Schneiders

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Last month in a stop-press report of the MAC/VSCC Shelsley Walsh hill-climb, which precluded personal proof reading, I wrote of Rowley’s 1913 5.6-litre Schneider, describing it correctly as a Th. Schneider. But a lino operator, believing he was being helpful, made this into “Thomas Schneider” and thus perpetuated a nonsense over my initials, to which no writer takes kindly; I am quite capable of making my own mistakes without the printer adding to them. In rendering a Thèophile Schneider as a Th. Schneider I was merely employing an abbreviation which is good enough for the car’s owner, the hill-climb programme, the Georgano Encyclopaedia, Stone & Cox, Fletcher’s and countless other motoring publications, from time immemorial. And the reason why I called Mr. Rowley’s Schneider a Th. Schneider and not a plain Schneider was to distinguish it from a Rochet-Sehneider. The latter came first, having emanated in Lyons as one of the pioneer French makes as early as 1894, albeit a copy of the single-cylinder Benz Ideal. Later the Panhard-style was adopted and in later years Rochet-Schneider made big, rugged cars and commercial vehicles. Thèophile Schneider broke away in 1910 from the Rochet-Schneider Company he had helped found, to build cars under his own name. They emerged after the First World War as handsome, typically-French sporting cars, with which Motor Sport became quite obsessed at one time in the 1920s when it was apparently hard to know how to fill its pages (the opposite is the case, today), many large pictures of the 13/65 Th. Schneider being published. One of these cars finished sixth at Le Mans in 1926.

I am not certain exactly what John Rowley’s meticulously restored and throaty 1913 Th. Schneider is but it may well be one of the Grand Prix Schneiders of that year, as apparently the engine bears out this possibility. In 1914 Malcolm Campbell, Walter Scott and Capt. Lindsay Stewart were racing 3-litre Schneiders at Brooklands, Campbell a 78 x 154-mm. car which got round at over 79 m.p.h., the others 82 1/2 x 140-mm. versions, of which the faster lapped at better than 77 m.p.h., while Bovier had a carmine 96 x 190-mm. 5 1/2-litre Schneider which could lap at 87.68 m.p.h.

After the war the tradition persisted, an 82 150-mm. Thierry Schneider, as the 1921 Race Card had it, being entered by a Mr. E. S. T. Johnson for a Capt. Persse and others to drive; it lapped at over 73 m.p.h. In 1922 Le Champion produced at the Track a 95 x 150-mm. Schneider which was a habitual non-runner but which, when it was running, was capable of a lap-speed in excess of 89 m.p.h. (it can be glimpsed in Plate 26 in my “History of Brooklands”), which shows the potential of Mr. Rowley’s bigger-engined car. — W. B.