|1907 Rochet Schneider at the Dead Horse Hill Climb.|
|The car shown by Joesph Ott in 1976 (photo from AACA)|
A number of years ago I attended one of the revival Dead Horse Hill Climbs (held infrequently, I'm not sure that it's still observed) in Worcester, MA. The original Dead Horse Hill Climb was run between 1905 and 1911, like many such automotive trials of the day, it attracted the top drivers and purpose built cars of the day. The revival I attended attracted many fine vintage automobiles. One of the cars that caught my eye was the 1907 Rochet Schneider. Rochet Schneider was a French make that started, like many early auto makers, as a bicycle manufacturer. Starting in 1895, they made cars using the Benz engine, but by 1904 were making cars with engines of their own design. By 1907, the the company was struggling, a financial restructuring changed the direction of the firm and they continued to make cars through 1931 (they continued to make commercial vehicles until their purchase by Berliet in 1951). It's unusual to see the Rochet Schneider brand here in America, and I've not been able to find reference to any other 1907 40/50hp (4 cylinder - dual chain drive) cars. This car (chassis 7353) has a well know history. As described by Christie's Auction House at the time of it's sale in 1994, this car was originally ordered by Leon Spaulding, an American motoring enthusiast and a man with the financial resources to afford such a car as this (the chassis alone cost nearly $11,000). The car was shipped to America and supposedly bodied by a firm in the Merrimack, Massachusetts area. Interestingly Merrimack was one of the three top carriage producing ares in the country at the time automobiles came along. Even in 1907, there were half a dozen coach firms in the area - the best known would probably be Judkins (and it's sister company, Merrimack which was formed after this car was bodied). By 1911, the Rochet was sold to Mr. Ralph Burroughs, and later to its third owner, Frank Bedford of Newburyport, Massachusetts. It remained in Mr. Bedford's ownership until it was found and eventually purchased by Joseph Ott in 1962. Mr. Ott was a well known collector in the early days of the hobby and had a number of wonderful cars. Ralph Buckley restored the car and it remained with the Ott collection until it's sale by Christie's.