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Standard Roi de Belges

by Club Historian, Phil Homer.

The oldest surviving Standard Car is on permanent display in the

Coventry Museum of Transport

Name: Roi de Beiges Make: Standard Year: 1907

The Standard Motor Company was founded in Coventry in 1903 by Mr Reginald Maudslay, with its first factory in Much Park Street. The position of the Factory is indicated by a plaque on the wall of the Courts of Justice, sponsored by the Standard Motor Club. By the end of the First World War, the company had acquired a much larger factory in the Canley area of the city.

During the 1950s Standard-Triumph became one of Coventry’s largest companies, with the Canley factory employing many thousands of people.

This car is believed to be the oldest surviving Standard and for this reason, has been given the number plate SMC1 (Standard Motor Company 1). It was originally exported to Australia in 1907 and was rediscovered in a barn on a tobacco farm in the 1950s. Its original condition can be seen below.

It was then restored by Standard (Australia) apprentices and exported back to Britain in 1959 when it was presented by the Standard Motor Company to the City of Coventry.

This vehicle is a fine example of the opulence associated with motoring in the Edwardian period. The Roi de Belges' hand-built wooden bodywork is complemented by leather upholstery, artillery style wheels and elegant brass work. The large headlamps are powered by acetylene – a gas made by mixing carbide and water; you can see the reservoir for the carbide and water mounted on the running board, which runs along the side of the car.

The engine has six cylinders with a side-valve configuration. It is very large, rated at over 3000cc. This means the vehicle runs very smoothly and will cruise at up to 40mph, but only having drum brakes to the back wheels, makes it difficult to stop.

This vehicle was presented to the Museum by Mr Alick S. Dick, Managing Director of the Standard Motor Company, in 1959. The photograph here was taken when the car had an outing in 2003, to celebrate the Centenary of the founding of the Company.


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