Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


THE MOTOR car image below is exemplary of a wonderful path that led from pepper grinders to cage crinolines to one of the earliest of the world’s famous automakers, Peugeot.

1892 Peugeot Type 3 Vis-à-Vis owned by Daniel and Toby Ward, Ripon, England. Don’t you love the umbrella holder and satchel rack? This and other photos by the author at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

I had a first-hand tour of this 1892 Peugeot Type 3 Vis-à-Vis at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. My host was Daniel Ward, who with his brother Toby has a meticulously chosen collection of early automobiles in North Yorkshire, England.

French manufacturer Peugeot was established in 1810, originally as a metal-working firm. By 1842, it added salt and pepper grinders and coffee mills to more traditional tool making. Its fabrication of crinoline hoops for skirts, popular from the 1850s, led to other steel products including bicycles.

Armand, grandson of one of the founding Peugeots, introduced Le Grand Bi, a penny-farthing, in 1882. Soon, he started hanging out with the likes of Gottleib Daimler (who perfected Otto’s four-stroke engine) and Léon Serpollet (of early steam-car fame).

Indeed, the first Peugeot automobile, in 1889, was three-wheeled and steam-powered. Daimler and others persuaded Peugeot that the future was in internal combustion and four wheels, and so his Type 2, produced 1890–1891, had these features. The Type 3 followed, built 1891–1893, with production of 64 vehicles.

Daniel and Toby Ward bought their Type 3 from descendants of its original owner who bought it new from Armand in 1892. This car, the 23rd Peugeot ever built, is considered one of the oldest roadworthy vehicles in the world.

1892 Peugeot Type 3 Vis-à-Vis. The natty-dressed fellow in green stripes is Daniel Ward, who, with his brother Toby, owns this fetching vis-à-vis.

Vis-à-vis was carriage nomenclature for seating facing each other. This means, of course, that the driver and a select occupant see where they’re going; others, where they’ve been. Given that the car’s top speed is perhaps 13 mph, this is no big deal.

Daimler V-twin engine. Copy of U.S. Patent No, 418112 issued to Gottlieb Daimler on December 24, 1889.

The Ward’s Type 3 engine is a rear-mounted 1206-cc 16-degree V-twin, built under license from Daimler. Its inlet valves operate automatically; that is, they’re opened by the partial vacuum created by the engine’s lengthy 120-mm downstroke. (Its bore is only 80 mm.) The exhaust valves are actuated by pushrods.

The engine is water-cooled, with the Peugeot’s chassis tubes providing some of the necessary plumbing. (Colin Chapman came up with this some 70 years later.)

This engine produces around 2 hp at a spring-governor-limited 400 rpm, all the while making gentle teuf-teuf-teuf sounds. (It wasn’t until higher compressions came along that engines made appreciable noise.) Daniel told me at Monterey, “It was considered vulgar to claim excessive horsepower as it hinted at being a commercial vehicle.”

The Type 3’s engine bay is dominated by the engine’s cooling shroud and a multiplicity of oilers.

Hexane, akin to dry-cleaning fluid, is the Type 3’s optimal fuel. The engine originally had hot-tube ignition, with a constantly burning open flame. To mitigate fire hazard, the Wards, who use their old cars, changed this to an electric ignition.

Here’s Daniel checking the Type 3’s coolant temperature.

Drive from the engine travels forward to a four-speed gearbox residing beneath the car’s floorboards, then aft to a twin-chain drive. This transmission’s straight-cut bronze gears remind me of Emile Levassor’s comment about his own car’s gearbox design: C’est brusque et brutal, mais ça marche….” (“It’s rough and brutal, but it works….”)

The Type 3’s four-speed gearbox and steering linkage reside beneath the car’s floorboard.

Steering is by tiller. To the best of my ken, braking occurs somewhere along one of the shafts transmitting the drive; there’s no visible sign of brakes on any of the four wheels. A transverse leaf spring provides the front suspension; longitudinal leaf springs locate the rear axle.

Back in 1891, Armand got permission to enter a Type 3 prototype in the inaugural Paris-Brest-Paris cycling event. The Peugeot ran for 1471 km (914 miles) of the event’s total 2400 km with no major malfunctions, some three times farther than other internal-combustion cars of the era.

More recently, the Ward brothers have exercised their Type 3 in events such as the London to Brighton Run and Switzerland’s Tour du Lac Leman. I suspect that both Daniel and Toby rode facing forward. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2017


  1. simanaitissays
    December 6, 2017

    Thanks to Daughter Suz for correcting the crinoline reference. (Indeed, the link had it correct in the first place.) As I’ve noted before, this is one advantage of online editing; it sure beats running from drugstore to drugstore with a Magic Marker.

  2. carmacarcounselor
    December 6, 2017

    Having watched one of the Bentley (not W. O,) recreations of the Benz Patent Motorwagen in operation, I have a new appreciation of De Dion’s claim for the invention of the “high speed internal combustion engine.” You might have inserted a “pause” between the “teufs,” especially noticeable in the single-cylinder 4-stroke Benz.

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