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1903 GLADIATOR
1903 Gladiator
4 seat tonneau 12 hp

GLADIATOR

Despite its English sounding name Gladiator was a French concern that involved two of the great names of the French motor industry: Alexandre Darracq and Adolphe Clement, although there were strong English connections. In 1891 Darracq and Jean Aucoc formed a partnership to make Gladiator bicycles at a factory in the eastern outskirts of Paris at Pre-Saint-Gervais. Late in 1896 an English financial syndicate that included Harry Lawson of Dunlop bought the cycle firms of Clement, Gladiator, and the French branch of Humber. Clement and Darracq initially joined the board of this conglomerate but Darracq soon departed to pursue motorcar making on his own account. Cars under the names of both Clement and Gladiator were on the market by 1900 although they were of different design, Clements being made in Adolphe's own factory on the bank of the Seine at Levallois-Perret whilst Gladiators came from the original Pre-Saint-Gervais establishment.

Production of Gladiators was running at over 1,000 cars per annum in 1902, four-fifths of which were sold in England where they were handled by S F Edge until he gave his full attention to marketing Napiers and Gladiator established its own London agency in 1905. Clement had resigned from the Clement-Gladiator concern at the end of 1903 but retained the Levallois-Perret factory to make Clement-Bayard motorcars (that were sold in England under the name Talbot) but Clement-Gladiator continued to use his name on the shaft-drive cars made at Pre-Saint-Gervais, whilst chain-driven products were marketed as Gladiators.

The Clement name was dropped in 1907 and in 1909 another French manufacturer in which du Cros had a financial interest, Vinot et Deguingand, took over Gladiator and transferred production to Puteaux with the Pre-Saint-Gervais factory reverting to cycle making. Unlike the Clement-Gladiator days there was nothing to distinguish between Vinot and Gladiator cars beyond the radiator badge, and little to distinguish either from the products of many other makers.

There was never a bad or eccentric Gladiator, and their cars from 1901 until the Vinot takeover sold well. After the takeover the marque had no raison d'etre and disappeared in 1920 whilst Vinot expired six years later.


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