1903 L'ELEGANTE 8HP FOUR SEATER TONNEAU WITH CANOPY
Registration No. Not known
Engine No. 13366
Dark blue with yellow coachlining and black upholstery
Engine: De Dion Bouton water-cooled single cylinder, 100 x 120mm bore and stroke, 942cc, with automatic inlet valve and De Dion Bouton coil ignition and carburettor; Gearbox: three speed and reverse, cone clutch, shaft-drive to bevel back axle; Suspension: front and rear, semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: rear wheel and transmission brakes. Wooden artillery wheels. Right hand drive and controls.
The L'Elégante was but one of the many 'makes' that owed its existence to the well-known component supplier: Lacoste et Battmann. This Levallois firm rarely sold complete cars under its own name yet it was responsible for over 60 'makes' in both France and Britain during the period from the latter part of 1901 into 1906. Most of the names used by the individual businesses are long forgotten but because of surviving London to Brighton Run cars such as Achilles, Barré, Dennis, Gamage, Jackson, Lambert, Napoléon, Régal, and Speedwell, the products of Lacoste et Battmann live on. And very good products they are too. The tubular chassis are as rigid as any period car of the size, the rack and pinion type steering-gear is simple but effective, the cone clutch and the three-speed gearbox are both straightforward to use, and the shaft-driven bevel gear back-axle is robust. And then there is the De Dion Bouton engine, whose merits are so familiar that it needs no endorsements here.
Nothing has yet been found in the period literature about the L'Elégante beyond the fact that its patron was J.B. Mercier of 6, rue St. Ferdinand, Paris, a central city street leading off the Avenue de la Grande Armée - the broad boulevard where most of the leading motorcar makers had their showrooms, not their manufacturing facilities. The 'make' of this car would be conjectural if it was not for the fact that Lacoste et Battmann must have offered its clients the opportunity to have their chosen name cast into the gearbox cover-plate, and in this case it reads 'L'Elégante' - Paris, in large, dare one say elegant, script. It is known that at least two L'Elégante cars came to Britain, this car and a 6hp example belonging to a Mr S.E. Fedden that was the first car registered in Sheffield, as W-1.
The car is in good running order and is well presented. It has typical Lacoste et Battmann minor controls and 'piano' pedals, and on the driver's side of the dashboard there is the expected brass twinned petrol and oil tanks with hand-pump lubricator. The chassis carries four-seater bodywork, the tonneau of which is of more recent construction, and it has recently been re-upholstered and repainted. With two horsepower per person it will cope adequately with veteran motoring and the occupants can be protected from inclement weather by the canopy with its roll-down side-curtains, or with these furled shaded from the sun. The De Dion-pattern bonnet sports a brass shield which reads: Agents, Derwent Engineering Company, Motor Experts, Central Square, Workington - a business listed in the 1905 Continental Tyres Handbook for Automobilists as a garage where oil and petrol maybe obtained, but unfortunately there is no mention of L'Elégante motorcars.
This is an ideal London to Brighton Run car, is eminently suitable for rallies organised by the Veteran Car Club (by whom it has been dated), and similar events in its country of origin.