1903 Motobloc "Paris Madrid"
Racer 12 hp
The three works cars
Paris is not only the capital of France but as the nineteenth
century became the twentieth it was also the centre of the French
motor industry. However, Lyons ran it a close second, Peugeots
were made in the far east of the country, and significant motorcar
makers were based in cities as far apart as Le Mans, Marseilles,
and Bordeaux. It was in the latter city that Motobloc cars and
commercial vehicles were made from 1902 to 1930.
In these early days almost all makers called their vehicles
after the engineers or entrepreneurs responsible for them, very
few having an invented name. Motobloc was one of the first. Its
origins lay in the work of bicycle maker Charles Schaudel who
in 1900 began production of a motorcar to his own unique design.
The Schaudel had a two-cylinder monobloc engine - that is the
cylinders were not individual, but cast as a single item. The
engine was inclined at 30 degrees from the horizontal and the
gearbox was made in unit with the crankcase. This combined assembly
was mounted transversely in the chassis, thus anticipating the
layout of the Mini by nearly sixty years, although the Schaudel
drove the rear axle by chain.
Schaudel's brother-in-law Emile Dombret took over the business
in 1902 and continued with the distinctive layout for the cars
to which he gave the name Motobloc, a clever adaptation of the
French words for a one piece engine: 'bloc-moteur'. When in 1904
Dombret designed a vertical-in-line engined car, he retained the
Schaudel concept with a unitary engine and gearbox.
The cars were rarely raced for the publicity that this could
bring, and although they were exported to England, sales were
largely in the Bordeaux area. Not equipped for mass-production,
the global ripples from the Wall Street Crash of 1929 saw Motobloc
fade from the scene the following year, along with many other
low volume motorcar makers.