In October 1917, a serious event occurred that was a serious setback for the company: The main promoter of the brand, Jose María Armangué, died in an aviation accident at the early age of 27 years. The event occurred in October of that year when Armangué, fond of any motorized gadget, was testing a Bleriot two-seater airplane with Salvador Hedilla, the director of the Catalan School of Aviation.
After this, the Armangué family began a certain distancing from the David company, which led to their abandonment in 1919 completely and the company name was changed to the simpler "David SA", in whose position of managing director was Jose María Moré.
His brother Ramón also continued in the direction, and an engineer and former pilot of the brand, Ernesto Rodriguez Iranzo, was hired as technical director, a distinguished character of the Spanish motor that would come to collaborate in innumerable national motorist brands such as the Valencian electric ICM from 1945.
During these years the David had also undergone some modifications in the aesthetic plane: the radiator became increasingly narrow and high, as well as the design of the front part of the chassis was now made up of a simple metallic cross member from which two or four emerged. independent vertical supports, probably depending on the weight suspended on the front axle and depending on the size of the motor used
The family grows
By this time the small David cyclists had already been adapted for various uses and were not simply the speedy toys of the beginning. In the factory itself, bodies of various kinds were made, the first models being small “torpedo” two-seater convertible bodies with a pointed rear end, of which some small series were produced.
Later these designs were perfected towards a more careful construction and forms; in the catalog up to 6 different variants appeared Among which were the aforementioned two-seater “Duque Montpensier Type”, a 4-seater convertible torpedo, coupes and convertibles and even a small delivery truck with a load of 350kg whose bodywork was priced at 1.000 pesetas.
The tourist bodies had prices that varied between 400 pesetas for the "two baquets bodywork" to 2.600 for the "Three-seat Coupé". As complements, the catalog offered the possibility of incorporating a hood (200 pesetas) and a windshield (100 pesetas) in convertible models.
Around 1919 Spain was hit by an economic crisis caused by the end of World War I, and this made the good progress that David SA had had until then was somewhat truncated.
At the end of the mirage
During the war period, Spanish neutrality had promoted exports of all kinds of products, from raw materials (agricultural and mining) to certain manufactures of the incipient industrialization concentrated in Catalan textiles and Basque steel, as well as war material from all over the world. type; and tertiary activities such as ship freight and banking services.
The balance of the trade balance went from being negative by more than one hundred million pesetas before the conflict to being positive by five hundred million. The good times for business favored the industrial and commercial bourgeoisie or the landed and financial oligarchy, but when the War came to an end in 1919, competition reappeared and exports suffered an inevitable halt.
In this way, the Spanish car manufacturers saw how small foreign cyclecars –mainly French- of more modern design than those produced here, at competitive prices and which also began to win on the circuits, began to arrive after the war.
David, which was the national bicycle manufacturer with the highest volume to date, was immersed in a process of modernizing its products.
At the end of the 10s, their cyclecars mounted a great variety of different engines on the same chassis. The 2 and 4 cylinder MAG engines were starting to look out of date and were initially replaced by the French 4-cylinder Ballot, They had a good reputation for being robust and reliable.
It seems that these engines were imported from 1919, although they must have been surpluses from war manufacturing from the French factory. Apparently, the models used were the 4 and 4 HP Ballot 10G12, 1.593 (65 × 120) and 1.995 (69,9 × 130) cubic centimeters.
At the beginning of 1921 the Hispano-Suiza factory in Barcelona recorded in its minutes the start of manufacture of a series of 20 units of the 24 cc (1.848 × 72) Type 120 engine, -the same one that was used for the small Hispano-Suiza model 8-10 HP- for the David bicycle factory.
These were part of an order for 100 units at a price of 3.000 pesetas each. The “official” David was probably equipped with this engine, with which the pilot Juan Andreu won the “I Armangué Trophy” held on June 21, 1921.
This event, organized by the Real Moto Club Catalán, was a tribute to the late Jose María Armangué and the trophy would be awarded to the brand that triumphs twice.
As an indication that the David's were beginning to be outmatched by the competition, suffice it to say that in the “II Armangué Trophy” they could not revalidate the title and the winning car was a French-made Salmson. Even Frick Armangué, already dissociated from the brand, participated at the wheel of a Loryc, a vehicle made in Mallorca and equipped with a Scap engine.
And it is not that the Davids had stopped evolving, but quite the opposite: Under the technical direction of Rodriguez Iranzo the small racing cars they became more and more advanced, and they were even equipped with front wheel brakes.
The engines used in some of these racing models were Elizalde manufactured in Barcelona, as this can be seen in certain vintage photos or in the brand's catalog.
Regarding this last catalog, it should be noted that the "Sport" type, offered at a price of 11.000 pesetas, were described with several inaccuracies about their true characteristics, since the engine that "actually" mounted was the 513/6 Elizalde Type 8 HP (65 × 90) that among other advances included the revolutionary bronze stock patented by Don Arturo Elizalde.
The most evolved model was presented on the occasion of the "Ascent on the Cuesta a la Rabassada", a race held on June 11, 1922. Here Jose M. Moré led to victory in his category - at an average of 60,5 km / h- a sophisticated David “Silver Bullet” who, for example, mounted huge cast aluminum front brakes and a lightweight chassis made entirely of metal components.
However, all these advances it seems that they were not reflected in the "street" models, they still lacked front brakes and their overall designs were too similar to those of years past.
This began to generate a stock of unsold finished chassis that at the beginning of the 20s was already considerable, and it was then that the management of the company, led by Jose María Moré, decided in 1922 to abandon the manufacture of automobiles.
To release the stock of racks Two smart business decisions were made. The first was to coach some of them as small delivery vans, with which the company offered a new service for the collection and delivery of parcels between individuals, who could hire these services paying an amount of 50 pesetas per month.
In addition, there was an offer to take advertising to different car dealerships placed on the roof of the vans, and apparently some agreed.
The second part of the plan to dispose of the surplus material consisted of the manufacture of small Taxis suitable for two passengers and the driver.
A first batch of 40 units were made and finally they reached 60; It seems that the idea sought to replace the “moto-taxis” with sidecar that operated at the time, offering greater comfort with similarly priced rates.
In general, although there are no official documents of the brand, it is estimated that David manufactured approximately a respectable 1.500 units from 1914 to 1922.
To this day they are preserved about a dozen units, not all of them in a running state and most of them having lost their original bodies in favor of two simple buckles to make them look like racing cars.
From here David SA dedicated himself to other services always related to motorsports, a story that we will offer you later, separately.
Nowadays David SA It continues to exist at its headquarters on Aribau street in Barcelona, which was inaugurated at the end of the 20s. Now, converted into a commercial building and parking, the company is dedicated to the management of the premises and garages inside.
And now we can only congratulate them, because this year the long-lived company has completed its 100 years in business always related to the motor world. For this reason, a cyclecar from the 10s and a microcar from the 50s, both made by David, are exhibited in the entrance hall of its headquarters.
* We greatly appreciate the brand for the help provided for the realization of this article.
** The total or partial reproduction of the photographic material is prohibited
for commercial purposes without authorization or in any case without citing its origin.