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SNAPSHOT 284: 1920 Albert 11.9 h.p.

The Albert was a high-quality and relatively expensive light car built by Adam, Grimaldi & Company, makers of aircraft parts.  It was named after the company’s address at Albert Embankment, Vauxhall in central London, between the Vauxhall and Westminster bridges.

The car was designed by A. O. Lord, who later created the Loyd-Lord car with Captain Vivian Graham Loyd, an English soldier and engineer who designed armoured vehicles including the Carden Loyd tankette and Loyd Carrier.

The cars were fitted with 1,495cc four-cylinder ohv engines and four-speed transmissions driving the rear wheels. The chassis had quarter elliptic springs and rear-wheel braking only.  The radiators were of a Rolls-Royce shape; bodies were mainly in aluminium and most were four-seater tourers, although our Snapshot shows a two-seater coupé.

Adam, Grimaldi purchased the car’s engines from Gwynne Engineering in Chiswick.  That company had been in business since 1849; it was famous for its centrifugal pumps, designed by James Gwynne, and had also built Clerget and Bentley rotary engines during World War I, but the supply of engines to Albert was its first move into the car industry.  Adam, Grimaldi had ordered 3,000 engines for the Albert, but by March 1920 they had only built 250 cars and their company was bought by Gwynne, who transferred Albert production to Chiswick.  Our Snapshot dates from a February 1921 advertisement, by which time the cars would have been built by Gwynne.  The positioning of the car in Piccadilly Circus, in front of the statue of Eros, was clearly intended to imply quality and style. In common with the tradition of the time, the advertisement also included an effusive unsolicited testimonial, including the words: “I have never had a smoother running or more delightful car to handle.”  Since the author of those words was a cryptically named “P.G.” and there was no offer to view the original letter, the more cynical reader might suppose that these initials stood for a member of the promotional team.

Up to 1923, Gwynne manufactured about 1,450 Albert cars, but they made more of their 850cc Gwynne Eight – about 2,250.  In 1923 the Albert was replaced by the 14 h.p. 1,944cc Gwynne-Albert, from 1925 with front-wheel brakes, and about 200 of these were built up to 1929.

Picture courtesy of the Richard Roberts Archive

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