Gavin McGuire, Tandridge, Surrey, UK, Tel: 01892 770310, 07770 316482, E-mail:

Knox 8 hp

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Year 1903

An underlying feature of many early American cars is that they were designed to cover long distances over roads which were often not much more than untarred coach tracks so they tended to be robust, reliable and simple to maintain. They are also often quite powerful and they can be easy to drive as clutchless epicyclic gearboxes were very popular in the USA. In addition they tend to have relatively soft springing and wide tracks so you get a good ride - in essence their strengths are driveability and longevity!

This Knox is a very good example of the American approach which combines simplicity with power and some very fine engineering and the more you look at it the more impressed you will be. It has a particularly powerful single cylinder air cooled engine mounted longitudinally under the floor. Unusually the engine does not have cooling fins but has 1750 threaded metal rods screwed into the cylinder which are cooled by an engine driven fan. Harry A. Knox claimed that his patented air cooling was superior to any other system given the large area of heat radiating surface it produced and it also explains why the cars became known as Old Porcupine! Another of his innovations was to connect the ignition advance-retard to the throttle lever giving smoother engine control than if you had to adjust them yourself. The design also incorporated a very heavy engine flywheel which results in a much smoother running than many other single cylinder units and it also has several exhaust silencers so is much quieter than you might expect.

The engine is remarkably easy to start on the handle and given its large flywheel seems very reluctant to stall so getting going is very simple. It also has a lot of torque so you can move from first gear to top fairly soon after you are moving and you can stay in top at much lower speeds than you might otherwise expect so it is very easy to drive - the lever steering takes a little while to get used to but you will soon get the hang of it and reassuringly the brakes are better than you might expect in a car of this age.

The Stanhope body, which can be configured as either a two or a four seater, is in fine condition with a very good coach-painted finish, the seat leather is also in good order as are the Victoria hood and tonneau cover and the brass lights are first class.

By way of history the previous owner (a professional car restorer) acquired the Knox over 34 years ago in a non-running condition. He removed the engine and transmission and found no major problems so rebuilt them including grinding shafts where necessary, making and fitting new bushes, valves, pistons, rings etc and the main clutch plate and gear bands were re lined.

Since then he has rallied it extensively throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands and it has successfully completed the 25 (approx.!) London to Brighton Runs it has taken part in, often carrying four passengers without any problem. The current owner bought the Knox last year and it successfully completed the 2017 London to Brighton Run but his work is now taking him to Norway so he will sadly no longer be able to use the car hence it being back on the market.       

So here we have a fine and very rare two/four seat Brighton car which is in really good condition throughout. It comes with an entry for the 2018 Run so you will be all ready to go.

P.S. A Ford Transit pick-up which has been specially modified to carry the Knox is available as a separate transaction