Ask any averagely well-informed car connoisseur to name the country producing the world’s highest volume of cars in 1910, and I’d bet you a pint of the best that they’ll name the USA, and bring Henry Ford into the conversation shortly after that. Some, maybe more subtle, will name Germany, on the basis that they’d been first off the blocks when Herr Daimler wobbled down the road twenty-five years earlier. Both wrong, however: the mildly surprising answer is France. Not so surprising, on further examination – already wealthy and heavily industrialised, (the world’s first ever neon sign flickered into life in Paris the same year) huge distances needed to be covered between cities, and the country still retained Napoleon’s mighty legacy of superb roads.
The innumerable variety of individual manufacturers rose continuously until the outbreak or World War I, and a minor footnote has to cover the Sigma company. Born in a Paris suburb, like many other marques, the company survived the war, and continued to offer until the late 1920s a number of models of undoubted charm and personality, with an unmistakeably ‘French’ flavour to them. We are pleased to be able to offer a 1919 Ten Horsepower, a model which attracted extremely favourable notice from The Autocar on its English launch, with comment on its distinctively ‘sporting’ nature for a small car, with what one feels was a slightly surprised English eyebrow raised at its robust feel.
The car, which must be close to unique as a survivor, is powered by a 1600cc Ballot engine, mounted in unit with a four speed gearbox. Little is known of the early history of the car, which bears a Devon registration, but a faded number ‘7’ painted on the radiator core might suggest little sporting use which might be fu to trace. It then seems to have spent a considerable period in a couple of collections in the North of England, but has clearly been sympathetically kept rather than subjected to a ‘tear-down’ restoration.
This is a very rare car, or undoubted charm with its delightfully original dashboard instrumentation and impressive array of brass brightwork. It is offered at a price estimate which can take in very few ‘voiturette; style cars with this level of quality and Gallic charm.