In the early 20th century a plethora of obscure and forgotten companies produced cars and motorbikes.Advertisement
One little known car produced in Preston was the Moveo.
From 1929 to 1933, the Houlding brothers produced two powerful prototype cars. The first car used a huge, 3 litre Meadows engine, producing 72bhp.
This was a powerful and fast car for 1929, with several innovative features.
In 1907, Bert Houlding Snr and his two sons occupied premises in Cold Bath Street, later moving to Ribble Bank Mills. They became carburettor specialists. A book by Paul Ingham is named Bert Houlding: TT Pioneer.
They produced two motorcycles between 1923 and 1928, known as the Toreador and the Matador.
Norman Houlding raced bikes at the Isle of Man TT races. From 1929 to 1933 they experimented with sports car production.
Bert Houlding Jnr did nor suffer fools gladly. He joined Preston Electricity in 1934 as a traffic engineer. Traffic engineers took care of road and pavement work, presumably as they had to be dug up for cabling.
Another Preston connection was the engine used, which was produced by James Walmsley and Co. The motorcycles and cars were composite machines, using the best parts from other manufacturers.
During World War II, Bert served in Palestine and Egypt. Bert was also a writer for Autocar and the Manchester under the title Tunesmith. After the war he ran the aforementioned carburettor business until his death in 1955, aged 67.
The Moveo cars were manufactured at New Hall Lane from 1929 until 1933. Only one was completed, along with another chassis that later received a Rolls-Royce body. The cars were to be priced at £575 and could travel at 85mph.
In 1936, a Moveo was advertised by the Motor Traders Disposal Board for £195, fitted with the said Rolls-Royce body. This was probably the remaining chassis.
Before World War II, the car was bound for New York where it was owned by a doctor. It then disappeared until the sad remains were discovered in 1981, in East Africa.
Motor Sport magazine stated in May 1932:
”The designer of a new car is in the happy position of not being hampered in his search for the best by trying to avoid having to scrap old jigs, and similar manufacturing considerations, and the sports-car manufacturer usually has further scope because the potential purchasers are prepared to pay a good price for something which is good and out of the ordinary in lay-out and performance.
“This is exemplified in the case of the Moveo car, which has been built as the result of two years’ experiment by its designers, Messrs. Haythornthwaite and Houlding, and which is now in production.”
Haythornthwaite was a Blackburn Mill owner who provided the finance.
Perhaps the most famous car of 1929 was the 4.5 litre Bentley Blower. The Moveo cars had a similar ‘long low’ look with a smaller engine. In 1929 Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin won the Le Mans race with a supercharged 4.5 litre Bentley. The Supercharger design had been created by Birkin against Bentley’s wishes.
Sports cars were made to order and that was the idea of having a racing chassis ready to go, as with the Moveo.
Bentley withdrew from racing in 1930 and the company was bought by Rolls-Royce in 1931.
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