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SNAPSHOT 276: ca. 1906-08 Pipe

This distinguished Belgian make first appeared on our website five years ago in Snapshot 12, written by Malcolm Jeal and based on the image of the engine of a 1912 80hp model.

The picture here was kindly provided by Anders Clausager and therefore most appropriately has a Danish connection.  Although the car dates to 1906-08, the photograph was taken in about 1913-14.  It is from the archive of the family of the garage owner (Alfred Olsen, here at the wheel), via the Danish Veteran Car Club, with thanks to SAHB member Jens Møller Nicolaisen.  It was not at first identified but François Vanaret of PHAF (our motoring historian friends in France) came up with the answer.  Anders further suggests that it is a four-cylinder 28CV or 30CV model.

Pipe cars were sold in Denmark from around 1906 onwards.  There are very few survivors anywhere, including just two which were in Britain. One was a 1913 16/20hp with a Salmons cabriolet body, registered LH 6635, which at one time was in the USA but later joined Jacques Vander Stappen’s collection of Belgian cars. After his death in 2017 it was sold by Bonhams in Paris in February 2018, for the equivalent of £29,000.

The marque’s name derives from the metal pipes made by the parent company founded by the Goldschmitt brothers.  The cars were a mix of the innovative and the old-fashioned; their T-head engines had twin camshafts low on each side of the block, with pushrods driving overhead valves set at 45 degrees. Final drive, however, was by chain until 1912, when most other makers had already moved to shaft drive.

Pipe cars initially had no radiator badge, but they did have one delightful identifying feature.  The hub caps displayed a punning emblem: a tobacco pipe.  Many years later, in 1929, the celebrated surrealist Belgian artist René Magritte created his famous picture of almost the same shape of pipe, with the caption “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”  Magritte was not born until 1898 and would thus have been a mere child when Pipe chose their emblem, but the connection between two Belgian institutions is eerily striking.

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