c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette

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Lot 648
c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette
Registration no. A 76 (see below)

Sold for £ 36,700 (US$ 50,483) inc. premium
c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette
Registration no. A 76 (see below)

Footnotes

  • This remarkable vehicle, of undoubted Victorian origins, is believed to be a Gladiator built in Pre-St.Gervais, a suburb of Paris, by Societe Gladiator which had been set up by Messrs. Aucoc and Darracq in 1891 for the manufacture of bicycles. Although it is thought that the motor manufacturing operation did not begin on a commercial scale until 1896, it has been suggested that this vehicle may pre-date that by as much as two years. Information regarding the car’s history is scant indeed, however the most authoritative article regarding this very car appeared in the Gazette of The Veteran Car Club of Great Britain in May/June 1984. Eric Sharman, a long-standing member of the club, was the temporary custodian of the car at that time on behalf of its owner John Garrett and his challenge was to establish “what is it? – why doesn’t it go? and did it ever go?” Sharman’s researches established that Alexandre Darracq exhibited a voiturette at the Salon des Cycles at the Palais des Industries in Paris in December 1894. Further research convinced Sharman of a strong similarity between the engine of this car and Darracq’s second four-wheeler, leaving him in no doubt they were from the same hand.
    Sharman determined that in his opinion the cycle type frame, Benz type steering, twin gearboxes and rear seat are original, as is the Siamese twin engine with automatic inlet valves and a total capacity of 540cc. Sharman determined that the engine settles at an astonishing 1,400 rpm and calculated that that would give a top speed of 40mph in top gear. He promptly blanked off third and top gears! Final drive is by chain to a divided live rear axle and differential. Sharman surmises that this may be the first internal combustion engined car to be fitted with a live rear axle. The wheels are believed to be contemporary.
    Sharman’s test runs around Leamington Spa proved the car to be intrinsically unreliable, nevertheless on 6th November 1983 he set off from Hyde Park with the intention of achieving a ‘half Brighton’. Brixton Hill was ascended without assistance and the goal was achieved with an arrival at Gatwick at 3.45pm. No mean achievement.
    Sharman concluded that this car was made in 1894 and was probably Darracq’s first car. He further concluded that Darracq never made it go satisfactorily – and yet he made it go as far as Gatwick. There have been many modifications carried out over the years by successive owners to make this car run. Prospective buyers are strongly recommended to read Sharman’s authoritative article in the VCC Gazette and to carefully inspect this undoubtedly historic car to determine its potential to pass Sharman’s Gatwick marker.

    The present owner acquired this car with a V5 and ‘recently expired MOT’ (and then described as 7hp!) in a Christies sale in 1986, but to our knowledge it has not seen use since that time. At the time of cataloguing no documentation had been located and prospective bidders are advised to enquire of the position at the time of sale.

Saleroom notices

  • Further to the published cataloguing – Malcolm Jeal, internationally recognised authority on European Victorian motor cars, suggests that this car is a Clément dating from 1896 or early 1897. A detailed amendment for this lot is available from the Collectors’ Car Department or at the auction venue at Olympia.
c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette
c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette
c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette
c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette
c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette
c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette
c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette
c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette
c.1894/5 Gladiator 2 ½ hp Vis-à-vis Petite Voiturette
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