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Luxury and Power

Car makers saved their finest work for their richest customers. Such customers would not tolerate unreliability, and demanded cars that gave far greater performance than traditional horse-drawn carriages. They also demanded comfort—an important factor on the rough roads of the early 20th century—and luxuries such as preselect gearboxes and power steering.

Nagant Type D14/16HP Town Car, 1909


Engine2,600 cc, straight-four
Top speed50 mph (80 km/h)

This Liege marque built its own high guality cars from 1907. The smaller 14/16hp was remarkable for its efficient sidevalve engine, which was capable of revving to 3,000 rpm.

HEDAG Electric Brougham, 1905


EngineTwo electric motors
Top speed15 mph (24 km/h)

A modified horse-taxi with an electric motor in each front wheel, the Brougham had power steering, four-wheel brakes, and electric indicators. It was built under license from Kriéger of France.

Panhard & Levassor 15HP Type X21, 1905


Engine2,614 cc, straight-six
Top speed50 mph (80 km/h)

In 1891 Panhard and Levassor laid the foundations of the modern motor car. By 1905 they were producing remarkably guiet and smooth-running cars, such as the X21.

Regal Model NC Colonial Coupe, 1912


Engine3,200 cc, straight-four
Top speed50 mph (80 km/h)

Notable for its low, “underslung” build, which placed its axles above the chassis, the Regal was a light sporting car, though hardly aerodynamic with this body style.

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, 1906


Engine7,036 cc, straight-six
Top speed63 mph (101 km/h)

Charles Rolls and Henry Royce focused on making the finest car in the world, and succeeded with this 40/50hp model. It was quiet, powerful, and superbly built.

Cadillac Model 51, 1914


Engine5,157 cc, V8
Top speed55 mph (89 km/h)

Henry Leland stole a march on the opposition with the United States’ first mass-produced V8. With 70bhp, it was powerful and reliable. Sales in the first year were over 13,000.

Brooke 25/30HP Swan, 1910


Engine4,788 cc, straight-six
Top speed37 mph (60 km/h)

The work of British engineer Robert Matthewson, of Calcutta, India, the Swan had a beak that sprayed water to clear a path through the crowded streets of Calcutta.

Lanchester 28HP Landaulette, 1906


Engine3,654 cc, straight-six
Top speed55 mph (89 km/h)

Frederick Lanchester was a brilliant engineer whose cars were innovative and original. This car has its original convertible bodywork, mid-mounted engine, and preselect gearbox.

Peugeot Type 126 12/15HP Touring, 1910


Engine2,200 cc, straight-four
Top speed45 mph (72 km/h)

A family company founded in ironmongery, Peugeot was hugely successful in the early 20th century with a wide range of motor cars. Just 350 of this model were sold.

Mors 14/19HP Landaulette Town Car, 1904


Engine3,200 cc, straight-four
Top speed40 mph (64 km/h)

Emile Mors was building 200 cars a year in 1898, so by 1904 his chassis were well developed. This luxury model carries a coachbuilt city-car body by Rothschild of Paris.

Georges Roy 12HP, 1909


Engine2,900 cc, straight-four
Top speed45 mph (72 km/h)

Georges Roy, unusually, built its own car bodies. This model could be either a two- or a four-seater, the rear compartment ingeniously folding back when not required.

Thomas Flyer Model 6/40M Touring, 1910


Engine7,679 cc, straight-six
Top speed67 mph (108 km/h)

Thomas made increasingly rapid and large-engined cars, and won the New York to Paris race in 1908. From 1910 to 1919 it made more luxurious models, such as this Flyer.

Argyll 15/30, 1913


Engine2,614 cc, straight-four
Top speed47 mph (76 km/h)

Scotland’s biggest car maker in the Edwardian era built splendid cars, such as this sleeve-valve-engined model. It was made in a magnificent, palace-like factory in Alexandria, on the banks of Loch Lomond, Scotland.

Fiat 24/40HP, 1906


Engine7,363 cc, straight-four
Top speed53 mph (85 km/h)

Fiat produced a broad range of large-engined cars for Italy’s elite. These received weighty and luxurious bodies-though a light racer was also made for this chassis.

Daimler 28/36, 1905


Engine5,703 cc, straight-four
Top speed50 mph (80 km/h)

The British Daimler company began by making replicas of German cars. By 1905, however, it had taken a strong lead in the market for quality cars with large engines and four gears, such as the 28/36.

Lancia Alpha, 1907


Engine2,543 cc, straight-four
Top speed50 mph (80 km/h)

Vincenzo Lancia founded his company in 1906, after six years racing for the Fiat factory. With a four-speed gearbox, the Alpha was a modern, well-made car in its day.

Pierce-Arrow Model 38 Park Phaeton, 1913


Engine6,796 cc, straight-six
Top speed65 mph (105 km/h)

Pierce-Arrow made some of the United States’ finest cars. This model, which has an exclusive body by Studebaker, was started by pumping compressed air into its engine.


It is a quote. The Definitive Visual History Of The Automobile 2011

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