Clement Gladiator 10Hp Rear-entrance Tonneau

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Gladiator 10Hp Rear-entrance Tonneau





A relatively short-lived French marque, Gladiator produced motor cars from around 1896 to 1920, latterly as a division of Vinot et Deguingand. Société Gladiator had been founded in 1891 in Pré St Gervais by Paul Aucoq and Alexandre Darracq to manufacture bicycles, and a few years later was taken over by a British consortium headed by Harvey du Cros. The latter had recently bought Adolphe Clément's bicycle interests and the newly formed Clément-Gladiator-Humber company soon expanded its activities to include tricycles, quadricycles, motorcycles and automobiles. The first Gladiator cars were rear-engined, single-cylinder voiturettes boasting tubular steel frames and handlebar steering. They were also sold under the Clément-Gladiator name, Adolphe Clément being a prominent board member, as was the notorious fraudster Harry J Lawson.

After the 1896 takeover the range was expanded and in 1902 a motorised bicycle lead to cars and motorcycles.

Somewhat confusingly, similar cars bearing the names 'Clément-Gladiator' and 'Gladiator' were being made in the same factory, the essential difference being that the former had shaft drive while the latter were chain driven.

From 1901 Clément-Gladiator cars were built at the Levallois-Perret factory and by 1902 production was over 1,000 cars per annum, 800+ of which were sold in England. Some of these cars were equipped with engines manufactured nearby in Saint-Denis Paris by Aster in single, twin or four cylinder configurations.

In Britain, Gladiators were distributed by the Motor Vehicle Company Ltd, which had been founded in 1899 by du Cros and S F Edge. Australian-born Selwyn Edge was a prominent figure on the emerging motoring scene in Britain and is associated with a number of makes including Napier (of which he was a director), Clément-Panhard and AC, owning the latter for most of the 1920s. He was also a pioneering racing driver, winning the Gordon Bennett Cup in 1902 at the wheel of a Napier and setting a new 24-hour record at the newly opened Brooklands track in 1907 that would stand for 18 years. Ever mindful of the value of publicity, Edge entered his protégé, Dorothy Levitt, in various events in 1903 including the Southport Speed Trials, in which her Gladiator won its class. Levitt would go on to become the most famous and successful lady racing driver of her day, gaining the sobriquet 'Fastest Girl on Earth' when she set a new Ladies' World Land Speed Record in 1905.

The company was divided in 1903, Charles Chetwynd-Talbot running Clément-Talbot Ltd with Adolphe Clément as a significant shareholder. Clément renamed the French branch Clément-Gladiator and also formed Clément-Bayard.

After 1903 the Clément-Gladiator name continued to be used on the shaft-drive cars made at the Pre-Saint-Gervais factory, whilst chain-driven vehicles were marketed as Gladiators. The Clément name was dropped in 1907 and in 1909 another French manufacturer, Vinot et Deguingand, took over Gladiator and transferred production to Puteaux. At this time the Pre-Saint-Gervais factory reverted to making bicycles.

Adolphe Clément resigned from Clément-Gladiator in October 1903, though the cars continued to bear his name for the next few years, and in 1909 the firm was sold to Vinot et Deguingand, which transferred production to its factory in Puteaux. From then onwards the two ranges became ever more similar until in 1920 the decision was taken to drop the Gladiator name.

Sold for: 141500 GBP
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