Early automobiles guzzled more water than petrol

A charabanc used up 54 litres of water in 72 miles

Early automobiles consumed more water than petrol. Here’s a report from March 1899 about a non-stop trip of 72 miles. The vehicle was an open bus or charabanc with just one passenger, and it covered the distance in 5 hours and 10 minutes, averaging about 14 miles per hour, although its claimed top speed was only 12.5 miles per hour. The claimed fuel efficiency of 20 miles per gallon is comparable to a V6 Ford Mustang’s, but the surprising detail is the volume of water consumed to keep the engine cool: 12 gallons or 54.5 litres!

Here’s the original report:

“Mr. Pedley, of the London Motor-Van and Wagon Company, Limited, recently had a fine run from London to Clacton-on-Sea, a distance of seventy two miles, without stopping to take in cooling water. This distance was accomplished during the night in five hours and ten minutes in a char-a-bancs, he being the only passenger. Until Romford was passed his journey was considerably interfered with by the market carts proceeding to London. The top speed gear of the car was only twelve and a half miles, but, of course, Mr. Pedley “dropped” the hills. The water supply carried was eighteen gallons, and of this quantity six gallons remained on reaching his destination. Four gallons of petrol were carried, but sufficient remained at the end of the run to drive the car another eight miles. Mr. Pedley states that this was the most enjoyable of the many long runs he has negotiated, and we can quite appreciate his pleasure and enjoyment in the trip. Can any of our readers give an instance of a longer “non-stop” run?”

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