TH. SCHNEIDER 18-24 ALL WEATHER
COACHWORK BY SALMONS AND SONS
Registration No. RP 4157
Chassis No 13419
Engine No. 13419
Yellow and black with grey Bedford cord interior
Engine: 4-cylinder monobloc, 95mm x 140mm bore & stroke (3,969cc)* side-valve (L-head), water-cooled, pump circulation with dashboard radiator, magneto ignition; Gearbox: four-speed and reverse right-hand gate-change, final drive by shaft to bevel back axle; Suspension: semi-elliptic leaf spring front and rear; Brakes: external expanding on rear wheels from right-hand lever, transmission brake from foot pedal. Right-hand drive.
The Th. Schneider marque came into existence in 1910 but its principal: Théodore Schneider (also called Théophile) had had extensive experience in the world of the founders in 1894 of the Lyonnais firm Rochet-Schneider. Whatever their creator was called, the cars carried Th.Schneider in brass script on their bonnets (and after the Great War on their radiators) thus distinguishing them from any other Schneider make. Théodore, along with a partner Louis Ravel, established the new enterprise: Th. Schneider et Cie in a factory owned by Ravel at Besançon in eastern central France, and the public initially saw their products at the end of the year at the Paris Salon. A range of seven models was offered for the 1911 season, four-cylinder cars from 2.1 to 6-litres, plus a 3.2-litre six-cylinder. All featured dashboard mounted radiators and were endowed with bonnets reminiscent of Renault, but whereas the latter relied on thermo-syphon cooling with vanes on the flywheel to extract the engine's heat, Th. Schneider used a water pump on all but the smallest model with a belt driven fan located in the centre of the radiator.
Production was never large, running at about 250 cars per annum, even after the purchase of additional factory space at Boulogne-sur-Seine on the western edge of Paris in 1912. Limited output of quality cars that were priced accordingly ensured the firm's financial success and as a means of publicity Théodore was able to indulge his interest in motor racing initially with Voiturettes and then in 1913 and 1914 in Grand Prix events.
This car is believed to be an example of a Th. Schneider 18hp, that was current for 1913 and 1914 and marketed by the British agency in Piccadilly as the 18-24 model. Clearly it has not been possible to measure the cylinder dimensions, but the old registration Book (log book) with the car gives its rating as 22.4, which was the RAC rating for the 18-24. The wheelbase in excess of eleven feet indicates that it is unlikely to be one of the smaller capacity models, but the overall size of the engine does not suggest that it is a 28hp, as that was of six-litres with a stroke of 160mm. What cannot be in doubt is the 1913 date of the car since it has been established in recent years that the first two digits of Th. Schneider Engine and Car numbers (which should be the same) give the year of manufacture.
The coachwork is by Salmons & Sons. Writing about a visit to their Newport Pagnell works in June 1911 a reporter for The Car Illustrated observed: 'Just at present a speciality is being made of the 'all weather' body, which is something better than an open car with a Cape cart hood, and yet not quite so good or nearly as expensive as a cabriolet. A window is provided over each of the rear doors, the pillars and guides folding neatly away when not in use. The Cape cart hood is so arranged as to be perfectly weatherproof and to impart a cosy appearance to the occupants of the interior. As may be expected, this model is finding great favour amongst many on account of its adaptability for almost all occasions'. What is not perhaps quite clear from the description is that when the hood, pillars and cant rails are folded away and the windows lowered, the body takes on the appearance of a conventional touring car. When all is in place, the car looks like a normal saloon, albeit with a leather top. Salmons & Sons fitted a body of this type to a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost in 1913 and this took first prize in the Monte Carlo Concours d'Elegance the following year, beating forty-two other contestants in its class. The All Weather body became virtually synonymous with Salmons & Sons and they went on making these late into the 1920s, with the addition of the Tickford system to ease lowering and raising of the hood.
The body on this car is fitted with only two doors, the one on the nearside being at the front, and that on the offside being the in the centre. It is thought that this was done to aid rigidity and in this respect the scheme would seem to have been successful.
The interior is trimmed throughout in grey Bedford cord, thus demonstrating that the vehicle was made for owner-driver use, and although it has clearly not benefited from its protracted period of storage - with the exposed surfaces being full of dust and thus grubby, it does seem to have escaped wildlife predation and could therefore probably be conserved.
The early history of the car is not known, the registration being a Northamptonshire issue of 1927 suggesting that the car might have been laid up during the Great War and for some time thereafter. It came to the attention of the Veteran Car Club in 1954 when it was owned by Stan Darlow in Bedfordshire. For the next twelve years he used the Th. Schneider in Club events and it featured in the 1965 film Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.
The car appears to be correct in all aspects apart from the fitment of an Autovac and possibly a non-original carburettor, and has a full set of electric lights and period accessories. The engine is apparently seized.
When restored this Th. Schneider would present as a fine example of an Edwardian motorcar and be ideal for touring in a refined manner. It is from a respected French manufacturer and fitted with high quality and interesting English coachwork. The British agents promoted the Th. Schneider under the banner: 'The Connoisseur's Car'- and in the case of this example it is difficult to argue with that statement.