It’s an S-Class, but not as we know it…
This is a Marshall Class S steam road roller – steamroller, steamroll, as you prefer – and of all the machines we’ve tested this year, this is one of the most joyful to drive.
And that’s despite the fact that at 12.75 tonnes and 5bhp (but quite a lot more torque) it’s rather slow. Let’s call it 4mph so, if you’re a mile or two from the shop, best set off mid-morning to get there for lunchtime.
Marshalls of Gainsborough made all kinds of machinery – wheeled tractors, tracked machines, even tea packing equipment. But this steam road roller had an extraordinarily long service life. It was made in 1925 but was still owned and used by Lincolnshire council to flatten roads until the mid-1950s. They were made until the late 1940s in the UK, and until the mid-50s in India.
This one was bought in 1964 for £300. Today they’re worth about £50,000. They take up an awful lot of space, and even more looking after, but are a delight to look at, be around – and, yes, drive. Join us for 2022’s slowest road test.