120 year-old hybrid up for auction

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The Armstrong Phaeton ... one of a kind, so finding spare parts may be difficult.
The Armstrong Phaeton ... one of a kind, so finding spare parts may be difficult.

Move over Lexus, Audi, Porsche et al. The world's first hybrid car is actually 120 years old this year.

The Armstrong Phaeton was developed by Harry E. Dey and built by the Armstrong Company for the Roger Mechanical Carriage Company in 1896.

It features both a petrol powered 6.5-litre, two-cylinder engine and a dynamo flywheel connected to an onboard battery. The dynamo (and regenerative braking) is used to charge the battery, which generates power to start the engine.

This pre-Prius also features a semi-automatic transmission. There are three forward gears and a reverse gear and the driver simply switches between the two with a selector on the steering column.

An electric clutch automatically disengages and re-engages, meaning the Armstrong is clutch-less, too.

It's clever stuff, and the car was expected to raise between US$175,000 and US$275,000 when it went under the hammer at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance recently. It seems cheap for an engineering marvel but as there's only one, finding spare parts will be difficult.

- Hamilton News

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