The Motor Scout was the first armed petrol engine powered vehicle ever built. It was not intended for running over ploughed fields or charging, but it was designed to provide a cover or to support infantry and cavalry wherever good roads were available.[1]

Simms's Motor Scout, in June 1899.
For comparison
a De Dion quadricycle of 1900

It was designed and built by British inventor F. R. Simms in 1898. He mounted a standard mark IV Maxim machine gun above the front wheels of a quadricycle. The Maxim gun, with its readily accessed 1,000 rounds of ammunition, took the place of a second rider.[1] The driver operated the machine gun. Simms put an iron shield in front of the car for the driver's protection.

A one and a half horsepower Simms' Patent Automatic Petrol Motor, with Simms' magneto-electric ignition, was fitted and the standard tank carried enough fuel for 120 miles.[1] The Motor Scout was convertible to a two-seated quadricycle. The quadricycle was also available without the gun for non-military purposes as a two-seated vehicle for £120.[2]

The next vehicle designed by Simms, the Motor War Car, can be considered the world's first real armoured car.


  1. ^ a b c The Autocar, 26 August 1899, p. 761
  2. ^ Catalogue, Automobile Club Show, Richmond, June 1899, p. 113
  • Macksey, Kenneth (1980). The Guinness Book of Tank Facts and Feats. Guinness Superlatives Limited. ISBN 0-85112-204-3.