The 1898 “Wartburg” automobile from Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach (FFE, later Automobilwerk Eisenach) at the EFA Museum for German Automobile History in Amerang. The “Wartburg” was a licensed model of the French “Decauville” car. (image source: Wikipedia)
Décauville was a French automobile maker, a subsidiary of a company already famous for producing locomotives.
The company was registered as Société des Voitures Automobiles Decauville in 1897 and the factory started producing automobiles in 1898. The first car was designed by Messrs Joseph Guédon and Gustave Cornilleau and the design was purchased for 250,000 French francs. Cornilleau was also taken on as chief engineer.
The car, a three seater called the voiturelle, had a peculiar designed structure, it featured independent suspension by transverse spring and two single-cylinder engines produced by De Dion-Bouton sharing a common crankcase. The engine was mounted under the seat and drove the back axle through a two speed transmission. This car sold well, supplying 107 cars by 1898 and 350 by 1904. It was built also under licence by Wartburg in Germany and Marchand in Italy. In 1905 the car became much more conventional, the engine had become an 1416 cc water cooled in-line twin and was moved to the front under the bonnet with the radiator on the scuttle behind the engine, a four speed gearbox and shaft drive. A larger 2090 cc model followed and it was one of these that was purchased by Henry Royce. The last of the voiturelles was made in 1902.
From 1905, the company produced larger models with four-cylinder engines. The customer could choose the engine type from 2.7 to 9.2 litres. A range of trucks and buses was also made.
Unfortunately, the demand for cars fell, and Decauville was forced to close its automobile factory in 1910. The parent company, Société Decauville continued to produce locomotives.
(text source: Wikipedia)
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