In May 1904 Walter
Bergius, aged 23, founded The Bergius Car and Engine Company in premises
at 169 Finnieston Street, Glasgow, these consisted of a first floor
and attic, rent £75 per annum.
consisted of five "workers" and the total weekly wage bill
was £4.87 (£4-17-6d in old money), Mr Bergius drew no salary
for the first four years, he did all the designing and worked in the
shop.Mr David Willocks was the commercial head but usually to be found
working at the bench - he kept the books when his hands were clean.
The first Kelvin car
was ready in seven months,not withstanding that the engine and transmission,
the axles, wheel hubs, radiator, and bodywork were all made on the premises.
In those days motor manufacture was not a matter of assembling parts
produced by specialists.
The first car had solid tyres, a body
with rear entrance, a 3-speed gearbox with constant-mesh gears, dog
clutches, and a live axle driven by cardan shaft, most cars were chain
driven in those days. The engine had 4 cylinders, 3.5" bore * 4.75"
stroke and developed 14hp at the maximum 900rpm.
In the Spring of 1905
the first batch of three cars with pneumatic tyres and side entrance
bodies was built, these were open, no saloons in those days not even
windscreens. The first was bought by a Mr McKean of London- who took
delivery himself in July 1905 and drove it home to London without mishap.
In March 1906 Mr Bergius's
elder brother Mr William Bergius asked if it would be possible to modify
a car engine for marine use, a 23-foot rowing gig which had been removed
from a large sailing yacht was purchased for £7.OO. The modified
engine was duly installed and the resulting launch "KELVIN"
won practically every race it was entered for on the Clyde Estuary until
Mr Bergius designed "KELVIN II" also a 23ft with only about
4' 3" beam, which in 1908 was accounted "crack" boat
on the Clyde with nine Firsts and one Second to its credit.
In the summer of 1906
three 4-cylinder engines were sold for installation in fishing boats
and also in 1906 a car was entered in the Scottish Reliability Trials
which consisted of 4 days driving over about 800 miles of not very good
roads, including some of the worst hill climbs in Scotland such as the
Devil's Elbow. The Kelvin completed the course with no mechanical trouble.
But as only fifteen cars had been sold in the first two years and demand
for marine engines was increasing, it was decided to concentrate on
marine engines and a range of standard motor launches.
The 4-cylinder car engine
was modified to suit marine use and a 2-cylinder model was produced
developing 7hp when supplied to run on petrol and 6hp when running on
paraffin. These engines did not have separate cylinder heads, the paraffin
model was fitted with a vapouriser and a shorter connecting rod to reduce
the compression ratio. Later a single cylinder version was designed,
this made a range of six models, the 3 1/2" 1cyl 6/7hp, the 3 1/2"
2 cy1 12/l4hp and the 3 1/2" 4 cyl 12/l4hp. By 1908 the 5 1/2"
bore * 7" stroke range was in production these engines running
at 550 rpm were the 5 1/2" 1cy1 7/8hp, the 5 1/2" 2cy1 13/15hp
and the 5 1/2" 4cyl 26/30hp. Finally about 1910 the larger 7 1/2"
bore * 10" stroke engines were added to the range, the 2 cylinder
at 25/30hp and the 4 cylinder at 50/60hp both running at 410rpm.