Mar 20, 2021


 PILAIN / FRANCE  ( 1902 - 1920 )

Francois Pilain had worked for Serpollet and for LA BUIRE before starting on his own in 1893. He then worked for VERMOREL before returning to Lyons in 1901 where he set up the SOCIETE DES AUTOMOBILES PILAIN often known as SAP and these three letters also appeared on the hub-caps, the radiator core and some radiator emblems ( see below ).

Francois Pilain was the uncle of Emile Pilain who later founded the ROLLAND PILAIN in Tours.

Few cars were made by Francois Pilain before 1904.  In 1906 he offered a chassis with a 6.2 liter and even a 8.6 4-cylinder engine. The cars had round radiators in the Delaunay - Belleville  or Hotchkiss style.

Francois had to leave his own company in 1909 and the  new directors introduced a range of smaller cars.

In 1913 a vee-shaped radiator was adpopted. The last PILAIN was sold in 1920 under the name S.L.I.M - PILAIN.

1906 PILAIN painted brass emblem
  6.7 cm x 5.0 cm 

 The vendor of this particular emblem told me that this emblem was from a 1906 model.

Years later I was able to verify it as I found an article about French radiators  in the  journal OMNIA of February 1906:

left column, third picture from top:  the PILAIN radiator

All enameled PILAIN emblems have the shape of the car radiator with the filler neck on top:

For a short time the AUTOMOBILES PILAIN also used the letters  SAP:

SAP emblem: repro made with the original dies

On the 1911 emblem you can read the name of two French towns: LYON and PARIS.

It is clear that LYON is the home town of PILAIN, but why did they add the town of PARIS ?

1911 PILAIN emblem of the model 4.0

Size 6.2 cm x 6.2 cm


contemporary fotos showing deux PILAIN automobiles


The "regular" radiator emblem with LYON only:

Size 6.2 cm x 6.2 cm
Year1912 - 1920

Excursion to Puy de Dome / France with a PILAIN automobile

Look at the radiator core where a monogramme with the three letters " SAP " was fixed

backside without makers mark

1907 PILAIN photographed in London with E.D Heineman on the steeringwheel. He became the London agent for Pilain in 1908 ( see next advertisment )

For more emblems see older posts or top right ( list of car makers ).

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