One of the first Mors automobiles, 1898

One of the first Mors automobiles, 1898

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Title: One of the first Mors automobiles, 1898.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1898

Date shown: 1898

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Storage location: National museums and domain of Compiègne website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. G. Ojedasite web

Picture reference: 99-000714 / C.56001 / 28

One of the first Mors automobiles, 1898.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. Ojeda

Publication date: September 2005

Historical context

In 1873, the appearance of the first automobile will revolutionize the relationship of men to time and space. It is The Obedient, a steam car designed by a founder of Manceau bells, Amédée Bollée (1844-1917). In 1891, the company of Émile Levassor (1844-1897), who joined forces with René Panhard (1841-1908), produced the first production car, thanks to the Daimler patent: the Panhard-Levassor. It was also in 1898 that the first Motor Show was held in Paris, in the Tuileries Gardens, open to French and foreign manufacturers.

At the beginning of the XXe century, France is truly at the forefront of the automotive industry. A considerable number of firms are emerging: Delahaye, Mors and Gladiator, Renault, Darracq, Rochet-Schneider… With Marius Berliet, Lyon takes over the limelight in Paris. No less than six hundred manufacturers share the market.

On the eve of the First World War, two contradictory trends coexisted: the luxury automobile, bodied "to measure" according to the wishes of the customer, and the popular mass-produced car, influenced by the Ford T produced in the assembly line in the States. - United, a prelude to a real democratization of this means of transport.

Image Analysis

It was in 1897 that the first Mors automobiles appeared. The founder of the firm, Émile Mors, was an electrical engineer, which explains the subtle low-voltage coil ignition system and dynamo found on his early cars. They featured a rear-mounted V4 engine and Benz-style belt-and-pulley shifting.

It is one of those first cars pictured here on a country road. The driver and his passenger are seen from behind, with the engine behind. In the foreground, on the right, we see the drawbar and the right front wheel of an agricultural cart on the side of the road. In the field, in the background, two peasants watch this surprising vehicle pass by with obvious interest. The automobile in its infancy is not yet the banal, ordinary means of transport it has become today.

In 1898, Mors was already producing two hundred cars per year, and from 1899 - the date of the first Tour de France automobile - his vehicles distinguished themselves in major national and international competitions. It was indeed a Horse that won the Paris-Toulouse-Paris in 1900, the Paris-Bordeaux and the Paris-Berlin in 1901, and the Paris-Madrid (which actually stopped in Bordeaux) in 1903.


Despite the 1908 crisis, the Mors firm produced two thousand cars in 1909. Before the First World War, it offered a wide variety of models, but during the interwar period, it resisted competition from other manufacturers, Citroën poorly. especially. During World War II, it produced electric automobiles. The last vehicles to bear the name of Mors were Speed ​​scooters, manufactured from 1952 to 1956. Still, the name of Mors is inseparable from that - much more famous - of Citroën. A former student of the École Polytechnique, André Citroën (1878-1935) created the Société des engrenages Citroën, Hinstin et Cie in 1905. The company was exploiting a patent for manufacturing chevron-shaped gears, a figure that would become the trademark logo of the famous manufacturer. His reputation for efficiency and organization prompted the Mors Automobile Society to call on him in 1906 to relaunch the business. Appointed general manager and administrator, André Citroën reorganized production, created new models and, in six years, increased production tenfold. He will remember his time at Mors when he founded his own business.

In 1915, he contributed to the war effort by creating a factory on the Quai de Javel whose workforce, largely female - the "munitionnettes" - manufactured shells. In 1917, the yield was 55,000 rounds per day.

In 1919, he converted his arms factory to civilian production and was finally able to realize his old dream of making a popular car and founding his own brand. In June 1919, he was able to launch the Model A, an automobile whose assembly was carried out entirely in Javel. Then came the B2 in 1921, the B10 in 1924, then the B12 in 1925. In 1912, during a trip to the United States, he had admired the Taylor system in force in Ford factories and he hastened to to standardize production in its Quai de Javel plant. From 1919 to 1923, the output thus increased from one hundred to three hundred vehicles per day. We were now a long way from the traditional methods that presided over the manufacture of Mors cars.

In fifteen years of a dazzling journey punctuated by unforgettable automobiles, from the B14 to the Front Traction, André Citroën truly invented the modern automobile, launched his half-tracks across Africa and Asia, and continued to pay the price. chronicle of the Roaring Twenties. After his death in 1935, the company, absorbed by Michelin, nevertheless retained its avant-garde spirit.

  • automobile
  • Belle Epoque
  • innovation
  • industrial Revolution


Paul BRANCAFORT, "The King of Javel, André Citroën", in Historia, 1984, special number 449 bis The Automobile is 100 years old, 1884-1984.Jean-Pierre DELAPERRELLE, The invention of the automobile: Bollée, from steam to turbo, Le Mans, Éditions Cénomane, 1986.Christine HÉMAR, André Citroën, Paris, Hatier, 2002. Yann KRISS, “Le Grand Prix de France”, in Historia, 1984, special number 449 bis The Automobile is 100 years old, 1884-1984.

To cite this article

Alain GALOIN, "One of the first Mors automobiles, 1898"

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