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Leon Bollee

The Leon Bollee “Voiturette” first appeared in France in 1895.  The vehicle was created by Leon Bollee who was a son of the most important pioneer of steam road vehicles in France; Amedee Bollee pere. Powered by its air-cooled, single cylinder 650cc (3hp) engine and using hot-tube ignition and three forward gears, the Voiturette was at the time the fastest petrol-engined vehicle on the road.  The vehicle had a tubular frame with a steel footwell at the front to protect passengers feet from puddles on the road, the driver sat at the rear. in 1899 the vehicle was superseded by a 4-wheeler vehicle and in 1901 the design rights were sold to Darracq.  Even though the Leon Bollee name temporarily disappeared (re emerging in 1903 - 1933) the name “Voiturette” lived on.  Leon Bollee was the first person in France to create a small petrol car and so he called it “Voiturette”, distinguishing it from steam powered vehicles.  The name however was taken up by both the trade and public in France as a name in general for a small light car and so it continued to be used.

An 1897 Leon Bollee “Voiturette”. (My thanks go to Kerry Croxton for sending in this photo)

This 1897 photo shows the last man you think you would see on a 3-wheeler. This is the Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls on his Voiturette who seven years after this photo was taken met up with Henry Royce and went on to form one of the greatest motor companies of all time - Rolls Royce. (My thanks go to Geoff Payne for sending in this photo)

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