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The Beauty And Elegance Of Edwardian Cars

Updated on February 1, 2012

Edwardian cars are considered by many people to have a beauty and an elegance rarely found in modern vehicles. They are highly collectable, and enthusiasts and collectors clubs will often hold meetings and rallies to exhibit them. It is a testament to the build quality of these vintage cars that they can still be driven to this day.

Trevithick's Steam Carriage, 1802
Trevithick's Steam Carriage, 1802

Edwardian cars were built between the first of January 1905 and the thirty-first of December 1918. The term Edwardian and vintage cars are often used interchangeably. Vintage cars refer to vehicles built during the same period, but extending up to the thirty-first of December 1930 in the UK, and in the pre World War Two period in the United States

Edwardian cars were still a relatively new invention, and were only just beginning to supersede the horse drawn carriage as the dominant mode of transport. This was reflected in the design of the cars, which were often large and similar in style to the previous carriages. They were incredibly elegant, and like the carriages they were replacing were reserved for the wealthier members of society.

The earliest Edwardian cars were created using wood which was then painted by hand. The most extravagant cars had carpeting and fully upholstered seats. They would also often have curtains over the windows. Even at this stage, as the motor industry was beginning to develop, there was a range of cars available at various prices. These Edwardian cars would differ in the amount of luxury they offered.

The designs of vintage cars changed considerably over the period of their creation, as technology became more advanced and tastes changed. Vintage cars were made to be smaller and faster. This period saw the introduction of such innovations as the ignition system, transmissions and throttles, independent suspension, and four wheel brakes. Wooden frames were also replaced by tougher and more durable steel.

David Gordon's Steam Carriage, 1824
David Gordon's Steam Carriage, 1824
Randolph's Steam Carriage, 1872
Randolph's Steam Carriage, 1872
The 4 h.p. Peugeot which competed in the Paris-Marseilles Race of 1896
The 4 h.p. Peugeot which competed in the Paris-Marseilles Race of 1896
The 1902, chain driven Mercedes Simplex with a four-cylinder engine
The 1902, chain driven Mercedes Simplex with a four-cylinder engine
The belt driven Fouillaron, 1903
The belt driven Fouillaron, 1903
18/22-h.p four-cylinder Mercedes tourer
18/22-h.p four-cylinder Mercedes tourer
Tourist Trophy Winner, 1907: the 16/20 h.p four cylinder Rover
Tourist Trophy Winner, 1907: the 16/20 h.p four cylinder Rover
1913/14 "London-Edinburgh" Rolls Royce "Silver Ghost"
1913/14 "London-Edinburgh" Rolls Royce "Silver Ghost"

The Edwardian era saw the popularity of the motor car grow rapidly. Companies were started in various parts of the world to develop this new technology, many of which are still around in some form today. At the end of the nineteenth century Benz and Daimler began production in Germany, and the turn of the century saw Peugeot start up in France.

The USA had seen the origins of the incredibly popular Olds Motor Vehicle Company and the Henry Ford Company. The latter was the manufacturer of the world famous Ford Model T from 1908 to 1927. This was one of the first Edwardian cars to be built on an assembly line, and made motor cars affordable and available to the masses.

The production of Edwardian and vintage cars was therefore becoming a global phenomenon. Some other famous examples of manufacturers of the time include Austin in the United Kingdom, Bugatti and Lancia in Italy, BMW in Germany, and Cadillac in the USA. There were also countless others who haven't survived and whose names are therefore not as well known.

The creation of these companies shows what a golden age for motoring the Edwardian period was. The fine craftsmanship and elegant beauty of Edwardian cars is what made them increasingly popular at the time, and why they continue to hold a fascination for many people a hundred years later.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm looking for the names of popular automobiles that would have been bought in 1918 in Ireland. What was the cool car of the day?

    • earnestshub profile image


      7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Some wonderful vehicles here, and a nice cross section of the vehicles that began the motoring craze.

      Some of the suspension geometry was abysmal on these early vehicles with a single vertical support from the top and no way to protect the suspension from folding under when they hit a boulder or a curb.

      They sure learned fast though! A nice hub for an old motoring nut to run across, thanks! I voted it up.

    • sasta10 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Manchester, UK

      Thank you for you comments Hugh Williamson. These cars are collectors dreams these days. I would love to own one. Thanks.

    • Hugh Williamson profile image

      Hugh Williamson 

      7 years ago from Northeast USA

      Great piece on the brass era cars.

      I've seen photos of these classics being scrapped in the 1940's during WW2. Too bad they didn't realize the value that they would have some day.

      Nice Hub.


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