1939 ATCO Trainer - Beaulieu Finds Edition I

This is the first in a series of small bitesize bits on interesting cars found at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu (10 internet points for correct pronunciation). All photos were taken by me and my potato unless otherwise referenced. Now we have that out of the way, sit back and relax children it’s story time.

In 1935 the driving test was first instated in the UK to curb the rising rate of accidents on the road as the motor car became more popular. The general feeling at the time was that in order to make drivers safer on British roads, you need to educate them at the earliest possible age. It was all well and good teaching kids about road safety in school but how could you ensure they can put it into practice? By giving them a small car to drive, That’s how! This is where the ATCO Trainer comes in.


The ATCO trainer was manufactured by Charles H Pugh Ltd of Whitworth Works, Birmingham, none other than maker of the famous (at the time) Atco lawnmower. Powered by a 98cc Villiers 1.5hp rear mounted engine on a basic chassis with a column throttle a brake pedal and a clutch (that’s right, these kids could drive stick!) with one forward and one reverse gear it could reach up to 10mph. Intended to be used by 7-17 year olds concessions were given to local authorities to buy the trainer cheaply to use at schools for training but sadly the onset on World War Two towards the end of 1939 meant the end of Trainer production after 200 units as Charles H Pugh Ltd became a munitions manufacturer for the war effort.

Well, there you have it. If you enjoyed my extremely brief piece on the ATCO Trainer let me know, I got a few more up my sleeves.

Thank you for reading.

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