Edouard Rochet and his father were bicycle manufacturers before entering motorcar production. In 1894 they were joined by Théophile Schneider, a relative of the eponymous armaments family that in 1848 had a monopoly supplying arms to the French govt and supported the coup d'etat that put Napolean's nephew on the emperors seat of France, because he hadn't had enough of running France as president when his term was up.
Their first car appeared in 1894, based on the contemporary Benz, and by 1896 the partners were confident enough to form a limited company, the Societe Lyonnaise de Velocipedes et Automobiles Rochet-Schneider. Soon the company attracted the attentions of a wealthy Marseilles financier and automobilist, Demetrius Zafiropulo, who made sizeable investments in Rochet-Schneider enabling them to build a new factory in the Chimin Feuilat in Lyon, and helped the company over the difficult period around 1900 when sales of the old belt-driven model began to tail off.
at the Paris Salon of 1902, they were awarded a Gold Medal. President Loubet told the company: 'Your Exhibits are the finest in the Salon', while L'Auto-Velo commented: 'Rochet, in 1903, will be at the head of the Automobile Industry'.
Around the same time, Rochet-Schneider 'gained the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland's 100 Miles Non-Stop Certificate, taking Dashwood Hill at 20.8 miles an hour with four passengers; made a World's Record practically non-stop run of 450 miles, London to Glasgow, in 21 hours; lost one mark only (driver's fault) in the Scottish Non-Stop 400 Miles' Run, Glasgow to London; undefeated, power for power, as a hill-climber - no other car in the world can show such a record tor reliability and hill-climbing.'
Rochet-Schneider had become one of the most respected car manufacturers in France in the middle of the 1900s. In 1904 the company was sold for 4.5 million francs and a London-based company called "Rochet-Schneider Ltd." was formed.
The company prospered because of the company's acquisition, in mid-1909 of the Zenith Carburettor Company. The carburettors were produced in a factory adjacent to Rochet-Schneider in the Chemin Feuillat, and also in branch factories in Germany, Britain and Detroit, and were obligatory wear on many of the luxury vehicles of the day.
In 1909, just before Theophile Schneider left, the first small Rochet-Schneider was announced. There was little out of the ordinary in the chassis or bodies, save in one particularly entrancing type - the 9000 - of which this one example survives.
This "cab de ville" was modelled on the horsedrawn London hansom cab, in which the driver sat above and behind his two passengers. The car was a two seater, with half doors that swung across occupant's legs, enclosing the steering wheel and controls. From the side the 9000 gives the curious impression that the car is being driven from a rear seat. This is heightened when the windshield provided for bad weather is lowered.
Rochet Schneider was one of the first companies in France to put a gas engined car onto the market, in 1894, and soon built a reputation for well-built reliable cars which lasted until the end of passenger car production in 1932. Though there were no more Rochet Schneider cars after 1932 the company made lorries and buses until 1951 when the were taken over by fellow Lyons firm Berlier.
now, this is a cgi, and shows the steering is IN the cabin, and nothing is on the firewall.