Lorraine Dietrich Vieux Charles III
1912, Jackson Shed, On long term display
This car is believed to be the sole survivor of the French team of four cars built in Luneville for the 1912 Dieppe Grand Prix. It was first brought to Brooklands Racetrack in Surrey, England, later in 1912 by Victor Hémery who proceeded to take a number of track and world records with it.
Three Brooklands British Class ‘A’ records set by Hémery with ‘Vieux Charles III’ still stand; for 500 miles with an average speed of 86.05 mph, 3 hours at 94.82 mph and 6 hours at 86.36 mph.
In the ownership of Malcolm Campbell, after the First World War it was brought to Brooklands as one of his famous Blue Bird racing cars and won the first race when the track re-opened in 1920. Apart from a short visit to Hampshire, the car has been based at, or near, Brooklands ever since.
During the 1930s, ‘Vieux Charles III’ was part of RGJ Nash’s International Horseless Carriage Corporation collection of early mechanical transport based at Brooklands Racetrack. “RGJ” drove ‘Vieux Charles III’ at the Lewes Trials in Sussex in the mid-1930s and drove it for the last time at Silverstone in July 1966.
Restoration to active service after a period “at rest” was undertaken by Don Lincoln and his colleagues in Weybridge during the 1980s. In 1988 the car was “retired” with a defective big end bearing and since 1993 has resided at Brooklands Museum.
In the autumn of 2006 a team of Brooklands Museum volunteers led by David Nicholls dismantled the car down to chassis and gearbox. The engine crankcase and moving parts were then dispatched to F.J. Payne & Son for the main and big end bearings to be renewed. Restoration is now nearing its end with only the upholstery awaiting completion. The car was successfully fired up on part of the historic Banking at Brooklands Museum in June 2010.