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A tasty menue, to be served in Paris

A tasty menue, to be served in Paris

Paris, "the city of love"! For us, especially in February, it is "the city we love". The reason, why we all love this wonderful city especially during some cold winter days, is, of course, the yearly Retromobile; since 1975 the most impressing vintage car show in France, if not worldwide. I don´t think, that I have to explain the magic of the Retromobile in common, so let´s concentrate on a selection of the special delicacies we will enjoy this year.

Of course, the famous French brands are always on the menu in Paris and so our starter will be the special exhibits regarding the history of Renault, Peugeot, and Citroen.

Renault will tell us about the brands 120 years of history. Starting in 1898, Renault is one of the oldest marques still on the market. At the Retromobile, you will learn more about the three important periods of the factory located at Boulogne-Billancourt, where Louis Renault built his first wooden car, taking it for a primal ride on Christmas eve 1898, returning home with a dozen requests for his vehicle, the later "Type A".

Peugeot will celebrate the two models 203 and 504. The 203 was Peugeots first postwar design and with many different variations the only Peugeot model from 1949 until 1954. The Type 504 with its elegant Pininfarina dress was introduced 50 years ago. The modern, but sturdy car, featuring four independent wheels with assisted disc brakes was a great success and production ended not until 2005, when the last Pick-Up models were built in Africa.

70 years ago, the "Umbrella on four wheels", the Citroen 2CV was introduced. The first “TPV” (très petite voiture > very small car) prototypes already hit the road in 1938, but wartime intermitted the development and the "lelijke eend", "Ente", "Ugly duckling" or "el coche rana" was finally presented in 1949. 20 years later, the 2CV-based "Mehari" was introduced, featuring a flexible plastic body-tinted thermoformed and very open bodywork.

But now to our prewar main courses: Next to a modern type Veyron, Bugatti will show a wonderful Type 57 "Atalante", one of the last classic pour sangs built in Molsheim. The history of the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhery will be celebrated with about 20 cars and motorcycles, including the recreations of the 1927 Voisin record breaker and the 1933 Citroën “Rosalie des records”. The National Motor Museum of Beaulieu will bring four cars to the show: The GN Martyr Instone special - Origins lead back to a crashed GN Cyclecar, bought by Rupert Instone in 1930, to convert it into a small and light hill climb-racer with a diversified live afterwards. Second car is the 1933 "Atomic Orange" Morgan three-wheeler, we will see in action in front of hall 1. I don´t think, that I have to lose many words on the 1930 4,5L Blower Bentley, that we will see in action, too. Not only for the lovers of haggis, bagpipes, whiskey, and kilts, the fourth car is one of the few cars made in Scotland: a fantastic 1913 Argyll sedan, fitted with a 4.1 L valve-free engine. And regular PreWarCar readers will know my most preferred dessert, and have already guessed, that the valveless engine will lead us to my personal highlight of this year´s Retromobile...

Shortly after the Interclassics, Laurens told me about a very special Voisin, that is now located in Maastricht and that will be displayed in Paris. He told about "very original", "low mileage", "original cloth" and so on. My ears grew and some days later, I was invited to have a look at the car at "Fine Automobiles" right in the middle of Maastricht. And there it stood in front of me: a Voisin C14, built in 1930 and still in a fantastic, untouched original (and drivable) condition. I´ve never seen a time capsule like this Voisin before and thinking about it, I still get the same goosebumps, I had as I inspected the car some days ago. The interior is not in the dizzying stile, Voisin is known for and today often replaces the original pattern at restauration upholsteries, but it features a wonderful floral style. You may have seen this pattern at the C23 model at the fabulous Louwman-Museum in The Hague. The condition of the interior is just incredible. Everything is at its place, including the "hat-holder" along the roofline, the famous "foot-baths" and even the little light at the c-pillar, that is of the same puristic design, as the little side-lamps mounted on the rear wings. The odometer shows just km and regarding to the history and the condition of the car, we strongly believe, it is credible. The car features some unique details, like for example the front wings and the panel sheet between them in front of the gothic-style radiator grille. One of the first things I realized was of course, that the famous art deco mascot bird, the "Cocotte" was missing, but it was just dismounted for the transport of the car from Italy to Maastricht. Before we try to examine the Italian history of this special car, let me tell you about the model in common: The C14 was introduced in 1928 as successor of the famous C11. The C11 was a successful model and so only minor changes led to the C14. In the beginning, the factory bodies could still be ordered in a large number of the same different styles as they were mounted to the C11-chassis. Today, the "Lumineuse" (or better "Charteorum", as Lumineuse has never been an official term used by the factory), the round angle berline "Chartreuse" and the razor-edge demi-berline "Chartre" are the most known of the 16(!) factory bodies, Voisin offered for the C14. The engine still was the inline sleeve-valve six with a capacity of 2326 cc and an output of 66 HP. In 1930, the 3-speed gearbox got a two-speed electromagnetic relay developed in conjunction with Cotal, resulting in six forward and two reverse gears and allowing easy gear changes to be made from the steering wheel. A feature, introduced shortly after the production of "our" C14. The production ended in 1932, but the model was still listed in the factory catalogues until 1935, when the last stock chassis found their way into the pricelist. Overall, about 1800 Voisin C14 were produced. And one of the cars was once bought by Conte Giovanni Lurani, the well-known Italian automobile engineer, racing car driver and journalist. The body is one of the famous "Chartreuse" berlines, but with the already mentioned unique differences. And most important, it is completely original in all details. Even the original triangular dealer´s plate on the rear wing is present. The wooden drawers, integrated to the front wing extensions, usually rotten because of immersive moisture, are completely solid and to top it, you can still read the carpenters notes on the bottom. Did I use the term "unbelievable" yet? The 2,3L engine is running and because of another unique feature, two cozette carburetors instead of the usual single zenith unit, it will produce some extra horses. On the pictures, you may have spotted the "modern" ignition coil, but don´t worry, the original one will be at its place until the Retromobile. We are not yet sure, if Count Lurani was the first owner, but we know, that this Chartreuse was part of his collection for many years. In 1972 the car was auctioned in Monza, titled as “C15 – berlina sports”. The car became a member of the Righini-collection and in the early 21st century, the C14 got a new home, after it was acquired by a young doctor, living in the Tuscany region. This year, Jack Braam Ruben and Philippe Mulders took the chance to acquire this unique piece of art and for the first time after many years, it left sunny Italy, heading to their workshop in Maastricht, from where it will travel back to Paris in a few days. At the Retromobile, you will be able to see this car, not a single mile away from its birthplace in Voisin´s factory in Issy-Les-Moulineaux.

With many thanks (for letting me crawl through the car) to “Fine Automobiles!"

Words by Hubertus Hansmann. Photographs by Hubertus Hansmann and Fine Automobiles.

Sunday, 28 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

What is it? Quiz #462


This Saturdays Quiz-Car is a very modern one for its time. Its titular saint was an engineer who started his career at a marquee located in Aachen/Aix la Chapelle. The car on the picture was the prototype, built in 1924. The car was powered by a 1500ccm straight four OHV-engine. Production and materials were very expensive and so was the car. It was entitled to be "the car for the bank manager, who doesn´t want to take his Maybach for every tour". About 15 cars were built until one of the sponsors of the project passed away in 1926 and the production was stopped. Only eight cars were sold, the other seven sadly were scrapped. Some more hints: Most known pictures show a very elegant roadster, but in 1925 two other versions were presented: a limousine and a cabriolet, both with bodys by Alexis Kellner. And next to the already mentioned engine, a sleeve-valve "counter-piston" engine was built. It sadly seems that none of the eight cars survived, even if a limousine was used as a cab a long time and our engineer still drove a roadster during the 1950s.

You know this fantastic car built between 1924 and 1926? Don´t hesitate and leave your answer in a comment before Monday and use no more than 100 words to collect some more points for our six-month challenge

Words and photographs by Hubertus Hansmann.

Saturday, 27 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Saturday Night Fever

Friday ladies

A photo catches the moment, but the story often gets lost. What is the moment caught here? Two girls in a two-seater and a young man leaning against the car. A common scene for generations. Do we really need to know what was happening or is it maybe just better to let our phantasy start running? Let's imagine that it is a Saturday afternoon and that these ladies drive by the workshop, where the young man is doing his daily hard labour. A short break, during which the ladies ask him if he would like to join them and watch that evening the show of the famous 'Cinéma parlant', which just came to visit their village. And maybe drink a glass of wine in the local café afterwards? He looks pleased, but working day is not over yet: his employer is already waving impatiently with his hammer. Still a few hours to go, and then …

But perhaps you see an entirely different story, which could have been equally true. Feel free to tell yours below!

Let's not forget of course to mention the car, the silent prop in this scene happening more than a hundred years ago: it is a car from a famous brand, this nice little 1913 Motobloc. Recognizable by …, yes, actually by which features? In this case these are relatively small, but nevertheless decisive: the flat rear wheel hubs with the two opposite holes next to the hub, and the radiator filler tube and cap shape. Ad then other matching details follow, like the curve of the front dumb irons as well as the rear spring system. And like on any proper French car the tires are from Michelin!

Words and photographs by Ariejan Bos.

Friday, 26 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Cars for a grand occasion at The Grand Palais

cars for a grand occasion at The Grand Palais.Rétromobile is just around the corner and nestled amongst the enormous space inside The Grand Palais in Paris is an interesting selection of cars to be auctioned by Bonhams on Thursday 8 February.

1907minervaIf the Minerva marque is your thing you are in for a treat because there are no less than eleven examples from which to choose, starting with a 1907 Type K 40 HP limousine/torpédo transformable with imposing Belvalette coachwork which attracted the first owner at the Grand Palais having '... spun on his heels' at being told the Rolls Royce he wanted had a 12 month waiting list.

minerva-1938The newest is a stately thirties limousine - a 1938 Type F/M8 . Its six-light cabin is separated with a fixed division, most probably to distinguish passengers from its chauffeur, and with harder wearing leather for the front and fawn Bedford cloth for the rear. Much effort is made in this car's detail with stylized Art Deco wood door cappings, and door pulls, commodious seats with extended arm rests and vanity units to the sides.

minerva-1925Amongst the other different style Minervas on offer from different periods, we particularly like the 1925 Type AD « Feval » berline à carrosserie toilée with lightweight fabric covered Weyman coachwork which has been carefully preserved by just two owners - which to this day has a graceful patina but only modest attrition.

regal1912Other makes of veteran cars include a 1908 De Dion-Bouton Type AX 15 HP double berline, a five-place 1910 Cadillac Model 30 tourer , a similar five-place FN modèle 2000 tourer from 1912 and a 1909 Zedel Type CA 10 HP double Phaëton .  Bonhams share no less than twenty photos to illustrate the Underslung 1912 Regal 25 HP Model N  ( see picture right)

alta1936Now we are in sporty mode so let's look at the 1936 Alta 2-Litre Sports - a rare beast by anyone's standards.
Restored in 1974, the car features Alta's 1,960cc twin-cam engine, which is fed by an Alta Roots-type supercharger - all made by the car's designer Geoffrey Taylor .
The engine produces 160bhp at 6,000rpm and the complete car weighs 800kg, and for instant gear changes - a four-speed Wilson  pre-selector gearbox. ( This writer would give rubies for such a car!)

Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy Bonhams.

Thursday, 25 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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