Two owners from new c1899 Hurtu 3 1/2hp Dos-à-dos Registration no. AA 00 22 (Portugal) Chassis no. 350 Engine no. 108
Établissements Hurtu manufactured sewing machines at Albert in Northern France in the latter part of the 19th Century, moving quickly on to production of machine tools, bicycles and ultimately motor cars. Diligeon bought out his partners in that company and was soon to acquire the rights for mass production of the Léon Bollée tandem voiturette. Motor car production under the name Hurtu commenced around 1898, Hurtu obtaining the licence to build cars to the design of the contemporary single-cylinder Benz. The engine dimensions of this car are quoted as 5in x 5in bore and stroke, giving a cylinder capacity of 1,609cc for the horizontal engine, equipped with automatic inlet valve. This drives through a two-speed gear system with no reverse gear and final drive to the rear wheels is by chain.
Remarkably the history of this vehicle is known from new and it has had been in just two family ownerships in the last 110 years. It was bought new by Viscount of Granja do Tedo (Fornos de Algodres, Portugal) to enable him to tour his green wine vineyards in the North of Portugal. It was used for only three years at which stage it was put into storage in a wine cellar. In May 1932 it emerged from that cellar to take part in the first veteran car rally in Portugal. At that time it was noted that the car was entirely original apart from its carburettor. The Hurtu won that event on account of its age, originality and kilometres driven under its own power, beating comparatively 'modern' examples of 1902 Oldsmobile, 1903 Darracq and a 1903 De Dion Bouton. In more recent years from 1970 to 1993 it has been shown at various exhibitions, including the opening of the Caramulo Museum in 1970, the Lisbon Exhibition F.I.L. in 1973, Retromobile Exhibition in Oporto in 1988 and the first Concours d'Élégance in Oporto in 1993. In 2008 this car ran as no.35 an early starter in Hyde Park on the Royal Automobile Club's London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, arriving at the finish line on Madeira Drive, Brighton, with no major problems. This Hurtu is, we understand, the oldest running car in Portugal, the second oldest car in that country and it comes with a file recording its early history.
The varnished wood finish Dos-à-dos seating accommodates four passengers with perhaps one or more light passengers accommodated facing the driver. We feel that a full complement may call for passenger assistance on the steeper gradient. Styling generally reflects influence from the horse-drawn vehicle era although in 1899 this vehicle surely was 'state-of-the-art' transport in Northern Portugal and no doubt scared the occasional horse or donkey! It is equipped with a centre-mounted oil lamp and a plunger trumpet horn, while the fitted canopy would shelter its occupants from the searing summer sun in Portugal and perhaps afford a little shelter from inclement weather on the Brighton road. This significant French Victorian motor car is offered with Portuguese registration documentation.