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Old 29th December 2011, 17:47   #1
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Default Looking for Thornycroft cars in India

The well known British shipbuilder and commercial vehicle maker Thornycroft made approximately 270 cars between 1903 and 1913. The details of all these cars are fortunately recorded on a pdf document which is to be found by searching simply for 'Thornycroft cars', and this shows that perhaps as many as 30 of these cars were probably exported to India, mainly in the period 1908-1912.

Many of these cars were sold through an export agent, TA Martin & Co, who were railway engineers and agents responsible for the construction of the Calcutta Narrow Gauge Railway, which I understand is still in daily use. Although these were fine cars, they were a lot cheaper than the famous Silver Ghost Rolls Royce, which was the first choice of the Maharajahs and Princes, but I imagine they were used for a long time as they are fine cars.

What is my interest in finding a survivor in India? Well I was lucky enough five years ago to be able to buy the remains of an 18HP Thornycroft car which turned up unexpectedly in Australia, which was the first car owned by a legendary Australian cattle rancher called Sir Sidney Kidman. (A dedicated webpage can be found by searching for 'Kidman Thornycroft') Not only did he have huge areas of land in Australia (over 100,000 square miles) but his second cousin was Sir John Isaac Thornycroft, who founded the company named after him. So when Kidman visited England for the first time in 1908, he made a point of looking up his cousin and this led to him ordering a car, Kidman's first ever motorised transport.

There is only one other 18HP car known in old car circles in the UK. This has been beautifully restored but it was in a bad shape when found and there are some details of the original finish that have had to be made up as they were missing from the car. My car was found as a burned out wreck on a cattle ranch after a bush fire swept through South Australia in the late 50s. But luckily the body drawings for my actual car survive in a British museum, so we rebuilt the body to plan. However, if an original car was available to see, it would make the job of finishing my own restoration a lot easier, hence this post to see if Indian petrolheads can help me find a sister car!

I am an incurable optimist, and I hope that someone reading this post will know of such a car tucked away somewhere in India, maybe near Culcutta but maybe somewhere else completely, who knows?

Martin Shelley, Scotland

Last edited by GTO : 11th January 2012 at 18:44. Reason: As requested
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Old 6th January 2012, 18:48   #2
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Default Re: Looking for Thornycroft cars in India

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Originally Posted by Martin Shelley View Post
The well known British shipbuilder and commercial vehicle maker Thornycroft made approximately 270 cars between 1903 and 1913....... hence this post to see if Indian petrolheads can help me find a sister car!
Hello Martin,

Unfortunately there is no known Thornycroft car known in India, never say never, be an optimist but the chances are bleak. The survival rate of pre 1915 cars in India is very small. There are several reasons for that.
Lack of spares.
We have a very busy and efficient metal recycling industry.
Vintage car collection really started in the 1960's, by that time those cars lying anywhere near a coast had rotted away.
Foreign collectors took away a lot of cars, though they concentrated more on Maharaja machinery.
Tyres for these cars became unavailable in the 1950's.

There were Thornycroft trucks and busses in India, they had an agent in Mumbai, probably chassis were imported and bodied in India. Somewhere in the 1960's they supplied bus chassis to the Pune Municipal Corporation, I have some pictures. But there are no survivors even of these truck/bus chassis!.

It will still be interesting to see photos of your car and the restoration story.

Cheers harit
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Old 6th January 2012, 19:55   #3
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Default Re: Looking for Thornycroft cars in India

I am a truck enthusiasts. Uptill now i only knew Thorrnycroft made trucks. There is one model, Antar - which is famous and very powerful, and are still used after their long military service.

Now back to your question. Chances of finding a Thornycroft car is very very slim, but its India, you never know.
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Old 13th March 2013, 09:15   #4
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Default Re: Looking for Thornycroft cars in India

One can see some fantastic ads for commercial vehicles sold in India from the late 1910s and 1920s, including Thornycroft. Their address is mentioned as

Thornycroft (India) Ltd, 7, Old Court House Street, Calcutta.

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/vinta...ml#post3064337
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Old 13th March 2013, 11:25   #5
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Default Re: Looking for Thornycroft cars in India

Have a look at http://www.southaustralianhistory.co...hornycroft.htm

Seen anything similar in India?

It seems that several were indeed sold in India. There is a link to a Thornycroft sales register, and several cars were sold to T.A.Martin & Co

Vehicle no Engine no:

Customer Type of vehicle Delivery date 560 T A Martin & Co H4 Chassis 10-2-08


1 T A Martin & Co H4 Chassis
2 T A Martin & Co H4 Chassis 17-2-08
3 T A Martin & Co H4 Chassis 21-4-08
4 Lt Gen R Baden Powell H4 Car 7-3-08
5 T A Martin & Co H4 Side Entrance Car 16-11-07


6 T A Martin & Co H4 Side Entrance Car 8-1-08

About T.A.Martin & Co, they were connected to the Shahdara Saharanpur Light Railway (SSLR), one of the few remaining Non-Government Railways in India and was the only such railway in northern India. SSLR was operated by T.A Martin and Company, which ran a few similar lines in Eastern India in Bihar and around Calcutta that were collectively referred as Martin's Light Railways.

Info taken from the net.
Cheers harit

Last edited by harit : 13th March 2013 at 11:41.
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Old 13th March 2013, 17:30   #6
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Default Re: Looking for Thornycroft cars in India

Quote:
Originally Posted by harit View Post
About T.A.Martin & Co, they were connected to the Shahdara Saharanpur Light Railway (SSLR), one of the few remaining Non-Government Railways in India and was the only such railway in northern India. SSLR was operated by T.A Martin and Company, which ran a few similar lines in Eastern India in Bihar and around Calcutta that were collectively referred as Martin's Light Railways.

Info taken from the net.

Cheers harit
This bit is very interesting, never knew that there were these Private railway companies, has that been continued we would have better services. Any way after your post I got to know more, RLR, BLR etc. etc.
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