A photographer who stumbled across two 100-year old pictures of rare classic cars thinks they may be the only ones of their type in existence. Keith Orange found the glass plate negatives of the Belgian Metallurgique cars in a pile of pictures left for him to look at by a visitor to his gallery, Vintage Graphics, in Barnard Castle.
The owner said they belonged to his father-in-law and were mostly taken in Sunderland. Mr Orange said: “A lot of the slides I was looking at were fairly run-of-the-mill, but these stood out and I took a closer look, because I am interested in vintage cars. “I could make out the word ‘Metal’ on the front of the cars.”
Mr Orange contacted classic car magazines to see if they could identify the vehicles and he had them confirmed as Metallurgique cars. Metallurgique only produced cars between 1905 and 1928, and it is thought the two pictures were taken in 1906. One shows a 12-horsepower, two-seater model, while the other is of a 16-horsepower, four-seater version. He contacted the UK Metallurgique Owners’ Club and sent them copies of the pictures. He said: “It seems like there are only a handful of these classic cars still around in Europe. “Contemporary pictures that were taken at the time – it seems like there are none.” The photographs are now being used by a car expert in Australia, who is restoring a Metallurgique.
Mr Orange said the biggest mystery was identifying where the pictures were taken. He said: “It could be that someone was importing them from Belgium and they passed through the docks at Sunderland, but the mystery remains. “These were one of the luxury cars of the time and it is remarkable to find two pictures of them.”
Anyone with information about the cars has been asked to call Mr Orange on 01833-695693.