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Customer Number Plate Story: EC 2


1899 Marshall 5hp Two Seater Phaeton

This information about the Marshall was kindly provided by Bonhams.

Marshall & Co. were traditional North country engineers who operated from Belsize Works in Clayton, Manchester, entering the new-fangled automobile manufacturing industry in the late 19th Century. Their primitive single-cylinder motor car unashamedly copied the French Hurtu which itself was a copy of the German-built Benz. United Motor Industries of Holborn Viaduct, London, were the sole British agents for the French Hurtu and presumably there was a satisfactory financial consideration enabling Marshall & Co. to offer their first motor car in 1899. The Marshall was promoted as 'Specially Designed to meet the requirements of Country Gentlemen, Doctors, Professional Men, Tourists and Commercial Travellers. The characteristics of the car are Simplicity, Strength and Comfort. The workmanship is first class throughout, and can be thoroughly relied on.' The 5hp engine was a blatant Benz copy and the two-speed, two seat car was offered at a price new of £210. Third speed and reverse gears were £10 extra each and should the new owner require a hood and windscreen, a further £16 had to be invested. The Marshall distinguished itself by being awarded a Gold Medal in Efficiency Trials at the Agricultural Hall, London, in 1899.

The early history of this car is unknown but in the 1930's it survived in Shildon, County Durham. The writer first saw this car in 1958 in weary but substantially original condition in store behind the country garage of Arthur Champion at Castleton, near Whitby. Champion had acquired the car in 1933 by chance. Some County Durham carters, delivering coal to Rosedale in North Yorkshire, had broken down at Castleton. Arthur Champion gave them a lift back to Shildon where he saw the Marshall, dilapidated, but still a runner. He was to acquire the car for the princely sum of £12. The car lay in store behind Champion's garage until 1961, emerging that year and being acquired by the Potter brothers at auction. Remarkably, with just a little tweaking by the enthusiastic Potter brothers, the car sparked into life at the first turn of the giant exposed flywheel. Sympathetic restoration was carried out to this highly original veteran and in due course application was made to Westmorland County Council to register the car. The number EC 2, an early Westmorland registration, was allocated to the Marshall in 1968.

The Marshall has seen little use on the road, although has been shown on many occasions at car shows and steam rallies. An older restoration, it is presented in yellow and black livery with black buttoned upholstery. The car number 169 referred to in the V.C.C. Dating Certificate, No.951 issued in 1962, appears on the lower bronze bracket on the steering column. Lighting is provided by candle carriage lamps and a Sentry oil rear lamp. Braking is activated by blocks on the rear tyres and a sprag is provided for safety on the steeper gradient. A later water tank has been fitted and the car presently runs on a later carburettor. The Marshall was last taxed for road use in 1973.

The car comes with an excellent history file, including copies of contemporary Marshall advertising, sundry photographs, newspaper cuttings recording its discovery in the 1960's, a V.C.C. Dating Certificate, old style green log book, MoT certificate from 1973 and sundry correspondence with the V.C.C. regarding dating. Interestingly it also comes with a transcript from The Automotor Journal of January 1900, referring to a Marshall car used by a doctor in the West Riding of Yorkshire. One wonders whether it may be this car. The Potter brothers' Marshall, although in running order for some 45 or so years, has yet to be entered for and complete its first London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

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