Selling your classic car? It's FREE to list your car on Honest John Classics | No thanks

Veteran Toledo steam car set for Regent Street Motor Show

Published 09 October 2014

A steam-powered Toledo from the last century will be one of the stars of the Regent Street Motor Show on Saturday, 1 November.

The car and owner Nick Howell, a Cornish fish merchant, will be hoping for top honours in the prestigious EFG International Concours d’Elegance - a centrepiece of the show that turns the famous shopping street into a traffic-free zone for the day.

The concours event is open to around 100 veteran cars, all of which will be taking part in the London to Brighton the next day.

If the Toledo does win an award, it will cap a successful year for the car. It triumphed in this year’s Pebble Beach concours in America where it won the Chairman’s Trophy, prior to re-enacting a trip the very same car made from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon more than 112 years ago.

Car nut Howell bought the car as a restoration project in 2004 and it is believed to be one of just 14 steam-powered Toledos still in existence.


Said Howell, ‘I have rebuilt many veteran and vintage cars in the past, but once I’ve got them running properly I tend to get bored. So about ten years ago - when I started looking for another car to rebuild - I chose a steam-powered car as getting one to run smoothly seems to be a never-ending challenge!’

He found the Toledo for sale at a farm auction in America in 2004 and in the course of delving into its history he discovered that its modifications – including a longer chassis and a larger than usual water tank – meant it was the very same steam car used by photographer Oliver Lippincott to make that pioneering drive from Flagstaff in Arizona to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The car was made by the American Bicycle Company of Toledo, Ohio, in 1902 and took three days to cover the 67 miles to the edge of the Canyon.

After years of rebuilding – the car is remarkably original with only three small pieces of new wood needed to replace charred originals – the Toledo was invited to Pebble Beach.

And after its triumph there, it was shipped to Flagstaff for its second trip to the Grand Canyon. Howell’s re-enactment over unmade forest tracks also took two days and due to poor weather turning the trail into a quagmire, it had to be towed the last 15 miles. Remarkably, the same fate befell the car in 1902, when it was dragged over the final few miles behind a horse as the weather turned.

Pioneer 3

You can see the car at the free-to-view Regent Street Motor Show. The show means the street is closed to traffic from Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Circus and last year it attracted more than 400,000 visitors.

This year, there will be hundreds of cars on display, including modern performance cars, family cars, eco cars and racing cars as well cars from motoring’s past.





Add a comment


Compare classic car insurance quotes and buy online. A friendly service offering access to a range of policies and benefits.

Get a quote