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CONAN DOYLE (LITERARY AGENT)—MOTORING ENTHUSIAST PART 2

YESTERDAY IN PART 1, we learned details of the 1911 Prince Henry Tour, a German-sponsored automobile competition honoring the coronation of Britain’s George V. Today in Part 2, we identify marques in the event and focus on one particular entrant, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

As in Part 1, a primary source is The Fourth Garrideb—Numismatics of Sherlock Holmes, together with my usual Internet sleuthing.

Competitors’ Mounts. The German team drove a goodly number of Mercedes and Benz cars (this was 15 years before these two companies consolidated). Opels and Adlers were other multiple German team entries, followed by single representations of Daimler, Fiat, Horach, NSW, and Piccard-Pictet.

The British team had a more varied collection of marques, including Armstrong-Whitworth, Berliet, Cadillac, Daimler, Deasy, Delannay Belleville, F.N., Gobron Brillie, Lanchester, Lorraine-Dietrich, Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, Standard, and Talbot. 

Conan Doyle’s Car. Arthur Conan Doyle drove his Lorraine-Dietrich; Count Carmer, Rittmeister (Captain) of the Breslau Cuirassiers, rode as his observer. Conan Doyle’s wife Jean rode in the open tonneau.

Arthur Conan Doyle at the wheel. This and the following image from The Fourth Garrideb.

According to The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia, “It was said that, each morning during the race, Count Carmer used to put flowers in Jean’s corner.”

Conan Doyle’s Lorraine-Dietrich at the 1911 Prince Henry Tour.

Conan Doyle gave his green 16-hp Lorraine-Dietrich the name “Billy,” perhaps related to a nickname of his daughter Lena Annette Jean. 

A South African Lorraine-Dietrich. According to the South African Franschhoek Motor Museum, “Lorraine-Dietrich was one of the motoring history’s pioneering brands, and ranked amongst the top half-dozen makes in the early 1900s…. The company’s quality reputation was partly due to its reasonably successful participation in competition.”

A 1911 Lorraine-Dietrich resides at the Franschhoek Motor Museum. This and the following image from motorauthority.com.

The museum notes that its “1911 tourer has a 5.7-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 28 hp. It was one of the first Lorraine-Dietrich to adopt a Cardan-shaft transmission rather than being chain-driven.” The museum’s website has a fascinating video of the car.

A British Win. Tour entrants were scored on reliability and endurance, not speed. 

Above, participant’s medal from the Imperial Automobile Club of Germany. Below, participant’s medal from the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain. Images from The Fourth Garrideb.

 The British team won and received an ivory statue of a young lady with the word “Peace” engraved on its base. Among toasts at London’s Royal Automobile Club was one to the Kaiser. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2020 

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