On Saturday and Sunday 7 and 8 May we were at the sixth Vintage Revival at Montlhéry. This famous circuit is the french equivalent of Brooklands – with one important difference: cars and bikes can still drive right round the main circuit, partially even on the very high banking.
There is no racing, but ‘speedy progress’ is allowed, in all sorts of different categories from spindly cyclecars, through light cars and voiturettes, to vintage sports and racing cars, to aero-engined monsters (and yes: the Beast of Turin was there). And then there are the motorcycles – a truly wonderful collection of British, French, Swiss, American and other makes.
The event has a remarkably relaxed atmosphere. There are commercial stands, but they are far from corporate: they are manned by true enthusiasts, selling mainly old spare parts and a few books and magazines.
There was so much to see that we’re going to split our report into several news items that we’ll post over the next few weeks. We’ll start with the voiturettes: light sports and racing cars. Here are some pictures, stuff we know about them, and stories we heard about them during the weekend.
So here we go with Part One: The Voiturettes…
A pair of BNCs
There were at least 20 of these sporting B.N.C. light cars in the event. They were built by Bollack, Netter & Compagnie from 1923 to 1930 and powered by various engines including Ruby, S.C.A.P. and Chapuis-Dornier.
A 1929 BNC with S.C.A.P. X engine
We know a bit more about this B.N.C. thanks to the owner. It is powered by a more advanced 1.1-litre S.C.A.P. X engine with overhead rather than side valves.
The S.C.A.P. X engine
1924 Antony Type A1 ‘Course’
This is a rare car. Antony made light cars from 1921 to 1932, and this is their racing car with a C.I.M.E. 1494cc single-overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine.
1927 Antony 500cc ‘La Punaise’
Strictly speaking we are here trespassing into cyclecar territory – but we have put this tiny Antony here as a contrast with its bigger sister. Antony made a few of these small-engined cars with with either 350cc or 500cc Hannisard engines.
1929 Vernon Derby 1089cc Sport
The Derby company flourished in France between 1921 and 1936, and from 1927 to 1930 4- and 6-cylinder models were sold in England under the name Vernon Derby. We do not know which one this is, but 1089cc seems like a 4-cylinder to us.
1926 Amilcar Italiana CGSS
We were delighted to see this Amilcar in the hands of Simon Goodman. It was for many years in the hands of his father, the late Bryan Goodman, a staunch member of the SAHB. It is especially rare: made in Italy under licence.
A pair of Amilcar C6 ‘Course Client’ cars
Amilcar only built between 50 and 60 twin-overhead-cam 1100cc C6 cars. these were sold to customers who wished to race or to have a really rapid road-going sports car. About 10 percent of the total C6 production was visible at the event – here are two examples.
A 1927 Amilcar C6
Here is another C6, showing its delightfully racy lines.
1922 Bignan 1100cc AL Skiff
The Bignan car was built between 1918 and 1931 in Courbevoie, north of Paris. This example is in fact a badge-engineered Salmson AL3 with a ‘monoculbuteur’ (‘single pushrod’) 1097cc 4-cylinder engine designed by Petit. This unusual engine has featured on our website before in a Salmson of the same era. It has only a single pushrod per cylinder, that actuates both inlet and exhaust valves. It pushes to open the exhaust valve; springs open the inlet valve. This saves complexity and manufacturing cost but makes valve overlap impossible – which significantly hampers efficiency. Nevertheless, many thousands of these engines were used on Salmson and Bignan cars at the time.
Georges Irat cars
From its founding in 1921 Gorges Irat made relatively large cars, apart from an unsuccessful smaller model of 1929 with a 1086 cc four-cylinder engine, designed by Georges’s son Michel. A financial crisis ensued, and the company was partially taken over by Godefroy et Levecque, makers of the Ruby engine, in 1934. They built front-wheel-drive sporting roadsters, all with Ruby engines: the MM of 950cc in 1935, the 1097cc MDS in 1936 and the 1078cc MDU in 1937. The cars in this group are almost certainly from this era.
Look out on this website for Part Two: Chains and Belts – the eclectic mix of crazy (definitely) cyclecars, slightly more sober 3-wheelers and top-notch Chain Gang GNs and Frazer Nashes.
See you soon!