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A Champagne Mystery (update: plm. 1911 Grégoire)

1906 unidentified_car_in_france_remi_weber_470

Remi Weber sent this charming picture of his grandma: "This picture was taken in Champagne (France) in a small town called Damery. My grandmother Henriette was very young, about ten years, so this must be in 1906. She had a servant who would drive her around. The car was owned by her father, monsieur Charles Justin Lepron. He was a wealthy rentier who would spent his summers in this house to fish and visit his champagne 'farms'. He was a real bon vivant and, like a decent Frenchman is supposed to, died at the dinner table in 1907."

Editor: a wonderful story which adds lots of colour to the otherwise B&W photo. One thing we disagree with Remi Weber is the year 1906. Looking at the car we presume 1912 is more close to the truth, which means his grandma was more like 16 here and possibly even allowed the refined torpedo. Remi presumed we're looking at a Delage. Possible, but we couldn't find proof for that. It could be Delahaye, Berliet, Lorraine Dietrich, Roland Pillain, Turcat Méry. Low bonnet, no side louvres. Then take into account the number of front wheel spokes: 10, rear: 12. And finally, don't overlook those small hubcaps. Delahaye? 


#9 2014-08-01 09:06
it is a GREGOIRE
#8 2014-07-31 14:37
The term torpedo applies to a car body of which the body lines have a continuous flow from front to rear, without e.g. the discontinuity between bonnet and dashboard. This body form was developed from about 1909 and one of the 'inventors' seems to have been Captain Theo. Masui, at that time the London agent for Grégoire! In fact most cars after 1912 have this torpedo-form and it is therefore often a needless addition.
Most Grégoires had threequarter elliptic rear springs, the top quarter being an inversed C-spring. It is not very well visible on this photograph, but you can see small parts of it on both sides of the rear mudguard.
#7 2014-07-31 08:56
Yes, you're right about looking at local brands if you want to identify a specific car. It often helps, especially during the early years. However in 1910 this local influence is really disappearing, certainly for the more common brands.
About the id, this is not magic. Every car has its characteristic feature and in the case of Grégoire it's the double bolt ring on the rear wheel.
Grégoire, by the way, was not just one of the marks. It was a car for aviators and artists. The owners of a Grégoire were called 'Grégoristes'. It was the first brand which organised special meetings or better: 'Fêtes' for their clients. In 1910 such a meeting attracted over a 100 Grégoires! Moreover their house-'carrossier', Alin & Liautard, produced bodies which attracted worldwide interest and admiration.
#6 2014-07-31 01:09

1. Where is the rear end of the frame - the spring seems to be mounted nowhere!

Quarter eliptics which emerge from the chassis ends?

2. The spring hangers suggest a rear axle with torque tube or radius arms

Torque Tube with quarter eliptics as with the Austin Seven?

3. Where is the rear brake - there is none visible?!

A very small brake drum - again as with the Austin Seven - 6" diameter?

#5 2014-07-30 22:28
I love old cars but am at a loss to understand why the French use the term "torpedo" to describe ancient cars - can anyone enlighten me?
#4 2014-07-30 16:24
@ Arien Bos; Tx, what makes you so sure about Gregoire? I suggest Lorraine Dietrich 12 HP, also because of its Alsace / Lorraine roots.
#3 2014-07-30 16:21
@Ariejan Bos; tx for Gregoire suggestion. What makes you so sure about this? I personally thought of Lorraine Dietrich 12 HP, also because of the Alsace and Lorraine roots.
#2 2014-07-30 07:57
I will not make the same 'mistake' as in an earlier mystery picture. No, not a Delahaye, but (also this time) a Grégoire. The year: around 1911.
#1 2014-07-30 07:53
Hi, I am not an expert in French cars from that period but:
1. Where is the rear end of the frame - the spring seems to be mounted nowhere!
2. The spring hangers suggest a rear axle with torque tube or radius arms
3. Where is the rear brake - there is none visible?!

Thomas Treul

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