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The 1954 Bradshaw Utility Estate, a post-war prototype vehicle, was the brainchild of England’s Granville Bradshaw. Bradshaw is credited for many innovative engine designs, specifically the ABC (All British [Engine] Company) flat-twin engines. He also designed the Skootamota scooter, ABC’s Gnat and Wasp aeroengines of World War I, the radical oil-cooled engines used in the Belsize-Bradshaw light cars, and several motorcycles. What is less known of Granville Bradshaw is that he was still designing cars and engines into the 1950’s.
His final automobile design project was the Utility Estate or The People’s Car. It was intended to be an inexpensive and fuel efficient vehicle destined for mass production by the mid-1950s. The price point would be £340 (approx. $950 USD). Maintenance was made intentionally easy by using just two sizes of wrenches, allowing the engine to be removed and stripped quickly and easily by any competent mechanic.
Bradshaw’s final known record on the Utility Estate was a letter from Bradshaw to the editor of The Motorcycle in January, 1954. Bradshaw invited the editor to test drive this new People’s Car whose completion was expected in early spring. The car was already being road tested and had received encouraging reports. Research efforts conclude it is unknown if the editor of The Motorcycle accepted Bradshaw’s invitation or ever wrote about it.
In the end, the Bradshaw Utility Estate never entered production and the project was abandoned entirely in 1954. Although the reasons why remain unclear, Bradshaw felt betrayed by one of his colleagues, Mr. Shay. Perhaps he felt robbed of his design. Correspondence between Shay and Bradshaw revealed that “big business” and primary investor Emmanuel Kaye had become increasingly cautious about the project as major manufacturers released better cars with more luxurious features at a similar or better price. It is feasible they no longer saw the vehicle as a viable investment; instead it became a potential drain on resources which they preferred to direct elsewhere.
With this avenue closed, Granville Bradshaw moved to Hill Cottage, Eversley, Hampshire in the spring of 1955. Wishing to advance the utility vehicle further, Bradshaw befriended a local garage proprietor, Mr. Hopkinson. Mr. Hopkinson had engaged in many automobile driving trials from an array of manufacturers and was skilled at offering an expert opinion on how to make a car as good as it could be. Mr. Hopkinson involved himself as much as his spare time would allow in the project to further its development. Bradshaw relocated again to near Chichester and, for reasons unknown, all contact with Bradshaw was lost. Granville Bradshaw passed away in 1969. The Bradshaw Utility Estate remained with Mr. Hopkinson in Hampshire for the next 51 years. After his passing, Mr. Hopkinson’s son, John, sold the car. The car changed hands only once more before arriving at Lane Motor Museum, where it resides today. When asking Jeff Lane about future plans for the Bradshaw, Jeff had this to say – “I hope someday to get it running. I do not plan on restoring the car, so we can keep the patina intact.”
Manufacturer: Granville Bradshaw
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Drivetrain Configuration: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine: Air-cooled 600cc 5hp 2-cyl, 4 stroke engine
Transmission: 3-speed manual
Top Speed: Unknown but estimated at approximately 30mph
Year of Production: 1955
Number Produced: 1
Original Cost: Never sold to the public, but was intended to be £340 or approximately $950