Dear Mr. Duffie,
Let me first introduce myself. I am Sergey Rykov, a team leader of the retro cars department at the State Polytechnical Museum in Moscow, Russia. Our museum was founded in 1872, and holds a unique collection of antique cars.
At the moment, we are embarking on an ambitious restoration program for some of our most valuable items. Our department plans to rehabilitate our 1901 Columbia Electric car.
The first owner of our 1901 Columbia car was Russian Empress Maria. She was the wife of Russian Tsar Alexander III and simultaneously the sister of the British Queen Alexandra. Queen Alexandra was the wife of British King Edward VII. The father of Queen Alexandra and Empress Maria was the King of Denmark Christian IX.
We have two versions of our car's arrival to Russia.
1. Our Columbia car was bought in England by Russian Empress Maria on the advice of her sister Queen Alexandra.
2. Queen Alexandra presented this car to her sister Empress Maria.
Your site is very helpful for our work. I've found at your site some interesting information about the famous owners of Columbia cars, but we need some assistance now. Unfortunately the engine of our car is missing. Maybe you have information where we can find the original engine for our car? Maybe you have additional descriptions and blueprints of this car that you can show us? Please let us know if you have more information of this historical question too.
In March 2012 the team of our museum visited Beaulieu at the invitation of our British friends from the National Motor Museum. We've produced many high resolution pictures and compared both cars and found the numerous differences in their construction.
One interesting detail. The text on the hubcaps of our car is ELECTRIC VEHICLE CO, but the text on the hubcaps of Queen Alexandra's car in Beaulieu is CITY&SUBURBAN ELECTRIC CARRIAGE Co.Ltd. As we know, Queen Alexandra's car was produced in London by CITY&SUBURBAN ELECTRIC CARRIAGE Co.Ltd under license from Electric Vehicle Company of Hartford. So, according the text on hubs, our car maybe was produced in the USA? Then it arrived in England and then went to Russia?
One other question is about the wheels of our car. It is equiped with heavy wooden wheels with solid tires. Queen Alexandra's car in Beaulieu is equiped with identical wheels and tires now, but we know that these cars were equiperd with light bicycle wheels at first. We don't know when the wheels of cars were replaced.
Empress Maria presented the 1901 Columbia car to her son, the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II. After the October Revolution of 1917, the car was situated in St. Petersburg until 1927. On October 12, 1927, it was transfered to the State Polytechnical Museum in Moscow. From 1927, our Columbia car was stored in the museum's warehouse. Many years ago (probably between 1917 and 1927) it was destroyed by Red revolutionaries, so it was in poor condition. In 2007 our car underwent some restoration, albeit very unprofessionally. It was very poorly painted, and also the engine and some other important original spare parts of our car are missing. Thus, it needs a lot of work again, which is planned to start this year.
I hope this information is helpful for you.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation. I look forward to your positive reply.