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1899 SOCIÉTÉ PARISIENNE

First Production Front-Wheel Drive

Production Années

1899-1901

Pays

France

Nombre produit

400-500

Ingénieur

Alfred Belvallette, Alexandre Darracq

Société Parisienne, established in 1876 near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris as the oldest French bicycle manufacturer, ventured into automobiles in 1899 with the Victoria Combination. This unique vehicle, resembling a horse-drawn carriage but powered by an engine, featured a front-axle-mounted single-cylinder De Dion Bouton engine, a clutch pedal, a two-speed gearbox, and rear axle brakes. With the engine connected to the pivoting front axle, it showcased a distinct design.


In 1899, Société Parisienne produced a limited number of the Victoria Combination—estimated between 400 to 500—and only a few have survived over the years.


While Société Parisienne wasn't the pioneer in commercial front-wheel-drive automobiles, their contribution marked a notable chapter in automotive history. Prior to them, Latil had introduced an avant train, a system propelling the front wheels of horse carts, and produced a small FWD car in 1898 or 1899, albeit with a different setup.


The Victoria Combination wasn't just a concept; it demonstrated its capabilities in racing. In 1899, it participated in the voiturette class of the Paris–St Malo race, securing the 23rd position overall and the second spot in its class. Later that year, in the Paris–Rambouillet–Paris event, another Victoria Combination triumphed in its class, covering the 100-kilometer course at an impressive 16 mph. In 1900, the car showcased endurance by completing 150 miles non-stop at 18 mph.


Adding historical significance, the 1899 Société Parisienne Victoria Combination was owned by Frank Jay Gould, known for constructing notable establishments like the casinos of Bagnoles de l’Orne and Coutances, Hotel Provencal at Juan les Pins, and the Race track of Longchamp, who acquired the car in Paris.

1899 SOCIÉTÉ PARISIENNE
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