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Just When You Thought You Have Seen Everything New Under the Automotive Sun

For today’s feature article, we have an assortment of three images containing an unusual three-wheel vehicle, an early truck being put through its paces, and a distinctive rear axle design.

We begin with the stylish French trike in the lead image is parked on a street covered with curved paving bricks in the city of Paris, France. The vehicle is wearing “Paris Chic” bodywork of the tear drop type usually fitted to pre or postwar Talbot-Lago or Delage chassis’ by famed French coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik; note the gullwing doors.

The photograph was taken by Moreau Fabcdx and published in the Automotive Industries, May 15, 1947, issue here in the States. The unknown writer described it in this way; “The seat resembles that in a cockpit of an airplane and the door is one-piece which lifts up when the driver enters. It has three wheels and an 11-horsepower engine. Its top speed is about 90-miles per hour.”

This circa 1920s photo (above) contains an American-made-heavy-duty truck about to get airborne and proving that modern “Monster Trucks” were not the first large vehicles used for this sort of vehicle jumping. The image appears to be either be a publicity photo for a commercial vehicle manufacturer, or a shot taken at the Maker’s proving ground.

And to finish off for today, this circa 1910s illustration (above) contains an unique internal-expanding third brake fitted behind the rear support bearing of a combination worm gear and selective-shift transmission equipped rear axle. The only identification with the image is simply “J.S. Critchley.”

James Sidney Critchley, (1866-1944) was a British mechanical engineer and automotive designer who in 1904 became the Works Manager for the Daimler Company Motor Company. Later he designed the well-built English Crossley automobile for Crossley Motors based in Manchester, England.

More can be learned about Critchley in the June 19, 1915, issue of “Automotive Topics” (US) article covering the Society of Automotive Engineers (S.A.E) summer meeting.

Share with us what you find of interest or can add to in these photographs courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

23 responses to “Just When You Thought You Have Seen Everything New Under the Automotive Sun

  1. The first picture is a beautiful design. Reminds me of a De la Haye. In fact, it looks like the word baby inFrench on the hood. If my HS French serves, it is boupee for baby. A baby De la Haye?
    That truck had to be moving to get that much air!

    • My French isn’t very good, but baby in French is “bébé” and “poupée” is a doll, what’s written on the bonnet is “BOUFFORT” as correctly stated further down by: “GENE HERMAN · August 20, 2018 at 6:21 pm
      Good spotting, Mark! What I have been able to find is that this car did indeed use Citroen Traction Avant running gear and was one of three designed by French aeronautical engineer Victor-Albert Bouffort in the post-war period.”

  2. In the second photo, that might be a Packard truck. No seat belts and no helmets. I think the guys in the truck are ducking down so that they don’t bang their heads on the roof on landing.

    Can anyone read the name on the side of the car in the first photo? I think the first 5 letters are BOVPOE which probably is French. A Google search only comes up with pictures of bovines.

  3. Delahaye is one word.

    The wheels on the trike look like Citroen wheels. Maybe that has a Citroen power unit in it? Eleven horsepower sounds like it could be a Citroen ‘Onze Legere’ (my keyboard doesn’t do French accents) – which is French for Light 11.

    • Good spotting, Mark! What I have been able to find is that this car did indeed use Citroen Traction Avant running gear and was one of three designed by French aeronautical engineer Victor-Albert Bouffort in the post-war period.

    • Rather interesting. The setting (people, clothing, beret man, pavement) suggests France. The “Pilote” wheels, 11 HP (really 11 CV fiscal rating) could be from Citroen. The body is definitely a French design. The name on the hood is something like BAUPEA… But why that British plate (GYM 830)?

      • To narrow it down a bit more, GYM should be a London license plate. YM was a pre-1932 London license plate code, and the 1932-1963 registration schemes added a prefix letter to the pre-1932 system, so everything from AYM to YYM except for Q and I should still be London (I and Z were reserved for Ireland, and Q for temporary imports).

  4. Interesting that a Google search of Moreau Fabcdx (presumably a fabricated name) finds only that photo and no other references at all.

  5. The truck is a Mack AB. Your suggestion that this was part of their testing program is most likely correct. I have seen other factory photos that showed similar performances staged by the Mack Engineering Department in John Montville’s great book, “Bulldog”. I can’t imagine the mighty jolt that the testers experienced when it finally came back down to earth considering the skinny tires and extremely stiff springs.

  6. That’s going to be one heck of a bang when that truck comes down! Not much suspension travel in trucks of that era. Wonder what those wood spoke wheels will look like in just a few minutes.

  7. The car “a trois roues” looks like it could have been by aircraft designer Jean Andreau, who DID design for Delahaye, Hisso, and Peugeot.

    It looks like it could have been a custom body on a Mathis — or it could have been based on another war-interrupted advance-design car.

    Andreu designs, coachbuilt by Dubonnet and Saoutchik, have been shown at Pebble Beach and Retromobile.

  8. The French ‘Baby’ was probably not capable of 90 mph with just 11 hp unless it was hurtling down from one of the ‘Cols’ used in the Tour de France. My Moderne Kawasaki 250 with 31 hp was hard put to make 100 mph. I doubt aerodynamics would have made up much of a difference….perhaps 90 kph was a bit more realistic. Interesting look though.

    • That 11hp is tax hp. Actual output was probably around 50 bhp. Taxable horsepower has been confusing people ever since it was conceived. A standard 11CV car would do over 100 kph so 90 mph for that three wheeler is quite believable.

  9. Looks like it was a 3 wheeler, like a Morgan. Not likely to be either powerful or stable enough for high speeds.

  10. I can tell by the ovaled tires that that flying truck was moving fast, Probably over 50mph, but there’s still no way it could carry the front tires that far.

    Most likely they loaded a lot of weight aft of the rear axle to lessen nose dive. If it pitched down much that cargo would be moving toward the cab.

  11. That’s a Putin look-alike in the cockpit of the 3-wheeler. The stolid woman in the center of the photo who seems to be looking askance at the vehicle is actually trying to make sense of the image of herself reflected in the exaggerated curve of the front fender which has, in the manner of a fun-house mirror, given her a svelte silhouette. The boy on the sidewalk is watching the photographer who we get a glimpse of, too, in that curvaceous fender closest to us.

  12. While the truck photo does NOT look doctored, I don’t know what to think of it. Could you really launch a truck like that? I imagine top speed of trucks from the era had to be about 35 MPH.

  13. The last photo is from a car that had the 5 th wheel for parking assist, right? I’ve seen videos with that feature,but never of underneath.

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