1898 La Nef Lacroix De LaVille

Known as "La Nef" (the nave) because its shape recalls the prow of a ship, this distinctive three-wheeler was built by Lacroix & DeLaville and is representative of a model that enjoyed some success with early adopters in France, especially doctors who were quick to recognize the superiority of internal combustion engine powered vehicles to horses: less maintenance, always ready to go and required no feeding or exercise when not on call. Its design is nothing if not individual, with a single front wheel steered across the top of the engine and radiator by a tiller of prodigious length. The frame is wood and supports a tonneau that seats two in front and two more in a rear entry tonneau. A giant Phares SEM acetylene headlight is mounted to the steering yoke so it turns with the wheel. There are brass side lights, a brass radiator tank, a bulb horn mounted to the steering tiller and abundant brass body trim. The body is painted in two shades of maroon highlighted with a blue coachline while the fenders are clear varnished wood, a pleasing contrast with the bodywork. There is no top; a wicker umbrella holder has to suffice for holding the wind and rain protection. Power comes from a deDion single driving the rear wheel through a long flat belt. An idler pulley appears to function as the clutch; reverse does not appear to have been a concern for Lacroix & DeLaville. A very nice older restoration to high standards of fit, finish and function, it will not only attract positive attention at veteran car shows but also put its owner in line for an early starting time at the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run if it meets VCC dating scrutiny.

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