Today in Motorcycle History

Pennington Motorcycles

Pennington motorcycles and other vehicles were 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 considerable 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 Raft Victoria with front-wheel drive, rear-wheel steering and rope transmission. Both of these were equally as far-fetched as the motorcycle.

Pennington and Baines was established with William Baines, Senior, of Norris & Baines.

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.

Source: Graces Guide

Further reading: Pennington's Machine Gun Carriage

N.B. Over the years, several other firms used variations of the name Torpedo.

If you have further information or a query related to this page, please contact us