Senior Specialist, Head of Department, UK
Henri Deckert worked in France's burgeoning motor industry in the early 1900s, operating from prestigious showrooms and offices in Boulevard Haussmann in Paris with his construction and repair works at Levallois-Perret, the heart of the French motor manufacturing industry. Production, which commenced in 1901, included cars, motorcycles and bicycles and his contemporary sales literature refers to his own-designed 'improvements' to the most reliable engines of the time, Aster and De Dion Bouton. Like so many of his contemporaries Deckert promoted his products in motor sport, taking part, alas without distinction, in the Circuit du Nord and the Circuit des Ardennes races.
This 1902 8hp car is powered by a single cylinder, 864cc engine of De Dion design but Deckert manufacture, using a De Dion Bouton cylinder head. The engine is water-cooled, with side-mounted radiator panels in the style of the contemporary Renaults. The engine is mounted in a tubular chassis and drives through a single plate clutch, via a three forward speed and reverse gearbox and chains to the rear wheels. Remarkably this car has much of the horse carriage about it, with rear wheels significantly larger than the front wheels, narrower front track and the front springs are full elliptic while the C-type rear springs, supplied by a French horse carriage spring maker, support only the rear body, the back axle being unsprung. The vendor reports that this suspension design, with front and back halves of the body hinged, provides a most comfortable ride. The Aurore bonnet badge was Deckert's marque déposée, the wheel depicting the rising sun and the bluebird heralding the dawn of the motor car. Deckert's bicycles and motorcycles were marketed under the name Aurore.
This rarest of French motor cars, believed to be the only survivor of the marque known, has been in the present enthusiast ownership for many years and was restored in 1994. Since then it has regularly and successfully taken part in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run as well as many events in the UK for VCC members and has frequently ventured abroad to appropriate events. The coachwork is very smartly presented in blue livery with deep-buttoned, red leather upholstery and is equipped with brass fittings including oil side lamps and a bulb horn. It sits on varnished wooden wheels with beaded edge pneumatic tyres.
The car comes with a researched album containing many references to Deckert's company, copies of early sales leaflets showing his Parisian premises, Dating Certificates from the Science Museum and the Veteran Car Club (Certificate No.2152). Condition throughout is described by the vendor as good and it should be noted that a hard seating has been fitted for the exhaust valve, enabling ordinary petrol to be used without additives. Offered with the car are a quantity of postcards depicting this car, specialised tools including a hub cap spanner and spanners to adjust the king pins and remove the inlet valve housing. The car is currently fitted with a Zenith carburettor but the original Grouvel & Arquembord carburettor is also offered with the car. This charming French 'ancestre' is currently licenced and MoT tested and most importantly comes with an entry for the 2011 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
There is discussion as to whether this car is 6hp or 8hp. The vendor believes the car to have cylinder dimensions of 100x110mm and engine capacity of 864cc. This corresponds with the De Dion Bouton Type K1 engine, designated 8hp and offered in 1902 only. The VCC Dating Committee maintained the car to be 8hp. Prospective buyers are advised to do their own researches.
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