Paul Decauville (1846 – 1922) of France was a pioneer in the development of light railway of narrow gauge section. One of the innovation was the portable sections of light narrow gauge tracks fastened to sleepers which can be laid quickly. These portable tracks became famous in mine railways and later in trench railway during the war time.
In 1875, the company – Societe Decauville, expanded in to manufacture of Rail cars and Locomotives. By 1897 , they decided to expand in to the manufacture of motor cars and the company Societe des Voittures Automobile Decauville was formed. The first car’s design was bought from designers Joseph Guedon and Gustave Cornilleau and the first Decauville Voiturelle was manufactured in the year 1897. The name Voiturelle was coined to differentiate from the Voiturette used by Leon Bollee.
The 1897 Decauville Voiturelle had a 2 cylinder De-Dion engine, transverse leaf spring in the front and independent suspension for the front wheels. It had no suspension for the rear wheels. These Voiturelles sold well and larger Decauville cars were made. A 1903 Decauville -
The Decauvile Logo -
As competition increased , Deacuville could not survive the onslaught of cheaper cars and the car manufacturing operation was closed down by 1910. The Railway & Locomotive operation continued.
Apart from Cars & Locomotives, Decauville is linked with two major Automotive brands – Rolls-Royce and BMW.
In 1903 , Henry Royce bought a second hand Decauville and was not satisfied by its operation. He along with Charles Rolls decided to build a better car and thus born the famous marque – Rolls-Royce.
In Germany, the Decauvilles were manufactured under licence by a company called Wartburg. Wartburg later became Dixi, the forerunner of BMW.