Family History: My Great Grand-Father And The Automobile Industry!

audiber lavirotte car

audiber lavirotte car

For something a little different, today I want to share with you the remarkable story of my great-grandfather Maurice Audibert. He was born and lived in France from 1867 to 1931. He and his childhood friend, Emile Lavirotte (1870-1944), were among the first car builders in their factory in Lyon in France.

Maurice Audibert

Maurice Audibert

Emile Lavirotte

Emile Lavirotte







In 1894, they built their first automobile in the outbuildings of the Audibert family home in Lyon. In 1896, they created their own Audibert-Lavirotte plant, one of the first factories to reach an industrial size

Audibert et Lavirotte plant, Lyon, France

Audibert et Lavirotte plant, Lyon, France

They began building buses with 16 seats


bus, 16 places

as well as tricycles.



Their 1899 Catalogue (kept in the BERLIET foundation in Lyon) offers carriages with numerous body styles, including a two-seat buggy,

"Duc" ( buggy) , 2 seats

“Duc” ( buggy) , 2 seats

“vis a vis” ( which means face to face),"vis à vis" face-to-face-cartravel sedans

limousine, 12cv

limousine, 12cv

and single or double phaetons

Audibert-Lavirotte, 8HP Phaeton from 1899

Audibert-Lavirotte, 8HP Phaeton from 1899

. It is estimated from the records that they built approximately 250 vehicles.

The building of the factory plant was spread out from 1896 to 1901. However, sadly at that date their factory was forced to close after financiers did not pay and it was bought later by Marius Berliet.

While in production their cars had a good reputation, they were known for their solidity and elegance. From the beginning Audibert & Lavirotte entered them in several motor shows.220px-Salon_1901 For example in 1896, they presented 6 cars in the 4th ever auto show. 1896_expoAnd in 1900 during the World Expo they received a silver medal for their entire production line.1900_expo


Their cars also participated in 15 races between 1898 and 1901.220px-CourseAL At first, they didn’t do well but later they were ranked in the top 3. By 1900 they had a racing model called “Torpille” ( which means Torpedo), it had phenomenal power for the time with 32 hp and four vertical cylinders.




For a long time it was their inventions of the gearbox under sealed oilpanGear box audibert_et_lavirotteand fully-enclosed rigid frame made of steel tubesChassis_tubulaire that were used throughout the auto industry. Both were the inventions of Audibert & Lavirotte and were invented in 1898.

Today, there are still three perfectly restored Audibert & Lavirotte cars. One is in the Henri Malartre Museum near Lyon France, a116

another belongs to the Automobile Museum of Sarthe in Le Mans, FrancemuseeLeMAns and the third belongs to a private collector in Holland.a62-b

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of time travel and a tiny peak into my personal family history.

Life is full of surprises
My husband is a truck mechanic, and some times he needs to be in the truck cabin of his customers’ vehicles.  Imagine how surprised he was one day when he was working in a truck cab, here in Canada and he found a match box with a picture of one of my great grand-father’s cars. After explaining the story to the trucker he asked if he could have it and this nice guy gave it to him. What a find!  This is really precious to us !
So, here is a picture of our little match box: match box

Below are links to pages with more information if you are interested in learning more about Audibert & Lavirotte or the history of the automobile. ( In french) ( in French)


8 thoughts on “Family History: My Great Grand-Father And The Automobile Industry!

  1. Thank you for sharing. I’ve been doing some genealogy work for my family that goes back to Etienne Audibert Born in 1675 in St Jean Limoges France. I’d like to think Maurice is a descendant of his. Great article. Absolutely loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Theresa for your kind comment. Internet is such an amazing tool, I never imagine finding any relatives this way! I don’t know if my family can go back that far as you did ( as in France a lot of documents were destroyed during the French Revolution), but I will ask to one of my cousin.


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