Museum’s Oldest Vehicle - Gaillardet

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Discover the remarkable tale of the Gaillardet, an intriguing powered three-wheeler dating back to 1899, proudly held within our museum's collection. This unique vehicle stands as the sole surviving example of a French powered tricycle crafted by Société Francaise D’Automobiles (SFA) known to exist in the UK.

Sporting an 800cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine and distinctive tiller steering, the Gaillardet boasts a suspension system inspired by the renowned French amateur motorsport legend it is named after. Notably, Gaillardet participated in the historic 1894 Paris to Rouen competition, widely regarded as the world's inaugural motor race.

Originating from the establishment of SFA in 1898, it's likely this exceptional model was imported to London for the 1899 Motor Show held in Richmond Park. Described in the show catalogue as a revolutionary departure from standard motor tricycles, the Gaillardet featured extensive cooling flanges, easily accessible valves, and a two-speed gear mechanism.

Key Facts
Year of Manufacture1899
Engine800cc single cylinder air-cooled engine
Built bySociété Française d'Automobile of Levallois-Perret, Hauts-de-Seine, Paris.
Location in MuseumMain Hall

Interesting Fact

Following its mysterious disappearance after 1899, the Gaillardet resurfaced in mid-1937, discovered on a Hammersmith scrap heap by engineer and WW1 Pilot Officer, Albert Henington. With meticulous care, Henington restored the vehicle to full running order. Subsequently, it found a home at the Science Museum before joining the Bakewell M&C Collection, eventually becoming a cherished loan item at the Lakeland Motor Museum.

Though its appearance may suggest simplicity, the Gaillardet stands as a testament to ingenuity and craftsmanship from the pioneering era of motoring. While once envisioned as an everyday mode of road transport, today it remains a revered relic of automotive history, celebrated for its enduring legacy and remarkable journey through time.


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