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Unknown celebrity: Cognet de Seynes

Cognet de Seynes

This month it will be one year since Lucien Loreille died. For years M. Loreille was one of the most fruitful and reliable automotive historians in France. He was a specialist in the car makers of Lyon (even the most obscure) and a pioneer in oral automotive history. It seems that his modesty (and the French language perhaps) has prevented him from getting a broader audience.

Last month Osenat in Paris auctioned (again) an important part of his impressive collection of documents and automobilia. Among the lots was this radiator from a Cognet de Seynes car (sold for 650 euros and misspelled by Osenat as Cognée de Sene...). Lucien Loreille wrote an extensive article on the history of this interesting make from Lyon in L'Album du fanatique de l'automobile of June 1970.

Edouard de Seynes and Victor Cognet became associates around 1907 and built their first prototype cars in 1912. These had two characteristics: the engine, gearbox and transmission were united in one bloc and the engine would stop running when the lubrication became insufficient. Thanks to its construction the car was almost without vibrations and the size of the engine could be kept small and thus economical. After the Great War the company was headed by a M. Ducerf who had big plans. The C de S, as the car was renamed, should be produced in large series and a six-cylinder engine should be developed. Ducerf failed in his plans and Edouard de Seynes made a comeback. Production remained small but buyers could choose among five different body models.

M. de Seynes was a fruitful inventor: he invented a suspended engine and his 1925 models were equipped with a anti-theft device which blocked the wheels. Alas, he was not a good businessman and the company had to close its doors in 1926. At least one Cognet de Seynes survives and one C de S (of 1923). The latter has been in the same family since 1946 and has been completely restored during a ten year period.

 (research Fons Alkemade: photo radiator, courtesy Osenat ; photo below: a surviving 1923 Cognet de Seynes )


#1 2013-01-20 13:22
It is intriguing to learn that Seynes invented a suspended engine in France, as Andre Citroen used under licence for his very successful 'Rosalie' model of 1931, a presumably similar system which originated in the United States at Chrysler known as "Floating Power." Whilst absence of vibration transmitted to the passengers was noteworthy, the Citroen's roadholding was compromised.

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