Tag Archives: Léon Bollée Voiturette

Straight, No Chaser

My local track is Brooklands, racing there was suspended at the outbreak of the War in September 1939 and never resumed. In recent years there have been considerable efforts to restore Brooklands to some of its former glory. Our Special Correspondent was on hand to witness the re-opening of the Finishing Straight last month. Naturally he found some of the Rare and Interesting to keep us entertained and informed……………

A superb example of a French Bédélia cyclecar which dates from 1910. The owner had just brought it over from France and it is a Type BD2 with a 990 c.c. V-2 Train air cooled motor. The driver sits at the back with the passenger in tandem in the front. One of these cars won the Cyclecar Grand Prix at Amiens in 1913.

The outstanding sports car of the late Thirties – the BMW 328. This is a Frazer Nash–marketed version and is the ex-Hugh Hunter car, albeit re-sprayed German white instead of the grey it was pre-war. It has a rich competition history including coming 4th in the Brooklands 3-Hour production Car Race on the Campbell Circuit in 1938.

Enjoy the view through the windscreen over the long bonnet with the recessed headlights; these cars from Eisenach dominated the international 2-litre class in their time.

This is the pre-war 2-litre Aston Martin that was raced in the 1948 Spa 24 Hour race by Jack Fairman and Richard Stallebrass. Fairman came in to hand over to his co-driver during the very wet early Saturday evening of the race and the inexperienced Stallebrass lost control on his out lap on the long sweeping bend to Malmédy somersaulting off into a field and sustaining fatal injuries.

This is a Frazer Nash-BMW 319 saloon.

It had a 6-cylinder engine, an ordinary pushrod version not the special head used for the 328.

It is always pleasing to see Babs back where she was born.

We do not often see a 4-seater tourer version of the Alvis front-wheel drive cars, and rarely with the hood up! This is a 1929 long chassis car with bodywork by Carbodies and was raced at Brooklands by Edward Farley.

Geoffrey Taylor made a series of advanced sports and racing Altas with advanced suspension and 4-cylinder twin-cam engines he made himself. This single-seater is the one raced by George Abecassis to good effect.

A 1914 Chater Lea. It used a Singer engine tuned by Lionel Martin who had great success with Singers before launching Aston Martin.

This beautiful Austin Seven Ulster ran in the 1931 Double Twelve race at Brooklands, driven by Phillip Marriage and HJ Searle.

This was the race where the Austin Sevens were finally outpaced by the new Montlhéry C-type M.G. Midgets and this little Austin finished 24th and last.

Here we see Lord March with Alan Winn, the Director of the Brooklands Museum, behind giving his address at the opening ceremony.

For the first time since 1940, we see the Finishing Straight.

Where motoring began – a lovely little Léon Bollée Voiturette made in Le Mans.

David Blumlein, July 2017

Vintage at Montlhéry

Montlhéry is the venue for a charming vintage motorsport meeting held biennially. The Special Correspondent attended and now gives us the benefit of his observations. This piece got lost in the system and has now resurfaced a year on. I consider it is worthy of exposure even a little later than intended.


Every two years pre-1940 French cars gather at the L’autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry, south of Paris – it is an Aladdin’s cave!
Here is the famous start/finish area which has thankfully been saved.

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So good to find a Hurtu-built Léon Bollée Voiturette pottering around the Paddock area.

Salmson made aero engines during WW1 and diversified into car production afterwards. They began by building G.N.s under licence; this is one of them.

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A 1938 Simca Gordini (chassis T8 823885). This car won the Bol d’Or 24 hour race that year here at Montlhéry.
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This is an Amilcar CC, the firm’s first model. André Morel used one to win the first Bol d’Or on the Vaujours circuit in 1922.
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One of France’s best small sporting cars of the 1920s, the Sénéchal. The marque won numerous successes including the Bol d’Or in 1924, ’25 and ’26 at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
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Bugatti Type 39 with a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder engine. A Grand Prix de Tourisme was run at the time of the French Grand Prix in the early Twenties, the last at Montlhéry in 1925. This took place on 19 July, a week before the big race and Bugatti entered five of these Type 39 cars. Clearly derived from the Type 37, they had wider bodies, long flowing wings, hoods and full lighting equipment. They were driven to the circuit from the factory at Molsheim and had little difficulty in dominating the 1500 class, only one of them retiring. It was noted at the time that the race was very poorly supported by the public, the main grandstand occupied by only 59 spectators!

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An early Sizaire-Naudin. These cars were noted for their transverse-leaf independent front suspension.

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Notice the rocker-operated valve mechanism on the big 1-cylinder engine.
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The Amilcar C6 into which C.A. Martin had inserted a 4-cylinder engine. This car scored many successes in the early Thirties, including an outright win in the 1933 Bol d’Or and a class win at the Spa 24 Hours that same year.
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A very pretty Amilcar with a body by Duval.
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In 1921 Georges Irat introduced this 2-litre 4-cylinder o.h.v. sporting model. It went on to score many successes in the long- distance sports car races of the Twenties – the Routes des Pavées, the Spanish and Moroccan Touring Car Grands Prix and the Coupe du Roi in the 1927 Spa 24 Hours are some examples.

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Ariès of Courbevoie, Paris also supported endurance racing in the years after the First World War especially in the 1100 class – a notable success was a class win in the 1924 Le Mans 24 Hours, the car driven by Lapierre and Fernando Gabriel, the victor of the 1903 Paris-Madrid race.

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2015 Montlhery VintageThe company then developed this big 4-cylinder 3-litre car which was very unlucky to lose victory in the 1927 Le Mans; some compensation came with a win in the Georges Boillot Cup and a 3rd overall and class win in the Spa 24 Hours that same year.
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Eventually Hotchkiss bought Amilcar and for 1938 introduced the completely new Amilcar Compound. This may be a rather tatty example but the car has a very interesting specification: unitary construction in Alpax alloy, a 4-speed synchromesh gearbox mounted ahead of the (initially) side –valve 4-cylinder engine which drove the front wheels, all-independent suspension with torsion bars at the rear and rack-and-pinion steering. Only 681 were made.
David Blumlein, May 2016

Coventry Considerations

The Special Correspondent has been to Coventry and, as usual, he brings us some automotive treasures.

While attending the excellent seminar of the Society of Automotive Historians at Coventry Transport Museum, I grabbed a few moments in the lunch hour to nip around that part of the museum which has already been re-furbished. Here are some of the gems:

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This is where the story all began. In 1888 F.R. Simms met Gottlieb Daimler at the Bremen International Exhibition. Five years later the Daimler Motor Syndicate Ltd was formed in London following Simms’s acquisition of the Daimler engine patent rights for Great Britain. In 1895 the British Motor Syndicate Ltd, led by the dubious Harry J. Lawson, acquired those rights from Simms. This in turn led to the flotation of the Daimler Motor Company Ltd in Coventry in 1896. By 1897 production was under way of Daimler cars in the Coventry “Motor Mills” alongside the MMC cars. This Daimler dates from 1898.

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In 1896 Lawson paid Léon Bollée £20,000 for the English manufacturing and patent rights of his 3-wheeler – thus did Humber make the first Léon Bollée Voiturette built in this country.

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A Rover 6 displayed in front of a depiction of the original Meteor works in Coventry with some early Rover cycles. This factory never survived the Luftwaffe’s onslaught. The 6hp model was the second model Rover produced, the first being the 8 in 1904, the first car with a backbone chassis, designed by Edmund Lewis.

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John Davenport Siddeley took over the ailing Deasy company in 1909 and the cars were known as Siddeley-Deasys – they had bulkhead- mounted radiators like the Renaults. This is a 1912 model. After the Great War the cars became Armstrong-Siddeleys.

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A Coventry Premier 3-wheeler. The company made a cyclecar in 1912-14 and an advanced 4-cylinder failed to make production with the coming of the war. This cheaper model was considered more appropriate for the post-war conditions. It had a V-twin engine. Singer took over the firm and produced a 4-wheel variant and a cheap version of the Singer Ten was badged as a Coventry Premier in 1923 before dropping the name altogether in the next season.

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This is the Lea-Francis Hyper which was driven by Kaye Don to victory in the revived Tourist Trophy race, run on the Ards circuit for the first time in 1928.

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Lea-Francis were at the peak of their competition successes in the late Twenties and this 4-seater version of the Hyper won the 1500 c.c. class at Le Mans in 1929 driven by Peacock and Newsome, finishing 8th overall. The following year they won the class again with a 6th place finish.


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A portrait of Siegfried Bettmann who, as a German immigrant, adopted England as his home and who rose to become Mayor of Coventry in 1913. He is remembered also as the creator of the Triumph Company.

David Blumlein, April 2015