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  Gobron-Brillié 12 CV Rothschild Skiff      

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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1912
Designed by:Rothschild
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:August 15, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionOne of the automotive pioneers, Gobron-Brillié is mostly forgotten today. The French company was established in 1898 by industrialist Gustav Gobron and engineer Eugene Brillié. The latter brought with him a rather unusual engine design that featured two opposed pistons in one cylinder. The unconventional configuration certainly worked as a 15-litre four cylinder powered Gobron-Brillié became the first car to break the magical 100 mph barrier in 1904.

Even though Brillié had left the company in 1903, the focus remained on developing the 'opposed' engine. It used a conventional bottom half with the lower pistons connected directly to the crankshaft. The top pistons were indirectly connected to the same crankshaft through a crosshead and coupling rods. The two pistons would move in opposite directions, creating compression as they approached each other. One of the later developments was the adoption of a cross-flow or 'T-head' with valves actuated by two laterally mounted camshafts.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the early Gobron-Brillié chassis were also far from conventional. They were constructed from tubes rather than the more usual pressed-steel section. This changed soon after Brillié had left when a more straightforward ladder frame became standard. Suspension was by solid axles on both ends, sprung by semi-elliptic leafs. Chain drive was used on most pre-War Gobrons as was the unusual setup of twin rear tyres to cope with the grunt of the 'opposed' engines.

Although Gobron-Brillié also offered two and six cylinder engines, the straight four was the most popular choice. It was constructed by adding two rows of two cylinders on a single crank. A choice of displacements was available. The 12 CV of 1912 had a swept volume of just under 5 litres and was officially rated at 35 hp. This power was fed to the twin rear wheels through a four speed gearbox.

Hard hit by the Great War, Gobron-Brillié did not resume production until 1922 and without the engineering genius of Eugene Brillié, the company failed relive the glory days of the 1900s and early 1910s. The manufacturer was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1930. Today only very few examples of the mostly forgotten marque survive.

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  Article Image gallery (8) 920 Specifications User Comments (2)