It is generally acknowledged that following the establishment of the company Th. Schneider on June 16th 1910 by Theodore Schneider and Louis Ravel, were joined by the engineer Antoine Jaubert and the former directors of Rochet Lyon and Lyon, Louis and Henri Adenot Juvanon. From the outset Jaubert together with Ravel was involved in introducing a number of technical innovations in Th. Schneider models.
Around 1911 Jaubert developed a completely new engine characterised by sleeve valve operation. It is not known how many engines were actually produced. Eric Favre claims that two sizes were produced. Douezy d’Ollandon and Dornier (Le Automobiles de Besancon) and Favre (www.gazoline.net) claim that two chassis equipped with Jaubert’s sleeve valve engines debuted at the Grand Prix at Dieppe in June 25th 1912 but did not start as they were under prepared. However at Le Mans on 9th September the same year a chassis equipped with the new engine did start driven by Jaubert himself. It reportedly retired after seven laps with magneto problems.
Douezy d’Ollandon and Dornier claim that as early as August 1911 a patent no. 433.975 was applied for for the engine intake design. And later in December 1911 another patent no. 438.227 was applied for concerning the sleeve design. They write that the three litre had dimensions of 80x160mm and that a five litre was also produced with dimensions of 100x160mm. A final patent was applied for in August 1912 detailing improved cooling for the valve.
There is also an image of one of the racing sleeve valve equipped cars at the 1912 Mont Vetoux hill climb in the Douezy d’Ollandon and Dornier book.
The engine was also displayed at the Paris salon of 1912 and The Motor magazine (vol. 22, no.575, December, 1912) reported on it as being one of the engine used in the racing chassis and of three litre capacity with detachable inverse head.
Though both sizes of the Jaubert engine were catalogued in 1913 it is thought that no passenger cars with this engine were produced due perhaps to concerns about its reliability.
Recently I purchased a type 23.10.2 differential, brake assembly, rims and hubs. These parts are correct for the type 25SP. As I understand it the only difference between the differentials of the standard chassis and the sport chassis was the final drive ratios. The standard chassis were equipped 10×45 or 10×46 whilst the sport chassis came equipped with a 10×48 final drive. The higher ratio allowed higher top speeds.
I will slowly penetrate the rust, dis-assemble, inspect, photograph, clean, sensitively repair if required, re-assemble and preserve.
Edmond Moglia and Th. Schneider
The respected French automotive collector Serge Pozzoli claimed that the Th. Schneider cars that competed at the Le Mans 24 hour race in 1926 and 1927 possessed modified engines in addition to the lightweight bodies that they sported. In particular he claimed that they had heads that were designed by the prominent Italian engineer Edmond Moglia. Moglia is known to have collaborated with other automotive manufacturers including Ettore Bugatti where Moglia assisted with design of the supercharger for the early type 35 and he is attributed with the design of the straight eight engine overhead camshaft engine of the National Pescara in 1930.
In any event there is anecdotal evidence suggesting that the the 1926 entrants with the Moglia modified engines were timed down pit straight at Le Mans at speeds around 140KPH. The car in the Henri Malartre Museum in Lyon reputedly the same car that placed sixth outright in the 1926 race (chassis #125) does have what appears to be factory modifications. These include a head modified to accommodate two large Zenith side draught carburettors as opposed to the standard single 36mm Zenith, two additional inlets from the radiator header tank to the exhaust side of the head, probably required for the higher sustained speeds at Le Mans and in the absence of a water pump, a larger capacity Weymann fuel header tank and the high ratio differential of the “sport” model. All modifications would be consistent with a Moglia designed head. What is unknown to this author is whether the Moglia designed head has other internal modifications from the standard “sport” or “super sport” model of the period.
Auction news five: In May 2014 Th. Schneider 13/55 (25SP) chassis #148 with Comptons tourer body reportedly sold for 45,000 pounds at HV Auctions in the U.K.
1926 Th. Schneider chassis #148 (Compton body)
Th. Schneider in Motor Sport magazine.
Motor Sport magazine ran articles on the “sports” or “13/55hp” model Th. Schneider as part of their “Sporting Cars on Test” series in the January 1926 and May 1929 issues. Perhaps not coincidentally it is believed that both issues also carried full page cover advertisements for the U.K. agent of Th. Schneider. In 1926 the agent was the Welbeck Agency. By 1929 the agent was Schneider Automobiles (Eng.) Ltd. It is also understood that by mid 1929 or thereabouts the U.K. agent had purchased remaining stock following the liquidation of the company in France. It is apparent that by 1929 the 2 litre OHV model was by then some five years old. Nonetheless it remained competitive with its contemporaries having witnessed such technical improvements as a shift from cone to disk clutch and the addition of servo assisted brakes.
In both articles the authors were careful to make the distinction between sports and touring cars.
In 1926 Richard Twelvetrees wrote, “…The Schneider is certainly a “sports” car and not just a sort of glorified touring model…”. Twelvetrees clocked the car at 72mph in 1926.
By 1929 Hubert Keogh wrote “…I was rather dubious about the real speed capabilities of the car before the test…To sum up the Le Mans Schneider impressed me very favourably, and I would consider it eminently suitable for the sporting driver who requires a reliable high speed car.” Keogh clocked the car in a crosswind at 76mph in 1929.
In a 1986 review of the marque Motor Sport described the car as one of the more neglected of the sports cars of the mid-vintage period and notwithstanding a chequered competition record, likening it to the “poor man’s Bentley” on the strength of its noteworthy performance figures.
When did Th. Schneider automobiles cease production?
In my research I have not been able to come to a clear conclusion. It is understood that post WW1, although the company emerged from the conflict on sound financial grounds it was never really able to make the shift to mass production necessary to survive through the vintage era.
In 1924 Robert Poirier acquired a majority stake in the company and invested in company supported racing, including the Le Mans and Spa 24 hour races. This resulted in some good publicity but the outcomes were insufficient to translate into the sorts of sales necessary to allow further development in new models.
According to Marc Douezy in his book “Les Automobiles de Besancon” the last new model to be developed was the 1.1 litre 7cv. Introduced in 1926 it was available in three types of engine. A side valve, an overhead valve by pushrod and a Grand Sport with “special” valve gear.
As far as I have been able to ascertain the company’s last showing at the Paris salon was in 1925. Perhaps surprisingly it would seem that it continued to have a stand at the Brussels Salon until and including 1928. La Vie De L’Auto (no.713, August 1995) reports that the company showed a six and a four cylinder at the 1928 Brussels Salon. It is understood that this last six cylinder had a flat fronted radiator although I am not aware of any having survived.
Marc Douezy believes that the company ceased manufacturing in 1929. This seems to be the best estimate in the absence of other evidence. I have not seen evidence of company advertising later than 1927.
It is also believed that the remaining stock of engines and chassis were purchased by the London agent and they continued to market, in particular the “Le Mans” 2 litre model up until around 1938. It is a testament to this model that it was able to remain competitive for so long after its introduction. All surviving “Le Mans” models sold in the UK (with the exception of chassis #148 which has a tourer body by Comptons Ltd) have Corsica Coachworks tourer bodies. It is known that some were bodied with saloon bodies too but none are thought to have survived.
The overall regard for the “Le Mans” 2 litre model is evidenced in the “Motorsport” road test of May 1929 and a shorter report in the same magazine in January 1930.