1921 Farman A6B Super Sport

This one-off, custom bodied Farman Super Sport is one of approximately four surviving Farman automobiles out of 120 produced. This unusual Super Sport Torpedo has a history of prestigious ownership. Once owned by the Maharajah of Idar, the Maharajah of Karauli and the Maharajah of Bharatpur, the car spent many years in the possession of India's royal class. With its open styling and superior mechanics, this Farman was a favorite for hunting expeditions, including the tiger hunts.

The car was later transported out of India and became part of the Woldgang Gawor Collection. In recent years the car has been featured in many French publications, including 'Automobiles Classiques.' This car is now part of the J. Peter Ministrelli Collection.

One of Only Four Surviving Farman Automobiles
Built in France, the Farman Company produced only approximately 125 cars during the eleven years the company was in business. All of the vehicles were made to order and had custom coachbuilt bodies.

This example is powered by a 318 cubic-inch engine with a gear driven single overhead camshaft, a dual ignition using both magneto and battery, and dual updraft Zenith carburetors. The chassis features a four-speed transmission, a multiple disc clutch and four-wheel brakes.

Farman's were marketed to the ultra-rich and designed to compete with Rolls Royce, Hispano Suiza, Isotta Fraschini and other high performance luxury cars of the period.

This 1921 Farman Super Sport is one of only four surviving Farman automobiles known to exist. This striking torpedo-bodied touring car spent most of its early years in the possession of India's royal class, where it was used for hunting expeditions and continental touring. It has been owned by the Maharajah of Idar, the Maharajah of Karauli, the Maharajah of Karauli and the Maharajah of Bharatpur. Not only is it the only Farman in North America, but it is the only example of the marque that is privately owned.
Brothers Henri and Maurice Farman were avid racers, successful business, and pioneers in both the automotive and aviation industries. Racing for them was not exclusively limited to automobiles but included ballooning, airplanes and bicycles. In November of 1907, Henri won the Archdeacon Cup for successfully completing the first official flight of over 150 meters. The Wright brothers had flown farther, but not under official sanction. They had success in building biplanes and even created a successful aviation company which would eventually become one of the first airlines and later was absorbed by Air France. During World War I their Farman Aviation Works produced around 12,000 military aircraft for France. Their work in the aviation industry would have profound influences on their vehicle designs in the years to come, including aerodynamics and the use of lightweight materials and practices.

By the close of the 1910s the brothers decided to enter the automotive industry as a manufacturer. Their goal in the automotive industry was to create an exclusive luxury automobile catered to the wealth and influential in society. Their experiences at owning and operating automobile dealerships had taught them much about their competition and about how to build an automobile to meet public demands and expectations.

Their first product was introduced near the close of 1919 and called the A6 A. Its steep price tag made it an exclusive vehicle and its technological innovations and alluring designs made it a welcomed alternative to other luxury marques. Its powerplant was a 6.6-liter unit built in similar design and fashion to the Hispano Suiza engine, another airplane engine manufacturer during the First World War. The 100 horsepower unit had single overhead camshafts and two Zenith carburetors. The engine was mated to a four-speed gearbox and mounted in a steel ladder-type frame and clothed in an aluminum body. Four-wheel brakes, an uncommon feature at the time, were standard on the Farman. The Farman was offered as a coupe and a roadster, in both luxury and sporty fashion.

With a car of this prestige and caliber, it is understandable that the Farman Company found only a few capable buyers. Their slogan 'A car rolls, a Farman glides' was an interesting way to announce their intention to rival the other upper-echelon automotive companies.

As the years progressed, improvements were continually made to all aspects of the vehicle. The block and head of the engine were now constructed from aluminum, helping to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle. Other improvements, such as power-assisted drum brakes were placed on all four corners, were made to the A6. The vehicles fitted with these feature were dubbed the A6 B. The chassis was redesigned during the mid-1920s and given an improved front suspension setup. This improvement resulted in the renaming of the car to the New Farman 1, commonly known as the NF1. This was followed a few years later by the NF2 which had a larger 7.5-liter engine.

As the 1930s came into sight and The Great Depression was on the horizon, the Farman Company, like so many others, were seriously affected by the strain of the market. The Great Depression affected nearly every aspect of the economy, and those that catered to only the rich saw their pool of potential buyers dwindle. Competition became extremely fierce with only a few weathering the economic turmoil. The Farman Company would not be one of the few to endure the Depression, and by 1931 had gone the way of the dinosaur. Their airplane factory continued for many years and were nationalized by the French government in 1936.

In modern times, only four examples of the Farman marque are left in existence. They had produced around 10 examples per year amassing a total of about 120 units. Two of the existing Farmans, an A6 A and a NF1, are in the Schlumpf Collection in Mulhouse, France. The A6B Super Sport Torpedo is the only one still in a private collection.

With only four examples still in existence and two in a museum, it is understandable that the Farman Company is an unknown name. Having the opportunity to witness one of their creations is truly an alesan experience and studying their craftsmanship gives one the realization that they were truly one the greats.
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2008
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