Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,369 pages of information and 233,846 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search
1898. Decauville. Single-cylinder. Exhibit at the Musee Automobile de Vendee.
1901. Phaeton.
September 1902.
November 1902.
December 1902.
January 1903. 10 h.p. Decauville belonging to Mr. Crampton.
1906. Chassis.
1906. Engine and gear-box.
Exhibit at Amberley Working Museum (detail).

Décauville was a French automobile maker, a subsidiary of a company already famous for producing locomotives.


The company was registered as Société des Voitures Automobiles Decauville in 1897 and the factory started producing automobiles in 1898. The first car was designed by Messrs Joseph Guédon and Gustave Cornilleau and the design was purchased for 250,000 French francs. Cornilleau was also taken on as chief engineer.

The car, a three seater called the voiturelle, had a peculiar designed structure, it featured independent suspension by transverse spring and two single-cylinder engines produced by De Dion-Bouton sharing a common crankcase. The engine was mounted under the seat and drove the back axle through a two speed transmission. This car sold well, supplying 107 cars by 1898 and 350 by 1904. It was built also under licence by Wartburg in Germany and Marchand in Italy.

In 1905 the car became much more conventional, the engine had become an 1,416 cc water cooled in-line twin and was moved to the front under the bonnet with the radiator on the scuttle behind the engine, a four speed gearbox and shaft drive. A larger 2,090 cc model followed and it was one of these that was purchased by Frederick Henry Royce. The last of the voiturelles was made in 1902.

From 1905, the company produced larger models with four-cylinder engines. The customer could choose the engine type from 2.7 to 9.2 litres. A range of trucks and buses was also made.

1906 Produced 12-14 h.p. (two-cylinders), 12-16 h.p., 16-20 h.p., 24-18 h.p. and 30-35 h.p. (the four larger models were all four-cylinders) models. All were shaft-drive except the largest which used a side-chain. [1]

Decauville was forced to close its automobile factory in 1910. The parent company, Société Decauville continued to produce locomotives.

Early Registrations

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Automobile Vol. III. Edited by Paul N. Hasluck and published by Cassell in 1906.