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Clément-Bayard was a French manufacturer of automobiles, aeroplanes and airships founded in 1903 by the entrepreneur Adolphe Clément-Bayard (née Adolphe Clément). The name celebrated the Chevalier Pierre Terrail, seigneur de Bayard who saved the town of Mézières in 1521. A statue of the Chevalier stood in front of the Mézières factory, and the image was incorporated into the company logo.
From 1903 Clément-Bayard automobiles were built in a 'state of the art' factory at Mézières, known as La Macérienne, which Clément had designed in 1894 mainly for building bicycles.
Aircraft test flights began in 1908 and Louis Capazza's 'planeur (glider) Clément-Bayard' was unveiled in L'Aérophile on 15 May 1908. Clément-Bayard also built Alberto Santos-Dumont's Demoiselle No 19 monoplane that he had designed to compete for the Coupe d'Aviation Ernest Archdeacon prize from the Aéro-Club de France. It was the world's first series production aircraft and by 1909 Clement-Bayard had the license to manufacture Wright engines alongside their own design.
In 1908 'Astra Clément-Bayard' began manufacturing airships at a new factory in La Motte-Breuil.
In 1914 the factory La Macérienne at Mézières was seized by the advancing German army and automobile production in Levallois-Perret, Paris, was suspended as the factory was turned over to war production, military equipment and military vehicles, aero engines, airships and planes.
In 1922 the company was broken up and the factory in Paris was taken over by Citroën.
Circa 1909 Adolphe Clément received permission from the Conseil d'État to change his name to Adolphe Clément-Bayard.
Circa 1905 publicity image of Clément-Bayard showing the statue of the Chevalier Bayard that stood in front of the factory at Mézières and formed the company logo
In 1896 Adolphe Clément was associated with Lord Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 20th Earl of Shrewsbury and (yet to be convicted) fraudster Harry John Lawson of the British Automobile Commercial Syndicate Ltd. They bought the Gladiator Cycle Company, a French manufacturer of bicycles which had been founded by Alexandre Darracq and Paul Aucoq in 1891 at Le Pré-Saint-Gervais in north east Paris. They then merged the Gladiator Cycle Company into a major bicycle manufacturing conglomerate of Clément, Gladiator & Humber (France) Ltd. In 1897 BACS was the first of many of Lawson's ventures to collapse, but Clément remained a director of 'Clément- Gladiator'. The range was expanded, and in 1902 a motorised bicycle led to cars and motorcycles.
Clément-Gladiator was divided in 1903, such that Lord Charles Chetwynd-Talbot founded the English arm "Clément-Talbot Ltd" with Clément's financial backing, and in parallel Clément also formed Clément-Bayard at Mézières (now Charleville-Mézières). He chose the name Bayard in commemoration of the Chevalier Pierre Terrail, seigneur de Bayard who saved the town of Mézières in 1521. A statue of the Chevalier stood in front of the Mézières factory, and the image was incorporated into the company logo. After the split both marques built very similar cars, but the specifications gradually diverged. Initially, Clément-Bayard cars were imported to Britain under the Talbot brand.
The initial model range comprised three models (9Hp, 12Hp, 16Hp) and was enhanced in 1904 with a 6Hp single-cylinder, a 7Hp twin-cylinder, and 14Hp, 20Hp & 27Hp 4-cylinders.
From 1904 Clément-Bayard production at Levallois-Perret increased from 1,800 cars per annum to 3,000 in 1907, employing up to 4,000 workers. The range included several models, all luxurious and high quality, from a small two-seater twin-cylinder 8-10 hp to a big four-cylinder 50-60 hp model that could exceed 60 km/h.
In 1907 the 10/12 hp model was introduced with a unitary gearbox and a dashboard radiator.
In 1910 Clément-Bayard started to manufacture a stylish, low cost, small, two-seater roadster, with a 4-cylinder 10/12 hp, and a heater for the driver and passenger. It was very popular and production continued until the outbreak of war in 1914.
By 1913 the factories of Levallois and Mezieres were focused on the production of a wide range of products including car chassis, car bodies, cars, trucks, airships, airplanes, motors, canoes, bicycles, engines and generators.
On the front page of the 15 November 1913 edition of the Revue de l’industrie automobile et aéronautique (Review for Automotive and Aerospace Industry) Clément-Bayard announced a new 4-cylinder 30-40 Hp motor. By early 1914 Clément-Bayard had a complete range of twelve models, from two to six seats, equipped with engines ranging from a small 7 hp twin-cylinder for less than 7000 francs to a big 6-cylinder 30 Hp unit. Additionally there was a 20 Hp four-cylinder 'valveless' (sleeve-valve) Knight engine which was licensed from Panhard et Levassor.
In 1914 the factory La Macérienne at Mézières was seized by the advancing German army and automobile manufacture in Levallois-Perret, Paris, was suspended as the factory was turned over to war production: military equipment; military vehicles; aero engines; airships; and planes. After World War I motor production resumed with an 8 hp (6 kW) and a 17.6 hp (13.1 kW) model.