Anasagasti, the first car produced in series in Argentina

The first attempt to manufacture mass-produced cars in Argentina belonged to the young engineer Horacio Anasagasti´s project. He was graduated from Buenos Aires University in 1902 and a few years later he traveled Italy in order to take some improvement courses in Isotta Fraschini company in Milano. On his return he set a society with Ricardo Travers and Jose Gálvez. They get Isotta Fraschini representation and the Gregoire and Gordon Brille marks.
As well as cars, the society sold different components and car accessories included modern facilities, used for the brass and aluminium casting, where ten workers were employed .

Motor
Ballot made in France.
Four cylinders aligned water cooled. Side valves.
Displacement (cm3):
Bore x stroke:
Power (HP):
2115
75x120
12/15
Body
Available in two versions: Double Phaeton and Landaulet
Chassis
Longitudinal chassis with beam

 

 
Anasagasti
A three quarter view of the Anasagasti and detail of the Ballot engine
 

However, the Anasagasti´s plan was the mass-produced car, and in 1909 he decides to forsake his partners and stars his career as constructor. He builds a facility and founds Horacio Anasagasti Mechanical Engineers Company in 1600 Alvear Ave.
The plan consisted of manufacturing from imported components, specially from Italy and France and, gradually replaced them with national products.
From the beginning, Anasagasti equipped his facility with an important set of machinery powered by a great electric motor that moved an aerial leather strips transmission, to activate the corresponding machines. For the vehicles bodyworks, the facility included also a sector destined to metalwork, bodywork and painting work.
The facility staff was about twenty workers, most of them were European immigrants with some type of specialization, between them were Spanish, French and Italian people. Anasagasti´s treatment was excellent and he instructed the workers in their own languages because he had a good command of English, French and Italian.
In the international railway and transport by land exhibition carried out in Buenos Aires in 1910, Anasagasti y Cia. showed some of the components for cars produced in his facility, among them a gear box of four forward and backward speed and a motor of four cylinders of his own design, constructed from imported steel. These components were carefully showed and protected by means of some glass panels in their edges in order to let the visitors watch their inner operation. The exhibition jury awarded him with the diploma of grand prize, the highest prize awarded to the national industry in the automobile sector.

The sportive success

On September, 1911, the engineer Anasagasti, very fond of car races, took part in Rosario-Cordoba-Rosario car race. The car had a French Ballot 12 hp motor of four cylinders, water refrigerated by thermo siphon. The cylinder size was 75mm. X 120 mm., what means a total capacity of 2,125cc. The valves were lateral situated in the same side of the block.
Anasagasti intended to prove his cars were as reliable as the imported ones. So he traveled Europe when he took part in some tour car competitions.
The competition more demanding was the France tour with a route of 5,500km. Three cars with 15 hp motors were driven by the English engineer Brown, Marquis D´avaray, and Jacques Repoussean, finishing among the first ones and without points against, excelled European and American makes.
On his return from Europe, Anasagasti was training for the commercial public presentation of his cars. The facility manufactured blocks, carters, connecting rods, crankshafts, gear boxes and their gears, axle tips, elastics for suspension, transmission axles, cardan axles and their crossroads, steering mechanism and bodyworks.
On January, 1912, the showed cars were offered into two versions of motor: 12hp normal and 15hp sport, meanwhile the bodyworks which only had one lateral and front door, were available in Double Phaeton and Lanadaulet versions.
The price of the 12hp engine model was 6,000 pesos and they could entirely be financed in dues of 200 pesos.
Unfortunately the Argentinean public distrusted the quality of Anasagasti´s ones and they preferred the European cars, in spite of its high price. The most of Anasagasti´s cars finished like taxis in Buenos Aires.

A honest man

His technical knowledge made of engineer Anasagasti a respectable man, and his human conditions turned him into an exceptional being. The social, human and economic conditions of his company´s staff were excellent, to such an extent that many of the benefits given by Anasagasti to his employees turned into law some years later. The salaries were the highest in that time. The day work did not overpass the eight hours and in summer each worker had a fan in his place of work. Also the facility had a refrigerator with soft drinks for personal use.
Two reasons plotted against the company continuity. On the one hand, the financial difficulties produced by the delay in the payments of the buyers who chose from the payment in dues. On the other hand, the first World War outbreak finished with the delivery of the products imported from Europe and to replace them locally was impossible because of the lack of raw material.
After manufacturing hundred of cars the facility closed its doors in 1915, Anasagasti was only 35 years old. His staff in gratefulness by the received treatment kept on working without earning salaries until 1916, when Anasagasti finally decides to sell off the society.

Related note:
Biography of Horacio Anasagasti (Spanish)


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