The story of the sleigh car took place at the very beginning of the 20th century, when the engineer Adolf Kegresse entered the service as the personal driver of Nicholas II.
French, he served as a warrant officer and was also in charge of car maintenance.
A prerequisite for the emergence of car sleds. As a result of his work in the first few years, the engineer was surprised that in winter the royal family travels on an old-fashioned sleigh with a horse harness. At the same time, it was logical that it was impossible to use cars in deep snow or on ice.
In order to change the situation, A. Kegresse took up the implementation of a car model suitable for use in winter Russia. A prototype was introduced in 1910. The basis for the sled car was the Mercedes-32/45 hp model. To ensure the vehicle’s passability in winter, the drive wheels were replaced with tracks, and the front axle wheels rested on wide skis.
Technical features of the sled car. The general name of the structure was formed from those composite units that were included in the invention. The “Kegress suspension” was a wheel-tracked propulsion system, where elastic rubber-based tracks were used for the first time.
The components for the caterpillar – rubber tracks – were manufactured at the Triangle plant in St. Petersburg. The assembled prototype was tested on the ice of the frozen Neva in 1913. The car showed confident handling and stable behavior. During the very first test drive, it was possible to develop a speed of 60 km / h.
Based on the tests carried out, documents were submitted for registration of the invention and in May 1913 a patent was obtained. The uniqueness of the development was seen in the possibility of its use on any car of its time. For example, the first almost serial machine-sled was built on the basis of Russo-Balt C24-35.
The tracked part of the sled car structure was a trolley with a driving and a driven wheel on pendulum levers. Additionally, in the middle part, two pairs of carts with road wheels were provided.
The first vehicle to be upgraded to a new chassis was the Packard Twin-Six. It was not only actively used for trips in winter, but in this form it got into the thick of revolutionary events.
The second converted car was a 1916 Rolls-Royce 40/50 hp Silver Ghost. True, the “conversion” happened already at the request of the leader of the revolution V. Lenin in 1919. The car remained in service until the death of the head of the Soviet state, and has survived as a museum exhibit to this day.
As a conclusion. By 1917, there were about 50 cars in the garage of Nicholas II. Some of them had time to go skiing. But nevertheless, the understanding came that this type of equipment could not be massive. And on the eve of the 1917 revolution, the documentation for the tracked-ski structure was transferred to the design bureau of the Putilov plant. Later, after his return to his homeland, Adolphe Kegresse shared the development with Citroen.
Photo: Tracked Packard Twin-Six at the center of revolutionary events