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Vintage Electric Car Made In Shalford By Nelco Has New Owner

Published on: 3 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 31 May, 2020

By David Rose

It may not be an icon of British motorcar manufacturing, but it might have been ahead of its time.

The Nelco Solocar that has a new owner!

The Nelco Solocar that has a new owner!

Made at Shalford by electrical engineering firm Nelco in the 1930s, its Solocar was an electrically powered vehicle for one person.

Advertisement from the British Medical Journal of 1950 for Nelco's Solocar.

Advertisement from the British Medical Journal of 1950 for Nelco’s Solocar.

Back then it was advertised for the ‘disabled and the infirm’ and its features were described as ‘electrically driven, silent, virbrationless and free from fumes; operated with one hand – effortlessly and without strain – it climbs any hill, travels 35 miles without re-charging, turns in its own length’. A vehicle that might fit in with today’s move towards more electric cars?

Despite their age, examples of these cars exist, and motor-vehicle enthusiast Roland Malcolm, who lives in Carmarthen, Wales, phoned me to say he has just bought one! He read a previous story I wrote about Nelco and first published here in 2013.

My late father worked for the firm for over 40 years, along with other members of our family.

Front view of the car.

Front view of the car.

Roland writes: “I bought the Solocar from a gentleman in Llandovery in Wales who believed it to be a 1939 model.

“It is in very original condition and my intention is to restore it mechanically but to leave its aged appearance as is.

And the back.

And the back.

“The Smith’s eight day clock is still working and keeping good time.

“Nelco must have sourced some of their materials from the USA as the volt and amp meters and the speedometer came from American companies, namely Stewart Warner and Dwarf.

One of the dials – this one made by

Smith’s eight-day clock next to the steering column.

“This machine appears to be of very robust construction and any information would be a huge help in its restoration.”

Further dials on the car.

Speedometer and volt meter on the car.

I mentioned to Roland there are probably few people alive now who were at Nelco when the cars were being built, but you never know, someone out there may have some details they are willing to pass on.

So, please contact Roland on 01554 890197. His postal address is 28,Water Street, Kidwelly, Carmarthen. SA17 5BX. Email: rolandmalcolm@ymail.com

Comments can also be left in the reply box below.

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test 5 Responses to Vintage Electric Car Made In Shalford By Nelco Has New Owner

  1. Derek Redgwell Reply

    April 9, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    My father also worked at Nelco for many years (1930-1975) starting off in the machine shop and progressing through nearly all the other parts of the factory and was production manager for most of the war years.

    During the war he was a sargent instructor in the Shalford Home Guard and Mr Murphy, the owner of Nelco, served under him in the same platoon.

    Their headquarters was situated in Ashly House and they did most of their training on Blackheath.

    He finished plying between Shalford and Farnham as acting manager from time to time until he retired in 1975.

    Nelco processed an electric van that was used throughout the war. Dad sometimes drove it when there were things to be collected or delivered and I had many rides in it.

    I, myself, also worked in the Nelco drawing office during the school holidays in the early 1940s, unpaid of course!

  2. Ken Doughty Reply

    January 28, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    I have just read David Rose’s very interesting articles regarding your father and Nelco.

    I, too, have just bought a Nelco Solocar to restore. I think about a 1949 model. I would appreciate any information as to where I can purchase any literature/diagrams/wiring loom, etc.

    Thank you.

    [David Rose replies: thank you Ken for your reply. I will email you the address of Roland Malcolm, whose Solocar we have featured here before. He may be able to help. Or if anyone else can supply information, please leave a reply.]

  3. Roland Malcolm Reply

    May 10, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Hello David, I have sent Ken a wiring diagram and also another one to a gentleman in Australia, the Guildford Dragon is obviously wide spread.

    The carriage is now nearing completion and research has turned up the fact that it was a forerunner of the Solocar, being registered on 07/07/1939 as a Murphy Electric Carriage in Aberystwyth.

    The registration number turned out to be original and I have managed to reclaim it from DVLA and have a current V5 for it. Back on the road soon. Thanks for your publicity. Best regards, Roland Malcolm.

    [David Rose replies: Many thanks Roland. Please email me at drosedragon@gmail.com some pictures when the car is back on the road, as it will make an additional story.]

  4. John Lovellette Reply

    February 26, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    I have been slowly restoring a Nelco Solocar for 10 years now in Fort lauderdale, Florida, USA.

    I am in need of a wiring diagram, plus any information would help.

    Call me, John Lovellette on 954 588 8769 or email ottjohn@yahoo.com

    • Charlie Bishop Reply

      October 11, 2019 at 11:14 pm

      I bought a Nelco Solocar because my dad had one, years ago, but it has taken me a long time to find one. It has a 36v electric motor but has no battery. I need a copy of a wiring diagram and information about what battery it takes. I will pay any reasonable postage cost.

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