Red Decauville from 1898 with one cylinder (900 cc). Max. speed: 20 km/h. Made in France

Decauville was a manufacturing company which was founded by Paul Decauville (1846–1922), a French pioneer in industrial railways. Decauville’s major innovation was the use of ready-made sections of light, narrow gauge track fastened to steel sleepers; this track was portable and could be disassembled and transported very easily.

The first Decauville railway used 400 mm (15+3⁄4 in) gauge; Decauville later refined his invention and switched to 500 mm (19+3⁄4 in) and 600 mm (1 ft 11+5⁄8 in) gauge.

The Decauville company, via its Decauville automobile car subsidiary, entered the automobile industry alongside the De Dion-Bouton company, for which it had produced 3,000 motor tricycles. After several years of study, Decauville presented its Voiturelle (1898-1903).

This small three-seater vehicle, designed in Bordeaux by two engineers from the maritime couriers, was equipped with a gasoline engine. Decauville studied a new chassis which was presented in 1902 at the cycle show. Surprisingly modular (it was possible to interchange seats and engines) this Decauville 1902 model was a great success. However, from 1907 orders fell and a crisis began. Decauville’s lack of responsiveness led to the cessation of activity in the “automotive” branch in 1909. The sale of models in stock continued, however, until 1911.

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