Single family ownership since 1908,Believed 1903 Lacoste et Battmann 12hp Twin-Cylinder Four-Seat Rear-Entrance Tonneau  Engine no. 553
Lot 211
Believed 1903 Lacoste et Battmann 12hp Twin-Cylinder Four-Seat Rear-Entrance Tonneau
Registration no. MN 1903 (Isle of Man)
Sold for £77,660 (US$ 128,811) inc. premium
Lot Details
Single family ownership since 1908
Believed 1903 Lacoste et Battmann 12hp Twin-Cylinder Four-Seat Rear-Entrance Tonneau
Registration no. MN 1903 (Isle of Man)
Engine no. 553


  • This unidentified Veteran, believed to be a Regal for many years, was purchased by the vendor's grandfather (a medical doctor, Dr Dudley Bernhardt) at auction from Grande Maison d'Automobiles Ltd, The Motor House, Euston Road, London on 5th June 1908 (the receipt is in the history file). He paid £36. It was a complete car but in a sorry state when purchased having been worn out mechanically. Dr Bernhardt added the car to his motor garage which already contained the World's Oldest Vauxhall, the 1903 Vauxhall Two-Seater which Bonhams sold at our 2012 LBVCR auction. What is remarkable is that these two cars remained not only in the same family ownership but also garages for over 100 years.

    Dr Bernhardt had the car rebuilt, retaining all the original components, and it was back on the road around 1910. A photograph on file shows the car with the lady vendor's father in the passenger seat and her grandfather driving. When purchased, the car had been de-registered, so it was reregistered on 5th June 1908 as 'LC 5020' (the previous registration is not known). A copy of the London County Council register of motor cars and motor cycles is on file. The car originally belonged to the editor of The Times newspaper and regularly travelled from London to Dover (explaining the mechanical state at time of purchase in 1908). It was advertised as a "10-12hp, Tonneau car, two cylinders" and later identified as a Régal with a Prunel engine according to an anonymous hand-written note on file.

    The chassis frame is mainly wooden with stiffing steel plates and steel spring hangers. There is a central tubular sub-frame carrying the engine and gearbox. The engine is a twin-cylinder unit, numbered '533' but with no maker's name. There are notes on file stating the size as 12hp, 105x140mm, believed of Regal manufacture. If correct, the bore/stroke dimensions are those of an engine displacing a little over 2.4-litres. There is a cone clutch and the gearbox is a three-speed unit with quadrant change and reverse pedal. Screw threads are metric throughout, as recorded during the car's mechanical restoration by Ken Woodham, which was carried out between June 2000 and November 2001 at a cost of £12,400. There is plentiful correspondence on file from the VCC in the 1950s, mostly from David Field, who suggested that the car is a Lacoste et Battmann. The latter was a Parisian company that specialised in supplying chassis and complete cars to other manufacturers for sale under their name, Speedwell being one of their British customers. Some were sold to UK agents in kit form and many did not carry a maker's plate. David Hales carried out further research and suggested that the engine may be by Abeilles, a French manufacturer.

    The car was registered 'MN 1903' when exported to the Isle of Man in 2001 when the vendor moved there ('MN' being Isle of Man and 1903 the year of manufacture). The Veteran Car Company Limited dating panel, in particular Robert Hadfield, are to be thanked for their research efforts. Unfortunately they cannot determine exactly what the car is. What can be said with conviction however, is that the car retains it original chassis, engine, body and upholstery, and comes from exceptional long-term family ownership. Further paperwork on file includes petrol receipts and a Medical Practitioner Motor Car Licence (1910). Noteworthy features include a bulb horn on the steering wheel and headlights and rear lamp by Alfred Russell & Co of Walsall. Starting instructions are included in the history file and we are advised that the car runs and drives beautifully.

Saleroom notices

  • We are extremely grateful to Ken Woodham who has carried out further research on this vehicle. The engine is of Abielle Manufacture, a small French engineering company who opperated from a Parisian suburb. The brakes are currently set up for only two passengers, if rear passengers are required the brake rods require adjustment. The car is ready to use, and has completed a 100 mile rally on the Isle of Man recently without issue. Ken is happy to speak to prospective bidders or the eventual buyer about technicalities on this most unusual veteran motor car. To clarify, the Veteran Car Company Ltd Dating Panel have not researched this vehicle. Robert Hadfield, whom is on the panel, carried out research for purposes of this catalogue description only.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

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  1. Sholto Gilbertson
    Specialist - Motor Cars
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5809
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