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Lorraine / Lorraine-Dietrich

Lorraine-Dietrich was a French automobile and aircraft engine manufacturer from 1896 until 1935, created when railway locomotive manufacturer Société Lorraine des Anciens Etablissments de Dietrich and Cie (known as De Dietrich et Cie, founded in 1684 by Jean de Dietrich) branched into the manufacture of automobiles. The Franco-Prussian War divided the company's manufacturing capacity, one plant in Niederbronn-les-Bains, Alsace, the other in Lunéville, Lorraine.

In 1896, managing director of the Lunéville plant, Adrien, Baron de Turckheim, bought the rights to a design by Amédée Bollée. This used a front-mounted horizontal twin engine with sliding clutches and belt drive. It had a folding top, three acetylene headlights, and, very unusual for the period, plate glass windshield. While the company started out using engines from Bollée, de Dietrich eventually produced the entire vehicle themselves.

After World War I, with Lorraine restored to France, the company restarted manufacture of automobiles and aero-engines. Their 12-cylinder aero-engines were used by Breguet, IAR, and Aero, among others.

The de Dietrich family sold its share in the company, which became simply known as Lorraine from 1928 on.

Automobile production eventually became unprofitable and, after the failure of their 20 CV model, the concern ceased production of automobiles in 1935.

In 1930, de Dietrich was absorbed by Société Générale Aéronautique, and the Argenteuil plant was converted to making aircraft engines and six-wheel trucks licenced from Tatra. By 1935, Lorraine-Dietrich had disappeared from the automobile industry. Until World War II, Lorraine concentrated on the military market, manufacturing vehicles such as the Lorraine 37L armoured carrier.

The Lunéville plant returned to rail locomotives. In 2007, it still operated as De Dietrich Ferroviaire.



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