A prince and his Cadillac; or, How Prince Olav of house Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, heir to the throne of Norway, got his first jalopy – with information on other miniature Cadillacs, part 2
Hei, min lesevenn, hvordan går det? Det går bra. Takk for at du spør.
Again, sorry for starting the second part of this article with three sentences in Norwegian.
All right, let us begin.
In late December 1912, in other words very soon after the miniature Cadillac mentioned in the first part of this article was presented to a blisteringly ecstatic Prince Olav, heir to the throne of Norway, the main representative of Cadillac Motor Car Company in the United Kingdom, Frederick Stanley “Fred” Bennett, paid a visit to the royal estate in Sandringham, England, to initiate the 9-year-old boy to the joys and perils of automobile driving. Prince Olav, it seemed, was a natural. He mastered his electrical hot rod in a matter of minutes and…
All right, all right, you got me. The term hot rod was actually a bit of an exaggeration on my part. You see, the engine of the miniature Cadillac had been tweaked to make sure that it would not exceed 11.3 or so kilometres/ hour (7 miles/hour). That way, the young royal would never get a speeding ticket.
Personally, I have a feeling that the tweaking had nothing to do with speeding. After all, the speed limit in the United Kingdon was 32 or so kilometres/hours (20 miles/hour). The automobile was presumably tweaked to reduce the risk that its young driver would hurt himself – or someone else. Let us not forget that Prince Olav was an heir with no spare.
In any event and as you may well imagine, the prince’s proud parents, King Haakon VII and Queen Maud, born Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria of house Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, were on hand at Sandringham to witness their progeny in action. They were very pleased. The prince’s grandmother, Queen Alexandra, spouse of King George V, was there as well, and equally pleased.
Ahh, boys and their toys… You know, Virgin Galactic Incorporated, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation and Blue Origin Limited Liability Company. It must be nice to have moolah. Personally, I would spend mine on something, like, useful. Useful to humankind, that is. Just sayin’.
Would you be surprised, my reading friend, if yours truly told you that a baby Cadillac was on display in the pleasure automobile section of the Manchester Motor Show held in… Manchester, England, between 14 and 22 February 1913? That vehicle proved very popular with the public. And here is proof, in the form of a brief text lifted from the pages of the 23 February 1913 issue of a London, England, weekly newspaper, The Observer:
Amidst all the attractions at the Manchester Motor Show, none received more attention than the miniature Cadillac shown on the stand occupied by the well-known Liverpool firm of agents, Messrs. J. Blake & Co. This baby Cadillac repeated in Manchester its success at the Paris Salon.
Now I ask you, my wing nutty reading friend, is there anything special about the day the February 1913 issue of The Observer was published? The 4th anniversary of the first controlled and sustained flight of a powered aeroplane on Canadian soil? Very good. Grab yourself a gold star. And we both know who made that flight, do we not? John Alexander Douglas McCurdy, a gentleman mentioned many times since September 2017 in our incomparable and unforgettable blog / bulletin / thingee? Very good. Grab yourself another gold star, but back to our story.
Given the popularity of the mini Cadillac, especially with many of the ladies who attended the Manchester Motor Show, you will not be surprised to hear (read?) that the photo postcards given away by the staff on duty at the Cadillac stand were in great request.
While yours truly has no proof that this was the case, I would not be surprised to learn that the same picture postcard was also given away by the staff on duty at the Cadillac stand at the Olympia Motor Show, held in London between 8 and 16 November 1912, nor would I be surprised to learn that it had been in great request.
Indeed, while yours truly has no proof that this was the case either, I would not be surprised to learn that a French language version of our picture postcard was given away by the staff on duty at the Cadillac stand at the XIIIme Salon de l’Automobile, du Cycle et des Sports, held in Paris, France, between 7 and 22 December 1912, nor would I be surprised to learn that it had been in great request.
Incidentally, both the English language and the French language versions of said picture postcard used the photograph which served as the inspiration of the artist who drew the following drawing.
The miniature Cadillac given as a Christmas present by Queen Alexandra, spouse of British King George V, to her grandson, Prince Olav of Norway. Anon., “Miniature Cadillac Purchased by Her Majesty Queen Alexandra.” The Topeka State Journal, 27 February 1913, 7.
Contrary to what was thought at some point, the two rather serious looking children in the automobile were not a pair of street urchins chosen at random. Nay. They were in fact Bennett’s children, Geoffrey Frederick (“Tommy”?) Bennett, at the wheel, and his older sister Mona Bennett.
You did notice that I had used the expression a baby Cadillac rather than the baby Cadillac 9 paragraphs ago, did you not, my reading friend? Good for you. You see, yours truly wonders if the vehicle on display in Manchester was the one Prince Olav had driven in late 1912 and early 1913, or another vehicle completed in the late winter of 1912-13.
You see, again, as far as yours truly can tell, King Haakon VII, Queen Maud and Prince Olav left England in early January. To be more precise, the king, the queen and the little prince crossed the Channel aboard a passenger ferry, had lunch and then boarded a special train to København, Denmark. Yours truly cannot say which means of transportation the royal trio took at that point. In any event, it soon arrived in Kristiania, as the capital of Norway was known back then, and…
Yes, you are indeed correct, my reading friend. The expression the king, the queen and the little prince is a literal translation of the title of a 19th century French song also known as Lundi matin. Yours truly wonders how many small / tiny anglophone Canadians learned how to say the days of the week in French by singing Lundi matin. (Hello, EP!) And profuse apologies if that song gets stuck in your noggin for the rest of the day. Hi, hi, hi. Sorry.
And here they are, the king, the queen and the little prince.
King Haakon VII, Queen Maud and Prince Olav, somewhere in Norway, July 1913. Library of Congress, LC-B2-2769-5.
What about the mini Cadillac, you ask? All right, all right. Keep your hubcaps on. The truth was that it had been left behind. Indeed, the vehicle left England only at some point in the spring of 1913. Well, to be more precise, a mini Cadillac left England at some point in the spring of 1913.
You see, again, a someone who might have been Bennett, or Queen Alexandra, or the tooth fairy for all I know, figured out in early 1913 that the mini Cadillac was a tad too small for a growing boy like Prince Olav. A second and slightly larger (scale 1:2) vehicle was therefore put together, presumably by J. Lockwood & Company Limited, the English firm which had put together the first mini Cadillac. That second vehicle was delivered to Marlborough House, the London residence of Queen Alexandra, in mid April 1913, and…
Is that your hand I see frantically poking through the ether, my irritating reading friend? What about the mini Cadillac, the original one, you ask? Patience, patience, and keep your hubcaps on.
Before I forget, Queen Alexandra paid the princely sum of £ 62 for the second baby Cadillac, a sum which corresponds to approximately $ 15 400 in 2023 Canadian currency.
Besides the usual headlamps and taillamps, the second mini Cadillac had an additional light on its dashboard. You see, Prince Olav wanted to be able to read the speedometer in the dark. I know, I know. Yours truly does not quite understand that princely request either. Mind you, it has been suggested that, unlike the first miniature automobile, the new one also had a reverse gear. Was it possible that the young prince had gotten tired of having to wait for someones, yes, someones, to lift his contraption if it got stuck in a cramped space?
Before I forget, again, the second baby Cadillac also had a top speed of approximately 11.3 kilometres/ hour (7 miles/hour). Oh yes, and it was seemingly painted some sort of yellowish green – or greenish yellow. As bland as the grey of the first mini Cadillac was, I cannot say I like the new paint scheme a whole lot. Sorry.
And yes, Prince Olav and his jalopies continued to be a source of interest. Would you believe that the French firm Anciens Établissements Pathé Frères Société anonyme, arguably the largest film production and film equipment manufacturing firm on planet Earth, presented footage of a miniature Cadillac to the viewing public of Paris in late April and / or early May 1913?
The provenance of that footage cannot be ascertained with any degree of certainty. It is however possible that said provenance was British, err, English actually. Let me explain.
Eager as ever to publicise the automobiles produced by Cadillac Motor Car, seemingly eager also to show off at an upcoming event in the United States, Bennett saw to it that the first mini Cadillac got filmed by British & Colonial Kinematograph Company Limited as it negotiated some of the busiest streets of London.
At the wheel was an otherwise unknown individual whose stoic / deadpan expression predated / prefigured that of one the great American actors, comedians and directors of the silent film era, Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton, a gentleman mentioned in a February 2023 issue of our astounding blog / bulletin / thingee.
Sadly enough, the perambulations of the small automobile resulted in judicial proceedings. You see, the driver of the automobile was the 16 years old office boy of one Ralph Campbell, a managerial type employee of Cadillac Motor Car or F.S. Bennett Limited. Given his age, that teenager could not legally drive an automobile, especially not on some of the busiest streets of London.
Politely ordered to show up at a London police court, Campbell showed up with a solicitor closely associated with the Automobile Association, an association founded in 1905 primarily to help the well off and posh British motorists of the time avoid police speed traps. I kid you not.
William Taylor Parkes’ explanation to the effect that the office boy was the only person on hand who was small enough to fit in the automobile did not impress the magistrate. There had been a deliberate breach of law, stated Paul Taylor, in May 1913. He fined Campbell £ 2, plus 2 shillings for costs. These sums put together correspond to approximately $ 260 in 2023 Canadian currency.
Would you believe that the footage shot by British & Colonial Kinematograph has survived, at least in part? Well, it did and here it is…
The presence of a banner extolling 100 years of peace, spread between British and American flags, toward the end of the video, might well be linked to the approaching centennial of the official end of the War of 1812, with the signing of the treaty of Ghent, in… Ghent, Kingdom of the Netherlands, in late December 1814.
Given that the names Mona and Tommy mentioned on the intertitles referred to Bennett’s aforementioned children, yours truly has a feeling that “Bobbles” might have been their younger sibling.
I can also tell you that at least part of the footage you just saw was seen at some point in June 1913 by members of an American society, the Society of Automobile Engineers Incorporated (SAE), and their British guests. This presentation was one of the many activities offered to said guests, who happened to be members of the Institute of Automobile Engineers and / or Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
While the presentation coincided with the 1913 annual meeting of the SAE, yours truly cannot say if was made in early June, during a 3-day cruise on Lake Erie aboard the largest lake steamer and sidewheeler in the world, the palatial SS City of Detroit III.
By the time that footage was shown, yours truly has a feeling that the yellowish green / greenish yellow mini Cadillac had been, or was about to be, shipped to Norway. Yours truly can also tell you that it was the first automobile owned by the Norwegian royal family.
One could also argue that interest in the little prince and his jalopies was pretty much global, at least within certain circles. The following was / is a case in point. And yes, the illustration in question, which was based on a photograph, actually showed the first miniature Cadillac. The gentleman in the image, by the way, was / is Bennett.
The first miniature Cadillac delivered to Prince Olav. Anon., “Miniature Cadillac Purchased by Her Majesty Queen Alexandra.” Manilla Express, 15 October 1913, 7.
So what, you say, my blasé reading friend? So what?! I will let you know that Manilla Express was and is a biweekly newspaper published in… Manilla, New South Wales. Yes, yes, in Australia. So what?! Jeez… At least 10 other newspapers from that country published that same drawing in October 1913, and…
What about the mini Cadillac, the original one, you ask, my tenacious reading friend? All right, all right. Again, keep your hubcaps on.
From the looks of it, Wilfred Chester Leland, the son of Cadillac Motor Car’s founding father, had been interested in that vehicle from the moment he had heard about it. When he heard it was available, the American businessman immediately acquired it and had it shipped to the United States. And yes, the mini Cadillac became once again a present, a birthday present this time, however. The overjoyed recipient of said present was Leland’s son, Wilfred Chester Leland, Junior, who celebrated his 5th birthday in April 1913. It must be nice to be loaded.
Another example of the buzz created by the miniature Cadillacs was the fact that one such vehicle was on display at the 1914 edition of the Los Angeles Auto Show, in… Los Angeles, California, held between 5 and 12 January, I think.
Eager as ever to publicise the automobiles produced by Cadillac Motor Car, the firm’s exclusive distributor in California, if not the West coast of the United States, Donald Musgrave “Don” Lee, had indeed moved heaven and earth to have an example of the lilliputian automobile on display.
Incidentally, the automobile in question was allegedly quickly sold to a local and well-off civil engineer / real estate investor / socialite, John F. “Johnny” Powers, who presumably had a young son.
Sadly, yours truly cannot say if Powers’ mini Cadillac was the one sold to Leland, or another vehicle, a 3rd miniature Cadillac.
To complicate things even further, a baby Cadillac was apparently on display at the Olympia Motor Show held in London between 7 and 15 November 1913. And here is that mysterious automobile.
The miniature Cadillac on display at the 1913 edition of the Olympia Motor Show, besides a full-size Cadillac limousine. Anon., “A curiosity of the Motor Show: A Baby Cadillac by the side of its big brother.” Illustrated London News, 15 November 1913, 816.
That vehicle was probably not the one sold to Leland. It might, however, have been the one later sold to Powers.
To that mystery was / is added another, linked to a sale made less than 3 years later. Indeed, would you believe that a (red?) miniature Cadillac was acquired in 1916 by Phrabāth s̄mdĕc phramngkuḍkel̂ā cêā xyū̀ h̄ạw, in other words Vajiravudh, or King Rama VI of Siam, a country known in 2023 as Thailand? I kid you not.
Said monarch gave that vehicle, possibly a 4th mini Cadillac, to a young nephew of his, 8-year-old Prince Cul cạkrphngs̄ʹ̒ or, as he is better known to Westerners, Prince Chula Chakrabongse.
At some point, the young prince might have been described as a lead foot. You see, he allegedly knocked a woman off her feet while tearing up the palace grounds. Mind you, a regal cousin of the prince might have run into a small table, knocking over what was on it.
Would you believe that Bennett was one of the oldest competitors in the 1953 edition of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run? And yes, he was driving the 1903 Cadillac Tonneau / Runabout / Model A he had acquired in 1903, the one mentioned in the first part of this article, an automobile fondly referred to as My Old Dutch.
And yes, again, the 1953 event commemorated the 50th anniversary of the reliability trial organised in 1903 by the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland.
And yes, for the 3rd time, my discombobulated reading friend, the jump from 1916 to 1953 that you experienced was a tad disconcerting. Sorry.
By the way, My Old Dutch was / is also the name of the oldest dedicated pancake house in London. That rightfully famous restaurant has been serving ultra-thin crepe-style pancakes on ginormous 43-centimetre (17 inches) plates since 1958. Yours truly remembers those delicious pancakes, served on gorgeous Delft plates. I went to that restaurant several times in the early and mid 1980s and 1990s. The place was always packed. Ahhh, the good old days… But I digress.
Did you know that Bennett was the only participant in the 1953 event who drove the vehicle he had driven during in the 1903 event? Indeed, he was the only participant in the 1903 event who still owned the vehicle used in that event. Better yet, would you believe that the wheel installed by the side of a road as part of a 1903 emergency repair mentioned in the first part of this article was still attached to the Cadillac? I kid you not.
Would you also believe that Bennett and his Cadillac might, I repeat might, have taken part in every edition of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, an event, and not a race, with no winner, which had been launched in… 1927? I kid you not. Again. Better yet, that dynamic dup allegedly completed each and every one of these gruelling 1 600 or so kilometre (1 000 or so miles) events.
Incidentally, Bennett had seemingly retired in 1924, at age 50, as he had planned for years.
And yes, My Old Dutch completed the 1953 edition of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, yet again held in November. Numerous members of the press, not to mention a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television crew, were on hand to welcome the old automobile and its elderly driver.
Does yours truly need to remind you that the BBC was mentioned several / many times in our incomparable blog / bulletin / thingee since October 2018? I thought not.
Bennett’s companion in the 1953 edition of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run was none other than George Formby, born George Hoy Booth, a world-famous English actor / comedian / singer / songwriter and ukulele player who was, at one point, the highest-paid entertainer in the United Kingdom.
Incidentally, Bennett’s companion in the 1952 edition of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, held in November, was not a f*ck*n’ nobody either, to paraphrase, out of context and very, very politely / respectfully the Russian American mob boss Viggo Tarasov. Nor was that companion the boogeyman, or Jonathan “John” Wick, born Jardani Jovonovich. Nay. He was world famous English Formula One driver Stirling Craufurd Moss.
And here is proof…
Stirling Craufurd Moss at the wheel of the 1903 Cadillac Model A owned by Frederick Stanley Bennett, sitting right beside him, at the start of the 1952 edition of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, London, England, November 1952. Anon., “Moss in an unusual role.” Motor Sport, December 1952, 561.
I cannot say (type?) if Bennett or his Cadillac took part in post-1953 editions of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. This being said (typed?), Bennett took part in the 1958 edition of that remarkable event as a passenger. He rode aboard an otherwise unidentified Cadillac which might, I repeat might, have been manufactured in 1907. And yes, that edition was held in November, as usual.
It is my sad duty to inform you that Bennett passed away in December 1958, at the ripe old age of 84. He was / is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures in the early history of British motoring.
How about Prince Olav, you ask, my royalist reading friend? Well, speaking (typing?) as a lifelong republican, republican with a small r, absolutely and positively not with a capital R, I must state that King Olav V left this world in January 1991, at the ripe old age of 87, after a reign which had lasted more than 33 years (September 1957-January 1991). The people’s king, or folkekongen as that down to earth monarch was commonly known, was mourned by one and all.
In a national poll conducted by the Norway’s broadcasting corporation, Norsk rikskringkasting Aksjeselskap, in 2005, the year Norway celebrated the centennial of its independence from Sweden, Olav V won the title of Norwegian of the century.
His precious yellowish green / greenish yellow Cadillac was / is still with us as of 2023, by the way. It still belonged to the Norwegian royal family but might be on display at the Norsk Teknisk Museum, in Oslo, as the Norwegian capital became known in 1925. You will undoubtedly be pleased to hear (read?) that the mini Cadillac was / is in excellent condition.
Incidentally, that potentially unique machine left Norway at least once. You see, in 2003, the Norwegian royal family agreed to let the Norsk Teknisk Museum loan it to a British group, quite probably the Cadillac Owners Club of Great Britain, as part of the 2003 edition of the latter’s annual Cadillac Spectacular event, an edition which commemorated the centennial of the arrival of the first Cadillac automobile in the United Kingdom.
A potentially unique machine, you ask, my concerned reading friend? Yes, quite potentially unique. And here lies a tale. Fear not, my reading friend, a brief tale.
The mini Cadillac driven by Prince Chula Chakrabongse became the property of his daughter, Narisa Chakrabongse, after his death, in December 1963. Said daughter, a teddy bear collector, joined forces with a publisher who collected toy and model trains, her spouse actually, and a veterinarian who collected Victorian and Edwardian toys, to launch the London Toy and Model Museum, in… London. That museal institution opened its doors to the public in May 1982.
By 1989 at the latest, the mini Cadillac was on display in the museum. A large (1.4 to 1.5 metre (4.5 to 5 feet) tall) teddy bear named Evelyn Paugh which belonged to Narisa Chakrabongse, just like the automobile, was in the driver’s seat. At the time, the lilliputian automobile was said to be in excellent condition.
Paugh was seemingly a rather well-known bear at the time. You see, it had been used to launch a video cassette by BBC Enterprises Limited in October 1988. Said video cassette contained a quartet of 1970 episodes of a (very?) popular children’s television series, Andy Pandy, initially broadcasted by the BBC in 1950 (black and white) and 1970 (colour).
And yes, my erudite reading friend, Evelyn Paugh was undoubtedly named after the English writer / book reviewer / journalist Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh, but back to our story.
A Japanese construction conglomerate, Fujita Kōgyō Kabushiki Kaisha, acquired the London Toy and Model Museum in 1989 and… You have a question, have you not? Why was such a firm interested in a toy and model museum in England? Well, you see, the individual at the helm of Fujita Kōgyō was an enthusiastic toy collector. Indeed, Fujita Kazuaki initiated a massive refit of the museum in 1994. Sadly enough, he died the following year. Unable to continue to operate an institution which was very much in the red at a time when serious financial problems were hitting close to home, Fujita Kōgyō shut down the London Toy and Model Museum in February 1999.
The museum’s vast collections were sold at auction by one of the largest brokers of collectibles on planet Earth, Sotheby’s Holdings Incorporated. The miniature Cadillac was presumably one of the items sold. Sadly enough, its current whereabouts are unknown.
The mini Cadillac operated by the young Leland might belong to an automobile collector, presumably an American one, but has not been seen in public since the 1960s. And yes, the current whereabouts of the vehicle driven by the young Powers are very much unknown, provided of course that this vehicle was actually a 4th miniature Cadillac. And what about the mini Cadillac on display at the 1913 Olympia Motor Show?
Unwilling as I am to part from you on a sad note, yours truly is pleased to point out that Bennett’s 1903 Cadillac, My Old Dutch, was still with us as of 2023. That unique machine, on display at the National Motor Museum of Brockenhurst, England, belonged / belongs to a private individual or automobile collector.
This writer wishes to thank the people who provided information. Any mistake contained in this article is my fault, not theirs.
Ha det, min lesevenn. Vi sees senere. Ikke la jævlene male deg ned.