In 1902, Martini acquired a license to build Rochet-Schneider designs and began production, rapidly establishing its reputation as Switzerland’s most exclusive manufacturer. In 1903, a Martini stole the headlines by ascending the Rochers de Naye cog wheel railway, an astonishing 11-km ascent with an average gradient of 22%. The car was driven by English entrepreneur and gentleman, Captain H. H. P. Deasy of London. Deasy’s stand at the February 1904 Crystal Palace Show in London displayed the famous car and there is conjecture as to whether the car pictured here may be just that car. Certainly, it would star in any centenary celebration of that event.
The present owner acquired the car in 1995 from a Dr. Crofton in England whose family had owned it for many years, prior to which it was understood to be in Ireland. At that stage the car comprised a complete, unrestored rolling chassis including engine, clutch, gearbox, front and rear axles, steering and some bodywork.
Careful research turned up period photographs of similar cars and a racing two-seater body was constructed in period style. A meticulous restoration was carried out on all mechanical features including a full engine rebuild with new pistons, valves and all new bronze bearings. The gearbox was rebuilt, timing gears remade, the clutch relined and fitted and the magnetos restored. New drive chains and tires were fitted as a matter of course. The current condition and presentation of the car is of a very high order.
Since restoration, the car has successfully completed significant motoring events in Belgium and Switzerland and is capable of touring at over 80 kph. The coachwork is superbly hand finished in crème livery with dark red lining matching the chassis detail and wheels. The minimal upholstery is in tan Connolly leather. Driving equipment includes Dubrulle six-drip racing lubricator, dash-mounted auxiliary fuel tank for mountain climbing, Decker of Neuchatel oil side lamps and spectacular acetylene headlamps by Adenich of Paris, with side-mounted Ducellier acetylene generator.
This most impressive, Swiss-built, sporting gentleman’s motor car features double chain drive and enjoys the benefit of mechanical valves, a four-speed gearbox with reverse and a later electric starter has been added for convenience.
The car is UK registered and comes with a Science Museum Certificate of Date and a UK certificate of roadworthiness.