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When Automobiles First Roamed The Earth – 106 Year Old Pipe

Updated – While we admit that it may have been 30-years or so after the first vehicle in the world commenced to travel on a thoroughfare – this 1909 Pipe depicted (below) and the party that accompanied it look like they and the automobile had just landed here from another planet.

Our contributor and colleague Ariejan Bos of the Netherlands recently acquired a document dated December of 1909 with this pair of images we share with you today. The automobile is a 1909 Pipe built by the Belgian automaker that produced their first vehicle in 1900. The chassis with a temporary body was on the way from Brussels to Paris. Ariejan believes it was headed to the French city to have the body constructed.

Pipe Limosine Bodied by Henri Laboudette

  •                                          Photo taken after construction with Henri Laboudette plaque.

Update – If the Pipe pictured (below) is the same chassis as used for Pipe limousine or bus shown in the lead image courtesy of the French National Museum, Robbie Marenzi has determined it was bodied by Henri Laboudette.

1909-1910 Pipe with the Heilmann Compound suspension

  • 1909 Pipe equipped with Heilmann’s Compound Spring Suspension on a journey to Paris, France.

The vehicle is equipped with Jean-Jacques Heilmann’s Compound Spring Suspension that afforded for a very smooth ride. Early pneumatic tires were subject to frequent punctures and blowouts; this design used large diameter double solid rubber tires that eliminated the problem. The last photo in the post is a closeup view of this suspension system.

You can look back to an earlier article covering Heilmann’s Compound Spring Suspension patents, and vehicles to learn more. In a previous article by Ariejan Bos, you can learn more about the elastic or resilient wheel, early tire problems and why this amazing automobile used hard rubber tires. Learn more about the Pipe automobile here.

Pipe with Heilmann Suspension


21 responses to “When Automobiles First Roamed The Earth – 106 Year Old Pipe

  1. Its always amazing to me as we live in an age where everyone has a MiG welder and can cobble together just about anything in their backyards; that not only could someone design such a vehicle, but then it was built with all of those magnificent bespoke parts, forgings, castings and coachwork.

  2. It looks like there is enough material in one wheel/ axle/ tire/ suspension combo to make an entire Model T , astonishing ! I would imagine it would take a crew to work on one wheel/ tire combo if something did happen. Wonder if this falls in a sort of Rube Goldberg definition ?……But, as usual, thanks so much for again having something I was totally unaware of !

  3. I believe it was bodied by Labourdette. In the last picture there’s a Henri Laboudette name plate on the shaft.
    This Pipe was hybrid petrol- electric driven.

  4. Actually, I think it looks pretty advanced for that date. Most passenger cars were more horseless carriages with tiller steering, open coach bodies, and washing machine grade locomotion. This was a true turn of the century muscle car.

    Certainly pedestrians were safe in the progress of the Pipe as only a total sot would miss seeing this behemoth when it came around the corner. What a blast at the Wednesday night Dairy Queen cruise.

    Thanks for posting yet another vehicle I’d have never heard about!

  5. Stone,

    My thoughts exactly when I looked at this ! These old works of art were all hand and tool fabricated. What an amazing machine !

  6. This hybrid thing ALSO was developed by Ferdinand Porsche at a very early time, and became the basis for “The Loehner-Porsche Mixed”: A design that developed into a “WAGON TRAIN” for carrying wartime supplies, each “car” having D.C. Motorized Wheels, (ALL WHEEL DRIVE), Car Train coupling capability, with inter-connecting cables and Motor/ Generator cars . In this manner, military supplies could be delivered — when anything else had come to a STAND-STILL, in foul weather conditions. ALL: The USA, England , Europe, Russia, China, Japan and many others did both Hybrid and Battery driven vehicles for private & commercial use: The LOOK Magazine Publishers used a Fleet of Electric Trucks for transporting huge rolls of Newsprint Paper, for many years. The International Rectifier Company has an (operating) Baker Electric Car in their Lobby (that receives a Trickle Charge from an I-R SOLAR PANEL!) The USN is also a Hybrid Electric utilizer for MANY decades.

    • When railroads went away from steam driven locomotives the replacements were diesel engine(s) driving DC generators and DC electric traction motors, which eventually transitioned to diesel engine(s) driving AC alternators and DC traction motors of as much as 400 to 600 horsepower! Number of axles, 4 or 6 identify total horsepower and maximum unit tractive effort with additional tractive effort provided by simply adding additional locomotives!

  7. Very interesting piece as usual. When Hummer put vehicles on the road people thought they were massive. Rather pale in comparison to this and so far out in front at the time.

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