1913 RENAULT TYPE DU 22HP LANDAULET DE VILLE
Chassis No. 8294
Black with green coachlines and gray silk interior.
Engine: 5.1 liter side valve, straight six, 22hp; Gearbox: four-speed; Suspenion: solid axle front and rear with long leaf springs; Brakes; iron on steelrear wheel and transmission. Right hand drive.
France was not only home to many of the world's finest coachbuilders, but also one of the oldest automakers in Europe, Renault, which opened its doors in 1899. While Daimler is often credited with producing the first front-engined automobile in 1900, Renault actually introduced its 13/4 hp buggy with front-mounted engine, shaft drive and a three-speed gearbox one year before. Louis Renault established a factory on the grounds of the family home in Billancourt and with a staff of 60 workers produced 71 cars. The following year production rose to 179 cars and Renault was on the road to success as one of France's premiere automakers. Throughout the early years, Renault continued to advance the deisgn of the automobile, albeit in the French idiom, disposed to his own styling ideas, particularly the unique shape of the Renault hood, which became an early trademark. By 1913 Renault was France's largest motor vehicle manufacturer with an output of more than 10,000 cars a year and a work force of nearly 4,000 men.
This 1913 example, with British number plate XE-4105, was presented to May Bourne by her father, Fred Bourne, president of Singer Sewing Machines, as a wedding gift. May and her husband, Ralph Beaver Strassburger, married in England and took delivery of the Renault Landaulet de Ville from the Billancourt factory in Paris, and hired a 25 year old Russian emigré named William Obidine as their chauffeur.
The car which remained in the Bourne/Strassburger family for eight decades was cared for by Obidine from 1913 until he passed away in 1980. prominently featured in Automobile Quarterly Vol.36, No.2, author, Gordon Cruickshank noted that "The faithful chauffeur altered almost nothing. He washed the car, but never repainted it; he removed the folding Auster windscreen, but wrapped it carefully and stored it; he replaced the tires but not the wooden wheels; he serviced it, signing his name under the scuttle each time. But he never tried to upddate the mechanicals."
Still in superb unrestored condition,with only 6,700 original miles (believed from new), the car features the splendidly crafted Renault 5.1-liter, six-cylinder motor with brass, copper and polished alloys embellishing the traditional gray iron blocks. The elegant period coachwork, fabricated in aluminum, is perched atop a 144-inch wheelbase chassis and elaborately contrasted by a delicate passenger compartment upholstered in silk, and chauffeur's seat finished in black leather. A direct contrast to the splendid Edwardian body is the simplified instrumentation offering three toggle switches and an ammeter on the S.E.V. control box, a seven-day clock, and a 100 mph speedometer.
Remaining in its dry quarters on the Strassburger estate and tended to by its affectionate keeper, the car has almost remained in a state of suspended animation. "The French artisans who assembled this wheeled opera-box would recognize every nut and bolt," writes Cruickshank. "Protected from children, vandals and collectors, it retains not only its huge electric lamps, but its brass klaxon; the cast brass door handles and the keys to lock them; the cut-glass interior lamp; even the graduated ebony stick to check the fuel level in the scuttle-mounted tank." "The result," Cruickshank notes,"is one of the most original and unspoiled pre-World War II survivors ever to surface." Remarkably, the car is being offered by only its second owner.