Bonhams : 1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567

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Lot 404
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster
Registration no. SV 5938 Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567

Sold for £ 53,750 (US$ 68,784) inc. premium
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster
Registration no. SV 5938
Chassis no. 3652
Engine no. 567

Footnotes

  • Although the American-LaFrance company built a handful of automobiles prior to WWI, its main business was always the building and selling of fire trucks. Founded in 1873 by Truckson LaFrance and based in Elmira, New York, the LaFrance Manufacturing Company was originally famous as a maker of steam-powered fire pumpers, some 500-or-so of which had been sold by 1900. In 1903 the firm merged with the American Fire Engine Company (itself formed by the amalgamation of four smaller enterprises), becoming American-LaFrance. Steam-powered appliances continued to be made until 1914, but seven years previously the firm had motorised its first apparatus using four-cylinder T-head engines designed by New York neighbours Simplex. Long famous for its high quality machines with their distinctive dual chain final drive, American-LaFrance was the most widely recognised name in the industry.
    The production of passenger cars was never anything more than a relatively insignificant sideline for the firm, which built its first automobile in 1903, four years before its first motorised fire appliance. Badged as ‘La France’, these four-cylinder, chain driven, Renault-like cars were sold exclusively through Sidney Bowman in New York City. American-LaFrance continued to build passenger cars in small numbers to special order (some sources suggest these were no more than re-badged Simplex chassis) but the company, which still exists today owned by Freightliner Corporation, has made none since WWI.
    This six-cylinder, right-hand drive American-LaFrance was imported into the UK from Nyack, NY by Cameron Millar and purchased by the current owners in 1980. A complete restoration of all mechanical elements was then undertaken and the chassis shortened (without welding) to a wheelbase of 12’, retaining the original three-speed transaxle, dual chain drive and brakes. Bentley 8-Litre hubs have been fitted, enabling the use of Rudge-Whitworth wire wheels, the steering column lowered and controls repositioned. The car boasts a full complement of period instruments and a Brooklands-type exhaust, while the provision of a Lidden 12-volt alternator is a sensible upgrade (the original dynamo is retained but bypassed). Constructed by Rolls-Royce specialist Graham Neale, the elegant two-seat roadster body features an opening tail section giving access to storage space and the spare wheel. The car was accepted for VSCC events in 1989 and in 1996 took part in the Club’s celebrated Madresfield event. Finished in pale grey with black leather upholstery, this potent Edwardian roadster is presented in generally very good condition and offered with sundry restoration invoices, current road fund licence, MoT to 22nd November 2008 and Swansea V5.
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
1916 American-LaFrance 14-Litre Roadster  Chassis no. 3652 Engine no. 567
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