With some four years delay, I have finally got around to some collecting some more photos and written text to go along with it. This is the first of another four Danish Delights.
You know that friend or colleague who argues that he or she drives a new car instead of a 12 years old Focus like you (well, me) because they worry about reliability of a 12 year old car? Consider this a story for that person.
This is a very special car: It is, according to the Danish Museum of Science and Technology in Elsinore where it resides, the oldest drivable car in the world, and certainly the oldest driveable car would never beat this one by more than two years.
It gets exercised a couple of times a year. The car is called Hammelvognen – the Hammel Car in English. Hammel refers to the factory where it was created – not where it was created though there is a Danish town called Hammel. And this creation took place in 1888, a mere two years after the first car was introduced.
The car was built by car mechanic (technically, since that occupation did not really exist at the time) and blacksmith (officially) Hans Urban Johansen at the factory of Albert F. Hammel in Copenhagen.
The engine is a 4-stroke 2-cylinder contraption with glowrod ignition. I am not sure that is the correct term but it ignites the fuel-air mixture through heated steel rods. Displacement is 2.7 liters for a whopping 1.1 bhp per liter. Top speed equivalent to a brisk walk: 5.6 mph.
An interesting note, that is analogous to the issues of electric car charging today, is that when this car was new, gasoline was only sold in pharmacies. This meant that you had to plan ahead if you were going anywhere. You would have to call pharmacies in advance to have them stock gasoline. Did I say “call”. I meant “write”. The first telephones in Denmark were introduced in 1882 and on a limited network of 22 very wealthy folks, so when the Hammel car was introduced six years later, pen and paper would still be the way to order fuel. Talk about range anxiety!
In 1954 the car completed the London Brighton Race and there is a video of it here.
I asked about reliability of a car like this, and the custodian told me that there is really not much to maintain. He seemed hardly impressed with the car being fully operational 130+ years after its creation. That’s really impressive. It may not be the mileage king, but surely it is eligbile for some sort of durability award.
Previous installments here:
Danish Delights #1: 1950 Sommer S1
Danish Delights #2: 1960 Volvo Special
Danish Delights #3: 1972 Sommer Joker
Danish Delights #4: 1981 OScar
Danish Delights #5: 1967 SVJ 1000 GT
Danish Delights #6: 1987 Ellert
Boy, don’t see many of these on the streets anymore.
Lean back and watch the CC effect at work…
Hahaha, it’s only 7:30am here and that’ll stand as the best comment of the day! 🙂
The CC Effect will be put to the acid test today. 🙂
I simply love these really early attempts at self-propulsion. The video was great. Step 1: start fire.
Nothing wrong with a 12 year old car. Or a 50 yr old. Age has nothing to do with reliability. It’s all in how it’s maintained, with competent people doing said maintenance. I would love to go for a ride in this magnificent machine. As for the CC effect, no doubt someone will find another one of these in a Walmart parking lot. 🙂
Those are some extreme double-dubs.
What happened to the button-tufted seats shown in the circa-1890 b&w photo? Or were those only found on the Brougham model? 🙂
I wonder what the last car was where you could see the entire steering column from the outside…
Good effort and certainly better than the modern 1935 Ford tourer I saw on Monday on the roadside bonnet up man bent over the engine with tools in hand some of these newer cars are just rubbish.
Where did those bicycle-like front suspension forks go? They don’ t show up in the modern photos.
I couldn’t tell you. I imagine changes were made often in the early days, when you were still learning as you went.
Meh, kinda like an old Volvo.
At this time in the U.S. gasoline was sold in general stores as it was used as a spot remover for clothing. I’d imagine the motor vehicle pioneer would ride a bicycle to line up a fuel supply for an excursion. The glow rod is comparable to the glow plug of a two stroke r/c airplane engine, but it uses good old fashioned fire instead of electricity to heat it initially. I wonder if the firebox is also used to heat the fuel tank to help vaporize the gas before it enters the engine. If you want to see a modern portrayal of internal combustion pioneering, catch the History Channel’s Harley and the Davidsons. The beginning of the movie details Bill Harley’s effort to build a motor in a backyard shop. If you like the idea of actually casting and machining your own engine parts you’ll love this segment.
I had a 1889 Hammelvognen I bought used from S.W. St. Pierre & Sons Carriage back in 1902. Believe I paid $325 with the leather strapping package. Excessive understeer, but decent low range torque. Got me through university and my first job, which eventually led to meeting my wife (RIP), 8 children (RIP), 29 grandchildren (RIP), 75 great grandchildren (50 RIP), 161 great-great grandchildren (29 RIP), 329 great-great-great grandchildren (10 RIP), and 172 great-great-great-great grandchildren (2 RIP).