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Waverley Car Emblem


 1910 - 1928
Waverley 16/50

Light Cars Limited

Waverley - an enigma of the early motoring world - was a company that should have gone on to much bigger and better things, but never achieved anything significant. The original cars were originally built in Willesden, North London, in 1910 by Light Cars Limited. Their first model was a 10hp four-cylinder with 'patent suspension' which was exhibited on the stand of T. B. Andre, Limited, at the Motor Show that year, priced at £165, and a colonial model at £175.

The company obviously had its costings disastrously wrong, as when the Waverley appeared at Olympia the following year, the price of the standard two-seater had rocketed to £225; a four-seater was now also available, and cost £235. T. B. Andre & Company ditched the Waverley agency the following year to concentrate on their own car, the Marlborough, and Light Cars Limited took their own stand at Olympia.

There they exhibited a new model, the 12/ 14 hp, with a Chapuis-Dornier power unit like its smaller sister, and the same 'rear suspension of special design by dual laminated springs'. Price with two-seated torpedo coachwork was £275, to which a dickey seat added another £6; there was also a two-seated coupe of imposing appearance at £360.

By 1914, there were three models available: the 10/12 hp and two types of 12/15 hp, one with a 70mm bore, the other with a 75 mm bore, but otherwise identical. Prices were up again - the small-bore 12/15, with a Salmons coupe body cost £400, an exception was the 10/12 with Foyer two-seated coachwork cost only £235.

After the Armistice

The big-bore 15 hp was the marque's staple product immediately after the Armistice, though by the end of 1919 the Chapuis-Dornier power unit was being supplanted by a Coventry-Simplex engine of similar dimensions. The company, which had changed its name to Waverley Cars Limited, advertised this new 15 hp as 'The World's best medium-powered car.' Prices were: two-seater, all-weather, £625; four-seater de luxe, £695; four-seater coupe 'with superlative coachwork', £850.

A racing Waverley enjoyed some modest success at Brooklands during the 1921 season, a fact which prompted the company to offer a road-going version of this machine, with staggered seats and an airship tail, and 'equipped with a highly efficient engine and an appropriately sonorous exhaust' priced at £800. Claimed the makers: 'Although the real racing engine is a thing of joy to its driver, if kept in proper tune, a specially-prepared engine of the touring type is, in the long run, a more reliable article than the ultra high efficiency engine with many valves, double sparking plugs and abnormally high compression.' Describing the appearance of the new model as 'clean and graceful,' they continued ...

'The latest Waverley possesses almost every feature that will appeal to the man who wants a car of truly sporting appearance, and, while the exterior lines are distinctly racy, the riding comfort has not been sacrificed to mere appearance. To those whose tastes incline towards this type of car, this sporting Waverley should appeal strongly on account of the high maximum speed available-which is, we believe, in the neighbourhood of 70 mph - and the comparatively low running costs involved.' They added that the rear suspension of the Waverley, by superimposed pairs of quarter-elliptic springs which took all the torque, driving and braking stresses, gave 'very satisfactory results - in fact, we have seldom been on a better-sprung car of any weight than the 14hp Waverley.'

The New Coventry-Simplex Engine

The sports Waverley seems to have found few - if any - takers, but the new Coventry-Simplex-engined 10/15 hp, of 1496 cc, which appeared in the summer of 1922, was more popular. Priced at £395 as a two-seater, £410 as a four-seater, it offered 'Wonderful springs and magnificent brakes' allied to a high degree of finish, both bodily and mechanically. There was a dramatic price reduction in May 1923, with the price of the 11hp (as the 10/15 had become) falling by £100, with the prices of other models reduced in proportion. Oddly enough, an electric starter was regarded as an extra on the 11, even at this date, costing another £10 on the list price. Yet it had been standardised again by the time of the Motor Show in November.

So, too, had four-wheel brakes, on both 11hp and 15 hp; and there was a new 12 hp designed to meet a criticism that the Coventry-Simplex power units were somewhat harsh in their running, and thus spoiled the high standard of the rest of the chassis. This new car had a 1.5-liter Burt McCollum single sleeve valve engine and cost £350 in chassis form, £460 with a touring body 'painted mole, seating four persons'. This variant seems to have been relatively short-lived; but at the 1924 Motor Show appeared the biggest Waverley yet, the 1990cc six-cylinder 16/50 hp, which had a Coventry-Climax engine fitted with a Lanchester vibration damper and overhead valves. Cost was £425 in chassis form, £545 as a de luxe tourer, while a five seater saloon was as much as £750.

By the end of 1925 production had been standardised on the 16/50hp six: 'The nearest point of mechanical perfection that is humanly possible', Waverley called it. Claimed petrol consumption of the touring version was 30 mpg : and there was also a sports variant, with a 'special sports engine, wire wheels, cord tyres, special streamlined sports body seating four persons, painted silver and blue crystalline'. Which, in those pre-metallic paint days, was probably one of those irridescent finishes achieved by painting on fish scales in a translucent coloured varnish. Price of the sports car complete was £695.

In May 1926, John Phillimore tested a Waverley for The Times: 'With the running I was unusually pleased .... The charm of the car, to my thinking, is in the silky running of the engine and the excellent controls. The engine can be run up to its limit, sweetly and quietly. The car glides rather like one of the big high class type.' In the summer of 1926, Waverley Cars Limited moved to a new address at Waldo Road, Willesden, where the sleeve-valve 12 hp was put back into production. The company also offered a mysterious 'special 1½-liter single-sleeve-valve racing chassis, new, built for international race at cost of nearly £1000. As this was the first year of the new 1½-liter Grand Prix formula, it may have been that Waverley were trying to challenge Bugatti and Talbot-Darracq in major events - and it may have been intended for the British Grand Prix held at Brooklands in August 1926.

The 1926 Olympia Show saw a new venture by Waverley, a 70 hp flat-twin car with the engine at the rear and a four-speed friction transmission, which, complete with 2/4 seat touring coachwork, was offered at a price of £100. It was not an economic proposition, and by the spring of 1927 Waverley were offering nothing but 16/50s once again. Now all the bodywork was by the Carlton Carriage Company, also of Waldo Road, and included a Weymann saloon of modern design for £635.

Waverley last exhibited at Olympia in 1927, and it seems likely that, though the cars continued to appear in some lists until 1931, manufacture actually ceased at the end of 1928. However, the company continued to advertise: but it was as manufacturers of a two-guinea anti-steering-wobble device, and not as makers of 'The Incomparable Six'. Here in the US there was a Waverley car too: but this was just one ramification of Colonel Pope's far-flung empire, while there had also been an ephemeral marque bearing this name from Edinburgh in the 1901-04 period.
1915 Waverley four-seat tourer
1915 Waverley four-seat tourer.
1926 Waverley 16/50 two-door tourer
1926 Waverley 16/50 two-door tourer. At the time, Waverley claimed that the car was the 'nearest point of mechanical perfection that is humanly possible'. Unfortunately for Waverley, the public did not agree, and the company stopped car manufacture in 1928.
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