What contribution to automotive industry was made by the personal driver of the Russian tsar?
the Russian tsar Nicholas II had a reputation among the European sovereigns for the enthusiast only of the arisen motor transport. His relatives, the British royal family, still went in magnificent landaus, preferring a smell of horse sweat to a gasoline smell, and Nicolay Aleksandrovich already had garage and whole “herd“ of cars in Tsarskoye Selo.
Such interest in the car in the country where good roads did not exist, surprised. Possibly, heredity affected. It is known that his grandfather, the tsar Alexander II, was the very first person in the world who bought “a self-fluent carriage“. It was the three-wheeled crew with the steam engine acquired in 1864 from the French inventor Jean - Joseph Etienne Lenuar.
In imperial garage big and powerful selected cars. In Tsarskoye Selo and in Livadiya Nicholas II drove the French cars “Delone - Belvill“. Power of each such car was 70 hp. On them there was a six-cylinder motor huge even on present time of volume 11. 846th liter. Despite it, the Delone - Belvillya motor was very silent. All cars were supplied different - for winter and for summer - bodies. In the capital Nicholas II used car with the closed body like “limousine“. And in warm time and the similar car with an open body with an awning over passenger salon served it in the Crimea. After such facilitated and as if sports type of cars began to call “Torpedo“.
At plant in France these cars collected by the nominal order, especially for the Russian tsar. On radiators at them SMT appeared. These are the first letters of the French words “Its Majesty Tsar“ (Sa Majeste le Tsar). At imperial cars the frame of a radiator, an inscription, the case of headlights and even wheel caps was gilded. On doors, naturally, the imperial coats of arms flaunted.
In Tsarskoye Selo and livadiysky garages there were also other cars of a representative class, including well-known “Rolls - Royce the Silver ghost“. In 1906 on a patronage of the prince Orlov at the head of this uneasy economy became 28 - the summer citizen of France Adolf Kegress (Adolphe Kegresse) (1879 - 1943) . Since 1904 it worked in Russia, organizing automobile mail here. Since 1906 A. Kegress lodged in Tsarskoye Selo and became the technical director of garage of the tsar Nicholas II, and after - the personal driver of the emperor.
In 1908 the staff of Tsarskoye Selo Imperial garage totaled 26 people, and in five years expanded already to 80. Here the best drivers and experts of St. Petersburg worked. They had to not only steer skillfully the car, but also be able to repair them. And in special cases drivers became even bodyguards of the passengers.
The Russian snow climate and bad quality of roads forced A. Kegress to be engaged in development of cars of the increased passability. The flexible caterpillar propeller which was putting on on back wheels of the car became its main invention in this area. Caterpillars at first did of thick camel felt, and later - of rubber. Forward wheels sometimes put on skis. The first tests of imperial all-terrain vehicles took place in the winter of 1911. On May 31, 1914 A. Kegress took out the French and Russian patents for the invention. Kegress also to the first called the propeller invented by him the word which was applied only to insects earlier: La chenille - in French “a caterpillar, a worm“ . Being translated, this word got accustomed also in Russian.
From the beginning of World War I Adolf Kegress was at the crowned passenger in a rate of the Russian army. For this reason he was even entitled the ensign. And the Putilovsky plant began to release on its project all-terrain vehicles for army including armored cars on semi-caterpillar to the course “Austin - Putilov“. At the front these armored cars did not manage to apply. Bolsheviks used them already during Civil war.
After February revolution Adolf Kegress handed over all property of imperial garage to representatives of Provisional government, put the wife and three children on the car and went to Finland from where he returned home. As showed further events, it was very reasonable act.
Adolf Kegress was from the small town of Erikur (H é ricourt) which is in the east of France in the foothills of the Alps. Naturally, in this town all knew all. Therefore it is not surprising that in 1920 the textile manufacturer Georges Shvob D`Ericour (Georges Schwob d’H é ricourt) presents the friend A. Kegress to the famous producer of cars A. To Citroen. And in one of October revivals of 1920 Kegress showed to Citroen possibilities of the all-terrain vehicle, having taken for a drive “boss“ on sand heaps on an empty building site of plant in Seong - Denis.
Andre Citroen with insight peculiar to it estimated value of the invention of A. Kegress. During World War I he was an officer - the gunner and knew from experience as ordinary cars in cross-country conditions are helpless. And are not necessary to the all-terrain vehicle of the road! It can move on snow, on sand, on bogs! Military will tear off it with hands!
A. Citroen and possibilities of use of all-terrain vehicles in the civil sphere estimated. For example, in the African and Asian colonies of France where the network highway and the railroads was very undeveloped.
In 1920 the Citroen - Kegress - Ensten company which began to be engaged in development of caterpillar motor transport on the basis of ten-strong cars “B12 Citroen“ was created. These developments will play further a big role in ensuring motor rally of Citroen cars through the Sahara, on deserts and the jungle of Africa and on Asian off road terrain from Beirut to Beijing. These motor rallies were made at the end of 1920 - x - the beginning of 1930 - x years and drew attention of the whole world.
The Kegress - Ensten firm released all-terrain vehicles till 1937. These cars were used not only in the French army, but also in armies of other states: Belgium, Chile, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain, and also in post service and at customs.