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Flashback to 2004: Rare piece of motoring history brought home

By Heather Large | Nostalgia | Published:

A rare piece of motoring history came home after being bought by an enthusiast who read about the car in the Express & Star.

1910 star tourer belonging to Brian Smith from Ashmore Park in Wolverhampton.

Willenhall businessman Brian Smith saw an article which featured the 1910 Star 15hp Tourer, which was being auctioned off after being discovered in a North Yorkshire barn and decided he would buy it.

Property developer Mr Smith, who once owned the former Star works in Fredrick Street, Graiseley -where the chassis of the car was built -was delighted when he was able to buy the car for £25,000 during the auction at Tennants of Leyburn on July 23.

Brian Smith from Ashmore Park in Wolverhampton with tools at the ready as he begins work on his 1910 star tourer.

He had never seen the car for real or even requested a catalogue and was bidding by telephone.

Mr Smith fought off competition from the room and another telephone bidder from Holland to secure the vehicle, which was expected to fetch about £15,000.

He travelled to Leyburn to collect the car which was also due to be featured on the BBC's Bargain Hunt in the autumn after it was spotted by producers who were filming at the auction house.

1910 star tourer belonging to Brian Smith from Ashmore Park in Wolverhampton.

"The car is beautiful, it's in even better condition than I had hoped and it is coming back to its original home," Mr Smith told the Express & Star.

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"Tim Wonnacott, who presents Bargain Hunt, asked me if I'd like to appear in the programme talking about how I heard about the car," he added.

The 57-year-old, of Essington Road, New Invention, said he planned to spend the next couple years lovingly restoring his "new car" as he had become semi-retired.

1910 star tourer belonging to Brian Smith from Ashmore Park in Wolverhampton.

But he was still on the lookout for vital parts, including gas headlights.

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Used until just after the Great War and laid up until earlier this year showing 2,806 miles on the clock, the Tourer is extremely rare with only one other example listed by the Veteran Car Club.

It was complete with original bill of sale, a comprehensive history of receipts for all accessories, petrol receipts and even an AA & Motor Union Handbook for 1912.1910 Star Tourer as good as new after hours of hard work

It was a labour of love project as Mr Smith and three of his friends went on to spend hundreds of hours lovingly restoring the Tourer. In total the car and its refurbishment cost him around £65,000.

Brian Smith from Essington, Wolverhampton, with his restored 1910 Star Tourer.

Mr Smith explained how 98 per cent of the car had been rebuilt, but new seats and a petrol tank had needed to be installed.

He said: "It's been totally and completely refurbished and I think itπs back like the day it came out of the factory."

"I wouldn't know how much it's worth now. It's worth as much as someoneπs prepared to pay for it. Hopefully somebody will take it on board and keep it as a local piece of history." added Mr Smith.

Documents show the car was bought by the Vasey family from Messrs C W Robson, of Malton, on March 29, 1910.

Brian Smith from Essington, Wolverhampton, with his restored 1910 Star Tourer and a copy of original instruction book.

It was ordered in chassis form and the four-seater tourer coachwork was provided by Myers and Burnel, of York.

The car was delivered to the family in Malton on June 15 of that year and cost £315, less a 10 per cent discount.

An extra £20 was charged for the hood and screen, £10 for Stepney wheels and tyres, £5 for a side tool box and £3.10 for lamps and a Stewart speedometer.

It has only 2,806 miles on the clock and was sold at auction with the original receipt for the purchase of the car.

The engine of 1910 restored Star Tourer

A 1912 AA & Motor Union Handbook, which was used by the owners to plan journeys, was also included.

Star, founded by Wolverhampton entrepreneur Edward Lisle, was based in the Graiseley area of the city from about 1897 to 1932, when the company folded.

Cars and parts built in the Wolverhampton factory were exported across the world, with many ending up in New Zealand and South America.

Original wheel bolts on the restored 1910 Star Tourer

By 1903 several models were available and the ‘Little Star’, introduced early in 1904 became very popular. Built along the lines of a Panhard, it had a 7hp. twin-cylinder engine, and sold for £175.

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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