It is out there, somewhere!
So the search is on. Since I wrote the first article about the discovery of the retrievel of Pons’ Contal by the Hutukhtu of Great Mongolia (The living Buddha) in one of Roy Chapman’s books ‘Under a lucky Star’, nothing much happened. Searching on the internet, my eye catches another quote by Chapman in another book he wrote ‘Across Mongolian Planes’ where he puts this down in Chapter IV:
So, convinced that there must be something out there, I wrote a email today to every organisation I could find that has anything to do with the Historic and/or Cultural history of Mongolia.
-) The Mongolian Cultural Center
-) Mongolian Art and Culture in London
-) the National Museum of Mongolia
-) Mongolian Natural History Museum
-) Mongolian Embassy in Washington
I wrote to all of them this letter:
I am the Owner of a historic tricycle brand: “Contal Mototri”, originally produced in France around 1900 – 1910. In 1907 a Frenchmen, Auguste Pons, participated in the first ‘Peking to Paris’ rally with a Contal Mototri, but had to abandon his vehicle in the Gobi Desert. In a book written in 1943 named ‘Under a Lucky Star’ (the autobiography of Roy Chapman Andrews who gained fame with a motorized paleontology expedition in the Gobi) the writer claims the Hutukhtu of Outer Mongolia had a tricar that sounds something like a Contal Mototri. Chapman wrote this: “Way back in the early 1900’s a motor car was brought by camel to Urga. I saw it in the ‘garage.’ It was a strange French thing like an overgrown baby carriage, with a carburetor as large as a ten-pound bomb which projected from the left side on a steel frame.”
This is August Pons’s Contal!!! If the Hutukhtu, living in Ulan Bataar around 1907, had the Contal in his garage, could it still be existing somewhere (in a museum, in a garage…?) in Ulan Bataar? This would be en enormous discovery for me.
Can somebody help me to find this ‘lost vehicle’?
Chapman also wrote in his book this: “The Hutukhtu had a Palace beside the Tola River, just under the schaduw of “God’s Mountain” where he kept a veritable junk shop of Western inventies which had amused him for a moment, only to be tossed aside when he had become tired of them”.
Perhaps this can help a little bit. Does this Palace still exist? Are there still living relatives of the Hutukhtu that can help me with my search?
I thank you in advance for the help you can offer me. I will be arriving in Ulan Bataar on the 6th of June this year and leaving again on the morning of the 8th. I am participating in the 7th Peking to Paris rally on a Contal Mototri. To be able to see/join the original would be exceptional.
Thank you in advance for any tips or help you can offer me.
Now I can only hope someone picks it up before Herman and I get to Ulan Bataar… Just imagine the two Contal’s would meet?! 112 years would separate them, I can’t get my mind around it…