In A4 landscape format, this pictorial journey begins with the first drive on public roads of the Lanchester 5hp in December 1895 and ends poignantly with the disappointing demise of the optimistically-named but underwhelming Lanchester Sprite in 1956. The photographs that portray this amazing story have been lovingly restored using modern techniques to overcome often decades of poor storage and neglect. Some are so rare that very few people will actually have seen them previously.Furthermore, the black & white glass-plate and photographic images have painstakingly been colour-tinted using the very-latest technology to dramatically bring the story to life, in a similar manner to that used on archive television productions.Due to the great cost of this work on each individual image it is believed that no other motoring book has so far received this meticulous attention.
There are therefore unique surprises and treasures to be found on almost every page, including some candid shots of the Royal Family when Queen Elizabeth II was a young child. The influence of both world wars on the Lanchester designs – and the influence of the Lanchester brothers on the conduct of the wars – can be inferred from many evocative images in Britain and abroad. The Lanchester racing cars reveal the exciting atmosphere created at Brooklands, while enchanting Art Deco advertisements appear dotted throughout the chapters. It seems almost possible to smell the champagne, share in the opulence, and listen to the whispers of the ghosts of Debutantes riding in their chauffeur-driven limousines.
But there is more, much more, to this book than a collection of these evocative images. Fred Lanchester is arguably Britain’s own Leonardo da Vinci and the evidence for such an accolade is impressively assembled, not just with respect to his automobile designs but also his ground-breaking yet barely-recognised contribution to aeronautics. Few people would be aware, for example, of the striking resemblance of a modern Reaper drone to Fred’s design for an ‘Aerial Torpedo’ as far back as 1897, or of his influence on the iconic wing-shape of the Spitfire and indeed the upturned wingtips of every modern commercial airplane in use today.
The Trail of Discovery section highlights the many features remaining worldwide from the days of the Lanchester brothers, allowing the reader further exploration.
As a whole, Lanchester Legacy Volume Four – A Pictorial Journey is both the go-to visual reference and historical log of Lanchester achievements and also delightful and enthralling acquisition for the coffee table.