70 images of assorted cars from the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance,
including significant early Roadsters and Touring Cars, Skiffs, and Phaetons.

Each car has been researched and captioned with historical and model information.

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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Index

Italian Cars: 1921-2005
Assorted Cars: 1900-1928
Assorted Cars: 1929-2005


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At the moment, there are  54 images in the Concours Automobiles Gallery.
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Napier 1902 X4710

The Napier 1902 model D50 Gordon Bennett Racer, winner of the 2005 Charles C. Chayne Trophy.

The 1902 Napier D50 30-40 hp racer has an inline four cylinder 6.5 liter engine developing 44.5 hp at 950 rpm. It was the first British winner of an International race, winning the Gordon Bennett Cup in 1902 driven by Selwyn Francis Edge. With its shaft drive three speed transmission and its distinctive green color which would become the source of British Racing Green, the Napier D50 was the only British winner in an international event until Henry Segrave won the French Grand Prix in 1923.

The Gordon Bennett races were established by James Gordon Bennett, millionaire owner of the New York Herald, to be raced for by the Automobile Clubs of the various countries. The trophy was awarded annually until in 1905, after which the first Grand Prix events were held. The 1902 Gordon Bennett Cup (officially the III Coupe Internationale) was held over the 565 km Paris to Innsbruck section of the Paris to Vienna race (the races were held concurrently).

The Napier D50 was the sole surviving car in its class when the two remaining cars of the five other entrants in the Gordon Bennett Cup (one British car and two French cars failed to finish the first day) were unable to complete the difficult ascent up the 2000 meter high Arlberg Pass, the toughest part of the race, thus the Napier won the Gordon Bennett Cup simply by finishing. Edge went on to complete the remainder of the Paris to Vienna race, finishing 11th overall (Marcel Renault won the 1902 Paris to Vienna race). The success of the lightweight Napier brought about a change in race car design philosophy, as designers realized that obtaining as much power as possible out of smaller engines would result in a more reliable and competitive car than increasing the capacity of the engine and reducing chassis weight to stay under the regulated weight.

The first two Gordon Bennett races in 1900 and 1901 were won by the Automobile Club of France, and thus the third running was held in France. By winning the Cup, the British would host the race the following year, and the furor generated by the win caused the Napier D50's green color to be adopted as British Racing Green. They raced in Shamrock Green as the race was held in Ireland, although the Napier D50 was olive green, and the shade of British Racing Green has changed over the years.


Napier 1902 Detail X4709

The 6435 cc four cylinder 44.5 hp engine of the 1902 Napier D50 Gordon Bennett Racer.

D. Napier & Son was a British engine and "brass era" automobile manufacturer. The period before World War I was called the "brass era" due to the prominent brass fittings used on the "horseless carriages" of the time (see the many examples below). Napier were one of the most important manufacturers of aircraft engines in the early to mid 20th century. The 12 cylinder Napier Lion engine which came out in 1917 was the most powerful engine in the world in the 1920s, as was the H-type 24 cylinder Napier Sabre engine of World War II, which in its later versions produced 3500 hp (the final test engines produced 5500 hp).

Napier got its start making steam-powered printing presses in 1808, and throughout the early 1800s made numerous other products such as centrifuges, lathes, drills, railway cranes, etc. In the 1870s they made superbly crafted precision coin-making machinery. Montague Napier, who inherited the business in 1895, was an avid racing cyclist, and in 1899 he developed an 8 hp vertical twin engine for Edge for his Panhard, which led to Napier’s first cars in 1900: the 2-cylinder 8 hp and 4-cylinder 16 hp.

In the 1901 Gordon Bennett Cup Selwyn Edge and Montague Napier entered a Napier 17 liter 103 hp four cylinder, a two ton behemoth which was disqualified for using foreign tires (they used up all of their Dunlop tires and were forced to mount French rubber to finish). Napier and Edge went the other way for the D50, building a lightweight 6.5 liter car in 1902, which turned out to be the right decision as the road was rutted, steep and treacherous.


Pierce Arrow 1903 John Hovey X4705

The Pierce Arrow 1903 15 hp with Detachable rear-entrance Tonneau.

The Pierce Company got its start making world renowned ornate gilded birdcages and other household goods. Pierce later branched out into bicycle spokes, complete cycles, a steam car, then the Diamond, a De Dion-type gasoline tricycle which they later converted to a four-wheeler for safety reasons. Their next vehicles were the Pierce Motorette and Stanhope, classic horseless carriages with the engines under the seat. These were followed by the first Pierce Arrow, the car which would make Pierce famous. The 2-cylinder 15 hp De Dion engine was mounted under the hood rather than below the seat. The open car with detachable tonneau could carry four adults in individual armchair seats.

The previous cars from Pierce, the Motorette and the Stanhope, had the engines mounted below the seat, used chain drive instead of a shaft and a tiller instead of a steering wheel. The 1903 Arrow was a major leap forward. The undercarriage, wheels and rims were completely finished, and it had considerable brass trim including broad brass plates along the shoulders of the louvered hood. The motor from the French De Dion Bouton model Q was used as the Pierce motors were not refined enough at the time to be placed in the Arrow. The original Arrow is extremely rare... this is the only surviving example of the 1903 model. The De Dion engine was replaced with a Pierce-built engine for the 1904 Arrow.

The owner, John Hovey (shown above) did much of the restoration of this unique car himself.


Pierce Arrow 1903 Detail X4706


Pierce Arrow 1903 Detail X4707

Detail of the 15 hp two cylinder De Dion engine in the 1903 Pierce Arrow.


Pierce Arrow 1903 X4704 M

The 1903 Pierce Arrow took many of its styling cues from French cars of the period. The hood design is very similar to the early Renault, Mors and Darracq hoods which became one of the first trends in automotive design. The rear entrance hatch to the passenger compartment was also a feature of contemporary French cars. The 1903 Pierce Arrow was a larger car than the earlier Motorette and Stanhope models, with a two speed manual transmission using the reverse gear which had initially been used on the Stanhope. Only fifty of these cars were built in 1903, and this car is the only survivor. The Arrow was Pierce's most successful product, and they gained him much attention by winning a number of touring races, especially with the Great Arrow.

John Hovey’s Pierce Arrow is one of the earlier versions, with the radiator mounted low on the front of the chassis and the unique rear-hinged “crocodile hood” which was replaced in later 1903 models with a Mercedes honeycomb cellular radiator and Roi-des-Belges (tulip phaeton) coachwork. This led to the Pierce-made engines for the two cylinder 1904 Arrow and the four cylinder 1904 Great Arrow, which first introduced the use of cast aluminum body panels and won the first five Glidden Tour races from 1905. The Glidden Tour was a highly prestigious AAA endurance rally over several hundred miles of unimproved roads in the US and Canada. Winning these rallys cemented the reputation of the Pierce Arrow for durability and reliability. In 1907, the entire production year was pre-sold based on their reputation.

In 1908, the company was renamed the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company. Pierce-Arrow became the Presidential Car in 1909 when President Taft ordered two Pierce-Arrows (a Brougham and a Landaulette) for the White House. Pierce-Arrows remained the traditional Presidential cars into the FDR years, when the last Pierce-Arrows ordered were the 1935 models. Generally, the Presidents bought the cars, which were leased to the government, at the end of their term for their personal use.


Pierce Arrow Ornament X4579


Pierce Arrow Ornament X4789

The Pierce Arrow “Tireur d'Arc" mascot from Phil Hill’s 1931 model 41 LeBaron Town Car Cabriolet.


Pierce Arrow Ornament X4573 M

The “Tireur d'Arc" mascot was designed by W. N. Schnell to replace the 1928-30 kneeling helmeted archer mascot.
The 1926-28 mascot was a running Mercury with winged sandals and helmet carrying an arrow in his raised right hand.
There was also a late 1920s spoked wheel mascot with an arrow through the center, labeled PIERCE across the wheel.


National 1904 X4687

The National 1904 model C Touring car.

The National Motor Vehicle Company manufactured automobiles in Indianapolis between 1900 and 1924. One of its presidents, Arthur C. Newby, was one of the investors who created the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They first built electric cars, beginning with the Runabout model A in 1900, and moved into combustion-engined cars in 1903 with two and four cylinder engines made for them by Rutenber. The Model C Touring car above is the only surviving example of this four cylinder, 24-30 hp model.


National 1904 X4688 M

The 1904 National model C was a 24-30 hp four cylinder with an aluminum crankcase and interchangeable parts. The model C had a self-contained aluminum cone clutch, sliding-gear transmission (three forward speeds and reverse), a 98 inch wheelbase, and wooden 12-spoke artillery-pattern wheels. The body featured side entrances, a removable high-back tonneau, divided front seats and a five passenger capacity. The body was blue with black moldings and gold stripes, upholstery was leather, and steering was by wheel. Top speed was 40-45 mph. They came with five lamps, with two mirror-lens gas lamps in front with copper tube connections to the generator, two mirror-lens oil lamps at the sides, and an oil tail lamp.

The large round radiator of the National model C and D Touring cars and their powerful four cylinder Rutenber engines made these “brass era” cars highly recognizable and well-known for their power and reliability. In 1906, National introduced one of the first six cylinder cars in America with the model E seven-passenger touring car. In 1906 they also stopped making electric cars.


National 1904 Detail X4689


National 1904 Interior X4690

Note the number of brass fittings including lights, accents, valves and pedals common to “brass era” luxury automobiles.


Pope-Toledo 1904 X4701

The 1904 Pope-Toledo Type IV Touring Car with Rear Entrance Tonneau.

The top of the line automobile from Pope Manufacturing Co. of Hartford, Connecticut, which produced cars from 1903 to 1914. The first Pope-Toledo in 1903 was a wood chassis two seat open car with a three cylinder 3 liter engine. The 1904 model IV was a front engine, rear wheel drive FR or Système Panhard car (so named because the 1895 Panhard was the first to use the FR layout system), with a water-cooled inline four cylinder 24 hp engine and a channel steel frame. The spark and throttle levers were on the steering wheel, an innovation at the time. A Pope-Toledo won the world’s first 24 hour endurance race in 1905.

The 1904 Pope-Toledo Type IV Touring Car had a rear-entrance tonneau body which could seat 5 passengers. This body style was all the rage in the first few years of the 20th century. The front seat access was from the passenger side. The headlamps were fueled by acetylene gas while the side lamps used kerosene fuel.


Pope-Toledo 1904 Detail X4696


Pope-Toledo 1904 Detail X4697

Detail of the vertical four cylinder water cooled engine and luxurious fittings of the 1904 Pope-Toledo.
Notice the copper water jackets and the brass fittings, tubes, pipes and levers on this “brass era” car.


Pope-Toledo 1904 X4699 M

The 1904 Pope-Toledo Type IV was the second model year for the Toledo combustion car, and had a number of innovations. There had been Pope-Toledo steam cars since their first unveiling at the New York Auto Show in 1901. Their first gasoline cars were built in 1902, and in 1903 the steam car was abandoned (due to the higher weight per horsepower and greater difficulty of operation). The 1903 Pope-Toledo was a luxury open roadster that also distinguished itself by winning fifteen races and placing in nearly 30 others. The 1904 Pope-Toledo, a larger touring car, won 33 of the 40 races it entered and was the first automobile to climb Mt. Washington, the highest peak east of the Mississippi.

With some significant effort, the entire tonneau can be removed to make the Pope-Toledo an open car. I have seen a photo of a 1904 Pope-Toledo being driven as an open car by Secretary of State John Hay and the Chilean Foreign Relations Minister. President Theodore Roosevelt ordered five Pope-Toledos for government use at the Russo/Japanese Summit in early 1905.


Pope-Hartford 1913 Roadster X4694

The 1913 Pope-Hartford Model 31 Portola Roadster.

The Roadster was one of the five body styles available on the 1913 Pope-Hartford model 31 (Touring Car, Phaeton, Roadster, Coupe and Limousine), all with the 40 hp 300 cubic inch long stroke motor and a four speed transmission. The model 31 had many features of the higher powered models at a price $1000 less than the model 33 and $2000 less than the model 29.

Colonel Albert A. Pope founded the Pope Manufacturing Company after seeing bicycles at the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition. He began by importing European Penny Farthings (high front wheel, small rear wheel bicycles) and taking out an American patent on the style. He manufactured the Columbia bicycles and established a bicycle trust which bought up the patents for all bicycles he could find, eventually amassing a fortune by controlling these patents and charging royalties to every other manufacturer. During the bicycle craze of the early 1890s, Pope was the leading US manufacturer of bicycles.  Foreseeing the end of the bicycle craze, Pope began manufacturing electric cars in 1897, and manufactured the first mopeds assembled in the US from 1902. The Pope model L motorcycle (1914-1920) was the world’s fastest motorcycle when it was introduced (70 mph). With overhead valves and a multi-speed transmission (chain drive from 1918) it was also technologically advanced for the time.


Pope-Hartford 1913 Roadster Interior X4693c

Hiram Percy Maxim (son of the inventor of the Maxim machine gun), had been tinkering at night with his own internal combustion engine since 1892. In 1895 he approached Col. Pope and was hired as chief engineer of the Motor Vehicle department. His car was not ready for the Times-Herald race in November 1895, but Maxim served as an umpire. In 1899, Maxim drove his Pope Columbia gasoline powered vehicle to win the first closed-course automobile race in the US, beginning the racing heritage of Pope automobiles. Pope’s output of 2,092 vehicles in 1899, some gasoline powered, accounted for nearly half of all vehicles produced in the US. Pope sold off his Electric Vehicle operation later that year.

Pope established a number of auto brands in the early 1900s, including Pope-Toledo (above) and Pope-Hartford, which was built in his original plant in Hartford, Connecticut. In the 1907 Bank Panic, banks realized that people were mortgaging their homes to buy automobiles and stopped giving loans due to fear of foreclosures. Colonel Pope lost all of his automobile companies except Pope-Hartford and had to sell all of his factories to other manufacturers. Colonel Pope died in 1909.

As an aside, Hiram Percy Maxim was the man responsible for changing American cars from right hand to left hand drive.
After experiments with silencing engines, H.P. Maxim patented the first firearms silencer and automotive muffler in 1908.


Pope Hartford 1913 Roadster X4695

In 1913, Pope-Hartford made three models on the same chassis: the 31, 33 and 29 with progressively higher horsepower and longer wheelbases. The model 31 was the entry level car, with a four cylinder 300 cubic inch engine developing 40 hp on a 118 inch wheelbase chassis (the model 33 was a 50 hp 390 cu. in. four cylinder, and the 29 was a 60 hp 471 cu. in. six cylinder).

This body style was named for Don Gaspar de Portola after the Pope-Hartford won the 1909 San Francisco “free-for-all” race celebrating the 300th anniversary of Don Gaspar de Portola's discovery of the Bay Area. The Pope-Hartford model 31 roadster (stripped down for weight) competed in the grueling Indianapolis 500 race in 1913 and finished sixth out of 26 vehicles at the start, averaging 68 mph with top speeds of over 80 mph. Only ten vehicles completed the race.

This 1913 Pope-Hartford Model 31 Portola Roadster has won numerous awards at auto shows and Concours d’Elegance.


Queen 1905 X4679


Queen 1905 X4680

The 1905 Queen model E Touring Car Side Entrance Tonneau.

The only survivor of fewer than 15 Queen Model Es produced, this lime green “brass era” touring car sports a full radiator surround, hood piano hinges, five front lamps and numerous fittings of polished brass. The engine is a 196 cubic inch opposed two cylinder rated at 16 hp, with a single updraft carburetor and a two speed transmission with planetary gears and reverse on an 84 inch wheelbase chassis. The Queen model E came with a royal blue side entrance body for four to five passengers and two lamps for $1000. Additional lamps and the detachable tonneau were extras. Total weight was 1500 pounds.

C. H. Blomstrom built his first experimental cars in 1898 and 1899. In 1902, he built a small single-cylinder 8 hp Runabout for himself which he called the Blomstrom. By the end of 1903 he had built 25 Blomstroms. In 1905 he had five models: a model B Runabout with and without a detachable tonneau seat (making the Runabout into a light touring car), both with 12 hp opposed two cylinder engines; a model C rear entrance and a model E side entrance, both Touring Cars with a 16 hp opposed two cylinder engine; and a model D Touring Car with a 24 hp opposed four cylinder engine.


Queen 1905 X4774

The passenger side of the 1905 Queen model E, showing the side entrances (door open in the rear).

The 1905 Queen model E has a fixed tonneau, Acetylene headlights, a Rushmore dashboard-mounted searchlight and kerosene cowl lights, an E&J acetylene generator, elliptic leaf springs front and rear, a single chain drive, and whitewall tires. The opposed two cylinder engine had been patented by C. L. Blomstrom in 1903. Note the steps below the side entrances. For the 1906 model year, these steps were replaced with running boards and the tonneau was made detachable.


Queen 1905 X4776

In 1904, the C. L. Blomstrom Motor Car Company was officially created, at which time the Blomstrom Runabout was renamed the Queen. In the summer of 1906, Blomstrom ran into trouble due to irregularities in incorporation. These problems were solved when he merged operations with the DeLuxe Motor Car Company, which folded in 1909. During the production lifespan of the Queen, nearly 1500 examples were built, including 15 model E touring cars of which this is the only known survivor.


Columbia 1906 X4683

The Columbia 1906 Mark XLVII Side Entrance Tonneau Touring Car.

The enormous five passenger Columbia 1906 Mark XLVII Side Entrance Tonneau Touring Car was built by the Electric Vehicle Company in 1906 as an entirely new design. It used the previous four cylinder engine which had twice broken the Chicago to New York road record, upgraded to a 40-45 hp rating (actual 55 hp), and a new float-feed aspirating carburetor without springs. This was the first car to use high tensile strength chrome-nickel steel for crankshafts, gears and other high-stress parts, and the crankshaft was cold-turned on a lathe rather than drop-forged (as was the front axle). The four cylinder 392 cubic inch F-head engine used square bore cylinders (5” x 5”), and a four speed gearbox to a double chain drive. Brakes were rear drums.

The side entrance tonneau coachwork was by C.P. Kimball of Chicago, and was advertised as 7 passenger. Either several of the passengers would have to be children, or everyone would need to be rather thin to fit. Currently, it is called a five passenger touring car. The car was purchased new at the 1906 Chicago Auto Show by Howard E. Perry, who had just made a fortune from the Quicksilver Mercury mines in Terilingua, Texas. It was intended to be used as transportation around the mining towns, but when it arrived, it was determined that the car was not suitable for the harsh terrain. The car was enclosed in a double-walled, twin-roofed adobe building and left untouched until the mines were sold in 1941. The car was in near-new condition at that time and was totally complete. It had less than 5000 miles on it when it was purchased at a Christie's auction in 1994.


Columbia 1906 Detail X4684


Columbia 1906 Interior X4686

Detail of the polished brass lights and fittings on the Columbia 1906 Mark XLVII Touring Car.

A Columbia Mark XLVII made a perfect score in the grueling 1906 Glidden Tour rally, then drove straight
through to the Crawford Notch Hill Climb without stopping for adjustments or repairs... and won its class.

After a banner year of sales of electric (and some gasoline) cars and Hiram Percy Maxim's victory in the first closed-course automobile race with the Pope Columbia, Colonel Albert A. Pope sold the Electric Vehicle operations and the Columbia brand to William C. Whitney's Electric Vehicle Company in 1899. Whitney also bought the Selden Patent rights from George B. Selden, who had refined George Brayton's combustion engine from the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition into a much smaller single cylinder engine by 1878, and patented both the engine and its use in a four wheel car. This patent, which after amendments was granted in 1895, forced all American manufacturers of automobiles to pay a royalty for a license until Henry Ford and four other manufacturers contested the patent. They lost initially after an eight year legal battle, but appealed and won in 1911 when they proved that the engine in automobiles was not based on Brayton's engine but on the 1876 Otto cycle engine. The legal costs of these lawsuits and the loss of automobile patent royalties doomed Columbia.


Mercedes 1906 X4586

The 1906 Mercedes 37/70 hp J. Rothschild Tourer, winner of the Ansel Adams Trophy.

Derived from the first of the straight six Mercedes engines (the 37/65 hp in early 1906), this 1906 37/70 hp used the ‘sportier‘ version of the 3000 lb. 9.5 liter engine which produced 70 hp at 1300 rpm. The Mercedes 37/70 hp had a 4 speed transmission, a 140 inch wheelbase chassis, and a 7 passenger Triple Phaeton body by J. Rothschild & Fils coachbuilders of Paris. The engine was composed of two three cylinder blocks, each block with its own camshaft. Each cylinder had dual sparkplugs.

Mercedes had not yet merged with Benz (the merger was in 1926). This early Mercedes helped establish their reputation for vehicles with exceptional power and speed. Top speed of the 37/70 was 55 mph (blazing speed in 1906).


REO 1908 Runabout 7552

A 1908 REO Model B Runabout on the streets of Pasadena, California.

The peaked extension of the hood above the radiator identifies this REO as a 1908. The REO Model B Runabout had two individual front seats and a folding rear seat known as the mother-in-law seat. The buggy top did not extend to cover the rear seat, leaving the mother-in-law in the rain. The 106 cubic inch single-cylinder 8 hp water-cooled horizontal side-cranked engine had a single camshaft driven by spur-gears. It powered a planetary two-speed drum transmission, and used a new style of clutch with four bronze discs rather than the earlier, single leather-faced disc. The REO Runabout would “run about” 30 miles per hour comfortably. The REO Runabout used a wheel for steering rather than the tiller used on the earlier Curved Dash Oldsmobile Runabout. The contemporary Oldsmobile Touring Runabout cost $100 more, which made the REO popular among the buying public. By 1908, its 4th year of production, REO was America’s third largest in sales after Ford and Buick.

Ransom Eli Olds was a pioneer in American automobiles, and he experimented with steam-powered vehicles in the late 1880s. In 1896 he built his first gasoline-powered car, and by 1901 he had perfected the Curved Dash Oldsmobile runabout, which was the first automobile that was mass-produced and built on an assembly line. This was the best-selling car in America by 1902. In 1904 Olds left the company he founded due to disagreements about company control and created the R. E. Olds Motor Car Company (changed to REO to avoid a threatened lawsuit). REO did quite well, but the Olds Motor Works would have failed if it had not been bought by William Durant and absorbed into General Motors in 1908.


Gobron-Brillie 1912 X4659

The 1912 Gobron-Brillié 12 CV Skiff Tourer by J. Rothschild & Fils, Paris.
In its first public appearance, the Gobron-Brillié won the Skiff-bodied class.

The 1912 Gobron-Brillié 12 CV Skiff Tourer was built with an early reproduction of the Labourdette Skiff by J. Rothschild & Fils. Detail on the Labourdette Skiff is below. Gustav Gobron and Eugene Brillié were pioneers in the French automotive industry. Gustav Gobron had achieved fame by escaping by balloon from Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, and Eugene Brillié had designed a unique engine with dual opposing pistons. They formed Gobron-Brillié in Paris in 1898.

The Gobron-Brillié engine derived from the 1882 Atkinson differential engine which allowed the intake, compression, power and exhaust strokes of a four-stroke engine to occur on a single turn of the crankshaft. This is a more efficient engine than the Otto cycle engine, and was quite unusual in that two pistons rode in each cylinder. The cylinders were cast together in pairs, and the lower piston connected via a normal connecting rod to the crankshaft, but the upper piston connected to an overhung yoke, the ends of which were connected via rods to crankshaft throws 180 degrees out of phase with those for the lower pistons, thus the pistons came together in the center of the cylinder. The opposing motion of the pistons allowed for higher compression without extreme stresses, created a balance allowing all components to be very light, and resulted in very smooth operation.

The first engine was a vertical twin with a revolving drip-feed fuel distributor instead of a carburetor, which performed well using a wide variety of fuels including pure alcohol, benzene or any good spirit (the 1901 Gobron-Brillié catalog claimed that their engine would "perform with equal felicity on whisky, brandy of gin"). Four cylinder engines were used from 1903 (and set the land speed record twice at 83.5 and 84.7 mph), and in 1904 Louis Emile Rigolly was the first to break the 100 mph barrier in a 15 liter four cylinder Gobron-Brillié road racer at Ostende. By 1907, Gobron-Brillié were producing models with engines ranging from 4.5 liters to 7.6 liters, with twin transmission brakes and double chain drive. In 1908, engines ranged from a 2.6 liter four to an 11.4 liter six (the six cost £1600 for chassis alone when a Rolls was only £985).

The 1912 Gobron-Brillié 12 CV Skiff Tourer has a 35 hp (rated), 5,970 cc opposed-piston four-cylinder T-head engine with cross-flow ports, double-cone clutch and manual four-speed transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, a live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and double chain drive, rear-wheel mechanical brakes and twin transmission brakes. It had an innovative traction-assist feature for the time: twin rear tires mounted on a single rim.


Gobron-Brillie 1912 Detail X4657


Gobron-Brillie 1912 Interior X4656

Detail of the J. Rothschild & Fils skiff body and the interior of the 1912 Gobron-Brillié 12 CV Skiff Tourer.
Notice the door release in the shape of an oar-lock (clever), nautical-style cleats to tie down the tonneau,
the brass porthole ventilators with covers in the cowl, and the exposed ash ribs and body support rails.


Gobron-Brillie 1912 Ornament X4655


Detail of the unusual Gobron-Brillié mascot, which
appears to be a brass demon riding inside a wheel.

The 1912 Gobron-Brillié 12 CV, the last car designed before the death of founder Gustave Gobron in Sept. 1911, was very likely the first passenger car capable of exceeding 100 mph.

The 1912 Gobron-Brillié 12 CV Skiff Tourer with body by J. Rothschild & Fils was exhibited at the 1913 Paris Salon, where it is believed to have been sold. The folding windscreen was added about 1920 (the car previously had no windshield), at which time it also received new wings, side storage boxes, an additional spare wheel on the passenger side, and an Autovac to replace the pressurized fuel system.

After that, the car was used for a few years, then according to tradition it was placed on display for decades in the lobby of a large chocolatier, and at some point the car lost its engine. It was otherwise intact when it was bought in the 1970s, and a Gobron engine was salvaged from a sunken wreck beneath the ocean, rebuilt, and mounted in the chassis.

In 1993 it was restored to operating condition and in 1997 it ran under its own power for the first time in 75 years. The 1912 Gobron-Brillié 12 CV Skiff Tourer made its first public appearance at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where it won the Skiff-bodied Cars class.


Peugeot 1913 Skiff X4639c

The Labourdette Skiff

The skiff (boat) body is a quintessentially French wooden construction using marine architecture, which may or may not have a boat tail. The concept traces back to the French coachbuilder Jean-Henri Labourdette in 1912. Jean-Henri Labourdette took over the Paris coachbuilding firm (established by his grandfather Jean-Baptiste in 1858) after the death of his father Henri in 1910. Henri Labourdette was one of the first coachbuilders for automobiles, with the first Labourdette body built on a Georges Richard in 1896 with back-to-back seats. Henri Labourdette built the world’s first closed auto body for Louis Renault in 1899.

In 1912, the Chevalier René de Knyff, a director at Panhard et Lavoissor and a pioneer of auto racing who won several highly prestigious early races (including the first Tour de France in 1899), came to Jean-Henri Labourdette to have him design a new body on a Panhard 20 HP, a “very light but comfortable torpedo offering the least wind resistance”. An avid sportsman who rowed daily, de Knyff suggested that the body be built like his skiff in mahogany with ribbing. Panhard had already developed many of the early innovations in automobiles, several of which are still in use today. They developed the "System Panhard" in 1891 (four wheels, engine in front, rear-wheel drive) which became the standard; they were the first to use a steering wheel rather than a tiller (1894 Paris to Rouen Rally); and they used the first modern transmission (1895), which would be the standard until Cadillac developed syncromesh in 1928. It was not unusual for Panhard to be at the forefront of automotive design.

Jean-Henri Labourdette studied hull design at Despujols, a pioneer of motor boat design, and built a three layer mahogany body on a frame of ash, with canvas between the layers. As he found it difficult to sketch the rear structure, he built the first automotive model in wax. This first skiff body had no doors to maintain rigidity, and was the first to integrate the hood, the passenger space and the boat-shaped tail in a harmonic manner unmatched in the pioneering days of coachbuilding when cars were basically boxes. The completed body weighed only 180 kg (400 lbs). The 1912 Panhard et Levassor X19 Labourdette Skiff, was shown at the Paris Salon and was sensational. Labourdette would make skiff bodies for Rolls-Royce, Mercedes, Peugeot, Renault, Lancia and Delauney-Belleville, and other coachbuilders like Rothschild, Muhlbacher and Schebera would imitate his design.

All skiff bodies were constructed of mahogany. It was rumored that tulipwood was used on the only Nieuport skiff, built by the aircraft company under commission from Andre Dubonnet (of the Dubonnet aperitif family, who was an avid aviator and racer) for his 1924 Hispano-Suiza H6C 'Tulipwood' Torpedo. When intensive research was done by an English Hispano-Suiza owner who wanted to create a replica of the original Dubonnet car (now in the Blackhawk Museum), a German professor and expert on the science of lumber examined the body microscopically (and many others) and determined that all were made of mahogany.


Peugeot 1913 Skiff X4639

The 1913 Peugeot Type 150 Labourdette Skiff.

Armand Peugeot built their first steam-powered three-wheeled car in 1889 after meeting with Gottlieb Daimler. They only made four units, but these make Peugeot the oldest continually-operating auto manufacturer and the second oldest altogether. After meeting again with Daimler and his friend Émile Levassor (who partnered with René Panhard to create Panhard-Levassor in 1890), Peugeot abandoned steam and had their first four-wheel internal combustion car built by Panhard under Daimler license.  Peugeot built their first engines in 1896. By 1903, Peugeot was producing half the cars built in France, and employed some superb engineers. In 1912, Ettore Bugatti designed the 850 cc four cylinder Bébé, an exceptionally popular car. Also in 1912, Peugeot decided to return to racing, and wanted to enter Grand Touring rather than just the light cars. They entered with a DOHC 7.6 liter four cylinder with four valves per cylinder (high technology for the time), which proved faster than anything else, winning the 1912 French Grand Prix despite losing third gear and having to take a 20 minute pit stop (!). In 1913, they became the first non-American car to win the Indianapolis 500 with the same model Peugeot racer (repeating in 1916 and 1919). The next month, they repeated their French Grand Prix win with a new L5 (with a 5.65 liter engine of pioneering design).

The 1913 Peugeot Type 150 Labourdette Skiff has an inline four cylinder 7.5 liter 40 hp single camshaft engine which was derived from their 1912 Grand Prix racing engine, and was bodied by Labourdette with a more refined version of his skiff body, with a more streamlined tail and small U-shaped half-doors which did not compromise the rigidity.


Peugeot 1913 Skiff X4638


Peugeot 1913 Skiff Ornament X4636

The front end of the 1913 Peugeot Type 150 Labourdette Skiff. Note how the front of the skiff body blends smoothly
with the metal hood. Also, note the bullet-shaped headlights and the superb logo-relief on the brass radiator housing.


Peugeot 1913 Skiff Detail X4642

Detail of the riveted mahogany planking of the Labourdette skiff body. Note that the perimeter is fastened with screws.


Kissell Kar 1912 X4675

The 1912 Kissel Kar model 4-40 Semi-Racer.

The only known Kissel Semi-Racer (gentleman’s speedster) which is documented as a semi-racer from day one.
There is at least one other Kissel Semi-Racer, a 1914 4-40, which was rebodied (it was originally a Touring car).

The Kissel Kar 4-40 Semi-Racer has a 40 hp inline 4 cylinder L-head engine with cylinders cast in pairs, a float-feed carburetor, a cone clutch, and a Warner 4-speed sliding gear transmission on a 121 inch chassis. A drop-forged front axle with semi-elliptic springs are at the front and a live rear full floating axle with 3/4 elliptic springs are at the rear.


Kissell Kar 1912 X4676

The brake and chain speed levers are placed outside the driver’s door (spare tires are on the rear deck).

The Kissel brothers lived in Hartford, Wisconsin where they built engines and farm equipment. In 1906 they shifted to the emerging automobile market and created the Kissel Motor Company. Their first vehicle, the Kissel Kar, went on sale in 1907 with a four cylinder 35 hp L-head engine. In 1909 they added a six cylinder engine, and by 1913 they had electric starters. The company reputation was for quality, durability, advanced design, dependability and performance. At the outbreak of World War I they dropped the name "Kar" from the line due to its resemblance to German, and the company made trucks for the Army. The Depression and an attempted hostile takeover by Ruxton head Archie Andrews forced Kissel to file for receivership in 1930. They were reorganized in 1935 and produced motors for Sears, Roebuck & Co.


Kissell Kar 1912 Ostrich Interior X4677


Kissell Kar 1912 Ostrich Interior X4678c

Detail of the Ostrich upholstery of the 1912 Kissel Kar model 4-40 Semi-Racer.


Kissell Kar 1912 X4778


Kissell Kar 1912 X4779

Passenger side detail of the 1912 Kissel Kar model 4-40 Semi-Racer.


Kissell Kar 1912 X4780

The 1912 Kissel Kar model 4-40 Semi-Racer.

Note the dual spare tires on the rear deck (required by the unimproved roads of the day),
and the oval gas tank mounted at an angle on the rear deck between the tires and the seat.


Rolls-Royce 1910 Titanic Ghost X4606

The 1910 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost Morgan Double Phaeton.

Henry Royce was an engineer making dynamos and electric cranes at the turn of the 20th century who began tinkering with cars, first modifying a Decauville and then building his first engine (a two cylinder) in 1903. He built his first car in 1904, the Royce 10, and built two more which he sold to the directors of his company. Henry Edmunds, one of the directors, showed the car to Charles Rolls, a racing enthusiast and early aviator who funded his passions by owning one of the first London auto dealerships. Rolls was impressed and after a meeting with Royce agreed to take all the cars he could make, badged as Rolls-Royce.

The first car was the Rolls-Royce 10 hp, a 2 cylinder 1800 cc runabout with a triangular hood which was significantly quieter than other contemporary cars, unveiled at the Paris Salon in December 1904 along with a 15 hp three cylinder, a 20 hp four cylinder, and the engine for a six cylinder 30 hp model. In 1906, Rolls-Royce Ltd. was created, and at the 1906 Olympia car show they brought four chassis, the 20 hp, the 30 hp, and two unfinished models with a new engine: the 7 liter 40/50 hp six cylinder Ghost.

The first eleven Rolls-Royce 40/50 chassis remained unsold until Claude Johnson, Managing Director of Rolls-Royce, created a demonstrator on the 12th chassis in 1907 with a Roi-des-Belges (tulip phaeton) body by Barker with aluminum paint and silver-plated fittings, and entered it in an early precursor to the Scottish Reliability Trials and a 15,000 mile endurance test to show the reliability and quietness of their new car. This was a risky proposition as the roads of the day could be treacherous. With the press aboard, the car broke numerous records and after its first service at 7000 miles only required £2.13, the reputation of the car labeled the Silver Ghost was established. The car was sold to a customer in 1908 and the early chassis all sold rapidly.


Rolls-Royce 1910 Titanic Ghost X4605 M

A 1500 x 1500 image of the “Titanic Ghost”.

This 1910 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost has a fascinating piece of history attached to it. Built on a rare short wheelbase chassis, this 40/50 (chassis 1278) was ordered in 1909 by Lord William Pirrie (later 1st Viscount Pirrie), former Lord Mayor of Belfast and the chairman of Harland and Wolff, shipbuilders in Belfast. It was Lord Pirrie who convinced Bruce Ismay to build the Titanic and her sister ships Olympic and Britannic, the largest ships in the world at the time they were produced.

Lord Pirrie designed and supervised the drafting of Titanic and oversaw every step of the production. It was Lord Pirrie who overruled his brother-in-law Alexander Carlisle, chief architect of Harland and Wolff and chairman of the managing directors who was responsible for interior ship design and safety, when he specified 48 lifeboats for the enormous ship (the new-style Welin davits could hold 64). Lord Pirrie felt that the passengers would be alarmed to see so many lifeboats, and specified one boat per pair of davits (16) along with the four collapsible lifeboats as the number of lifeboats exceeded the outdated Board of Trade law specifying the required number of lifeboats, and naval authorities considered that lifeboats were primarily intended to transfer passengers to a rescue ship as normally rough seas would rarely allow the lifeboats to be successfully deployed.


Rolls-Royce 1910 Titanic Ghost X4605c

Detail of the front of Lord Pirrrie’s 1910 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost, the “Titanic Ghost”.

Lord Pirrie’s Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost chassis was delivered to the coachbuilder Morgan and Company of London for fitting of a ceremonial Double Phaeton body in May 1910. It was outfitted with a plate below the windshield proclaiming it to be the “Titanic Ghost” in honor of the world’s largest ship, which was being built at the time in his shipyard at Harland & Wolff in Belfast. Note the red Rolls-Royce emblem below the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, which was first created as “The Whisper” by Charles Robinson Sykes for Baron Montagu's 1910 Silver Ghost using Montagu's mistress Eleanor Thornton as a model with her finger to her lips, alluding to their secret love affair. Sykes modified it under commission by Rolls-Royce in 1911, and it has appeared on their cars and been associated with the marque ever since. The emblem was changed from red to black in 1932 because Henry Royce decided that black was aesthetically more appropriate as some owners (including the Prince of Wales) had complained that the red logo clashed with the color of their bodywork.

Lord Pirrie was scheduled to travel on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, but illness prevented him from sailing and ironically saved his life. When Lord Pirrie died in 1924 of bronchial pneumonia at the age of 77 off the coast of Cuba, the Titanic Ghost passed to his brother-in-law, Alexander Montgomery Carlisle, the chief designer at Harland and Wolff who was responsible for the safety systems and had argued with Lord Pirrie about the number of lifeboats being reduced. After losing the argument, he ended his involvement with the Olympic-class liners, left Harland and Wolff, and never again designed ships. After the sinking of the Titanic Carlisle represented the company at the Board of Trade enquiry which led to changes in safety practices aboard ships. Carlisle removed the Morgan Double Phaeton body and substituted a Cabriolet. The original Phaeton body was lost. After Carlisle’s death in 1926, the Silver Ghost was sold for the astounding price of £35 and fitted with an ambulance body.


Rolls-Royce 1910 Titanic Ghost X4607

In 1932, the ambulance body was modified and the vehicle was used as a breakdown truck (British parlance for tow truck), then later as the prime mover for a set of gang mowers on a Surrey golf course. In 1950 it was on sale for £7.10s at a wrecker's yard on the London-Maidstone Road. It was purchased and again used as a breakdown truck until 1955, when it was realized that the old Rolls-Royce may be valuable, at which point it was sold to the London Rolls-Royce dealer Jack Barclay, who had a period-style body mounted on the chassis and used the car as a promotional vehicle for thirty years before selling it to an American owner in 1985. The Rolls-Royce was "repatriated" to England in 2000 by Malcolm Ginns, and was subjected to a four year restoration which included the construction of a replica of the original Morgan Double Phaeton body based upon recently found contemporary photographs taken in Lord Pirrie's day.

The Rolls-Royce vehicles were the pinnacle of automotive design in their day. The Silver Ghost exhibited crankshaft technology well beyond that of any previous automobile. Most engines of the day had long, flexible crankshafts which were prone to noise and vibration. The Rolls-Royce had large bearings and pressurized oiling systems secured by seven main bearings, enclosed in a strong aluminum alloy crankcase which eliminated most of the noise. The loudest sound in a Rolls-Royce was said to be the clock. The crankshaft was ground to a tolerance of 0.00025” on its bearing surfaces and hand-polished to remove any surface cracks left by the grinding process. Rolls-Royce used hand-ground and hand-polished phosphor-bronze and nickel-steel gears instead of noisy chains to drive the ignition timing. The 7.4 liter six cylinder engine featured removable cylinder blocks and fixed heads, cast in two groups of three to shorten the engine, with side valves operated by a single camshaft. A three speed transmission was used, but the Rolls-Royce was famously able to be driven smoothly from zero to top speed in top gear. Shifting in the early 1900s was a chore, and the lower gears were never very smooth. The Rolls-Royce Ghosts accelerated as if they were being pulled, and were easily able to be driven at any speed in top gear without shifting.


Rolls-Royce 1910 Titanic Ghost X4607c

Detail of the front of Lord Pirrrie’s 1910 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost, the “Titanic Ghost”.

In 1906, a Ghost was entered in the Tourist Trophy Race, one of the most prestigious of the time, winning with a 27 minute lead. In 1907, the Silver Ghost (detailed below) was entered in a 15,000 mile reliability run to Glasgow and back (27 times), a precursor to the Scottish Reliability Run, which was to be driven without stopping the engine. The car completed 14,371 miles without a stop (the rutted roads knocked the petrol tap closed, the only incident which marred the 15,000 mile journey). It only required £2 of maintenance to restore the car to new condition. This prompted a journalist to call it “the best car in the world”. In a challenge by Napier, the Silver Ghost traveled from London to Edinburgh without changing gear then competed in high-speed runs at Brooklands (averaging 24.3 mph on the road run and reaching 78.2 mph at Brooklands). The Ghost became renowned for durability, reliability and style, and after this the 40/50 began to sell (none of the early 40/50 chassis were sold until 1908).

The first Silver Ghost, the 12th chassis completed (135 inch short-wheelbase chassis 60551, registered as AX 201), was built as a demonstrator for the company. This car is most likely the most travelled and most valuable car in the world (insured for £25 million). Commissioned by Claude Johnson, the Managing Director of Rolls-Royce (who is often referred to as the hyphen in Rolls-Royce), it has a Barker Roi-des-Belges body with silver aluminum paint, green leather upholstery, and an aluminum dashboard instead of the normal polished teak. All external fittings were silver-plated. This is technically the only car entitled to be called a “Silver Ghost”, but due to its success and fame all 40/50 Rolls-Royces from 1907 until the introduction of the 40/50 Phantom in 1925 received that name. Sold to a customer in 1908, the Silver Ghost was bought back by the company in 1948.


Rolls-Royce 1913 Silver Ghost Cann Torpedo X4782

The 1913 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost Cann Torpedo.

The Cann Torpedo body was derived from a 1908 Belgian car which had the hood raised to be level with the car’s waistline, creating a straight beltline. The body had low side panels and doors and no pillars (the only uprights supported the windshield). This 1913 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost Cann Torpedo body has lightweight cycle fenders dropping straight down at an angle to the running board, wire wheels, and was displayed with a comprehensive tool kit.

As an armored car in the First World War, the Silver Ghost was so dependable that
T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) stated that "a Rolls in the desert is above rubies".

Sometimes, it is difficult to find detail on specific cars. This car is one of those with little available information.


Rolls-Royce 1914 Silver Ghost Skiff X4643

The 1914 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost Shapiro-Schebera Skiff.

This 1914 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost Shapiro-Schebera skiff, one of only five skiff-bodied Silver Ghosts ever produced, used Labourdette’s technique of laminated mahogany and canvas on ash ribs to create a lightweight, rigid and beautiful body. As this body has sill plates reading Shapiro-Schebera, and Shapiro was only managing director of the company between 1919 and 1923, this dates the body to that period. Due to the lack of records on the car during World War I, it is unknown whether the chassis had a body for the five or more years prior to the skiff being mounted. It is thought that the body was designed by Ernst Neuman-Neander, as he did work for several German clients around 1920 with a similar style. The level of craftsmanship used on this unique skiff is remarkable. The body and side panels are of mahogany, but the deck is cherry or something similar.


Rolls-Royce 1914 Silver Ghost Skiff X4646

The 1914 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost Shapiro-Schebera Skiff has a 48 hp 7,248 cc side valve six-cylinder engine, a four speed manual transmission, front semi-elliptic leaf springs and rear three-quarter elliptic leaf springs, two wheel drum brakes, and right hand drive. The Boa Constrictor horn is an original in perfect condition. The car has a raked Vee windshield which folds down on the driver’s side, and the paint exhibits a remarkable patina as it was applied during the light restoration performed in the mid-1950s. The interior was replaced after 1985 when it was in the Barrymore collection. The Vanderville lights all match and are likely original to the car. The gauges are correct period pieces including a rare Elliot Brothers speedometer. The top and side wheel covers were replaced during cosmetic work and detailing prior to the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours.


Rolls-Royce 1914 Silver Ghost Skiff X4646c

Detail of the Boa Constrictor horn on the 1914 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost Shapiro-Schebera Skiff. Note the folding windshield on the driver’s side. This Silver Ghost was selected by the Franklin Mint to commission a scale model for their collector series, and is one of 20 cars selected for the book “Twenty Silver Ghosts: The Incomparable Pre-WWI Rolls-Royce”.


Mercedes 1912 X4601

The 1912 Mercedes 37/95 Holbrook Touring Car.

One of the earliest of the new Mercedes 37/95, this was shipped as a rolling chassis to
the US where it was fitted with a Touring body by the New York coachbuilder Holbrook.

The 37/95 was derived from the 37/90 of 1910. The 37/90 used chain drive even though Mercedes had introduced a shaft drive on their smaller four cylinder model in 1908 because the engineers thought the torque produced by the bigger engines was too much for the shaft drive to handle. To deaden the sound of the noisy chains a fully enclosed oil bath was fitted on the new 37/90 of 1911. Driving the chains was a massive four cylinder engine designed by Paul Daimler, which featured three valves per cylinder, one large intake valve and two smaller exhaust valves. The valves were actuated by pushrods, driven by two lateral camshafts. Unlike previous engines which consisted of multiple blocks, the new engine was a single block of four cylinders. The 9.53 liter engine developed 90 hp at 1300 rpm and prodigious torque. The engine's potential was displayed in the 1912 and 1914 Vanderbilt Cup, where American racing legend Ralph de Palma drove a 1908 Grand Prix car equipped with the 37/90 engine to victory.

For 1913 Mercedes introduced minor modifications to the engine and chassis. Power rose to 95 bhp, which resulted in a change of type indication to 37/95 hp. The front and rear track were also slightly widened. In late 1914 the 37/95 was replaced by the 38/100, which was equipped with a 9.9 liter engine and was the last of the chain driven Mercedes touring cars.


Mercedes 1924 Skiff X4661

The 1924 Mercedes 28/95 Sport Phaeton Sindelfingen Skiff is one of two known original factory skiffs. Powered by a 7280cc single overhead camshaft inline six-cylinder engine producing 95 hp, unlike many cars of its day it had four wheel drum brakes. The 28/95 was one of the last models produced by Mercedes before the merger with Daimler and Benz and it won the 1922 Coppa Florio and was 2nd in the Targa Florio.


Mercedes 1924 Skiff Interior X4662

The Mercedes 28/95 was the DMG flagship model from 1914 to 1924 and the foundation of Mercedes sporting reputation. Powered by an inline 6 cylinder engine that traced its design heritage to Daimler’s DF80 aircraft engine of the First World War, the 28/95 had a fully enclosed, shaft and bevel gear driven camshaft and overhead valves in cast aluminum housings for each of the three pairs of cylinder castings which bolted to a large aluminum crankcase. The 95 hp engine breathed through two Mercedes carburetors and individual intake passages to each cylinder. The naturally aspirated car (on a short chassis driven by Max Sailer) won the Production Car class at the 1921 Targa Florio (2nd overall) and set the record for the fastest lap, and in 1922 the engine served as a test bed for the new volumetric compression supercharger developed by Ferdinand Porsche, with which Max Sailer won the over 4.5 liter Production Car class at the 1922 Targa Florio (6th overall).

The rear axle was driven by a shaft, and the live front and rear axles were suspended by semi-elliptic leaf springs with friction dampers. The early 28/95s had only rear brakes, but for the 1923 model year four wheel brakes were added. There was a four speed manual transmission and a leather-faced double-cone clutch. The distinctive steeply-angled V-shaped grille sported the original Daimler three-pointed star (without the circle which was added to the star in 1916).


Sunbeam 1922 TT X4713

The 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy, with a 3 liter straight-8 engine with four valves per cylinder.

Sunbeam was one of the only British firms to engage in racing immediately before and after World War I. They rebuilt four of their Grand Prix cars for the 1922 Tourist Trophy race on the Isle of Man, fitting dual magnetos instead of the Delco coils and dual Claudel-Hobson carburetors. They were painted British Racing Green.

Sunbeam Number 7 was the winner of the RAC Tourist Trophy race on the Isle of Man in 1922.


Sunbeam 1922 TT X4712 M

Complete with lucky horseshoe, 1922 Sunbeam TT number 7, fully restored by Auto Restorations in New Zealand.

Sunbeam had entered three cars for the Isle of Man race, but the clutch on Guiness' car failed just before the race, knocking out the 1914 winner. The two remaining cars were up on jacks as rain was pouring and the tire selection was critical (it was not easily possible to change the tires in those days). Finally, Jean Chassagne, the diminutive French driver of number 7, decided on "traction-tread" Dunlops, and was still balancing his tires ten minutes before the start. Chassagne's teammate Segrave set the early pace, but he suffered a punctured tire on the fourth lap, and while Segrave and his riding mechanic changed the tire, Chassagne was able to pull ahead. Segrave was finally knocked out with a magneto failure on the fifth lap, as it was impossible for him to make the steep climb up to the Bungalow on only four cylinders, so it was up to Chassagne to redeem Sunbeam. The racing team had not done well with the 3 liter cars in the previous Grand Prix season, and since the 3 liter cars were now obsolete due to a rules change to 2 liter capacity, the investment in the racing cars was at jeopardy of not being renewed.

Three more laps in a nightmare of rain and mud lay ahead, but Chassagne forged ahead, trying to increase the 100 yard gap between himself and the second place Bentley driven by Frank Clement. He crossed the finish line with a four minute lead, but when he looked for the yellow flag to signify the finish he did not see one, so he completed an additional lap through the pouring rain and mud at racing speed. When he found out later that they had changed to a blue flag, you can imagine that he was not at all amused.

Sunbeam's win helped justify the £50,000 expense to build their race cars, but the British racing redemption would not be complete until Segrave won the 1923 French Grand Prix.


Sunbeam 1922 TT Detail X4711

The 115 horsepower 3 liter inline eight cylinder dual overhead cam engine, with twin Claudel-Hobson carburetors.
The 1922 Sunbeam TT won the Open wheel racing cars class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2005.


Delage 1914 Type A1 Gillotte Coupe X4563

Delage started in 1905 with two lathes and three employees, initially producing parts for Helbé and De Dion and making small voiturettes from 1906, including some race cars. They converted from two cylinder cars to four cylinders in 1909, at first using De Dion and Ballot engines, producing their own side-valve four cylinder engine later that year. Their first advanced bodywork was produced in their new factory in 1911, and by 1912 they were producing 1000 cars per year with four and six cylinder engines. In 1914, they planned a move towards luxury automobiles, and produced this car for the 1914 Paris Salon using their model A1, first produced in 1912. The A1 Coupe for the Paris show featured a 2.3 liter De Dion four cylinder side-valve engine, a four speed transmission, and a coupe body built by G. Gillotte Carrossier of Levallois, France.

Later that year the Delage Type Y racer which set the fastest lap time at the French Grand Prix of 1913 would win the 1914 Indianapolis 500, and the Type O racer won the Lyon Grand Prix with a 4.5 liter twin-cam desmodromic valved racer featuring twin carburetors, a five-speed gearbox, and four-wheel brakes.


Delage 1914 Type A1 Gillotte Coupe X4565 M

Delage’s proposed foray into luxury automobiles was curtailed by the outbreak of World War I. Delage made munitions and some vehicles for the war effort, and the production of passenger cars virtually stopped. Delage returned to auto production at the end of the war with the CO, which had a 4.5 liter fixed-head side valve six cylinder engine producing 20 hp. The CO plans had been drawn up during the war, and was the first passenger car with front brakes. It was joined by the 3 liter four cylinder DO.


Delage 1924 X4630

The Delage 1924 model GL Labourdette Skiff Torpedo.

The Delage GL (Grande Luxe) was Delage's first super car, designed in 1923 to compete with Rolls-Royce and Hispano-Suiza. The production run was very limited, only 180 chassis were created from 1924 to 1927. Louis Delage had made a great deal of money during World War I and wanted to change his reputation from making the ‘beautiful French car’ to making the ‘Best car in the world’, a slogan then used by Rolls-Royce for their Silver Ghost. Former Hotchkiss engineer Maurice Sainturat designed the 6 liter inline six cylinder engine, which produced 100 hp and was capable of exceeding 90 mph with a single overhead camshaft  and a single updraft carburetor. The GL had a 4-speed gearbox and four wheel drum brakes. The chassis cost 85,000 francs ($5,370) when new, and custom coachwork added to the price, although it was cheaper than a comparable Hispano-Suiza. The lightweight, custom-built torpedo skiff body was made by Jean-Henri Labourdette of Paris. The hood and fenders are aluminum. This is one of just six GL chassis known to survive today.


Delage 1924 Interior X4623

Interior detail of the 1924 Delage GL Labourdette Skiff.

The Delage was discovered acting as a breakdown recovery vehicle in the Sir Francis Samuelson collection in the 1970s, and was subjected to a full restoration, after which it appeared in the 1981 film "Chariots of Fire". The Delage GL was mechanically and cosmetically restored after the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours, and won the Participant's Choice award at the 2007 Kirkland Concours and Best in Class and the French Cup at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

At right is the Delage GL mascot, a lady preparing to dive. I have been unable to find information on this unique mascot.


Delage 1924 Ornament X4628


Hispano-Suiza 1923 X4650

The 1923 Hispano-Suiza H6B Mühlbacher Skiff.

This 1923 Hispano-Suiza H6B has an unusual skiff body by Mühlbacher. One of the oldest of French coachbuilders, Mühlbacher moved to Paris in 1780. The company bodied its first car, a steam car by Amédée-Ernest Bollée, in 1885. This skiff is unusual in that the hood is also covered with mahogany (most skiff bodies have a metal hood). This 1923 Mühlbacher design was most likely inspired by the 1922 Hispano-Suiza H6B Labourdette Skiff built for the French heiress Suzanne Deutsche de la Meurthe, daughter of oil baron and early aviation enthusiast Henri Deutsche de la Meurthe, which was delivered to her in 1923.

The Hispano-Suiza, named after the birthplace of the car and the country of its creator (Spain and Switzerland), was the most expensive automobile in Europe, thousands more than a Rolls-Royce. The H6 series, introduced at the Paris Salon in 1919, was generally acknowledged as the most advanced automobile design in the world. The company sold the chassis only, and the bodies were fitted by the finest coachworkers in Europe. Emilio de la Cuadra, a Spanish artillery captain, started Hispano-Suiza in 1898 to produce electric automobiles. He hired Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt to design their first gasoline powered engines. By 1905, they were producing a series of large four and six cylinder engines for automobiles. During World War I, they provided engines for airplanes. Birkigt designed a series of pioneering aircraft engine innovations that included the first use of a cast engine block, propeller reduction gearing and a hollow propeller shaft to allow firing a gun through the propeller. Hispano-Suiza built over 50,000 V12 fighter engines during World War I, which became the most commonly used aero engines in the French and British air forces, powering over half the Allied fighter aircraft. When the war ended, they returned to automobile and engine production and developed a strong reputation for building luxury automobiles.

The H6 introduced at the 1919 Paris Salon had a 6.6 liter inline six cylinder overhead camshaft engine with 7 main bearings and  an aluminum block and head inspired by Marc Birkigt's work on aircraft engines. Apart from the new overhead camshaft, it was essentially half of Birkigt's aviation V12 design. The seven-bearing crankshaft was milled from a 600 lb. steel billet to become a sturdy 35 lb. unit, while the block used screwed-in steel liners and the water passages were enamelled to prevent corrosion. One of the most notable features of the H6 was its 16 inch light-alloy drum brakes with cast-in steel liners on all four wheels with power-assist, the first in the industry, driven by a special shaft from the transmission. When the car was decelerating, its own momentum drove the brake servo to provide additional power. This technology was later licensed to other manufacturers, including arch-rival Rolls-Royce. They updated the engine in 1922 to create the slightly more powerful H6B.


Hispano-Suiza 1923 X4651

The Hispano-Suiza H6B was the most expensive automobile sold in Europe at the time, and the ultimate status symbol.

The Hispano-Suiza mascot (at right) is La Cigogne Volante, the flying stork of Alsace, the insignia of Georges Guynemer’s Stork Squadron of Group de Combat 12 SPAD fighters, designed by the French sculptor François Victor-José Bazin introduced in 1919 on the H6.


Hispano-Suiza 1923 Ornament X4648


Hispano-Suiza 1928 H6B Cabriolet X4805


Hispano-Suiza 1928 H6B Cabriolet X4806

The 1928 Hispano-Suiza H6B Hibbard and Darrin Cabriolet de Ville.

At left, detail of the exceptionally cleanly-routed and finished engine compartment of this Hispano-Suiza H6B formal town car, which has a partitioned chauffeur compartment and a convertible top over the passenger compartment. This body style dates back to medieval European carriages where the livery of the visiting guest’s coachman had to be identified at a distance. The coachman's section was therefore open. This particular adaptation is the Hibbard and Darrin rendition of a 1925 Rolls-Royce body by Barker & Company for the Prince of Wales, in which all of the windows could be raised or lowered, and when the top was lowered it was a completely open car. The passenger section has double windows in an extra-wide frame on the doors.


Hispano-Suiza 1928 H6B Cabriolet X4806c

Detail of the front end of the 1928 Hispano-Suiza H6B Hibbard and Darrin Cabriolet de Ville.


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