The First Smiths Speedometer for King Edward VII in 1904

The SMITHS brand of instrumentation has a rich history dating back to 1871 when Samuel Smith Junior started selling clocks and watches in the Strand in London.  The SMITHS brand has developed into one of the most famous and recognisable brands of gauges for cars and motorcycles in the world.

When looking back into the history of SMITHS, it appears that the foundation of the extensive range of gauges presently available was down to British Royalty and started with King Edward VII.  Edward ascended to the throne in 1901 and reigned for 9 years before his death in 1910.

King Edward VII was a keen motorist.  In 1900, before ascending to King, the Prince of Wales purchased his first Daimler.  His passion for automobiles continued and he added other models to his collection.  One of his favourite runs was a 70-mile trip to Newmarket for horse racing. 

It was during the 70-mile Newmarket run that the King took an interest in the maximum speed of his car.  At the time, he owned a 18-28hp Mercedes-Simplex and SMITHS folklore tells how the King asked Gordon Smith for a device to measure the travelling speed of his car.  The Mercedes-Simplex was manufactured between 1904 and 1905 and had a rated output of 28hp at 1200rpm with a maximum speed of 50mph.

The SMITHS historical records include a ledger of Speedometer orders.  The first page of the first ledger has, as entry No. 1, 'H. M. The King, Buckingham Palace'.  This incredible historical record shows that the SMITHS Instruments automotive legacy was, indeed, started by British Royalty.

For further information on SMITHS or Speedometers for Cars or Motorcycles, please view the dedicated sections on our website, or contact us via:

Phone: +44 1639 732200

Email: [email protected]

Via our website


Source of sections of this text:  'A Long Time In Making - The History of Smiths', James Nye (Oxford University Press, 2014)


Posted by on

Tags: Automotive HistoryKing Edwards VIIMercedesSMITHS Instruments

Categories: Case Histories

Related Blogs