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Kjeld

Kimono-clad Japanese women in early 20th century car. Can you identify the car?

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I think that photo is a good bit newer than the automobile pictured. That's an awfully nice road for the time period, and if you look at the close-ups a lot of that white paint is chipping off, particularly around the valve stem cover on the front wheel (and that wheel in general looks pretty beat).

It's not likely that a car like that would have been in Japan so soon after the war if it were imported, but over here it seems to have been a common thing for people to take good solid unrestored cars and do things like slather a poorly prepped coat of white paint on them and put them back on the road in the early days of the hobby.

I'm going to throw out there that this car might originally have been sold there, but that it was refurbed in the years leading up to the war. Maybe this is a photo from the 1920's or '30's after good roads were developed.

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

Looks to have a concrete curb along the street, too.

Yep, the design of that road seems too new for the 1910's, even if it is a palace, or some such.

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I agree the picture could have been taken a few years after the car was new but not much after. That left front tyre is a type commonly seen on English cars around the WW1 era. From soon after WW1 tyres began to have carbon added to them which gave them the black colour. I suspect the picture was taken in a park or garden area, not on a street.

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A quick search for circa 1910 Tokyo pics reveals it to not be the backwater you think...

37.jpg

The Kobe City Hall is a modern building of French Renaissance design, surrounded by curbs,

ditto the Mitsui Bank from the link Kjeld initially posted; look at the pics of the late-Meiji

and Taisho Periods, and you see plenty of modernity. I wouldn't rush to equate concrete

curbing and (possible) pavement as exclusive to an era, nor try to date a photo from a curb.

It looks to me like compacted pea gravel rather than pavement.

As for the car's condition, the paint, balding tires, it's not much worse than some early

Good Roads Tour & Glidden pics of cars I have that were rode hard and put up wet,

and other's family cars that have been frequently posted in "What Is It?"

I'd go back to square one and try to figure out what the car is, not the era the photo was taken.

I have no idea what the car is, but it sure is impressive!

TG

Edited by TG57Roadmaster (see edit history)

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I know the "kimono" car looks big, but the front sure DOES look a lot like a Fiat...

post-37352-143138408766_thumb.jpg

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This car proves to be quite a challenge.

In response to the questions about the period that the image was photographed. The postcard dates to between Mar 28, 1907 and Mar 1, 1918. Looking at the women's hairstyles, I would say early 1910s.

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The attached photo shows the winner of the 1908 coppa florio, Bologna in a "FIAT".

The Fiat pictured has hub caps that look just like those in the Japanese photo. The hub caps on both cars, if you look closely, show (8 or so) notches around their outside edge.

It make me lean towards "FIAT" 1907-8.

post-44716-14313840927_thumb.jpg

Edited by drwatson (see edit history)

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I am attaching the picture of 28-40 HP Fiat (right side), I agree the radiator with oval badge is a match to Fiat. I would say that 28-40 is just bit smaller to the depicted car, so the 35-50 model can easily be right.

post-42602-143138409302_thumb.jpg

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On the other note - Kjeld, you said you study Japan in early 20th century. Did you know that a company named Laurin & Klement from (before WWI) Bohemia, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (now known as Skoda in Czech Republic - still in existence) exported their cars (except other countries) to Japan as well? I am attaching few pictures for your (and others as well).

post-42602-143138409304_thumb.jpg

post-42602-143138409307_thumb.jpg

post-42602-143138409316_thumb.jpg

post-42602-143138409568_thumb.jpg

Edited by pepcak (see edit history)

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The only problem I see with this car in question being a Fiat is the fact that none of their big standard production touring road cars are rear chain drive~~~

Only the much smaller specially built race cars seem to be chain drive.

This type of drive was often used for race-only cars .

Many race cars in this time frame were also chain drive !

KJELD:

This has to be the toughest car we have had posted here in many years to get a positive identification on.

This photo should be posted on ~~~

PreWarCar.com ~~~

as this is a European auto website !

Perhapps they can tell us all what brand this grand touring auto actually is ?

Edited by Silverghost (see edit history)

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Well, here you have few more FIATs that ARE chain driven - or do you think that room under rear fender is a space for chauffers lunch? :-) NZCARNERD suggests that those top-of-line cars were specials, frequently derived from racers, so why not? The first FIAT I posted has a neat doors (to access to sprocket shaft bearing?) and I would bet I see teeth around rear brake drum. Note the detachable rims at #3 picture, very likely not 1903 car as source suggests.

post-42602-14313840957_thumb.jpg

post-42602-143138409571_thumb.jpg

post-42602-143138409573_thumb.jpg

post-42602-143138409575_thumb.jpg

Edited by pepcak (see edit history)

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On the other note - Kjeld, you said you study Japan in early 20th century. Did you know that a company named Laurin & Klement from (before WWI) Bohemia, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (now known as Skoda in Czech Republic - still in existence) exported their cars (except other countries) to Japan as well? I am attaching few pictures for your (and others as well).

No, I didn't know that. Great photos. Thanks for sharing.

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KJELD:

This has to be the toughest car we have had posted here in many years to get a positive identification on.

This photo should be posted on ~~~

PreWarCar.com ~~~

as this is a European auto website !

Perhaps they can tell us all what brand this grand touring auto actually is ?

I really appreciate the time and effort you are all putting into identifying this mystery car. I will post the photos at PreWarCar.com, too. Thanks for the tip!

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I know the "kimono" car looks big, but the front sure DOES look a lot like a Fiat...

Please note that these Japanese women are almost certainly less than 5 feet tall and very skinny. So to get the proportion of the car right, think of putting skinny 12 year olds in their place.

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The car in this link is most definitely not a Model Zero. It looks more like one of the bigger American-built models. Here is a Zero - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/08/Fiat_Zero_blue.jpg - they only began around 1912-13 and most of the surviving examples seem to date from about 1914. They are quite small and usually have torpedo bodies.

Fiat's big race cars of that era were all chain drive. In the 1906-1910 era there was a multiplicity of models and as with many makes of old race car, some were turned into touring cars and there were replicas of the race car chassis built as touring cars. I

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Hi Folks,

My thoughts were that it does have similarities to a FIAT of cca 1908 but my only questions were that FIAT rad downslope on side looks curved whereas it is straight on the Japanese photo.

I asked one of our venerable experts John Warburton for his thoughts. He advises that he has a feeling that he has seen this charming photo previously. He also believes that it is a FIAT but of c 1905-6.

He advises the wheel centres are an exact match for the 1905-7 60hp six cylinder, and also with the 28-40hp FIAT racing car that took part in the 1907 Targa Florio (7. litres 4 cyl), where the radiator also matches with the slightly curved side 'shoulders'. If John feels 'confident', it is likely to be so.

I have subsequently come across a web photo of a 1908 Tourer which has very similar front axle, hub arrangemnt, dumbirons, rad profile, and construction of the rear wheel. Obviously no point at looking at the body as this would have been made by others. The half front doors on the Japanese car are period but the 'speedster' type scuttle suggest a later style with a possible American influence.

Regards

Vintman (UK)

post-58492-143138412439_thumb.jpg

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Hi Folks,

My thoughts were that it does have similarities to a FIAT of cca 1908 but my only questions were that FIAT rad downslope on side looks curved whereas it is straight on the Japanese photo.

I asked one of our venerable experts John Warburton for his thoughts. He advises that he has a feeling that he has seen this charming photo previously. He also believes that it is a FIAT but of c 1905-6.

He advises the wheel centres are an exact match for the 1905-7 60hp six cylinder, and also with the 28-40hp FIAT racing car that took part in the 1907 Targa Florio (7. litres 4 cyl), where the radiator also matches with the slightly curved side 'shoulders'. If John feels 'confident', it is likely to be so.

I have subsequently come across a web photo of a 1908 Tourer which has very similar front axle, hub arrangemnt, dumbirons, rad profile, and construction of the rear wheel. Obviously no point at looking at the body as this would have been made by others. The half front doors on the Japanese car are period but the 'speedster' type scuttle suggest a later style with a possible American influence.

Regards

Vintman (UK)

Vintman, thank you very much. The photo of the FIAT tourer does indeed look very similar to the car with kimono clad women. I would like to thank everybody for your extremely kind help. This would have been impossible for me to discover without your assistance.

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Just caught a glimpse on TV here of a program titled The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn for which the program synopsis is given in part as: "In 1908 Albert Kahn and his chauffercumphotographer Alfred Dutertre embarked on a.......circumnavigation of the globe visiting US, Japan.......". I saw the part of the program which included the visit to Japan, during which the narrator said that they took first colour photographs in that country. Googled Albert Kahn and found there is a museum in France containing 72,000 images he commissioned or collected. Might be a good source for further research for this pic.

Link to museum - Albert Kahn - Musée et Jardins: English

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Just caught a glimpse on TV here of a program titled The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn for which the program synopsis is given in part as: "In 1908 Albert Kahn and his chauffercumphotographer Alfred Dutertre embarked on a.......circumnavigation of the globe visiting US, Japan.......". I saw the part of the program which included the visit to Japan, during which the narrator said that they took first colour photographs in that country. Googled Albert Kahn and found there is a museum in France containing 72,000 images he commissioned or collected. Might be a good source for further research for this pic.

Link to museum - Albert Kahn - Musée et Jardins: English

Thanks for the tip. Albert Kahn's collection of photographs and moving images of Japan are among my most favorite. Kahn focused on the local culture, intending to preserve traditions before they vanished under the deluge of Westernization and modernization, so I doubt that notes were made of cars if they appeared in their images. Nonetheless, I will have a new look at his collection. I watched that documentary several years ago—really amazing, eh!

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