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Quiz Archive

About Quiz # 331: 1923 Ruston-Hornsby

Last week's photo was send to us by Peter Johnston. The image was of the interior of the Ruston-Hornsby factory in Lincoln, England. Although a relatively unknown make, we were surprised by the number of correct answers. Almost all of them mentioned that Ruston-Hornsby made two models, which you will find in many an encyclopedia. Actually there were three models: the 16/20 hp (A1 and B1); the 20 hp (A2 and B2) and the 20/25 hp (the A3)! The only one to come close was Hugh Stiles, who also dated the photograph as of 1923 and thus identified the model (see Read More for his answer). Congratulations with your second win, Hugh! A particular feature of the Ruston-Hornsby was its radiator mascot Ruston Hornsby of which we wrote an article some five years ago.
See Read More for the list of those with a correct answer PLUS a history of the Ruston & Hornsby make written by jury member Stuart Penketh!

The winning answer by Hugh Stiles:
"The cars are Ruston-Hornsby. Three models were manufactured: A1 or "Fifteen", B1 or "Sixteen" (both Dorman-engined) and A2 or "Twenty" (own engine). The cars were very heavy, being built on a 9" chassis and extremely expensive (£440 to nearly £1000) and so could not compete with cheaper, lighter machines. About 1,500 were made between 1919 and 1924. A 4" high brass Lincoln imp radiator mascot was an optional extra. The wheels (6 stud 815 x 120 Michelin disc) and date (the photograph comes from a 1923 brochure) identify the cars as A1 ("fifteen") or B1 ("Sixteen") models."

Others with a correct answer:
Sven Ljungström
Kaspars Dortāns
Sujit Gupta
John Kent
Tony Prebensen
Rod Renfrew
Frazer Sloan
Craig Gilingham

And jury members:
John Robins
Fried Stol
Frans Vrijaldenhoven
David Green

and Stuart Penketh who wrote:

The Ruston-Hornsby car

The original company was Proctor and Burton established in 1840, operating as millwrights and engineers. They became Ruston, Proctor and Company in 1857 when Joseph Ruston joined them.

Hornsby - Akroyd Stuart Engine
Work with Herbert Akroyd Stuart in the 1890s lead to the world's first commercial heavy oil engines being made in Grantham (from 8 July 1892). This was the first recognisable 'diesel engine', although it was built several years before Rudolf Diesel built his first prototype engines. 32,417 of the vaporising oil ('hot-bulb') engines were made by Hornsbys. They would provide electricity for lighting the Taj Mahal, Rock of Gibraltar, Statue of Liberty (chosen after Hornsbys won the oil engine prize at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893), many lighthouses and for powering Marconi's first transatlantic radio broadcast.

On 11 September 1918, the company amalgamated with Richard Hornsby & Sons of Grantham (1828-1918) to become Ruston and Hornsby Ltd. Richard Hornsby & Sons was an engine and machinery manufacturer

In World War 1, the company made around 2750 aeroplanes and 3000 aero engines. The 1000th Sopwith Camel (B7380), built at the plant in 1917,[2][3] was named the Wings of Horus. The company built around 1,600 Sopwith Camels, 250 Sopwith 1½ Strutters, and 200 Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2s. The company, as Ruston & Proctor, was the largest British builder of aero-engines in the War, and built the largest bomb of the war.
The first German Zeppelin to be shot down on British soil was done so by a Ruston-built BE2 fighter. The pilot, Lt Leefe Robinson was awarded the Victoria Cross for this deed.

After World War I the company attempted to diversify and one outcome was the Ruston-Hornsby car. Two versions were made, the A1 , a 15.9 hp with a Dorman 2614 cc engine and a larger 20 hp model (A2) with 3308 cc engine of their own manufacture. The cars were however very heavy, being built on a 9-inch chassis and extremely expensive ? the cheapest was around £440 and the most expensive nearly £1000, and within a few years other makers were selling similar vehicles that weighed only 3/4 ton and cost around £120 - £200 ? and never reached the hoped-for production volumes. About 1300 were made between 1920 and 1925 , two of which are still retained by Siemens on the Lincoln site, one is fully restored in running/driving condition while the second example is still awaiting attention.

The R-H car was developed by the Chief Engineer, Edward Boughton who joined the company in 1916 after helping to develop the tank. Later he would start the Automotive Products Group (APG) in Leamington Spa in 1920 which made Borg & Beck clutches, Lockheed hydraulic brakes, and Purolator fuel filters.

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Jury Member Location Information

Bart Oosterling NL
Bas de Voogd / Rutger Booy NL team
Bob Swanson USA Sports Cars & Racing Cars
Carleton Hughes USA
Ced Pearce South-Africa Ford & Cord
Chris Paulsen USA Brass Era (pre-1916) cars
David Green NZ
Dick Trenk (deceased 2010) USA US cars
Dominique Barbault F French Cars
Don Edwards USA US Classics
Eduard Hattuma NL
Fons Alkemade NL French automobiles
Frans Vrijaldenhoven NL Dutch Automobile Historian
Fried Stol NL
Hans Compter NZ
Harry Schley Germany
Henk Visscher NL Firsts in Car Industry
Ian Hayhurst Canada pre-1916 autos / early Mopar
Ingo Jost Germany German Cars
James Helms USA
João Pedro Gazineu Brazil
John Barringer UK
John Robins UK
Jon Baker Australia
José A. Gómez Argentina
Josef Kubista CZ
Joseph P. McCormick USA
Kit Foster USA US cars 1920-1960, Stanley Steamers
Kjetil Langsaether Norway
Lars-Göran Lindgren S brass era cars
Luke Chennel USA
Marc Fellman Australia
Mark Dawber NZ
Mike Clark GB Vintage Cars.
Mike Tebbett UK cyclecars
Mike Turner USA
Nicolas Boissier France
Paul Linster L French & Britsh sports cars
Peter Ransom Australia
Richard Armstrong UK
Radu Comsa Romania
Raul Valkila Finland
Reg Harris Australia Citroën and English cars
Robb Stewart USA early racing and sports cars
Robbie Marenzi Argentina
Roger Fields USA
Rutger Booy / Bas de Voogd NL team
Stuart Penketh Thailand
Theo Castricum NL US cars
Tom Chaney USA
Verner Johnson DK