Lot 287 - 1905 Gardner Gardner-Serpollet 15hp Model Four Seater Type F1 (Steam Car)
|Odometer reading||1 miles|
|Result||Sold - £52,272|
"The steam car is generally considered a strange mechanism, impractical so to speak and some surprising tales about it exist, even amongst the knowledgeable." L Clout des Pesruches, Paris.
Gardner-Serpollet was a French manufacturer of steam powered motor cars. In 1888, Léon Serpollet developed and perfected the flash boiler which resulted in steam powered automobiles becoming more practical due to the faster start up of the boiler. The steam was fed to an advanced four-cylinder enclosed engine similar to contemporary petrol engines. Backed by the wealthy American industrialist, Frank Gardner, Serpollet was able to manufacture automobiles for the European Continent. Serpollets made their mark in the early 20th Century in the Continental, City to City races. They established a reputation for reliability rather than speed and in the 1902 Paris to Vienna race; all five Serpollet cars completed the 615 mile course. Serpollet manufactured his own automobiles under the names Serpollet and Gardner-Serpollet until his death in 1907 whilst in the UK, Serpollets were sold by the Speedwell Motor Co.
Offered today is a 1905 Gardner-Serpollet from the estate of the late Anthony Henry Marchetti Bever B.Sc (Lond.). Anthony Bever was an extraordinary character whose engineering talents in the steam community and particularly with The Steam Car Club of Great Britain are legion. Having owned a Stanley Steamer, Anthony Bever came across a set of Serpollet instruments and decided he would like to build a Gardner-Serpollet himself around these instruments. This led him to track down the remains of this Gardner-Serpollet in France. Little remained of the original; however, undeterred, he then set about the remarkable process of producing the car on offer today. With his immense engineering skills, Anthony researched and manufactured the car following the original designs to the letter and impressively manufacturing most of the car himself with little outside help. He made patterns, castings and machined items where necessary, including the engine and axle. Astonishingly, the wheels are cast aluminium; these, however, were manufactured by an outside firm. The most challenging item was the flash tubes and, beyond him, after a long search, an Italian in France was found who was capable of bending these tubes, in steel, to the intricate pattern required. The car was successfully steamed, driven and given a boiler certificate; however, it was discovered that the flash tubes were gritting resulting in the cooling system becoming silted up so they were removed and treated with hydrochloric acid, flushed and replaced. Sadly, prior to the final completion of works, Anthony passed away and therefore the Gardner-Serpollet is not quite completed to steam today. We understand that the condensing pipe joints require replacing as well as some other works including fitment of the windscreen. It should also be noted that there may also be other items that need attending to before the Serpollet is fully completed.
The coachwork is plywood shaped around an ash frame with separate wings covering the wheels. Red leather seats provide the driver and passengers with comfort; however, little weather protection is provided apart from a windscreen. Accompanying the Serpollet is a fabulous set of acetylene lamps which in themselves are rare and valuable items; all appear to be in excellent condition. They include brass Ducellier, Nirona and Willoco Bottin lamps as well as the traditional horns to alert unsuspecting pedestrians.
An impressive history file accompanies the vehicle which includes chassis drawings (amongst others), The Serpollet System manual, a large P.T.L. Gardner-Serpollet, York, England sales brochure (note on cover; recently made for His Majesty King Edward VII), Serpollet patents, and various technical manuals and photographs. Importantly, there is also a reprint, in English, of the Driver's Manual for Serpollet Cars describing the components and how to look after them, the oiling, the driving and potential maladies. A letter of authenticity, for UK registration from the Steam Car of Great Britain is also within the file and states that the car conforms to all modern day regulations.
With only about seven Gardner-Serpollet steam cars known to exist, this is a very rare opportunity to acquire an important piece of automobile history and especially attractive as it is offered at no reserve.
Previous lotLot 286 - 1917 Stanley 20hp Mountain Wagon
Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each lot prior to the sale. Accordingly, buyers are on notice that each vehicle is offered ‘as is/as seen’ subject to the Terms and Conditions for the auction. Buyers are advised to inspect the vehicle in person or use a professional to carry out this service. Historics will not entertain disputes over descriptions.