Occasional paper 4: Th. Schneider and the end of production

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.

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Occasional paper 3: Th. Schneider and the Australian reliability trials of the 1920s

In the 1920s reliability trials were a popular form of motorsport for amateurs serious about driving with an emphasis on performance. In Victoria, Australia both the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) and the Victoria Light Car Club (VLCC) organised reliability trials. The trials were conducted over two or three days and comprised acceleration tests, “flying half miles” and hill climbs.

In March 1927 a 1 litre (7h.p) Th. Schneider (entry #9) entered by Harry James but driven by Arthur Terdich achieved first in class and fifth outright from a field of approximately 40 cars. Arthur was a well-known competitor in a D.F.P and would go on to win the inaugural Australian Grand Prix in 1929. The THS clocked 1m24s in the second hill-climb at Maude Hill near Geelong to come first in class. The time to beat was 1m8s achieved by J. Dondey in a Chrysler in the over 3.3 litre class.

In June 1927 Harry James, the owner of the same THS described (with entry #32) above achieved first in “A class formula” at a VLCC reliability trial.

It is believed that this car has not survived.

Arthur Terdich piloting 7h.p. Th. Schneider in 1927 RACV reliability trial to a class win

Arthur Terdich piloting 7h.p. Th. Schneider in 1927 RACV reliability trial to a class win

Harry James piloting 7h.p. Th. Schneider to class win in June 1927 VLLC reliability trial

Harry James piloting 7h.p. Th. Schneider to class win in June 1927 VLLC reliability trial

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Adelaide to Melbourne record breaking Th. Schneider (part 3)

Information I have received from current and previous owners of the three known surviving chassis (21.20.1) together with contemporary archival evidence suggests that the record breaking chassis survives in Australia. It is likely to be chassis #26?, engine #29. It is not currently running and was never bodied beyond the rudimentary body it had at the time of its record. Chassis #28 and #29? carry Domain Motors bodies to this day.

Two pieces of evidence in particular point to chassis #29 as the record breaking car. It was reported in newspapers of the day that the car “holed” its fuel tank on one of its runs. It is known that the fuel tank of chassis #29 carries a large patch on its underside. Additionally when Domain Motors ceased trading in July 1926 it advertised the record breaking chassis for sale without a body. This would suggest that it was never bodied by Domain Motors. Chassis #29, unlike the other two surviving chassis is not bodied.

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The day a Th. Schneider raced the Americans

On Sunday 6th September 1925, the “motor car state speed championship”, organised by the Royal Automobile Club was held at Lake Perkolilli in the east of Western Australia. The dry lake bed was a natural choice because if its smooth surface. On the downside it was subject to dust caused by activity and worsened by high winds. Lake Perkolilli was the site of many motor cycle and automobile races throughout the twenties and thirties. The race was 20 miles. The five entrants included: 1. L. Hope (Overland) Adams Motors Ltd, 2. R. Wilson, (Oakland), 3. V. Burkett (Dodge), 4. Sharpen & Riches Motors, (Chandler) & 5. C. Stanton (Th. Schneider).

On the previous day it is recorded that the Chandler, a six cylinder model “lapped…at 65 miles per hour”. Hope’s Overland at 70 miles per hour and Stanton’s Schneider at 67 miles per hour.

On the day Hope in the Overland led early and was never passed. The Chandler finished second and the Schneider third. However the Chandler was initially disqualified on the grounds that it had “…dropped back and pulled inside of the track near the approach to the finish line”. The protest that ensued was upheld so the results remained the same, Overland 1st, Chandler 2nd & Th. Schneider 3rd. Both the Dodge and the Oakland had retired due to mechanical issues.

There was some speculation about the engine of the Overland as the bonnet was sealed and the engine not available for inspection. This led to the opinion that the engine of the Overland may have been non-standard.

Postscript:

Three weeks after the championship race Charles Stanton placed an advertisement in the Kalgoorlie Miner newspaper:

IMAGE MAY BE SUBJECT TO COPYRIGHT ACKNOWLEGEMENT IS PROVIDED WHERE POSSIBLE.

IMAGE MAY BE SUBJECT TO COPYRIGHT
ACKNOWLEGEMENT IS PROVIDED
WHERE POSSIBLE.

(http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page9159866, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page4341703)

 

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Occasional paper 2: Agents for Th. Schneider automobiles

Th Schneider automobiles are known to have had agencies handling the sales of their automobiles in a number of countries. For a small company relative to some other French automobile companies (Renault, Peugeot, Citroen etc) the company marketed widely. I would be interested in any information that would add to that listed below. Documented agencies included:

France:

(Pre-WW1) 1. Besancon/company headquarters and factory- 28, Avenue Fontaine Argent; 2. Paris- Haranger & Cie, 93, Avenue des Champs-Elysees; 3. Lyon- Juvanon, 184 Avenue de Saxe & 153, Rue Vendrome; 4. Nice- Nicodemi, 5, Boulvard Gambetta; 5. Marseille- Barthelemy, 27, Cours Lieutaud.

(Post-WW1) 1. Lille- Paris Nord Automobiles, 3, rue Saint-Genois.

England:

(Pre-WW1) 1. London- Delmar Ltd, 16, Page Street, Westminster.

(Post-WW1) 1. London- The Wellbeck Auto Agency, 107, Great Portland Street W1. (Later renamed Th. Schneider Automobiles and relocated to 138, Long Acre W2. Wellbeck may have had branches in India and New Zealand; 2. Manchester- P. Brierley & Co, Palatine Buildings.

Ireland:

1. Dublin- Cahill Bros, 19-20 Denzill Street.

Switzerland:

1. Flawil- Auto-garage Meisterhans & Strasser

The Netherlands:

1. Nijmegen- Tasche & Co.

Belgium:

1. Namur- L’Alliance Automobile & Agricole, 66, rue Rogier; 2. Brussels- L’Alliance Automobile & Agricole, 9, rue du Trone; 3. Anvers- L’Alliance Automobile & Agricole, 20, rue Leopold de Waele; 4. Brussels- Garage du Vivier d’Oie/Garage Cecil/Garage d’Assche/Garage Soetens et fils/Garage Emile Collens/Garage De Jongh; 5. Hal- Cambier freres; 6. Jodoigne, Matheys; 7. Waterloo- Garage du Rond-Point; 8. Nivelles- Garage Universal, 30, faubourg de Bruzelles; 9. Hastiere- Garage des Tilleuls.

Australia:

1. Melbourne- Domain Motors, 348 St Kilda Road; 2. Melbourne- Kellow-Falkiner, 206, Russel Street; 3. Melbourne- Thos. Mitchell & Co, 360-366 Lonsdale Street; 4. Adelaide- G. Booth.

Indonesia:

1. Soerabaya- via the agent in the Netherlands, Tasche & Co.

Algeria:

1. Alger- Agence Generale des Automobiles, 9, rue Michelet

Argentina:

1. Buenos Aires?

 

 

 

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frenchvintageautomobiles.com

frenchvintageautomobiles.com has now commenced a series of short articles titled “A~Z of French Vintage Automobiles” at frenchvintageautomobiles.com

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Occasional paper 1: Story of a Th. Schneider series 21.14.1

The Th. Schneider was not a common car in its day. And what was uncommon in the teens and twenties will be rare today. This turns out to be the case as a low number of THS are known to have survived. I am aware of 27 confirmed cars and am in the process of confirming a handful of others. It would be safe to assume that less than 50 are still in existence.

One such car is a 4 cylinder from a series introduced in 1921 and likely imported new in chassis form to Australia. The car carries tourer coachwork by Vale & Pretty of South Yarra, Victoria. Accuracy in terms of a definitive identification is difficult with a car of this age. It is the only confirmed surviving 4 cylinder of a 1921 series. However the identification plates on the car raise some questions. What is known is as follows:

1. The chassis plate on the cast firewall describes the car as a series 21.15.1. It appears that the number 5 has been over-stamped at some point in time. This translates as a chassis introduced in 1921 though not necessarily produced in 1921. The number 15 translates as a rating of 15cv with bore and stroke dimensions of 85x140mm. It also stamped with #26.

2. There is some evidence to suggest that a bore and stroke of 82.5x140mm corresponded to a rating of 14cv (La Vie Automobile 25/5/1920) and 85x140mm corresponded to a rating of 15cv (Autocar 23/2/1923)

3. Information supplied by the owner is that the chassis has 8/9/1922 stamped on it and an engine cast date of 28/9/1922.

4. The identification plate on the top of the gearbox has the imprint of 21.14.1 and stamped #26 as on the plate on the firewall. This might indicate that gearboxes between 15cv and 14cv engines were used interchangeably.

5. The wheelbase of the 4 cylinder #26 is 3.305m or 10ft10ins. It is believed that the wheelbase of the 6 cylinder series was 3.650m or 11ft8ins.

As this is the only known surviving 4 cylinder car of this series there is no possibility to compare with other cars and only limited opportunity to compare with contemporary literature. Based on anecdotal information of the company during the period of the early twenties the range of cars on offer seemed to be complex and it would not surprise me if engines, gearboxes and differentials were used interchangeably between the different length chassis as a means of creating the appearance of new models at a time when the company hovered between bankruptcy and solvency.

Finally the car seems to be running with a Panhard radiator rather than a THS.

THS1 001

THS2

THS3 001

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