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Pennington were motorcycles and other vehicles produced from 1896
to 1898, to a design by an Edward Joel Pennington, an American businessman
who was born in Franklin, Indiana, in 1858.
As a boy he showed remarkable engineering aptitude and as he developed
into manhood he displayed remarkable initiative, charm and persuasiveness.
With these attributes it was not long before he was running his own factory
and at the age of twenty-three had patented a reciprocating head for planing
machines, the first of a continuous stream of patents which flowed from
his active brain until his death in 1911.
The machines were built by the Humber
firm in Coventry, and there was a lot of advertising and many extravagant
claims. The designs were sold to Lawson 1900-1901 for a reputed £100,000,
but the huge production that was expected to recoup that vast amount of
money never happened.
A motorcycle and a tandem were built. The engines had two cylinders with
no fins and direct drive. Low-tension ignition provided what was claimed
to be a 'long-mingling spark'. On test, the machine was reported to have
a speed range of 8mph to 48mph. Ignition usually failed, but if the machine
did go successfully, it could run for 10 miles/16km - even though the cooling
was so poor.
Pennington also offered a three-wheeled Torpedo Autocar in
1896 - this had two cylinders and a duplex frame. In 1898 there was the
Victoria with front-wheel drive, rear-wheel steering and rope transmission.
Both of these were equally as far-fetched as the motorcycle.
Note: In the Motor Museum in Beaulieu, Hampshire, there is a very
rare vehicle. It is an 1896 Pennington Autocar motor-tricycle. This
model was built by the Great Horseless Carriage Co