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What is this 1915 ish car? Is it a taxi or private car?


Guest rgoutal
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Guest rgoutal

My grandfather was a taxi driver in Paris France just before World War I. He immigrated to the US in July 1920. I have no specific evidence that he drove a cab here, in fact most documents say he was a butcher here. Nevertheless I have his drivers license from New York State in 1923-24. I cannot believe he had enough money to buy his own car, but it is possible I suppose. Here he is in font of a car. His wife is showing off in the driver seat.

Can the make and year of the car be identified?

(I can find no markings unless the front tire has writing along the rim at the top. It could also be just dirt. Under scanning enlargement, I still cannot discern if there are any actual words there.)

It seems about 1915 ish but I am no expert.

I can see that it is similar to a taxi cab in that the driver seems separated from the passenger compartment. What do you think? Or is this arrangement also common with household, family-use cars of that time?

Grateful for any observations.

rgoutal

post-101324-143142568336_thumb.jpg

post-101324-143142568336_thumb.jpg

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Looks like a pre-WW1 Renault to me. Could the photo have been taken in France before your father immigrated?

Here is a Renault of a similar vintage with the characteristic placement of the radiator at the firewall like the early Mack trucks:

4614788033d6dc16c7f6be8c1e0a1e59.jpg

Edited by ply33 (see edit history)
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Guest rgoutal

Thanks for you observation. No, the picture is definitely in the US, probably NYC or Boston area. (A house like that is unlikely anywhere in France at that time.)

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This was avery expensive and prestigious auto, not commonly used by an ordinary family. Could he have been a chauffeur for a wealthy family? The open front seat was to show off the chauffeur and it would not normally have been driven by the owner.

Don

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Guest rgoutal
Could he have been a chauffeur for a wealthy family?

Don

Yes, it's possible. He did something similar in France when he was younger. I only wish I had some documentary evidence for this. Instead of cab driver or chauffeur, he lists his occupation in America as butcher. But where he lived and what he did was fluid... anything for a job.

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Guest rgoutal
I think it is a Keeton or Croxton Keeton of about 1913-14. They look very similar to a Renault.

Terry

Thanks, I used that to locate some pics and I admit there are some similarities.

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Guest rgoutal
Looks like a pre-WW1 Renault to me. Could the photo have been taken in France before your father immigrated?

Here is a Renault of a similar vintage with the characteristic placement of the radiator at the firewall like the early Mack trucks:

Using the idea of Renault, I searched for other pictures and found this one:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Renault_Type_AG_9_CV_1910.jpg

I believe that is an even closer representation of the pic I submitted especially with the canopy, etc.

What puzzles me is how it could be in America around 1924. Renault had no factories here (pretty sure) and I don't know whether cars were imported to any degree during that time or even before WWI as the model goes back to 1910 presumably. If they were imported, and because Renaults were favored by French cab drivers, I could see my grandfather favoring the car in America.

The radiator and canopy are positive indicators. The running board differs and the engine compartment seen in my link seems smaller than the photo with my grandfather.

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. . . What puzzles me is how it could be in America around 1924. Renault had no factories here (pretty sure) and I don't know whether cars were imported to any degree during that time or even before WWI as the model goes back to 1910 presumably. . .

In the early days of motoring high end European cars were often imported to the US. Basically Europe and especially France were ahead of the US for a while. I suspect that is one of the reasons we use some French words like automobile and garage.

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And I found one document indicating that America was importing cars prior to WWI

Prior to WW1, ownership of a foreign car carried considerable clout amongst the rich and famous of the day. Name such as Rensult, Panhard et Levassor, Isotta Fraschini, Hispano Suiza, Itala and Fiat had a cachet that US made cars didn't then. All of these cars were avsilable in the US and the majority were supplied without bodies which would be coachbuilt to the purchaser's specifications.

Renault offered a bewildering array of models, ranging from 2 to 6 cylinders. The larger 4's and all 6 cylinder models came without bodies.

I think the one in your photo is a large 4 specifically aimed at the blueblood market - note the dropped frame by your grandfather's knee which would ease access into the rear compartment. Note also that the front and rear fenders don't match - the front fenders were Renault, the rear would have been supplied by the coachbuilder. I suspect that this body is an "off the shelf" item and was designed to fit more than one make of car.

Terry

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Cars depreciated very rapidly before 1920... a pre-WWI Renault would have been worth very little in 1923-24 and well within the means of a small tradesman. I suspect he would have been attracted to a car he actually knew... Did your grandfather drive one of the Taxi's de la Marne? The car itself looks to have been a taxi... open drive being the conventional taxi form. Its not a style of body that would be seen in domestic use except as a chauffeur-driven town car, invariably on a much bigger and more expensive chassis.

Renault's were imported...and were, perhaps, one of the most common imported cars. I've personally known two unrestored ones, an '08 and a '14 both of which came out of the New York / New England area.

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