1920 Mathis 8/20CV
1920 Mathis 8/20CV
- Rare, early light car
- Major restoration in recent years (great photo history of restoration) with bills on file for £85,000 of work
- Transmission upgraded for ease of use (original with car)
Emile Mathis was born in 1880 of French stock but with German nationality as a result of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and the subsequent occupation of the Alsace and Lorraine. He built his first ‘experimental car’ in 1898 and soon after became an agent in Strasbourg for a variety of makes including Panhard, De Dietrich, Rochet-Schneider, Fiat and Minerva.
In 1902 he drove a De Dietrich in the Paris-Vienna race where he became known to Ettore Bugatti, and in 1904 he set up the Mathis Societe Alsacienne de Constructions Mechaniques at Graffenstaden near Strasbourg, engaging Bugatti as his designer. These early cars were called Hermes and were large 4 cylinder chain drive machines and were advertised in 6 sizes from 28-96hp although whether the larger models were ever built is unknown. According to Ernest Friderich, who worked at the factory and later became a leading Bugatti driver, 25 Hermes chassis were built after which Mathis and Bugatti quarreled and Bugatti left to join Deutz.
By 1905 his Auto-Mathis-Palace was the largest sale organization in Germany and the 3rd largest in the world coving both the sale of cars and his own coachbuilding works to body these cars.
In 1910 Mathis began to manufacture a conventional 2 litre 4-cylinder car with engines provided complete by Stoewer although. These were badged as Stoewer-Mathis in Germany but in France the name Stoewer was omitted from the badging. Mathis was good at forgetting the origins of cars he was connected with – by the mid 1920s he was describing the Type 13 Bugatti he had sold as a Mathis while his personal Fiat racing car, which he sold to Sir Frederick Richmond in 1913, he described as a 100-120hp Mathis!
By 1918 Alsace became French once more and Mathis returned. During the 1920s he built a number of popular cars increasing production from 2000 in 1920 to 20,000 by 1927! The Babylette and smaller capacity models drove the majority of this volume, which sold well all over Europe.
The car we offer here is one of the earliest models produced in the then fashionable ‘mircocar’ format – a 1920 Mathis 8/20CV Coach. The car is powered by a charming 760cc 4-cylinder sidevalve engine with a 4 speed gearbox. Produced as a right hand drive, single door body with off-set seats, sliding windows and side mounted spare wheel. The car has undergone a huge restoration in recent years including a full body off, chassis and mechanical rebuild, a transmission upgrade, Connolly leather retrim and new carpets and is currently in outstanding order. Thornley Kelham carried out the restorative work and the history file accompanying the car shows the great lengths (and costs!) gone to, to get this car into its current condition.