Henry Whitlock, Carriage Builder
Though Whitlock were never an important car manufacturer, they were a persistent one, as the company was nominally active in car manufacture for around thirty years. However, the name of Henry Whitlock & Company dates back long before the motor era to 1778, when they were London coachbuilders.
At the 1883 Sportsman's Exhibition, Henry Whitlock, Carriage Builder, by now boasting the Royal Appointment, and operating from factories at Holland Park and Turnham Green, 'invited Inspection of Carriages of all kinds from the Four-in-Hand Drag to the Pony Carriage ... First of Style! Sound Work! Moderate Charges!' In fact the range of carriages offered by Whitlock were easily adaptable to the early motor chassis - Victorias, Broughams, Dog Carts, Siamese Phaetons, Buggies.
Mortimer's Patent India Rubber Tyres
The company was also one of the earliest coachbuilders to offer carriages with solid rubber tyres
instead of iron, exhibiting a Brougham with Mortimer's Patent India Rubber Tyres at the 1887 Sportsman's Exhibition. Despite this indication of progressive thinking, the company was fairly tardy in entering the motor business: in 1903 they briefly offered a car named 'Whitlock-Century', though this was not made by them, just sold under their name.
However, they had already established a garage and motor agency at their Holland Park address, and at the 1903 Crystal Palace Show offered 'motor bodies built to order in wood and aluminium'. The first true Whitlock cars were exhibited at the Cordingley Show in the Agricultural Hall, Islington, in March 1904; known as the Whitlock-Aster, the new models had Aster Engines and chassis with Whitlock Coachwork. There were two twin-cylinder models, of 10hp and 12hp, both with armoured wood chassis, and two fours, with mechanically-operated inlet valves and pressed steel chassis.
Brougham and Landaulette bodywork
The 14hp had a special dropped frame which made it suitable for Brougham or Landaulette bodywork, while the 20 hp had forced lubrication and 'all controls on steering
wheel', as well as 'luxurious body and coachbuilding'. Now known as the Whitlock Automobile Company, the firm made its first and only venture into automobile
competition in the 1905 Tourist Trophy, with the entry of a 12/14 hp model, which turned in an underwhelming performance to finish 22nd. At the 1906 Olympia Show the company showed 12/14 hp and 18/22 hp four-cylinder models, the 12/14 having shaft drive, the 18/22 hp chain drive, dual ignition and internal-expanding brakes.
on show included single and double landaulettes, a seven-seated tourer and a 'Special Doctor's Coupe, driven from interior', which sounds like one of those curious bodies which were only practicable when the roads were virtually traffic-free, with more blind spots than visibility. By the time Olympia came round again, however, production of the Whitlock-Aster had ceased. Around 1914, the Whitlock Automobile Company was taken over by another firm of coach builders and motor agents, J. A. Lawton, with branches in London and Liverpool. They announced two new four-cylinder cars, a 2413 cc 12/16 hp, priced at £295 in chassis form, and a 4398 cc 20/30 hp (£495), which were marketed under the Lawton name in 1914 and as Whitlocks in 1915, though it's doubtful whether many were sold.
1928 Whitlock 20/70 saloon.
The company, by now trading as Lawton-Goodman Limited, with premises at 28 Brook Street, London, W1, and a factory at Slade Works, Cricklewood, London NW2, did not reappear as car makers until 1922, when a light car with a 12 hp Coventry-Climax power unit of 1496 cc was announced. Selling at £375. in two-seater and dickey form (painted Whitlock Blue), the new car was a totally conventional assembled vehicle with cone clutch, three forward speeds and pressed steel wheels, and as such was expensive compared with cars such as the Morris-Cowley, which offered almost as much at about half the price.
In 1923 Lawton-Goodman announced a new Whitlock model, the 14 hp, with a 1753cc ohv engine and a vee'd, Bentley-like radiator. It cost £495 with sporting torpedo coachwork, which was a more reasonable proposition. That same year, internal expanding four-wheel brakes
were available on all Whitlock models at an extra cost of £30, while balloon tyres
were fitted to some 1924 Whitlocks. Whitlock sales were pretty nominal at the best of times, but the company were consistent exhibitors at Olympia during the 1920s: their 1924 exhibit included Three-quarter coupe, Two-seater and Dickey, Three-seater and Dickey, and Four-seated Touring coachwork, all on the 12 hp chassis, at prices ranging from £375 to £550.
The chassis was now available in two wheelbase lengths, 8ft 6in and 9ft 6in, prices being £295 and £325 respectively. At the 1925 Show, the exhibit consisted of three of the new 16/50 models, basically the same as the old 14 hp six, but bored out to give a swept volume of 1991 cc; chassis price was £450, to which a saloon body could add another £50. The 1926 Olympia Show saw a new Whitlock model, the 20/70, with a six-cylinder Meadows power unit of 2972cc, with overhead valves and twin Solex carburettors. Wire wheels gave the car a more sporting appearance than its Coventry-Climax engined predecessor. Chassis price of the new model was substantially increased, at £600, while the standard touring car cost £795.
The 1928 'Coupe d'Interieur'
The company made much of easy-to-erect hood fittings for their open models, the folding mechanism of the Whitlock being fitted with spring assistance. At the end of 1927, cylinder capacity of the 20/70 hp was increased to 3301 cc, and centralised chassis lubrication was standardised, though chassis price remained at £600: a rose-pink coupe was an eye-bending feature of the company's ritual Olympia exhibit. A modern touch was evident in the company's 1928 'Coupe d'Interieur'; cloth inserts were let into its leather upholstery to increase seating comfort and other models were upholstered in 'special anti-dust cloth' .
The company really went to town for its last appearance at Olympia, in 1929: there were no fewer than seven cars on the stand, of two different chassis types. Chassis Type A (£650) had a loft 4in wheelbase, Dunlop stud-fixing wire wheels and 31 x 5.25in tyres, while Chassis Type B had a more sporting specification, with an 11ft wheelbase, wider track, knock-off Rudge-Whitworth wire wheels and 32 x 6 in tyres, and was priced at £700. This year the Coupe d'Interieur had two-tone leather/cloth upholstery in beige and black, and was based on the Type A chasis, while the new 'Tourist' Sporting Saloon was on the Type B chassis, and was 'specially designed for good visibility and comfort and luggage carrying capacity for the tourist' ; like all closed Whitlock models, it had the company's own design of sliding sunshine roof and safety glass in all windows. The 'Tourist' sold at £900 fully equipped.
Though the Whitlock was in theory produced until 1932 - some sources even say 1936 - it's likely that the marque's very limited output came to a halt late in 1930. At Show time, Lawton-Goodman were offering a 'Sportsman's Coupe, 1931 modifications, 20/70hp Whitlock, sliding roof, Bendix Perrot brakes, very fast and guaranteed,' for £450 in the Used Car small ads in The Autocar, a fifty per cent reduction over the new price, which seems to indicate that they were trying to clear their stocks. However, this was not the end of Lawton-Goodman, just of the Whitlock marque, as the parent company continued actively as builders of specialised commercial vehicle bodywork
for many more years.