The SMITHS brand of instrumentation has a rich history dating back to 1851 when Samuel Smith Junior started selling clocks and watches in the Strand in London.  The SMITHS brand has since developed into one of the most famous and recognisable brands of gauges for cars and motorcycles in the world.

The Royal Connection

Incredibly, the foundation for the extensive range of SMITHS automotive gauges supplied over the years was down to British Royalty and, in particular, King Edward VII.  King Edward VII ascended to the throne in 1901 and reigned for 9 years before his death in 1910.  King Edward VII was a keen motorist.  In 1899, before ascending to the throne, the Prince of Wales purchased his first Daimler.  To ensure the smooth running of his royal fleet, he appointed a Master of the Motors within the royal household to oversee all matters related to these vehicles  His passion for automobiles blossomed and he added other models to his collection.  One of his favourite runs was a 70-mile trip to Newmarket for horse racing.

SMITHS speedometer for King Edward VII
SMITHS speedometer for King Edward VII

It was during the 70-mile Newmarket run that the King took an interest in the maximum speed of his car.  At the time, he owned a 18-28hp Mercedes-Simplex and SMITHS folklore tells how the King asked Gordon Smith for a device to measure the travelling speed of his car.  The Mercedes-Simplex was manufactured between 1904 and 1905 and had a rated output of 28hp at 1200rpm with a maximum speed of 50mph.

The SMITHS historical records include a ledger of Speedometer orders.  The first page of the first ledger has, as entry No. 1, ‘H. M. The King, Buckingham Palace’.  This incredible historical record shows that the SMITHS Instruments automotive legacy was, indeed, started by British Royalty.

SMITHS ledger showing the order for King Edward VII's speedometer
SMITHS ledger showing the order for King Edward VII’s speedometer

Since that first 1904 speedometer, SMITHS gauges have featured in many royal cars with specialist speedometers designed to operate at walking pace for processions, gauges for classic Rolls-Royce cars, and gauges for the classic Aston Martins favoured by the present King Charles III.

For further information on SMITHS gauges for classic cars, please contact us on:

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Phone:  +44 (0) 1639 732200

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