These were the pioneer
days of the motor car. Shackleton was given a car specially built for
the expedition by the Arrol-Johnston company of Paisley, Scotland. The
4 cylinder, 15 horsepower air cooled car came from the intervention
of William Beardmore a major sponsor of the expedition, he had recently
taken over Arrol-Johnston to save them from bankruptcy and wanted Scotland
to have its own motor industry.
The car was donated for
free, though was expected to be used as an advertisement. Great things
were expected of it:
"Under favourable circumstances
Lieutenant Shackleton computes that the machine can travel 150 miles
in twenty four hours and .... he thinks there would be a fair chance
of sprinting to the pole"
Interview in "The Car"
it would transpire otherwise, the petrol engine had not been tested
in extreme cold and a suitable system for providing traction in snow
had not been devised. The car was taken South without being properly
tested in conditions that it was likely to encounter. One thing was
abundantly clear to anyone with even a passing acquaintance with such
conditions as might be encountered in Antarctica was that ordinary wheels
didn't fare well in snow.
Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922)
British Imperial Antarctic Expedition "Nimrod - Expedition",
Picture courtesy NOAA