Apologies for the terrible lunar-based pun, but the photoshoot I did with a fantastic little (and I mean teeny weeny) 1914 Crescent has hit the shelves.
If you’ve never heard of a Crescent, it’s hardly surprising. They were only manufactured from 1911 to 1915, and this is the only surviving example. Which makes it just about as rare as cars get.
That didn’t stop the owner, Mark, from putting it through its paces for the photoshoot, including some very slow runs uphill on the old half-mile sprint course that was used by the Sutton Coldfield and Mid-Warwickshire Automobile Club, back when this car would have been new.
We even paddled through a brook, the ground clearance of the car proving useful in keeping our feet dry.
Mark also delicately – very delicately – put up the hood for a few shots, which I think makes the car look a bit like a WW1 soldier.
Getting in a bit closer, there are some lovely details on the car – check out the crescent emblem on the brake pedal.
I won’t even pretend to understand how the friction drive system works, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I can see why it never took off though; the point of contact that propels the car is absolutely minute, about the size of a postage stamp.
The original leather seat is intact but extremely fragile. A more robust modern seat was put in for our road trip once we’d taken this photo, as this one is way too delicate to be used.
I feel really privileged to have spent the day with the Crescent and its owner. It’s the smallest car I’ve ever been in by some margin, and has no power whatsoever – even a small incline starts a serious discussion as to whether the passenger (i.e. me) will have to get out and walk – but it’s just bursting with character.
I also felt quite an affinity with the Crescent as they were built in my homeland of the West Midlands, in Smethwick and Walsall in fact. The factories are even still standing – just about – although they’ve long since been converted for less exciting uses.
This has been a bit of a whistle-stop tour, but you can find out more about this fascinating little car in the July edition of The Automobile magazine, which is out now.