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Lacroix & Delaville la Nef

This three-wheeler is shaped rather like the prow of a ship, which is why it is also known as ‘La Nef’, an old French word for ‘boat’.

The long steering tiller looks like a boat’s and has a limited travel, especially with a passenger seated next to the driver. The single-cylinder De Dion-Bouton engine drives the rear wheels via a long belt. The first models were not fitted with a gearbox.

This car was produced in the French town of Agen by LaCroix et DeLaVille, a company that existed from 1896 until 1914. The La Nef was embraced by a large number of ‘early adopters’, people keen to be the first to try out a new product. Doctors especially were quick to recognise the advantages of an internal combustion engine over a horse – an automobile was always ready to go and required relatively little maintenance.

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