The Sénéchal car took its name from the would-be racing driver who jumped over the railings and offered to replace a team driver when the Grand Prix Delage racing cars were frying the drivers’ feet, an offer which earned him a place in the works team.
Robert Sénéchal (1892-1985) was also an aviation pioneer and an industrialist. In 1921 he founded his eponymous automotive business at Courbevoie to produce cyclecars powered by engines bought in from Ruby, and sometimes Train or Chapuis-Dornier. His cars were an immediate success; it was impossible to satisfy demand from his small premises, so he negotiated a deal with Chenard & Walcker, who had no model of their own in the cyclecar class. From 1923 they agreed to manufacture the Sénéchal. By 1924 the Sénéchal range comprised a 6 HP model with a 972 cc engine and a 7 HP with 1100 cc power. As the economy grew, the cyclecar boom enabled Sénéchal to move up to become a producer of light cars in the voiturette class.
The cars were ideally suited to racing; a Sénéchal won the Boulogne Grand Prix in 1923 and 1924 and the Bol d’Or in 1923, 1924 and 1925. In 1925 the name of the company changed from Sénéchal to Société Industrielle et Commerciale, and the business was taken over by Chenard & Walcker. There were three basic models in the range; the small Voiturette, the Sport and the Grand Sport. The car here is a Sport model. Voiturette production continued, powered by Chenard & Walcker engines, until 1929.
Robert Sénéchal suffered a serious racing accident in 1931, after which he changed careers to become an aerial photographer.
Photo courtesy of Peter McFadyen. See his website: http://petermcfadyen.co.uk