Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Streamline Cars

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Streamline Cars Ltd of Maidenhead was the company responsible for making the Burney car.

Sir Charles Dennistoun Burney rose to fame as an airship designer and is best known for his work at Howden, Yorkshire, England on the R100 for Vickers. With the ending of the airship programme he used some of his ideas to create a revolutionary car which was built from 1927 at Maidenhead, Berkshire.

Thirteen cars were made in total. Each one was different as they were intended as showcases for his patents rather than for serious production. The cars incorporated such features as independent suspension, hydraulic brakes, a heater and all seating within the wheelbase. The cars were rear engined with twin radiators.

The first car used an Alvis front wheel drive chassis effectively turned back to front but adapted so the new front wheels steered. Later cars used Beverley straight 8, Lycoming and Armstrong Siddeley Motors engines.

The streamlined bodywork is bizarre looking and very long at just under 20 feet. The spare wheel was carried inside one of the rear doors which must have put an enormous strain on the hinges and door pillar. The equivalent space in the opposite door was occupied by a cocktail cabinet.

The cars were priced at around £1,500. One was bought by the Prince of Wales and another crossed the Atlantic to be exhibited at the Detroit Car Show. No Burneys are known to survive.

Some of the ideas (including the location of the spare wheel) were used by Crossley Motors in their "Streamline" but this also was not a production success.

The Maidenhead factory was also used for car production by Marendaz Special Cars and GWK.

Streamline Cars finally closed in 1936.

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