1913: The Schilovski gyrocar

“In 1912 the Russian Count Peter P Schilovski, a lawyer and member of the Russian royal family, visited the Wolseley Tool and Motorcar Company, and laid before their engineers plans for a two-wheeled gyroscopically-stabilised car. At that time Wolseley were a sizable manufacturer producing ordinary cars, double-decker buses, taxicabs, lorries and powerboat engines.

“The Wolseley men were clearly impressed, as the job was accepted, and work began immediately, under the supervision of A W Dring, the Chief Experimental Engineer. The chassis took a year to build, which seems impressively fast given the amount of experimentation that must have been needed. The Count was a frequent visitor during this period to the Adderley Park works in Birmingham.

“At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, The Count returned to Russia. Wolseley were fully occupied in war work, and the Gyrocar was not uppermost in their minds; it lay abandoned in a corner of the factory.
The Wolseley directors not unaturally assumed that the Count had been a casualty of either the war or the Russian Revolution. Wanting to get it out of the way, but not wishing to dispose of it completely, they hit upon the extraordinary solution of burying it. This is not normally considered an appropriate method for the long-term storage of motor vehicles.

“In 1938 it was decided to exhume the Gyrocar. It looks as though it was interred upside down.¬† t was restored at considerable expense and put on display in the company museum.”

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