Jul 16, 2008

Cecil Walkden Wood

Cecil Walkden Wood (1874-1965) in his third home-built car about 1910. The body is by the Wheelwright and Coach Builder John James Grandi (1858-1913), Mayor of Timaru from 1896. The passenger is Wood's son, Cecil Walkden Wood Junior (1902-1991).

Born at Timaru in March, 1874 Wood served for a time as a mechanical engineer at Lyttelton, and ultimately turned his attention to the cycle trade in Christchurch, where he worked as an Apprentice at the Tourist Cycle Works from 1892. Returning to Timaru he founded C. W. Wood & Company, Bicycle & Motor Engineers in 1894.

Cecil Wood was the first person in New Zealand to build an internal combustion engine, making his own spark plugs, carburettors and crankshafts plundered from old tobacco tins and cast-iron irrigation pipes.

Between 1897 and 1902 Wood built the country's first motorbike, first car built in New Zealand and a two-cylinder, 25 horsepower petrol engine for the March 1903 flight of the self-built monoplane of the reclusive Richard Pearse (1877-1953).

Top image: Reference number: 1/2-018732-F. Collection: Photographic Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library.

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