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Overview

1904-1906

Saint Etienne is the capital of the départment of the Loire and an important industrial town. At the end of the 19th century its principal industries were listed as: the weaving of ribbons; armaments; and bicycles. The majority of the latter were made by Chavanet, Gros, Pichard et Cie and by 1899 they were making motor tricycles and quadricycles using the name 'Automoto' for their products. Voiturettes were also made but by the time the business became the Société Anonyme de Constructions Mécaniques de la Loire around 1904 it was concentrating on motorcycle production. Automoto motorcycles continued to be made until the 1960s.

Unfortunately modern reference sources have confused this Société Constructions Mécaniques with the much older and entirely unconnected Société Manufacturière d'Armes, also of Saint Etienne, presumably because both were from the same town, have complicated company names, and the latter not only made bicycles but also briefly produced some large Aster-engined automobiles. These were advertised from October 1904 onwards; the Société Manufacturière d'Armes quite clearly identifying its products as: "Automobiles SVELTE". This name literally translates as 'slender', but can also be rendered as 'lithe'. The sole surviving car made by this armament manufacturer has only the company name on its hub-caps, but it was with the Svelte name that all such vehicles were sold, as were its bicycles.

Source: Society of Automotive Historians in Britain

Models produced by Svelte

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