Home » Over A Century Ago, You Could Buy A Car Named ASS

Over A Century Ago, You Could Buy A Car Named ASS

Ass Top

Sometimes I feel like I’ll encounter a little automotive fact that, while not really worthy of a deep dive, may still be one that you have a right to be made aware of. And I think I have just such a fact for you today: between 1919 and 1920, if you had 4,750 francs to throw around (in today’s honest American money, that would be about $15,600), you could buy a car called A.S.S. Yes, a car named “ass,” pretty much. But not really, but also, yes, ASS. I’ll explain.


Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

You see, A.S.S. was a French car, and was so named not in celebration of plump, glorious derrières, but rather for something that the car did not have: valves. In French, the way you said “automobiles without valves” was Automobiles Sans Soupapes, and our clever readers have likely already deduced that the acronym from those words delivers a big helping of A.S.S.

The A.S.S. lacked valves because its 12 horsepower, 1.3-liter engine was a two-stroke supplied by Thomas, and two-stroke engines don’t have valves. Well, that’s not exactly true – they have things like valves usually called ports, but those ports don’t require any additional moving parts to work, being opened and closed by the motion of the piston as you can see in this animation from 2strokeengine.net:

Two Stroke C


I like how big that exhaust pipe is there, too.

So, no valves, technically. The A.S.S. was targeted as a sort of early peoples’ car, with the advertising tagline L’automobile pour tous (the automobile for everyone). Impressively for a relatively inexpensive car for everyone in 1919, the A.S.S. had electric lighting and an electric starter, both pretty advanced features for the era.

In design, the A.S.S. appears to be pretty conventional, with a quite narrow hood reminiscent of a cyclecar, but this was much more of a “real” automobile. Suspension was by leaf springs, and a two-speed epicyclic/planetary transmission gave those dozen horses a path to the rear wheels.

A four-seat tourer was the one usually pictured, but sources say a two-seat coupé was also available. The car was produced in limited numbers between 1919 and 1920, and there were plans for more full-scale mass production, but they fell through. The A.S.S. company merged with the Société des Moteurs Thomas, and that was the end of the car named A.S.S.

Assad 2


Kind of a shame, really. I mean, look, it even said ASS right on the radiator grille, and in some alternate world maybe they could have bought out Ford and there would have been a real world version of that old game with Ford model names, and people would be driving around ASS Explorers or ASS Probes or ASS Rangers.

I guess some realities are just too beautiful for us.


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Martin Ibert
Martin Ibert
10 months ago

An “ass” is an animal. The correct English word for you describe as a derrière is “arse”, and while the story of Americans mis-spelling and later mis-pronouncing it is fascinating, it’s stil “arse”.

Mantis Toboggan, MD
Mantis Toboggan, MD
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Ibert

Since we’re all democracies and our population is larger than that of the UK, Australia, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand combined then logically the US practice is the correct one and others are regional variants.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Ibert

Don’t be an ass. 🙂

10 months ago

Is your ASS dragging ? Well get your ASS down to our genuine ASS service center! We will treat your ASS with the care it deserves. We service all ASSes, skinny tired ASSes, fat tired ASSes, and bald tired ASSes. We’ll re-tire your ASS. We only use genuine ASS parts and lubricants. Your ASS doesn’t have valves, but it does have seals. We specialize in resealing your ASS. Often underappreciated, are your ASS wipers. We clean or replace your ASS wipers before we send your pampered ASS on its way. Please take advantage of our ASS filling station, stocked with premium ASS gas. We also have regular ASS gas, but your ASS will know the difference.

Last edited 10 months ago by Hoonicus
10 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Usually not my style, it wrote itself.

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