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1911 Martini

Engine Type

Four cylinder monobloc, side valve engine with a bore and stroke of 80 x 120mm, rated at 15.9hp.

Body Style

The tourer body is English, built by Cursons of Walham Green in London and is basically original although attempts were made to modernise it also in the 1920’s by lowering the back seats.


Four speed gearbox with right hand mounted gear shift. The engine and separate gearbox are both mounted in a subframe below the main chassis. The clutch has forty separate spring steel rings running in lubricant. The front springs are semi-elliptical and the rear are cantilever although it appears this was a unique period modification in the 1920’s as a similar chassis in the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne has three-quarter elliptics at the rear. The hand operated mechanical brakes expand internally in the rear drums and there is a foot operated transmission brake behind the gearbox.

How did you acquire the vehicle?

Little is known about when and how the Martini came to Australia other than it was owned originally by Mr Henry Mitchell of Summer Hill, Sydney, who the current (and third) owner had the pleasure of meeting in the late 1960’s. The car spent the period from 1934 to 1958 sitting on blocks in a garage in Sloane St Summer Hill until bought and used occasionally by a member of the Veteran Car Club of Australia (N.S.W).
The present owner purchased the car in 1967 and has progressively rejuvenated various components while keeping it registered under the N.S.W. historic scheme. The aim has been to keep the vehicle as original as practically possible although whilst the fire engine red colour dates back to at least 1958, traces of an original green colour have been found. The windscreen had been lowered about 3 inches with a corresponding lowering of the hood, probably also in the 1920’s. Rebuilding it to its original height and fitting of safety glass has meant the present side curtains do not fit properly.
Modern electrics have been fitted for safety with sealed beam units in the acetylene shells. In addition to electric tail and stop lights, the car has indicator and hazard lights all supplied by a running board mounted 12v battery. The original kerosene side lights can still be lit and they provided quite an atmosphere at the gas light procession in Forbes in 2018.

Brief known history of the vehicle

The Martini was built in 1911 as a running chassis by the Societe des Automobiles Martini in St. Blaise near Neuchatel in one of the two French speaking cantons of Switzerland. The rifle on the radiator badge indicates an armament company parentage. The Australia army used the Martini-Henry rifle in the Boer War.
In 1901 three Martini prototypes appeared – two touring cars and a four-ton lorry. Early publicity included driving up one of the Swiss Rochers de Naye rack railway, however by 1934 the factory had closed having had mixed success from 1919.

Fun facts or any other details you’d like to include?

The Martini completed the 1970 International Rally from Sydney to Melbourne and has participated in many special events, rallies, processions, charity runs and weddings. It is currently having a rest at the Parkes Museum along with its stablemate the blue 1916 Dodge Brothers tourer. The Martini is registered under the N.S.W. historic scheme and fully insure with Shannon’s.

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