A vintage automobile pot-pourri (31)


Those vintage cars (in colour) had been on my parents’ walls for years (ripped off a calendar, hush). My mother had them framed at the Parklands mall in Nairobi. I can still visualize the Sikh gentleman in charge of the shop. As we moved to the new house in Mexico, there clearly was no space to hang them, so I kept two, photographed the others and gave them away. The above is a De Dion-Bouton 1899. One of the very first French cars, at a time when the competition between the French and the Americans was ferocious to establish leadership in the emerging automobile industry. The marquis de Dion had partnered with engineer Bouton to develop charming cars. In 1907, Georges Cormier arrived third in the Peking-Paris raid on a de Dion-Bouton.


Egypt, Suez canal, 1934. Rina was a childhood friend of my father’s. I don’t know the make of the car. Sorry.


Scotte 1892. Despite the name, this is a French car. I assumed a steam engine based on the chimney. Kikipedia confirms: “Scotte dampfwagen”, (no other language availage), dampf appears to mean steam in German. Imagine: they basically took a horse-drawn carriage, walked the horses away and put a steam boiler in the front. 🙂


Egypt, 1934. My father, about 16, by the very same car as before. Cars were then so rare, that when a new one arrived, all the kids posed in or on the same car. 🙂


Unic 1910. Design is improving. Gasoline engine in lieu of steam. Looks more like a car than a horseless carriage. Unic was a French automobile manufacturer from 1905 to 1938.


Same car in the Egyptian desert, probably near Port-Saïd. Odette, another childhood friend of my father’s, posing with studied grace.


Brasier, 1908. Note that the chauffeur is outside, exposed to rain, sleet and snow. We will see another live example at the end.


Egypt, c.1936. My father, “in Maurice Ansermet’s Viva Grand-Sport”. That was a Renault car, 6 cylinders straight engine, 4085 cc, 249 cubic inches. (That is for connaisseurs, I haven’t a clue about what it means. I suspect strength) 🙂


A Rolland-Pillain 1909. Despite the early year, the line is already very sportsy. I’ve seen current prices. You don’t want to know… 🙂


Egypt, 1936. Same Viva Grand-Sport, with its rightful owner, Maurice Ansermet at the wheel, and my aunt Gaud striking a pose. Note her daring top for the time, with the map of Brittany, hand-painted.


Sizaire et Naudin, 1908. Note the leather seats. The tires are probably full rubber. No air chamber. The variety of manufacturers at that time is amazing. Dozens and dozens were building automobiles.


La Buire, 1907. Do remember that those cars reached breakneck speeds of 35kmh, 20-21 mph! I don’t see how the roof would’ve held at 30 mph.


Automobile contest, Port-Saïd, 1936. Suzanne, dressed to the nines. (I may have posted that one already…)


Back to 1904. A Corre. Definitely full rubber tires. Just note the small circles inside the wheels. Shock-absorbers probably. Love the headlights. Jean-Marie Corre, the founder, was a fellow Breton. 🙂 (The things you learn every day!) 😉


Port-Saïd, Egypt, 1935. My grandfather, Pierre Martin, was working for the Suez canal. Dressed with utter English elegance, colonial shorts and socks. “The heat in ‘those’ countries is unbearable my dear”.


A Léon Bollée 1912. The driver was inside the car, though with a separation screen.


My other grandfather, Louis Prodault, c.1919. After returning alive (no mean feat) from WWI, he got a job as a chauffeur for a Marquis, the latter running a rather “dissolute” life, according to my brother. (Or so my grandfather told my brother.) Note that on this unknown model, the chauffeur had no doors or windows. Not a sedan by any means. Also note the uniform cap and boots. The round thing on top is probably the luggage boot. The “trunk” in American.

Thank you for riding with Equinoxio Car Time Travel. Until next time, drive safely.

37 thoughts on “A vintage automobile pot-pourri (31)

  1. The very first picture: we had a plastic scale model of that car in my childhood. At the time we were very proud of it. Well, remember where we were (and still are, regardless of date/time(s). 🙂

    I’m not a car fan by any means but history is a very good teacher. If only we listened to it…

    Thanks for the ride and have a great weekend! 🙂

    • You’re kidding me? A de Dion-Bouton? That is great. (I always wondered how they could even drive such things) And I agree, I’m not a big car fan, but those were… artsy objects, and I liked the contrast with my father’s photographs. You too.

      • No kiddin’, mon ami, those scale models really were sold on the market but were quite expensive for a modest family. Can’t remember if they were made in China or somewhere like Germany.

        Now that I looked again it may not have been exactly that model but I clearly remember the tall lever coming from the floor and the headlights are strikingly similar. Dunno when or how it got lost. Well, it’s been a lifetime since then and I’m known for having a bad memory so… ^^’

        Indeed, first car models were ingeniouos… contraptions 😀 and all because there was so much freedom to just try and create something better, nicer or simply different. Enter patents and freedom fell dead on the ground.

      • It was probably Germany. Or english. Lesley had some models. And not Chinese yet. Too early. An interesting thought about patents and creativity. Both are useful though. Bon week-end.

      • Back then there was (almost) no “capitalist” stuff on our market so I’d rule out anything british. And we did have some chinese stuff even then (I remember the blue tennis shoes we were hunting for).

        I strongly believe that the world would have evolved much, much better if it wasn’t for those stupid patents that put a muzzle to lots of intelligent people. But that’s a subject for some other time.

        Merci, bon weekend a Equinoxio & the Crew! 🙂

  2. Beautiful “reportage” of cars. Liked also the fact that you included all those references to your family. Very melancholic for you I guess.

  3. Pingback: A vintage automobile collection. Even Steam power engines!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s