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About Quiz # 339: 1929 Donnet Zedel CI-7 (Update!)


Quiz #339

Fons Alkemade - owner of the depicted radiator and car (click radiator) has judged last weekend's quiz #339: "No, it is not a Mathis or a Chenard-Walcker. It is one of those other French car builders which were still active around 1930: Donnet. Alas, the Donnet company would not survive the economic crisis of the early 1930s.

The car in the photos is my Donnet CI7 which I acquired for 500 euros in 2006. When it came into my possession it seemed that someone had tried to do some repairs and had also started to unbolt all parts which could be unbolted: engine, radiator, seats, etc. According to M. Eric Lepicard, French expert of the Donnet history, my car was delivered by the factory somewhere in of around november 1930. By that time of the year it could already be called a 1931-model.

The correct make was given by Francisco Carrión, Thierry X?, Howard Morgan, Kaspars Dortäns, Alan Spencer and Mike Tebbett. The first five of these also gave the correct model. No one came up with the correct year of production but since Howard Morgan mentioned 1929 and wrote quite extensively on the history of Donnet, he is the winner: “Donnet-Zedel CI-7 (1929) and made in Pontarlier. Company had Swiss origins (Zurcher and Luhti) and was named Zedel. Jerome Donnet purchased the company in 1919 and in 1924 the name Donnet-Zedel was introduced. Production increased with additional facilities from Donnet's former plane factory and an ex Vinot and Deguingand factory.The first Pontarlier factory was sold in 1929 and the Zedel name disappeared.The CI-7 and CI-10 models replaced the CI-6 and G series cars using 1294cc and 1978cc engines. The early 1930s depression caused the company to be sold by 1934 to Heni-Theodore Pigozzi.”
(text and photos Fons Alkemade, french car historian)

 

UPDATE by Fons Alkemade: I am pleased to watch how Donnet is still alive in some way.
The remarks by Howard Morgan about the Pontarlier and the Nanterre factory are indeed not correct and I thank messrs Lepicard, Fayt and Tebbett for their corrections. To me it is new that the CI7 basis has been exactly the same as that of the CI10. Nevertheless, most of the quiz participants mentioned the CI7 (maybe because it is the best known model?) and mr. Morgan remains the winner after all.
To make things somewhat more complicated: Donnet also had factories in Neuilly-sur-Seine and in Gennevilliers (both close to Paris) but I still don't know what the status of these buildings has been.
The Nanterre building is still there! It was erected by Donnet on the site where the Vinot-Deguingand factory had been. In 1934 it became a Simca plant and in 1961 a Citroën plant. Today it is called Le Capitole, after it had been transformed into an office building in 1990. See www.leclubcapitole.com (in French). Rumour has it that all the left-over parts of the Donnet plant were buried somewhere near the factory. Maybe one day archaeologists will find them..

Comments 

 
#5 2013-03-05 00:03
I am pleased to watch how Donnet is still alive in some way.
The remarks by Howard Morgan about the Pontarlier and the Nanterre factory are indeed not correct and I thank messrs Lepicard, Fayt and Tebbett for their corrections. To me it is new that the CI7 basis has been exactly the same as that of the CI10. Nevertheless, most of the quiz participants mentioned the CI7 (maybe because it is the best known model?) and mr. Morgan remains the winner after all.
To make things somewhat more complicated: Donnet also had factories in Neuilly-sur-Seine and in Gennevilliers (both close to Paris) but I still don't know what the status of these buildings has been.
The Nanterre building is still there! It was erected by Donnet on the site where the Vinot-Deguingand factory had been. In 1934 it became a Simca plant and in 1961 a Citroën plant. Today it is called Le Capitole, after it had been transformed into an office building in 1990. See http://www.leclubcapitole.com (in French). Rumour has it that all the left-over parts of the Donnet plant were buried somewhere near the factory. Maybe one day archaeologists will find them...
 
 
#4 2013-03-04 10:54
ME again.....When I say "The DONNET 4 cyl CI7 model started to be produced in 1928....I mean the DONNET CI 7 model"was tested" in 1928,announced and advertised during the 1928 PARIS automobile show .... So ,In a way,I should have written that first manufactured CI 7 models were 1929 models....The new NANTERRE works took a few months to really start their industrial production...."actual" things cannot be said just in two or three words....Life is so complicated!
Eric LEPICARD President of the DONNET club
PS:Your question about DONNET (please continue to ask about this mysterious brand!)reminds me the way I had to sit for my first exams,at school,when I was roughly 16; At the desk,the teacher asked me about "HOW to identify wild BIRDS",....but only showed to me the very end of their tails ;What's the name of that bird?....I could not answer ;Same with a second bird (...tail),...then with a third one (tail again)! I got a "zero" with a "hopeless"mention in his book! ...and the teacher asked me: "Now....,What's your name?"
I immediately put my trousers down,showed him my own "bird"and said:"GUESS"
 
 
#3 2013-03-02 14:45
... and the company was not sold to Pigozzi!... he bought the factory building in Nantere for Simca production but he did not buy the Donnet company!
 
 
#2 2013-03-02 13:39
This Donnet CI7 has not been built in Pontarlier but in Nanterre! The workshops of Pontarlier have been closed end of 1828!
Sincerely
Thierry
 
 
#1 2013-03-02 11:03
Just a few extra details about the winner answer:the photographed CI7 model has NEVER been manufactured in PONTARLIER as said in the answer;; YES,This PONTARLIER works were closed only by the end of 1928,but workers there only manufactured other models (11 CV 4 cyl CI6 CHASSIS,or 12/14 CV 6 Cyl K CHASSIS).....all with bodies made at the NEUILLY DONNET coachbuilder works;the CI7 model started to be produced by JULY 1928,after the 6 CYL CI IO DONNET model (launched in MAY of the same year) both produced in the new DONNET works in NANTERRE......From the photograph you have shown,this DONNET model could have been either a 1928 or 1929 or 1930 6 cyl CI IO,....or a 1928,1929 or 1930 4 cyl CI7; The chassis dimensions of the TWO models were (intentionally) exactly the same in these years(rationali sed production!);....same with bodies now produced in NANTERRE with similar designs ;
So,without the CHASSIS number (written on the CHASSIS itself),or a view of the DASHBOARD....,no one could give the right aswer....! I personnally choosed a 1928_ or 1929 4 cyl DONNET CI7;I could have said 1930 also!....or a CI IO of similar years (same bodies!)! May be such a question should not have be asked from such a photograph....unless you are NOSTRADAMUS yourself!Eric LEOICARD (President of the DONNET club)
PS...I'm NOT!
 

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