company did not have the ability to produce its own body - this situation was typical for the British automotive industry of the 1940s, and the Atticley-led office also imposed restrictions on the purchase of imported components, which made production particularly unprofitable.

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As a result, BSA abandoned the Dyna project and remembered Lanchester. In 1950, the market launched a 2-liter Lanchester Fourteen. This machine was the basis for the successful Daimler Conquest, equipped with a 2.4-liter overhead valve "six". From this year, on all Lanchester and Daimler cars they installed a carrier chassis, an independent torsion bar front suspension (with upper and lower wishbones), a planetary gearbox and a rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs in the suspension. Salon custom-made trimmed with wood, leather and carpets - it turned out quite a traditional British premium interior.Two versions of the Lanchester Fourteen were developed and released: the first with a traditional wooden frame and a steel-covered case, the second with a completely steel case ordered from Pressed Steel. The Lanchester Leda badge adorned 100% steel, but the production of this model began only in the first months of 1952, and indeed it was immediately reoriented for export.

In January 1953, because of health problems, the then head of the BSA, James Leakp, resigned, and Sir Bernard Docker, who added Daimler's CEO to his other duties, took his place. The position of chief engineer of the company was held by the pedantic conservative Cyril M. Simpson. Experienced experts such as Ron Doutry, Sidney Shelard and the brilliant Dr. Tate were under his direct submission. At the end of 1953, it was to this brigade that Simpson requested to develop a new model under the internal code LM150.

The Leda model with its fully steel casing turned out to be the first, very cautious step - Daimler, like Rolls-Royce, then acted as the main bastion of archiconser-vative British engineering, the logical continuation of which was to be the production of a completely bearing body. And the cohesive team of BSA engineers moved together in this direction.

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It was decided that the LM150 housing would become a single structure of pressed steel without a chassis, and many external panels would be made of aluminum. Ego was the first of Lanchester. The floor of the car was made flat, not counting the modest transmission tunnel and the thresholds of the box section. He was given additional stiffness due to the reinforced wall of the engine compartment and the rear seat ramp — a very strong structure, similar to the bottom of a boat, was obtained. In front of the front wall of the body, the internal parts of the front wings are reinforced with triangular box-section elements designed to carry the details of an independent front suspension. At the rear elements of the box section, stiffening ribs were used to support the rear suspension springs, as well as a transverse vaulted structure above the rear axle in order to reinforce the entire rear section of the body.

Decorative trim for models Fourteen, Leda and Sprite was carried out on its own and a special gloss did not differ. Sprite strongly resembled the ill-fated Singer SM1500, the last one released by Singer.

A feature of the case was a solid block from the engine hood, front fenders, grille and headlights, hinged to the front wall of the body and rising up to facilitate access to the engine during maintenance and repair.The same principle of easy access to the engine is used in three other English cars of that era: in the first version of the Austin-Healey Sprite (model known as “Beetle Eye”), Triumph Herald and Spitfire, as well as in the legendary Jaguar E-type.

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Sprite was developed as a car with a very comfortable interior, where, if necessary, six people could be accommodated. Therefore, the appropriate dimensions for it were chosen: 4 m in length, 1.7 m in width, 1.5 m in height with a wheelbase of 251 cm and a distance between the wheels of one axle of 130 cm. The weight of the machine was approximately 1065 kg.

About the car engine, many then wrote that it was a completely new development, but in fact the car was equipped with a 4-cylinder version of the 2.4-liter six-cylinder Daimler Conquest. The diameter of the cylinder and the piston stroke were the same for them and were 76.2 x88.9 mm with a volume of 1622 cm3. Interestingly, the Navy engine for the B Series, just four years later, was brought to the same volume with the same parameters.

The Sprite engine with overhead valves had a very advanced design for its time, especially considering that everything happened in Britain (after the war in Foggy Albion was very far behind in these matters).Both the cylinder block and its head were made of cast iron, with all eight holes of the piston chambers located to the right of the engine, as seen from the driver's seat. Valves were controlled by pusher rods from a camshaft mounted on the side, with valves tilted at a slight angle in the heart-shaped combustion chamber. It was the fruit of the work of the engine consultant Harry Wesleyk. The crankshaft was a statically and dynamically balanced forged product and rotated in three steel bearing bearings filled with babbitt. The pistons were made of aluminum alloy. At a compression ratio of 7: 1 and with a small carburetor with a falling air flow Zenith, the output power was 60 brake horsepower at 4200 rpm. In 1955, these were the average indicators for this class of car.

By the mid-1950s, all British car manufacturers with some delay switched to an independent front suspension with two transverse levers of extruded steel and a coil spring as a cushioning element. This scheme was also used in Sprite - the plate torsion bars from Fourteen were not installed on it.However, if in most models the suspension elements were attached to a bolted crossmember, in Sprite, the front suspension fasteners were carried out separately to each side of the body, which required exceptional accuracy in the production of the supporting body structure. Only in this way was the parallel installation of the wheels.

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Instead of a swivel pin with a brass bushing and lubrication nipples that required constant care to avoid wear and degradation of the suspension, Lanchester engineers used upper and lower swivels with one nipple for lubrication in each. The wishbone pivots swiveled with a rubber bushing that did not require regular maintenance.

Behind it was a movable banjo-type bridge, suspended on semi-elliptical leaf springs, also fixed with rubber bushings to reduce the frequency of maintenance. In the suspension of all wheels used telescopic double-acting shock absorbers.

For braking, a fully hydraulic Girling system was used (and not hydromechanics, which prevailed in post-war English cars) with cast-iron brake drums with a diameter of 22 cm and two primary brake pads in front.The Bishop crank case was located directly in front, along the radiator, with the steering tips working in front of the centers of the front wheels. The steering column was a steel rod almost 1.8 m long with a steering wheel, which had three spokes and spring-loaded elements.

Simpson and Chief Experimental Engineer Tate decided that the LM150 would be the first British small car supplied exclusively with automatic transmissions. Several options have been tested, including the Wilson gearbox with a pre-selection of gear to be used, which was used in other models of the company. In the end, it was decided to equip the LM150 with a 4-speed Mecha-matic automatic transmission developed by Australian Howard Hobbes and his eldest son John.

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The Hobbes transmission consisted of two clutches in the front that allowed the main starting load to be shifted onto the three clutch discs. Unlike the Wilson gearbox, there was no clutch with pressure band. The mechanism also did not have gears and outer rings and there was no planetary gearbox - this made the transmission easier.The power train was completely mechanical, which excluded hydraulic energy losses. Oil pressure drives clutches and discs with a pump driven by an engine, with pressure and power controlled by a hydraulic device. The second pump was driven by a power take-off shaft and served to supply oil to the hydraulic device, which made it possible to automatically change gears when changing speed. A mechanism was also provided for a quick shift to a lower gear with a sharp pressing of the accelerator pedal, the ability to start towing and protection from accidentally selecting a too low gear.

The Phase 1 chassis - 70010-70014 was allocated for the initial testing and revision program. One of those cars was exhibited at the 1954 London Motor Show called the Lanchester Sprite, whose past was linked to Riley and the future to the Navy. The cost of the car was £ 1077 (approximately $ 3017).

Deliveries were scheduled for next spring. Exposed car was
one of the three that existed in nature at that time. Two of his fellows were tested at MIRA, where, according to Daimler and Lanchester club reporter Tony Freeman,“The obligatory 1,000-mile tests had to be carried out in several stages, because parts spilled from the car, not counting problems with the gearbox and rigidity.”

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Development continued, but in a slightly different direction. The cost of production has risen to heights completely unacceptable for the leadership of the BSA, and this is what caused the most serious change. Here is what Colin Bromfield, who was once an intern at Daimler, and now a member of the club of the owners of Daimler Lanchester, recalls: “There were serious differences between the main participants of the LM150 program, and as the costs of it grew all the time, by Daimler Conquest to work on Sprite. ”

That is why the Daimler / Lanchester booth at the London Motor Show in 1955 exhibited two significantly modified Lanchester Sprite Phase 2: one is silver-silver, the other is silver-black. In addition to the obvious differences in appearance, there were fundamental technical differences between the machines. The front suspension on the coiled springs gave way to a torsion suspension while retaining the transverse levers from Phase 1. In this case, long torsion shafts (and not lamellar torsions, as in Daimler Conquest) were attached to the I-beam
section in the middle of the base of the body.This change was made using screwdrivers.

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To improve the rigidity of the hull, the two struts of the embryonic chassis were stretched to the rear and the rear axle was supported on them, while the other two struts sent forward from the I-beam. As the former owner of the only surviving Sprite, John Ridley, said: “A simple structural change led to a paradoxical situation. The weight of the car was placed on the chassis. But the weight of the chassis themselves was not assigned to the car. This significantly improved the structure of the body. " Plus, they abandoned aluminum doors, preferring pressed steel. The chassis lubrication system also fell victim to savings.

The front part of the body rising at the hinges was replaced with a typical crocodile hood; now the front sidewall and the wings have become part of the power structure. Rear fenders, front and rear windows - these elements were borrowed from the Conquest. From the Sprite Mk I there were several differences in size: the total length increased by 10 cm, and the width by 3 cm, the wheelbase and the distance between the wheels of one axle became more by one inch, and the tires were 5.90x15 instead of 5.60x15.

Inside, the speakers were replaced with Smiths products, and the front seat was turned into a bench covered with new plastic material. This latest innovation has caused a storm of indignation among customers Lanchester and Daimler.“Leather and leather for the seats,” recalled John Ridley. The front panel was not made of walnut, but of simple pressed steel, but the instruments themselves, including the speedometer, the clock, and the combined counter

with a fuel gauge, a hydraulic pressure gauge and an ammeter (for some reason there was no oil pressure gauge), they were placed in the center of the panel. On the passenger side, a lockable glove box adjoined them, and on the driver side, an open drawer. It is possible that a variety of switches, including for the heater, were designed by Lady Nora Docker, the wife of the CEO.

At least, these elements are comfortable for ladies with long nails. About working on Sprite Phase 2, Colin Bromfield said: “The engineering department had surprisingly few problems, which cannot be said of Phase 1, the design of which became a real nightmare: too often the ideas were excellent in theory, but they did not work in reality. However, we had some questions about the rigidity of the body, as well as the unsolved problem of clutch vibration A in an automatic transmission. We didn’t know what to do, because before that we hadn’t come across clutches that worked on oil.Only after consulting with colleagues from BSA, who recommended us to change the material, we were able to get rid of the vibration. "

Meanwhile, in accordance with the production plans, the numbers from 70100 to 70112 were distributed between 13 chassis, the first 3 of which were prototypes, and the rest 10 cars of the experimental series. In the British press, it was announced that the new car would enter the market in mid-1956 and its cost would be £ 1,227 (approximately $ 3,336). It seems that the high price did not bother anyone: the plant soon received several hundred orders with full prepayment.

According to the plan, it was supposed to gradually improve the design and technical characteristics of the car after it was launched into production. After the first 500 cars, it was hoped to replace the Zenith carburetor with the devices supplied by SU. And after 1000 - transform the steering system. Ridley discovered data that the LM152 was supposed to be a version of the Sprite equipped with a twin carburetor SU. "We then thought that this code meant a left-hand drive convertible, but now we know that it was a much more interesting option," says Ridley.

At the critical moment of the final revision of the Sprite in the upper echelons of the BSA Group, a conflict suddenly broke out.Sir Bernard Docker was suddenly re-elected head of the board of directors, and with his departure the financial support of the project also evaporated (Conquest and Sprite. Jack Sangster, who became chairman of the board of directors, and Edward Turner, who took the post of chief engineer Both had previously worked for Triumph, a BSA-competing company, said Ridley, “to start up Sprite’s mass production at the Carbodies plant required 500,000 pounds, but the new management, in particular Sangster, said that this was too much.” Those over the LM150 program were confident that their car would have unprecedented success, and saw no reason to curtail funding.

The first victim of the policy of tightening the belts, introduced by the new leadership, was Sprite. Its production was stopped in August 1956, and by this time 500 transmissions and the same parts for engine assembly had already been manufactured. All these parts had to be destroyed.

According to the Times newspaper, on August 23, 1956, 150 workers were laid off. Another 300 were sent on a one-week or two-week vacation (with a total staff of 2500). So ended the story of a potential bestseller company,which was never destined to bear the proud name of Lanchester. It was, of course, a sad end. The future of the project was seen not so by the members of the Lanchester owners club.

Today, only one Sprite remains. This is the last surviving vehicle, created under the brand Lanchester.

The car was first registered on January 25, 1957 at the Triumph motorcycle factory in the city of Meriden and in the same year it was sold to a certain Mr. Thompson from Minitransit Ltd. Later this company was acquired by Lime-Sand-Mortar Ltd (LSM Ltd), which, under the terms of the deal, passed the car.

A few years later, the car was seen at an automobile exhibition in the city of Truro. An eyewitness took her for Leda, "in which something is wrong." When this was reported to the chairman of the club, the owners of Lanchester, he was amazed and immediately decided to buy a car. He did a facelift with Sprite. Since then, the car was replaced by two loving owners, including the current owner, George Hamill.

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  • Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars

    Lanchester Leda and Spite - the latest company cars