Lot 288 - 1913 Vermorel 12/16 Model L Torpedo Tourer
|Estimate||£29,000 - £36,000|
Etablissements Vermorel, based in Rhône region in France, was an engineering company established in 1850 as manufacturers of woodworking and agricultural machinery. In 1898 the company employed François Pilain to produce a car design that could be built at the Villefranche-sur-Saône factory; only a handful of experimental cars were built and Pilain returned to Lyons in 1901. Vermorel did not make another car until 1908 when it launched a 1.8 litre, four cylinder motor car which sold very well, and by 1911, the company employed 800 people. By 1914 the range consisted of three models, all with four cylinder engines - the 1505cc 10/12hp, 2064cc 12/16hp and 2298cc 15/18hp. Light commercial vehicles were made on all three chassis; the largest was a base for fire engines. Motor car production ceased in 1930 with the other divisions of agricultural machinery manufacturing closing in 1965. Vermorel had a reputation for building reliable and solid cars; an English catalogue of 1913 claimed 'The Vermorel as the Rolls-Royce of Small Cars' and 'The Best Effort of France'. Whilst a few examples of Vermorel cars still exist in the world, the car offered today is believed to be the only early one in the United Kingdom.
This 1913 Vermorel 12/16 Model L, fitted with the original Torpedo Tourer body by Henri Gauthier & Cie, was found in complete and running condition, stored in a barn, in France in 1968 by an English collector. After restoration and very little use it was sold in 1973 and then displayed in a museum until 1987 when the original British owner repurchased it. Over the next three years further restoration was carried out. The vendor purchased the car in 1990 and has continued to maintain the Model L to a very high standard; being an engineer, he has rebuilt the engine, re-bored it and replaced the pistons and valves, fitted a new cone clutch, overhauled the rear axle and rebuilt the rear brakes modifying them to use modern brake shoes. Over the last 23 years of ownership the vendor has made the special tools required to service the car and has written a service book giving all the data necessary to keep it in top condition. The car carries all its original brass plaques, a full set of brass lamps, horn, period mirrors and time clock. Finished in red with black wings and coachlines, Connolly leather seating, black tonneau covers and black carpets, this Vermorel has been regularly seen at Veteran Car Club meetings, driving about 13,000 miles while in the owner's custody. The car is supplied with the original double-duck hood and a full set of side screens which were made in the 1960's but have been unused whilst in the latest ownership. This 1913 Vermorel 12/16 is supplied with a V5C registration document, the Buff log book from 1968, an MoT test certificate which expires in February 2014, the VCC dating certificate number 1265 issued 4th February 1970, an original 1913 English sales catalogue, a photocopy of the period French sales catalogue, invoices dating back 23 years and a photocopy of an article dated 15th July 1913 from The Motor, entitled 'A Day in Buckinghamshire with a 12-16hp Vermorel' which sums up the car with quotes like "It is very speedy - Bledlow Ridge gave us a good opportunity to put the car through its paces - it steers easily at any pace, and is the essence of controllability." This is a very rare opportunity to purchase an Edwardian car which would benefit from cosmetic restoration but is otherwise ready to be used and enjoyed straight away.