British Jaeger Instruments was a manufacturer of speedometers, tachometers and other motoring instruments. It was the British arm of a French company with Swiss connections and engineering experience. The company's history is connected with clock and instrument makers, Smiths, which purchased the company in 1927, according to MG sports car fan Carl Cederstrand.
The vast majority of classic British automobiles, motorcycles and other vehicles manufactured from the 1920s to the1990s were equipped with instruments manufactured by Smiths and British Jaeger, according to speedometer repair agents Speedograph Richfield. An advertisement of the time proudly claims that 68 of the world's car manufacturers used Jaeger instruments.
MG sports car fans F. Wilson McComb and Jonathan Wood refer to the "splendid array" of magnificent instrumentation mounted in a black-crackle panel to be found on many MG models. British Jaeger instruments inherited styling from its French parent company that typically featured a black face imprinted with stark contrasting white lettering, numerals, clock face divisions and indicator needle. Smiths, in turn, pursued similar aesthetic principles, though introducing a range of magnolia-faced instruments with black detailing.
According to Speedograph Richfield, Smiths and British Jaeger speedometers carry a part number on the instrument's dial. This begins with "SN," "SR" or "SNT." The company can rebuild, repair and recalibrate British Jaeger speedometers. Jaeger speedometers were made in trip and non-trip types. In other words, some had a mileage counter that could gauge the length of the trip as well as the overall mileage for the vehicle. These had a knurled knob, typically on the lower right of the speedometer bezel.
Other instruments made by the company included: tachometers or revolution counters; electrical thermometers; car clocks; water, oil and temperature gauges; and fuel indicators. It's still possible to source original 1920s and 1930s British Jaeger instruments, and they are reliable and of impressive engineering quality, according to at least one supplier. In their heyday, these well-respected instruments were used in cars built by Bamford & Martin (later Aston Martin), Bugatti and Bentley, among others.
- Competition Commission: S. Smith & Sons (England) Limited
- Carl Cederstrand: A Short Historical Background
- Speedograph Richfield: Speedometer Repairs
- Grace's Guide: British Jaeger Advertisement
- "MG by McComb"; F. Wilson McComb, Jonathan Wood; 2004
- Photo Credit Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images
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