Some cars are important for reasons far beyond their parts. This is one such vehicle, the 1911 Graf & Stift Double Phaeton. It was – as you can see – truly lovely, like so many of the long forgotten pioneer motorcars.
However the Graf & Stift became famous for the most tragic of reasons. On the 28th June 1914 Gavrilo Princip, a young disenfranchised Bosnian Serb, fired shots into the car’s occupants. They were the Archduke of Austria-Hungary Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sophie von Hohenberg, heirs to the Austro-Hungarian throne.
Both Franz and his wife died from the attack, and Gavrilo was arrested and jailed, being too young to face the death sentence. But like a butterfly flapping its wings causing an ever escalating chain of events, Gavrilo could never have known what his actions would set in motion.
The assassination gave Austria-Hungary the pretext to invade Serbia, itself on the war-path to reclaim its own lost 14th century empire. With treaties between countries in place across Europe, if one country went to war others were obliged to follow, and soon every major military power had chosen a side. The First World War had begun.
Gavrilo died three years later in prison, emaciated by disease and malnutrition. The majority of the 37 million who died during the war went the same way.
Karwik is the builder of the Archduke’s Double Phaeton, and you can see more of his recreation of possibly the most important car ever built via Flickr.