1904 Clement-Talbot Veteran Motorcar

We are currently undertaking careful work to preserve the beauty of this historic 1904 Clement-Talbot, and to keep it on the road. One of a marque pivotal to the story of the early motorcar industry, this car embodies much of automotive manufacturing and production at the beginning of the 20th century.

The story of the marque is a complex one. In 1889, 15 years before this car came into being, an orphan and former blacksmith Gustav Adolphe Clément-Bayard who had made his fortune making bicycles bought the manufacturing rights to Dunlop’s pneumatic type, and in so doing promptly made himself a millionaire.

Seven years later in 1896 Mr Clément and Lord Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, the 20th Earl of Shrewsbury and who lived on the site of what is now Alton Towers Theme Park, became business partners running a company manufacturing both bicycles and the new-fangled motorcar.

Clement Gladiator Type D 206cc 1905

By 1898 the Clément-Gladiator company was established initially making bicycles, and by 1901 was producing motorcars at the Levallois-Perret factory in Paris. Mr Clement was at this stage quite a formidable figure of his day.

In 1903 Clément-Gladiator was divided in two: Clément-Bayard in France and, in England, Lord Chetwynd-Talbot, previously a business partner of Clement’s, offered to support the English division which was to be known at Clement-Talbot.

After the split caused by a decision to increase their market both companies continued to build very similar cars.

This car, built in 1904, is an example of one made during this complex period. Parts were manufactured in France then shipped over for assembly at the Clement-Talbot works in London’s Ladbroke Grove (in what is now known as Ladbroke Hall). It was not until 1907 that the cars being produced by the two companies became largely independent from one another. Interestingly we know from the poster advertising the car (click on the image to see an enlarged view) it was originally sold for 14,000 francs. The 1904 exchange rate was 29FF to the pound such that it would have cost a little under £500 in England, which in today's money is approximately £40,000.

We feel immensely privileged to work on cars such as these, and to help our customers preserve our motoring heritage. Whilst specialising in Rolls-Royces and Derby Bentleys, we are proud to apply our expertise and knowledge to other vintage, veteran (see article about our restoration specialist Dhugal) and early classic cars (see article about our restoration specialist Simon).

Whether you are preparing your historic car for the London-Brighton Rally, want a road-worthiness check, or need full-blown restoration, be sure to give us a call to see where we can help.

Brief history of Clement-Talbot:

  • 1889 Gustav Adolphe Clément-Bayard buys the manufacturing rights to Dunlop’s pneumatic type, promptly becoming a millionaire.
  • 1896 Mr Clément and Lord Charles Chetwynd-Talbot go into business together and manufacture bicycles and motorcars.
  • 1898 the Clément-Gladiator company was established and by 1901 was producing motorcars at the Levallois-Perret factory in Paris. (45 years later this factory was bought by Citroen and produced the iconic Citroen 2CV from 1948 to 1988.)
  • 1903 Clément-Gladiator was divided in two: Clément-Bayard in France and, in England, Clement-Talbot. After the split, both companies built similar cars.
  • 1905 the English division sold imported cars under the Clément-Talbot marque and began assembling French-made parts in London selling them under the name Talbot. Domestically-designed cars followed from 1906.
  • 1922 Clément-Bayard was eventually sold having suffered greatly during WW1 and the resulting economic depression.
  • 1905 to 1992 the English Talbot company produced many impressive motor cars, including the first to travel over 100mph in 1913, until 1992 when production ended and their factory doors closed for the last time.