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Lot 311: 1902 Rochet 4½hp Vis-à-Vis

Veteran Motor Cars, Bonhams (31 October 2008)

Not to be confused with the Rochet Frères and the Rochet-Schneider, both built in Lyons, the Rochet was built in Paris by Compagnie Générale des Cycles et Autos at 74 Rue de la Folie, Regnault, Paris XI. Like so many pioneer motor car builders Rochet had entered the automobile industry from the cycle industry – a logical progression. Edouard Rossel of Lille provided the designs for the first Rochet cars which were conventional forward-engined, twin cylinders with four-speed gearboxes and double side-chain drive to the rear wheels.

By 1900 the company was offering a 12hp car and unusually, in 1902, reversing the trends of most motor manufacturers, the company marketed a small rear-engined car adopting a 4½hp, single-cylinder Aster engine, driving via a cone clutch through a Bozier gearbox - a delightfully neat piece of engineering design and finesse. There is little doubt that Rochet were keen to follow the commercially successful design formula which had been adopted by De Dion Bouton for their early voiturettes. Rochet even copied the vis-à-vis seating configuration as used by De Dion Bouton, itself drawn from the horse-drawn carriage era. Although a most sociable design, allowing driver and passengers to sit facing each other, it was arguably not conducive to road safety and this configuration was short-lived.

This car is well known in Veteran Car Club circles, having been previously owned by Veteran Car Club Past President John Landless from 1990 – 2000 and actively campaigned by his son Martin. It now comes to the sale from another Veteran Car Club stalwart who has continued to ensure that the car has seen active use, including regular and successful participation in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. Recent major work has included an engine rebuild in 2004 and new front hubs and taper bearings have been fitted, enhancing the driving enjoyment and safety of this car. Although fitted with a later carburettor the car is otherwise substantially to original specification.

The vis-à-vis coachwork was repainted in 2005 and is presented in green livery with yellow coachlining, black upholstery, yellow wings and wheels and the car is furnished with nickel fittings and brass Lucas King’s Own side lamps.

The Rochet is VCC dated, (Certificate no.1686), is licenced to January 2009 and is offered with a current MoT certificate. It is also entered for the 2008 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and the vendor will be happy to advise the finer driving techniques to a new owner wishing to take part in Sunday’s event.

Lot Details
Auction Veteran Motor Cars
Bonhams, New Bond Street, London
Lot Number311
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£32000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£36700
Condition rating
Registration numberBS 8086
Chassis number1403
Engine number1403D
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors