The Arthur Barnes driven TH. Schneider broke the Adelaide-Melbourne record with a time of 12 hours 10 minutes for the wild ride over a very rough roads on 11 April 1925…

Sydney motorist AH Barnes was accompanied by J W (William) McCulloch, in the 25.5 hp French six-cylinder 4.5 litre machine. It was national news, this advertisement was placed in the Sydney Morning Herald on 20 May 1925.

The same car, engine number #29, set a Broken Hill-Adelaide record of 8 hours 3 minutes for that 336 mile journey, an average of 42 mph, on 19 August 1925, ‘speeds of more than 100 mph were attained along the route’- that record was previously held by an Amilcar.

Three veteran and six vintage TH. Schneider chassis are known to have been imported to Australia through agents in South Australia and Victoria- George H Booth and Thomas Mitchell and Co-pre-War, and Domain Motors/Kellow-Falkiner Pty Ltd-both post-war, respectively in each state.

The two photographs below show the 25.5 hp TH. Schneider (variously TH. Schneider, Th. Schneider and both of these without the full-stop- I have used the variant on the badge below) out front of Geo Booth’s premises in Adelaide after the Broken Hill to Adelaide run on 19 August 1925. The crew was again Barnes as driver and McCulloch the mechanic.

George Booth of 411 King William Street Adelaide and Domain Motors of 348 St Kilda Road in Melbourne were the agents for the cars at the time and of course sponsors of the successful record attempts.

(SLSA)

 

(SLSA)

Theophile Schneider first entered the motor industry in partnership with Edouard Rochet to build the Rochet-Schneider at Lyon in 1894, he then moved to a factory in Besancon, east France near the Swiss border to build cars on his own- his first was an 1850cc four cylinder machine with a radiator behind the bonnet, a style later popularised by Renault.

These first ‘Schneiders, fitted with engines from 10 to 35hp were raced circa 1912-1914, the best result second place in the June 1912 Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France held on a course based at Dieppe, the car was driven by Rene Croquet with riding mechanic Rene Champoiseau.

After converting to manufacture of components for the war effort the company resumed car production post-war and changed its structure to that of a limited stock company, the record-run car is a type 21.20.1, 25.5hp six cylinder, 4480cc six cylinder, for speed manual with a solid front axle, live rear axle fitted with semi-elliptic springs and two rear wheel brakes, the wheelbase was 3505mm

Three of this model were imported into Australia by Domain Motor Body Builders/Domain Motors. At 1950 pounds they were nearly twice as expensive as the 4.5 litre Bentley of the day, Domain Motors ceased business around July 1926 at a time Th. Schneider themselves were in deep financial trouble at home, having been declared bankrupt in November 1921.

The reputation of the marque allowed the company to trade profitably through the mid-twenties, re-entering racing inclusive of participation at Le Mans in 1926- Pierre Tabourin and Auguste Lefranc were sixth in a 1954cc 25SP and in 1927 when Robert Poitier and Pierre Tabourin DNF accident in a 25SP.

‘White House Crash’ aftermath- the #2 d’Erlanger/Duller Bentley Sport 3 litre at left and #1 Clement/Callingham Bentley 4.5 litre at right- ditto photograph below (unattributed)

 

(unattributed)

The Tabourin driven TH. Schneider is infamous amongst Bentley enthusiasts as the cause of the ‘White House Crash’ which involved three Bentleys. At dusk Tabourin approached the corner too fast, lost control and hit a building close to the road coming to rest and partially blocking the track, Leslie Callingham, following closely, swerved to avoid him and ended up in a ditch on the opposite side of the road, George Duller then hit Callingham, and then Benjafield too hit Callingham in avoidance of Tabourin- Benjafield was able to continue but the race was well over for the other three machines.

No-one was seriously injured but Pierre Tabourin was taken to hospital with broken ribs, the #12 ‘Schneider driven by Chanterelle/Schlitz withdrew from the race out of respect for the injured Tabourin. In a happy ending for Bentley Benjafield and Sammy Davis won the race in the Sport 3 litre ‘old number 7’.

Problems in 1928 led to a second bankruptcy in March 1929 and closure of the Besancon factory doors in early 1930- right in The Great Depression of course.

TH. Schneider’s assets were acquired by French company Societe SADIM, the name continued but was applied to caterpillar tractors- World War 2 saw the end of a once proud marque.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, the insolvency sale of Domain’s assets resulted in four Ansaldos, three Ansaldo chassis and ‘four brand new latest model Schneiders’, of which one was the record breaking car- number ’29’ the other a new DS six cylinder 25hp model changing hands.

The record breaker, which John Bisley has (as of 2015) was never bodied, it was acquired by Watts McNamara and went from Myrtleford to Griffith in 1927- where it remained for most of its life. If any of you can fill in the ownership details of the car since it arrived in Australia please get in touch.

The record breaker at the Cockburn Hotel, in South Australia, not far from Broken Hill near the South Australia-New South Wales border (Richard C)

 

(unattributed)

Even though the cars were small in number in Australia, motorsport was used in attempts to build the brand inclusive of an entry in Australian Grand Prix where a 2 litre TH. Schneider driven by Ernest King contested the 1929 event held on the daunting, dusty, undulating and fast Phillip Island road circuit- King failed to finish having lost a wheel on lap 17 of the race won by Arthur Terdich’s Bugatti T37A.

The photograph above shows King contesting a hillclimb at Wheelers Hill in Melbourne’s outer east in June 1928, six months prior to the 1929 AGP- Th. Schneider 2 litre 25SP.

‘Schneider’s motorsport participation in Australia extended to the reliability trials which were popular at the time and of which I have written in the past. In March 1927, a 7hp car was first in class and fifth outright in a field of about forty cars- the driver was AGP winner Arthur Terdich as below.

(unattributed)

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

Rene Croquet and Rene Champoiseau aboard their TH. Schneider during the second day of the 1912 French Grand Prix on 26 June- the road race comprised 20 laps of a 77km course based in Dieppe, a total of 1540km.

Contestants raced over 10 laps on each day with the results aggregated to produce a winner.

Georges Boillot won in a Peugeot from Louis Wagner’s Fiat S74 and Victor Regal in a Sunbeam with Rene seventh, Rene Champoiseau raced another TH. Schneider but retired.

 

Credits…

SLSA- State Library of South Australia, thschneider.wordpress.com, prewarcar.com, Richard C, F2Index

Tailpiece…

The site of Domain Motors business premises at 348 St Kilda Road- a nice spot right opposite The Shrine of Remembrance, next door to the French Consulate which is apt! and not too far from Albert Park Lake, for international readers, is now, in the best Australian tradition, a block of luxury apartments…

Finito…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s