Dennis (automobile)

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Dennis Company.
Former type Private
Industry Motoring
Founded 1895
Founders John and Raymond Dennis
Defunct 1915?
Headquarters Guildford, England
Products Motor cars
Dennis 1902

Dennis Company is a former brass era automobile maker based in Guildford, Britain.

History[edit]

Originally known as Dennis Brothers Ltd, the company was founded in 1895 by John (1871–1939) and Raymond Dennis (1878–1939). The brothers who made Speed King bicycles[1] which they sold from their shop, the Universal Athletic Stores, in Guildford.

They made their first motor vehicle in 1898, a De Dion-powered tricycle which they exhibited at the National Cycle Show, which they offered for sale, along with a quadricycle.[1] In 1899, the first Dennis car proper appeared, the Speed-King Light Doctors' Car,[1] a four-wheeler with a 3.5 hp (2.6 kW; 3.5 PS) a rear-mounted de Dion engine and three-speed gearbox for speeds of 4–10 mph (6.4–16.1 km/h).[1] Intended for use on unpaved roads by the likes of doctors, surveyors, or travelling salesmen, it had an offering price of ₤135; though shown at the National Cycle Show, it was never produced or sold.[1]

At the 1900 National Cycle Show, Dennis displayed only motor tricycles and quadricycles, with the tricycles claimed to be capable of a (then-remarkable) 30 mph (48 km/h), three times Britain's speed limit.[1] The next year, a 3.5 hp (2.6 kW; 3.5 PS) de Dion engine was offered in the tricycle, while there was a choice of two light cars, both with tube frames, three-speed gearbox, and shaft drive: an 8 hp (6.0 kW; 8.1 PS) de Dion single and a 12 hp (8.9 kW; 12 PS) Aster twin.[1] About this time John Dennis built the Rodboro Buildings, the first purpose-built motor vehicle factory in Britain, to manufacture motorcars in the town centre.[2]

The 1903 London Motor Show saw the debut of an Aster-powered four, the 16/20 hp, which joined a 12 hp (8.9 kW; 12 PS) de Dion, offered as a hansom, making it one of the very first motorized taxicabs.[1] It was also in this period Dennis offered its first and only sports racer, powered by a 40 hp (30 kW; 41 PS) Simms, while the tricycles and quadricycles were discontinued.[1] They were replaced by commercial vehicles, with the first bus being made in 1903.[citation needed]

In 1905, Dennis entered the inaugural Tourist Trophy with a pair of standard (stock) 14 hp (10 kW; 14 PS) tourers, which came sixteenth and eighteenth, competing against specialist racers.[1]

The next year, a 20 hp (15 kW; 20 PS) Roi de Belges phaeton covered 4,000 mi (6,400 km) which earned it the 1907 Dewar Trophy, and it became a production model.[1] 24/30 and 30/35 White and Poppe engines were offered, and soon became usual, indicative of a gradual climb in market status.[1]

Two models, a 20 hp (15 kW; 20 PS) and a 35/40, both fours, appeared in 1908,[1] while on the commercial vehicle side, the first Dennis d fire engine appeared the same year.[citation needed] For 1909, these were replaced by all new 18 hp (13 kW; 18 PS), 24 hp (18 kW; 24 PS), 28 hp (21 kW; 28 PS), and 40 hp (30 kW; 41 PS) models in 1910.[1] Of these, only the 40 survived; the larger 18 hp (13 kW; 18 PS) and 24 hp (18 kW; 24 PS), as well as a "monstrous" 28 hp (21 kW; 28 PS) six, disappeared for 1912.[1] The 18 hp (13 kW; 18 PS) was renamed the 20, and a new 24 hp (18 kW; 24 PS) appeared at the end of 1911;[1] they were joined in 1913 by a 15.9 hp (11.9 kW; 16.1 PS), which survived until the start of the First World War.[1]

In 1913 Dennis moved to a larger factory at Woodbridge, on the outskirts of Guildford.[2]

After the war, car production did not resume, and in 1919 Dennis bought White and Poppe and transferred engine production from Coventry to Guildford.[citation needed]

The company would also make a foray into the production of lawn tractors.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Wise, David Burgess. "Dennis: Bicycles, Motor Cycles, and Fire Engines", in Ward, Ian, executive editor. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Volume 5, p.527.
  2. ^ a b Guidford Heritage

Sources[edit]

  • Wise, David Burgess. "Dennis: Bicycles, Motor Cycles, and Fire Engines", in Ward, Ian, executive editor. World of Automobiles, Volume 5, p. 527. London: Orbis, 1974.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]