A proud heritage

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One of the many automotive and engineering projects with which Ricardo has been involved was the Le Zèbre Type Z, of which Sir Harry Ricardo’s own example is now on display at the firm’s Shoreham offices. JONATHAN WELCH

It’s always pleasing to see a company which is proud of its heritage, and as mentioned in this week’s feature on Ricardo’s hydrogen bus repower project, the company’s headquarters alongside Shoreham Airport is home to a display of some interesting reminders of its past. Not least is this 1926 Le Zèbre Z10 car, which sits prominently in the reception area.


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Designed by Ricardo between 1922 and 1923, the car was produced from 1924 by Le Zèbre, a French manufacturer based in Puteaux in the western suburbs of Paris, marking the end of an unsettled post-war period for the firm, which produced cars from 1908 until 1930.

The Le Zèbre-Ricardo partnership was reportedly warmly welcomed by the trade press of the day, and the new Type Z was seen as the vehicle to help the company get back on track. From 1925 to 1930, it was the only car sold by the manufacturer, though ultimately only 550 were built. Faced with the failure of the model and the concurrent economic slump, the company closed permanently in 1931.

Le Zèbre produced 9,500 cars between 1909 and 1931, of which about 250 examples remain today. The example on display dates from 1926 and was Sir Harry Ricardo’s family car for a number of years. It was purchased and restored by Ricardo in 1995-1996.