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An early Tom-Tom

An early Tom-TomTravelling in the early days of motoring often was a challenging experience. Road signs were absent and society was not equipped for cars travelling over roads for hundreds of miles, where normally only stage coaches would cover distances of more than the few miles from your own village to the market in the next. If you would travel for longer distances, the train was the obvious means of displacement which could be as luxurious as you could afford.

The car however gave you something extra: no time tables, no rails, so in principle you could go anytime anywhere you wanted. But, although the excitement of taking new roads passing villages and landscapes you had never seen before was a very positive thing, it would be nice to arrive at least a good distance closer each day to your final destination without endless detours!

Therefore not long after 1900 in many countries in Europe motoring related companies like Michelin and Mors, and private organisations for cyclists and car owners like the Automobile Club de France and the Touring Club de France published travelling guides and started to place road signs. In America from 1901 on the famous Blue Books were published, in which for certain states and areas detailed routes were described with village and city names and recognizable land marks to make orientation easier. In the US you could even buy the Photo-Auto Maps, books with route descriptions, where every turning point was shown by a photo. These tools did help not only the motorist, but also stimulated many other economic activities along these routes: the traveller needed oil, gas, repairs, food, sleep etc. etc.

There was only one problem: the driver had to drive and the person next to him had to read the maps. In theory this seems a happy coincidence: now the passenger can have an active role in the trip too, and not just sit lazily looking around enjoyng the surroundings. The practice as we all know can be very different. I will not go into details.

With the Tom-Tom still almost a century away, how do you solve this? In 1913 (!) already this could be your answer: the Automatic Road Indicator, as it appeared that year in the accessories catalogue of Domenico Filogamo (with branches in Turin and Rome). On this apparatus you could read the road while travelling. The route was printed on a film, which “unrolls itself in the indicator at the speed of the car running on the road, so that a simple glance to the apparatus will enable the driver to locate the position on the road and will show which turning must be taken.” It will inform the driver of every railway crossing and dangerous turning by ringing a bell.

In one word: amazing! It is questionable however if you will be able to purchase one as a X-mas present for your antique car in time this year, but with thorough searching on autojumbles and some luck you will undoubtedly make her happy next year!

Words and photo: Ariejan Bos

Thursday, 07 December 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

From the family album: Star c.1925

Star  c.1925
Julian Hill shows us a photo from the family album:"I think this is a Star bought new from the factory in Wolverhampton about 1925 by my grandfather, George Edmund Hill pictured in the photo with his family; Margery, John, and Alexander and wife Odile. The picture is taken in front of the AJS club which became the Woodfield Club. They lived on Coalway Road, Wolverhampton and this was at the bottom of their garden! I suspect the car and clubhouse no longer exist, however, their fine house on coalway road still does. It was one of only 2 cars owned on coalway at this time. George was a tobacco Merchant with offices in Wolverhampton and London on the banks of the Thames, which was destroyed in the blit".

Editor: thank you for sharing Julian. This is what we like, a photo of a proud family with their 'modern' car. Would they publish our photos in 80 years as well?
If you have a similar photo, please share it with us!
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Happy Christmas shopping

Happy Christmas shopping
December has started so that means Christmas shopping. When doing this, we found the new book of Michael Edwards. Not that long ago, he published a book about De Dion Bouton cars till 1904. We read the first book with joy and reviewed it at But, a new book has just been released! In his new book, he informed us about the De Dion Bouton cars built after that period (from 1905 until 1918).
If you think this period is not as interesting as the ‘Brighton’ period; think twice. Michael, together with his daughter Natasha, did a fantastic job in researching the history, the different types, the advertisements and the typical features of that period. Which is not only interesting because of the old documentation that he uses, but he also took new/modern photographs of the old cars.
The book is divided by  the production volumes and the types that were available over the years. After this, he describes the technical evolution. Which is particularly interesting because the writer is using a lot of coloured photos to clarify the writing about the different chassis etc. After this ‘introduction’ he describes every type in detail, from the one-cylinder cars to the different types of mighty V8’s. 
Reading the book made us, even more, enthusiastic about both De Dion Bouton motorcars as for the whole history about it. Did you know for example how many different radiators there are and how easy it is to recognize these DDB’s (see photo)?
The book is a must-have for every De Dion Bouton enthusiast and for everyone who would like to date his own car. Happy Christmas shopping!

The book can be ordered by sending Michael an email ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Tuesday, 05 December 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

The 1900 Horseless Carriage mystery

Wrecker - The 1900 Horseless Carriage
While searching for information about the 1895 Chicago Times-Herald motorcycle race, Ace Zenek came across this photo on Flickr by Don O'Brien. The caption he posted states the following.

"1900 Horseless carriage: I probably took the photo somewhere in Oklahoma or Texas during September 1936. My brother and I got out of school for a family trip to Texas when I was in 7th grade that fall. I had a 620 Kodak that took 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 pictures.  I wonder if someone will recognize the town or vehicle? I assume the vehicle was bought in 1900. I can't make out the letters after BO."

The letters after "BO" probably spell out the word "Born," but I wonder if the vehicle can be identified. 

Monday, 04 December 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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