British inventor Frederick Simms produced the world’s first Armoured car.
Simms purchased the rights for the manufacture of Daimler’s petrol engine within the British Empire in 1890, from his friend Gottlieb Daimler. Three years later Simms formed The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited, the companies business was the fitting of the new Daimler engines into boats, it was based near Putney Bridge, London. Simms and Evelyn Ellis brought one of the first petrol–powered cars into the UK, a Panhard et Levassor, in June 1895. From Southampton, Ellis drove the vehicle to Micheldever near Winchester. There he met Simms and they continued on to Malvern, they had completed the first long journey by a motorcar in Britain. With Robert Bosch, Frederick Simms invented and patented the Simms-Bosch ignition magneto. He also founded the Automobile Club of Great Britain in 1897 which later became the RAC. On the 15th October 1895 Frederick Simms organised the very first British Motor Show, called “the Horseless Carriage Exhibition” at Tunbridge Wells. At the Automobile Club show at Richmond in 1898 the spectators were startled to hear gun fire. The crowds rushed over to the driving track to find Frederick Simms demonstrating his “Motor Scout”. It was the very first petrol powered armed vehicle. The vehicle was a De Dion-Bouton quadricycle fitted with a mark IV Maxim machine gun mounted above the front wheels and could carry up to 1000 rounds of ammunition. Powered by a one and half horse power Simms petrol engine which may nowadays may seem underpowered, but the lightweight of the vehicle made it very manageable and it had a range of 120 of some miles. It was intended as a support vehicle for the infantry were suitable roads were available.
In 1898 Frederick Simms registered patent No. 7,387 in Great Britain for the World’s first Armoured car. He also registered a patent in the United States in 1900. To view a copy CLICK HEREIn 1901 Simms produced a light auxiliary armoured rail vehicle which could be used to patrol the railways. It was constructed on a chassis that ran on railway wheels, using 1/4″ armor plate body for protection, powered by a 7 hp petrol engine most likely of Simms design. The vehicle was armed with Mark IV Maxim machine gun combined with armoured shield, very similar if not the same one fitted to the Motor Scout. The vehicle was capable of a very resectable speed of 30mph, it could also be fitted with a one-pounder pom-pom gun and a searchlight.The British Army ordered a “Motor War Car” from Simms in April 1899, However the vehicle was not finished until early 1902 because of several delays. The completed vehicle was shown to the public in April 1902 at the Crystal Palace, London. It did differ from the original idea, the two turrets were omitted as was the plan to electrify the hull to stop enemies from scaling up the bodywork. The demonstration at Crystal Palace was well attended by the public and Press, but nobody from the War Office attended. Some publications of the time were most scathing saying that they had much more important things to do such as how should belt buckles be polished. Simms had envisaged the the vehicle would have been of much use in the Boer War, however by the time it was completed the war was over.The Motor War car was built by Vickers, Sons & Maxim of Barrow and had a specially built chassis with an armoured hull made from Vickers armour plating 1/4″ thick, which was enough to stop most rifle bullets of the time. The world’s first Armoured car was a large vehicle being some 28 feet long, 8 feet wide and 10 feet high. The armoured hull was shaped so it had a ram at both ends. The power plant was a 4-cylinder, 16hp Daimler water cooled engine with a four speed gearbox giving the vehicle a top speed of 9 mph and a range of about 200 miles. The Motor War car was armed with two Pom-poms guns and two Maxims machine guns which were fitted on ship’s mountings and had a crew of four. Braking was a double stage system operating on the rear wheels.Unfortunately due to the lack of interest by the War Office the world’s first Armoured car was abandoned. The same lack of interest in anything new was also a problem for Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Swinton, a British Royal Engineer officer and managing director and designer William Tritton of William Foster and Sons, who together invented the tank as we know it today.