Sole-surviving Wilson-Pilcher goes under the hammer

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A 1904 Wilson-Pilcher – built by the engineer credited with inventing the tank – is estimated to sell for £180-220,000 at Bonhams’ 2 November sale of veteran cars, ahead of this year’s London to Brighton Run, which takes place two days later.

The 12/16hp machine was built by Walter Wilson (1874-1957) and is believed to have remained at his factory as a fire tender, before being renovated by company apprentices in the 1940s and early ’50s. It was later gifted to Wilson’s son, and was then handed down through the family to its present owner.

Believed to be the last of its type, it has taken part in the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run several times and featured in the event’s programme in ’61.

Wilson was a King's College Cambridge graduate who initially worked on the development of aero engines, but was later credited with designing the all-round track and epicyclic gearing of the world’s first tank, 'Little Willie'.

Tim Schofield, director of Bonhams’ UK Motor Car department, said: “This rare car, one of the earliest successes of one of the most important engineers and inventors this country has ever seen, is a fantastic addition to our annual veteran car sale.

“We are expecting around 15 London to Brighton-eligible cars for the sale, some of which are offered with entry to this year’s Run – so collectors can buy on the Friday and take part in the event on the Sunday.”

Other lots include a 1904 Richard Brasier 16hp Four-Seat Side-Entrance Tonneau (below, estimate £220-300,000) and a 1904 Wolseley 12hp Twin-Cylinder Tonneau (estimate £100-150,000).

To view the sale catalogue, click here.

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