The Big Car Database

Ward And Avey

The AV was a British cyclecar manufactured by Ward and Avey in Somerset Road, Teddington Middlesex between 1919 and 1924.

It was one of the more successful cyclecars and was based on a design bought from Carden and built in the factory that they had previously used. At the peak they had 80 employees.

The first model was a single-seater, the Monocar, only 30 inches (760 mm) wide with bodies built by the Thames Valley Pattern Works out of wood, plywood or even compressed paper. The complete car only weighed about 550 pounds (250 kg). Engines were rear mounted, air-cooled and rated from 5 to 8hp. There was a choice of JAP (most commonly), Blackburne or rarely MAG units. Gearboxes were either a two-speed epicyclic unit with foot operated change or three-speed Sturmey-Archer with chain drive to the rear axle. Steering was by a wire and bobbin system with the entire front axle being pivoted on early cars. Several hundred were made.

The Monocar was described by Ixion of The Motor Cycle as

a low, coffin-shape projectile, moderately attractive in dense fog

In 1920 a two-seater, the Bi-car, was added with the passenger behind the driver. The width of the car increased to 36 inches. About 50 were made. A more conventional side by side model was added in 1921 called the Runabout with a 42-inch (1,100 mm) body 126 inches (3,200 mm) long. The original Monocar and Bi-car were dropped in 1922 but production of the Runabout continued until 1924 and later to special order.

The company changed its name in 1923 to A.V. Motors Ltd and after the end of car production became Jowett and later Rootes Group dealers.

THE A.V., which was in production at Teddington from 1919 to 1924, was a cyclecar pure and simple. Ward & Avey Ltd. bought the design from John Carden, who had evolved it before the war but who was obsessed with his £100 two-stroke cyclecar on returning to " civvy street."

Production of this sporting-looking single-seater or mormitar commenced in 1919 at a substantial factory in Somerset Road, Teddington, which today is occupied by Messrs. Grundy, who make milk churns amongst other things. Harry Severn was with A.V. from the start and it WAS to A.V. Motors Ltd., who have since moved to Park Road, that I drove. to interview him, a journey which involved going through Bushey Park; here London buses take their passengers for a brief space into open parkland where the deer roam free. In the showroom window of A.V. Motors was a very splendid example of the A.V. Monocar, borrowed from its owner through a contact made by MOTOR SPORT and which he had driven down from Doncaster without trouble on three gallons of petrol. Examining this astonishing solution to the economy-car problem one is reminded that the A.V. consisted of a hull stiffened by two side-members, in the tail of which reposed an air-cooled vee-twin engine. This drove through a two-speed epicyclie gearbox to the back axle, which was sprung on i-elliptic springs. An outside lever selected neutral and the change of speed was effected by a foot pedal. The Carden had been a single-speed device but Ward & Avey decided that a gearbox would be kinder to the driver. Final drive was by roller chain.

The nose of this slim cyclecar terminated in a point, the petrol and oil tanks being accommodated under this streamlined decking. Quite remarkable was the front axle, which was of centre-pivot type. as on some traction engines. It was sprung on a single central, very flimsy, leaf spring and as this spring was free to slide in a slot in the axle, the latter was not located by anything save its pivot, which Mr. Severn told me was just a plain steel bearing!

The engine stuck out of the tail and so was exposed to the weather. It was started by unclipping a wooden handle, which was attached to a length of roller chain. This was then pulled up over a sprocket, to turn the engine. Steering was by wire-and-bobbin, the bobbin consisting of an alloy pulley behind the steering wheel to which cables, passing over pulleys on the dash, were anchored. The A.V. was extremely narrow, having a track of only 2 ft. 6 in. in conjunction with a wheelbase of 6 ft. 6 in. There is evidence that when an owner lost a wheel he was able to go home on three wheels, a tribute to the rigidity of the body/chassis structure if not to the quality of the wheel spindle.

It seems that the original plan was to build a water-cooled model with side-by-side staggered seats. But in May 1919 demonstration models were not ready and customers were asked to wait until October. In the end the air-cooled model was offered in 1920. Based on the even-more-simple Carden which cost £70 before the war the A.V. was listed at £146 5s. with S-h.p. 70 x 85 mm. (654 c.c.) J.A.P. engine, £154 2s. 6d., with 6-h.p. 76 x 85 mm. (770 c.c.) J.A.P. engine, and £156 7s. 6d. with 8-h.p..85 x 85 nun. (988 c.c.) j.A.P. engine.

A de luxe model with padding behind and above the seat and a crude back-rest, so that an extra passenger could be carried with his or her feet over the side and resting on the running boar4, was available for an additional 5:3 10s. Hood and wheel discs were also extras.

Harry Severn told MotorSport Magazine that Blackburne and M.A.G. engines were also used. He puts the total output of A.V.s at several hundreds and some 80 people were employed at the peak of production. The bodies were supplied by the Thames Valley Pattern Works, which is still operating. They were made from whatever materials were available, plywood, compressed paper or mahogany, hut the last-named was prone to split. The wheels were made in the factory, boys being employed to put the spokes in, and the epicyclic gearbox was assembled there, while they made their own clutch plates and brazed proprietory hubs to the axle-ends. The standard colour of the A.V. was red, with black mudguards.

At Brooklands Major Empson raced an A.V. Monocar and he and a Mr. Lyons had the A.V. agency in Bond Street. Later the A.V. Bicar was introduced, of which perhaps fifty were sold. It had side-by-side seats, a vee-shaped prow, stub-axle steering and the engine, either an 8-h.p. J.A.P. or an 8or 19-h.p. Blackburne, was now fully enclosed in the tail. A three-speed Sturntey-Archer gearbox was used, with a built-on reverse gear, and the price was £160.

Mr. Severn is of the opinion that the advent of the Austin Seven killed the A.V. and similar cyclecars. At all events, production ceased in 1924 and a Jewett agency was taken. Even today A.V. Motors service and supply spares for Jowett Javelin and Jupiter cars but when Jowett closed down they took on a Rootes agency. Mr. Avey has for many years been a keen rally driver and a flue assembly of silverware in his office is proof of his prowess at the wheel of a TR Triumph.

Incidentally, the as-new A.V. lent for display in the showroom was used for but a few months of its life and only the hood required renewing. There is another A.V. Monocar in the Montagu Motor Museum but it is in nothing like such good condition.—W. B.

It is reported that an engine from a G.W.K. of about 1924/25 vintage has lain for many years in a barn in Surrey and could be bought by anyone interested, and the chassis: of a Hadfield Bean is said to be standing derelict in the West Country.