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SLIDER: 1904 Rochet-Schneider

This fine machine was photographed at the 2011 Pomeroy Trophy meeting. It has been variously identified as a 2500 Series and a 22 hp, but precise names for Rochet-Schneider cars of this era are fiendishly difficult to pin down. The nearest that can be found is 4-cylinder 16/22 hp, so we shall have to be content with that for now.

The history of Rochet-Schneider cars started in 1894 when Édouard Rochet, who made bicycles with his father in Lyon, was joined by Théophile Schneider, a distant relative of the armaments family.

Between 1895 and 1901, the company built around 240 single-cylinder cars modelled on the Benz. In 1901 they constructed a new factory and introduced at the Paris Salon a new range of two- and four-cylinder cars, now based on Panhard principles.

The next change came in 1903, when the partners followed the latest fashion and modelled their new cars on the Mercédès – and that influence is clear from the appearance of the car in this Slider. The cars now had pair-cast 4-cylinder engines, 4-speed gearboxes and double-chain drive.

Rochet-Schneider sold licences to a number of foreign makers, including Martini in Switzerland and F.N. in Belgium. An impressive 1906 licence-built F.N. appears in Pierre-Lucien Pouzet’s 1993 book, the only one known on the Rochet-Schneider, and looks very similar to the car we see here.

By 1904 Rochet-Schneider had become one of the most respected car manufacturers in France. Strangely, perhaps, they were sold in that year for 4.5 million francs to a London-based company called “Rochet-Schneider Ltd.” Production thereafter averaged fewer than 250 cars a year; by late 1907 the company was in liquidation. They were rescued by investors in Marseilles, and continued in production, helped no doubt by a subsidiary that made Zenith carburettors under licence and contributed at least half the company’s profits in some years.

Rochet-Schneider went on to produce some good cars before and after World War I, until the Depression forced them to concentrate on commercial vehicles.  They were bought by Berliet in 1951 and the name was discontinued.

Photo by Peter McFadyen. See his website: http://petermcfadyen.co.uk


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