Not to be confused with cars of this name made in Switzerland and Germany, this Excelsior started in 1903 in a Brussels factory, but by 1907 Arthur de Cannick was producing these cars in his Liège works, with the individuality of overhead exhaust valves. The 20/30hp version of 1911, in sporting form, would not have disgraced VSCC meetings in later times.
Its predecessor, a 9.5-litre six, ran in the 1908 two-day, 956-mile GP at Dieppe, its driver Christianes being sixth out of 47 starters. Thus encouraged, de Cannick ran two side-valve 6.1-litre cars in the 1913 GP, in which Christianes was eighth and Hornsted the last finisher. One of the 1913 cars survived in England, having apparently been used by Palmer’s for tyre testing, but was broken up after the 1930 Brooklands ban on older cars. Respected at home, the Excelsior never became well-known over here although, by 1927, concessionaires, Hayward Automobiles, announced the 31-100hp Albert 1 luxury car, named for the King of Belgium.
The big Excelsior had some unusual publicity, whether contrived or not, I know not. A letter appeared in The Motor asking what was the smart black-and-yellow coupé seen at Southport sand races. Hayward replied to say it was an Excelsior and soon it was illustrated and advertised in Motor Sport. This 31-100hp did well in sportscar races. In 1926, Dils and Caerles were second to André Boillot’s Peugeot in the 24-hour race at Spa, and in 1927, Robert Sénéchal and Louis Rigal won this event.
At the 1927 London Motor Show the standard chassis was priced at £1150, the Super Sports chassis at £1250 and the Grand Prix chassis, with dual ignition, at £1300. They were claimed to reach 85, 90 and 110mph respectively.
The six-cylinder 5346cc engine was conventional, with ohc driven by spiral gears. Aluminium pistons were used, still not common even at this date. The Super Sports cars had triple carburettors. Lubrication was dry-sump, with an oil cooler beneath the water radiator.
The four-speed gearbox with central gated lever was soon adopted for the other Excelsiors, and a multi-plate clutch and torque tube transmission was used. The cantilever back springs had an anti-roll device. The rods for the front brakes were carried within the front axle and the cables compensated, and there was a Dewandre vacuum servo. The wheelbase was long, at 10ft 10in, the gear ratios 12.5, 7.5, 5.37 and 3.75 to 1, tyre size 33×5.
By 1929 it ended, when Imperia, of slide-valve memory, took over.