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Americans in Paris – The 1912 Salon de l’auto at the Grand Palais

The Salon de l’auto held during 1912 in Paris, France, was one of the most important automobile shows of the time. While looking through images taken at the show, three interesting photos of American display chassis and the baby Cadillac (above) were found.

London Cadillac dealer Fred Bennett, commissioned the Baby Cadillac, a battery-powered, two-seater replica on a four-foot wheelbase, to promote the new Delco electric cranking device invented by “Boss” Kittering. The little car was built in 1912, by Lockwood & Company of Islington, North London, England. After finding the Cadillac photo at the Paris show, this film (below) we have posted here in the past, showing the little car running on the streets of London, is being re-shown here.

The film identifies it a having been built for Crown Prince Olaf of Norway, by Queen Alexandera, who was his grandmother and it has survived and is in Norway’s National Arts Museum. Could more than one of these little gems have been made?


At the Cadillac display at the show, is shown (above left) a chassis with the famous Kettering designed starter and the copper water-jacketed engine. The (middle) photo is identified as an Overland chassis and the (right) photo shows a Buick display chassis. Photos courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

This is where the The Salon de l’auto was held, in the incredible Grand Palais shown (above) which was built in Paris, France, for the 1900 Worlds Fair. It still exists and has recently been restored. It was one of the type of buildings popular at the time, built in the style of the Crystal Palace, a cast-iron and plate-glass domed building, that was erected in Hyde Park, London, England for 1851 the Great Exhibition.

15 responses to “Americans in Paris – The 1912 Salon de l’auto at the Grand Palais

  1. The lights in the roofspace, are accessed by the gantries built into it (now), the original lights were gas, so would have put out very little light, and changing the mantles (or lime) would have been even more fun, as neither of them works for very long.

    • Actually original gas lights were very bright. it’s modern gas lights that are dim because they use man-made natural gas. Gas at the time came out of the ground and had a lot of carbon in it and burned very bright.

    • I’d imagine that the lights at the very top were mostly decorative and that the main illumination for the displays was provided by the “chandeliers” you see suspended much closer the floor which are all mounted to gas supply pipes. Still in all, the exquisite detail in the construction of glass palaces like these over a hundred years ago is simply amazing.

  2. Usually I don’t learn post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to
    try and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, very nice post.

  3. I heve an old photo album of cars in the grand palace. It looks to be 1909 or 1903.. I did not know where this place was until I saw these photos…they are large black and white photos.. Also very clear I can see the nails in the wood floor

    • Has your photo album been published? I would love to see good photos of those early European cars, particularity the luxury brands like Panhard, Mors, Mercedes. Thank you, Charles Driscoll

  4. As a native of Dayton, Ohio where Charles F. Kettering founded Delco ( Dayton Electrical Laboratories Co. ) as well as being a Cadillac fan, I trust you will pardon me for pointing out the error in the spelling of his name. Note the “e”, not “i” The city of Kettering, adjacent to Dayton, is named for him.
    Regarding miniature cars , in the twenties and thirties, many of the French manufacturers such as Bugatti, Citroen, Renault, made motorized or pedal cars for the children of their patrons.
    Many thanks for the always interesting articles. Keep up the good work.

  5. “The hundred years of peace” in the final film sequence must presumably refer to the peace between the USA and Britain (see the flags)? Two years ago we doubled it.

  6. The baby Cadillac is cute, but what got my interest was some great old film of London streets and traffic. As an old Londoner myself, (although not that old) it is rare to see such good quality film from before WW1. Note the many buses and Renault and Unic taxis, a few other veterans and even a steam lorry in one scene in the city near Mansion House (at about 0.56) possibly a Foden?

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