The Extraordinary Aaglander – Keeping the Horseless Carriage Alive
By Andy Bannister
Eccentricity is not a hallmark generally associated with Germany’s car industry, which has built its huge success on a combination of efficiency, attention to detail and not taking too many risks.
One gloriously unusual company in at work deep in Germany’s countryside, however, bucks this trend by producing possibly the strangest automobile on sale in the world today.
Aaglander uses some of the latest technology and engineering to produce two models which are a conscious attempt to hark back to an elegant 19th century world of horse-drawn transport for pleasure.
In appearance Aaglander’s two-seat Duc and four-seat Mylord models look remarkably like the very first motorised vehicles of the 1890s, although these are not replicas in the established sense. They are, quite literally, traditional carriages where a horse has been replaced by an engine designed to provide a similar sensation of slow, stately progress.
Instead of a steering wheel, the Aaglanders are operated by means of two stiff leather reins, to give the sensation that the driver is holding the reins of a horse. The company’s technical staff include some masters of long-forgotten crafts in the motor industry, including carpenters, ironmakers and goldsmiths.
Underneath, however, the Aaglanders boast a modern 20hp diesel engine developing 719cc with automatic transmission. The vehicles are fully road-legal and can be driven on a normal car licence, although it is to be hoped not many turn up on the open road as the top speed is deliberately held down to around 12mph. The cars are, however designed to climb steep gradients easily.
Computer-aided design techniques shaped the steel tube frame cabriolet bodies of the Duc and Mylord, and both Aaglanders have four disc brakes and two independent hydraulic braking systems. As you might expect with a German product they are of the highest quality and conform to European safety standards.
This weird juxtaposition of old and new technology continues with modern halogen lights concealed in traditional carriage lanterns, and a state-of-the-art GPS system to help with navigation in the countryside. There is also a built-in heater (probably quite important, as the cars are otherwise open although some shelter can be afforded by a traditional cantliever canopy).
The cars are built in the confusingly-named rural area of Germany known as Franconian Switzerland, where they are ideally suited to outings across fields, old lanes and woodland tracks.
The company’s charmingly understated sales brochure talks of allowing those who love truly special things to revel in the luxury of a slower pace of life…it gives its passengers a glorious sense of time and leisure…a travel sensation that allows one’s thoughts to wander freely at one with the passing landscape.
It continues: A relaxing outing in the Aaglander has the similar aspect as river cruising through lovely landscape…and who can resist the incomparable sensation of arriving at the opera in style in an Aaglander?
All in all, then, the perfect car for making a splash in at that New Year’s Eve fancy dress party…
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