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The fate of Nicholas II’s favourite motorcar

Nicholas II

PHOTO: Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich posing at the wheel of the Delaunay Belleville 40CV

Russia’s last emperor and tsar Nicholas II was the first (and, alas, the last) Russian monarch to have appreciated and enjoyed the use of the motorcar. The first motorcar in the Imperial Family, however, belonged to his mother – Empress Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928) – a phaeton with an electric motor of the American company Columbia – a gift from her sister – Queen Alexandra of Great Britain.

Thanks to his aide-de-camp, Prince Vladimir Nikolayevich Orlov (1868-1927), it was he who introduced the Emperor to this new mode of transport which was sweeping across Britain and Europe. An avid motorist himself, Orlov often drove the Tsar in his personal Delaunay Belleville. Nicholas II, impressed by the capabilities of this new technology, decided to exchange the horse and carriage for a motorcar.

In the fall of 1905, he ordered…

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