The new Gaillardet 1899 exhibit at Cumbria’s Lakes Motor Museum

The Lakeland Motor Museum is packed with automotive history – you might be wondering what the oldest vehicle on display is?

This title is held by a rather strange motorized three-wheeler that was built in 1899.

It is a Gaillardet built in 1899.

The museum believes it is the only surviving example in the UK of a French motor tricycle manufactured by the French Automobile Society (SFA).

It has an air-cooled 800cc single cylinder engine and tiller bar steering.

It uses a suspension system based on a design developed by the French amateur motorsport legend who gave it its name. Gaillardet took part in the 1894 Paris-Rouen competition for horseless carriages which is often described as the world’s first automobile race.

SFA was established in 1898 west of Paris and this model was probably imported to London for the 1899 motor show held in Richmond Park.

The show catalog explained: “Compared to the standard type of motor tricycle, the big difference of this machine will be in the very ample surfaces of the cooling flanges and the extreme accessibility of the valve which can be removed and replaced in a few minutes. minutes. , and the removal of which also gives access to the interior of the cylinder and to the ignition point.

“There is a two-speed report. ”

Nothing is known of the whereabouts of this tricycle after 1899, until mid-1937 when it was found on a scrap heap in Hammersmith by WWI engineer and pilot officer Albert Henington .

He put it back in full working order. Subsequently, it was exhibited and preserved at the Science Museum, then transferred to the Bakewell M&C Collection before being accepted as a loan item at the Lakeland Motor Museum.

Le Gaillardet may seem basic and somewhat fragile. But it is considered a magnificent example of inventiveness and dexterity, it is very well built and a rare survivor of the pioneer days of the automobile.

It is hard to believe that it was once intended for use as a daily means of road transport.

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