1904 Societe Manufacturiere d'Armes 24/30hp Open-Drive Landaulette  Chassis no. 5063 Engine no. 9869

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Lot 206
1904 Societe Manufacturiere d'Armes 24/30hp Open-Drive Landaulette
Registration no. BS 8008 Chassis no. 5063 Engine no. 9869

£ 150,000 - 200,000
US$ 180,000 - 250,000
1904 Societe Manufacturiere d'Armes 24/30hp Open-Drive Landaulette
Coachwork by Carrozzeria Italiana Cesare Sala of Milan

Registration no. BS 8008
Chassis no. 5063
Engine no. 9869


  • There are few cars that boast such perfect specification for completing the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in superior comfort and unrivalled style as this magnificent powerful chain-driven landaulette. This most sociable of cars, capable of carrying six people in comfort down the A23, enjoys performance more generally associated with younger cars and has an excellent London to Brighton track record, consistently carving through from the back of the field in a stately but unfussed manner to be an early arrival on Madeira Drive.
    The Societé Manufacturiere d’Armes can trace its history right back to 1553 at which time, trading under the name of Corps des Arquebusiers, it supplied guns to the Royal Ordnance. Its St. Etienne base on the Loire, South West of Lyon, was the centre of the French iron and steel industries and was therefore a natural base for engineering industry and later motor manufacture. By 1898 the Corps des Arquebusiers had become the Societé Manufacturiere d’Armes and, like so many other European car manufacturers, was noted not only as arms manufacturers but also produced sewing machines and the then hugely popular and still new-fangled bicycles. Records show that they exhibited a motor car at the Paris Salon as early as 1898 and bicycle production continued until the 1950’s. Motor cars were marketed under both the Svelte and Automoto names. These cars were conventional in all respects, their four cylinder models ranging from 16hp to 50hp, however production ceased in 1907, a time of universal trade recession in Europe.
    This well-known car, commonly and affectionately referred to in club circles as ‘The Society’, was discovered languishing in Sardinia towards the end of the 1970’s, substantially complete apart from the radiator and bonnet. The one remaining hub cap clearly identified the manufacturer as Societé Manufacturiere d’Armes in St Etienne. The obviously powerful four-cylinder engine was identified as an Aster Type 46NS, with four separately cast cylinders, side-valves and a T-head. Investigation proved this to be a 4,850cc unit, driving through a most practical and easy to use four-speed gearbox with final drive by twin chains.
    The magnificent and superbly preserved landaulette coachwork bore the maker’s plates of Carrozzeria Italiana Cesare Sala of Milan, suggesting that its original Sardinian owner favoured Italian coachbuilders over their French counterparts. The indistinct coat of arms suggested further that this high quality motor car had belonged originally to Italian nobility. The open drive landaulette coachwork was intact although the ravages of time had destroyed the leather hood. Careful restoration and replacement of the upholstery revealed the coachbuilder’s original order card beneath the original upholstery, indicating that the body may well originally have been constructed for a Serpollet Italiana and may therefore be of c.1906 manufacture, although in a style equally typical of 1904. It was by no means uncommon for owners to switch coachwork between different chassis at that time. The original bonnet outline was clearly distinguishable on the bulkhead giving the pattern for remanufacture of an appropriate radiator and bonnet.
    This restoration work was meticulously carried out by noted restorer and V.C.C. stalwart Mark Tidy and the restoration was fully documented in The Automobile in October 1986. The car later passed to fellow enthusiast Goff Radcliffe, changing hands again in 1992 since when the car has been actively used in many events, its ease of driving allowing a succession of unfamiliar drivers to achieve swift, successful and trouble-free drives to Brighton, the car also participating in the 2000 recreation of the One Thousand Miles Trial of 1900.
    This unique, elegant and powerful motor car is superbly liveried in dark blue with red coachlining and magnificently equipped with period brass fittings. The driver’s compartment is upholstered in black leather with West of England cloth to the snug rear passenger compartment, featuring two occasional seats, interior clock and braided window pulls. The fold-down landaulette compartment provides ideal all-weather motoring. Accessories include self-contained brass headlamps by Rejina Lanardini of Milan, the side-mounted opera lamps are ‘King of the Road’ by Lucas as are the oil rear lamps, while the car carries a boa constrictor horn and features a two-piece opening windscreen, matching brass rear view mirrors and a roof luggage grid with foot-step access. In short here is a fully equipped car potentially capable of long distance motoring and yet agile and snug for a comfortable ride to Madeira Drive.
    It is offered with Swansea registration document, current licence and MoT certificate and most importantly has been officially dated by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain.

1904 Societe Manufacturiere d'Armes 24/30hp Open-Drive Landaulette  Chassis no. 5063 Engine no. 9869
1904 Societe Manufacturiere d'Armes 24/30hp Open-Drive Landaulette  Chassis no. 5063 Engine no. 9869
1904 Societe Manufacturiere d'Armes 24/30hp Open-Drive Landaulette  Chassis no. 5063 Engine no. 9869
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