The Zedel Motor Company

Zedel (in the collection of the author)

This image was taken by Dad in the mid-1950s at an un-named event in New England. The car is a rarely seen Zedel (a phonetic pronunciation of the founders initials, "Z" and "L" - for Ernest Zurcher and Herman Luthi). Established in 1901 in Pontarlier (Doubs), France - near the Swiss boarder - the company initially focused on manufacturing motorcycle engines. In 1906 they entered the automobile business and by 1910 were importing their cars to the United States. The Club Journal (published by The Automobile Club of America) of December 24, 1910 (reporting on the Importer's Salon at the Astor Hotel in New York City on January 2nd- 7th) states "Em. Voigt announces that he will exhibit five C.G.V.'s and one Zedel. The latter car, which is well know in Europe, has just been introduced in the the United States." He would show a 12hp collapsible landaulet priced at $3000. Em. Voigt appears to have been an importer of french cars located at 2120 Broadway in New York City.

The car shown here is either the 12hp or 15hp model, circa 1909 or 1910. In 1918, the company was taken over by Donnet and the cars became known as Donnet-Zedel. These later cars are more commonly seen in Europe. The earlier cars are quite rare as the company probably only made roughly 400 cars prior to WWI. 

Dad saw this car back in the day and remembered people saying it was quite rare. Notice the horribly out-of-proportion 1950's fenders fitted to the car. I have no idea what became of this car, but I image it's still out there somewhere.

UPDATE: Blog reader Ariejan Bos has found the Zedel! Our good friend, Joris Bergsma at PreWarCar.com wrote a post about this car: http://www.prewarcar.com/magazine/previous-features/while-we-re-at-it-why-don-t-we-014998.html. The post states, "The known history of this car starts in 1939 when John Leathers (a founder of the VMCCA) found it in a Massachusetts field. In 1941 he sold it to Fred Roe who took photos of it before any work was started. These reveal that it retains the original body, fenders and wheels that were not likely changed before that date. Roe sold it to Nelson Fontneau in 1950 and within two years, Fontneau had accomplished complete restoration of the car, although still without a top. Changing hands several times, it ended up in Southern California by 1970. Gordon Howard owned it from 1973 until selling it to Noel Petter in 1980."


The Club Journal, December 24, 1910

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