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Three Neighbours in Paris


Voisin at the Retromobile

Retromobile-Paris: I think, I mustn´t tell you, that the "Retro" is the most fascinating anually show for vintage car enthusiasts?! As we all have been there or at least read about this years edition and seen many pictures of the show, here are my personal highlights, that of course are the three mouth-watering Voisin.
Before I entered the show, I only heared rumors, that Christoph Grohe "may" bring his latest barnfind, an original C11 "Lumineuse" (or better "Chasserons", as this model was officially called). But before I found Mr.Grohes stand, I spotted the most spectacular Voisin, I saw in the last years: The C28 "Aerosport". The chassis is specified as one prototype of the small series of about 10...14 Aerosport produced. The engine is a 3300cm³ sleeve-valve six-cylinder with a cotal-preselector gearbox,, accelerating the car to a top-speed of 150kph. A new body was handcrafted by the famous specialists of Dominique Tessier, who really made a brilliant job. Compared to the only other survivor, the well known blue car with the No.7 on its front fenders, ordered by chocolate-manufacturer Antoine Menier, Philippe Mochs C28 looks even more impressive, as at the Menier-C28, the mounted bumpers hide some wonderful lines, especially the rear edges.
The second Voisin  I detected, was a white C11 with a new custom body, built in Romania. The bodylines imitate an original boattail-body, that was once mounted on an early big-four-cylinder (C1/C3?), but as the original Chassis was much larger than the one of the C11, the proportions didn´t fit very good. Nevertheless, the body seemed to be built in a really excellent quality.
After Christoph Grohe displayed the Voisin C7, once driven by famous architect LeCorbusier some years ago, this year he brought a stunning barnfind to Paris. The C11 with the typical body, that is mostly called "Lumineuse", even if the factory never officially used this name. The car has got very small A- and B- pillars with big side and rear windows for a good view out of the car and for an airy interieur. Mr. Grohes car, built in 1928, was stored in a farm since more than 50 years. There was an article about the car in 1967, but it´s believed, that before the article was published, the car was already stored since the late 1930s. The condition of the car is really amazing, as it still carries its original interieur-cloth and also the outer paintjob is believed to be original. Sadly some small parts, as for example the famous radiator-mascot (the "Cocotte") or the enamel scarab logo got lost over the years. In a typical Voisin-way, this car is the essence of "form follows function". Not a single detail of the car is mounted as a decoration and there are many details, you don´t spot before the second or third look. The little reading lamp at the rear seats for example, the network rack below the roof with an integrated hat-holder or the drawers for tools, spareparts or small luggage, integrated to the front fenders. In combination with a lightweight alloy body, a well-centred weight distribution and the silent sleeve-valve six-cylinder engine, this car shows all the typical Voisin characteristics in a perfect way.
But what would you do with such an original non-runner? The unanimous opinion we had, while looking at the car was "too good to restore - too bad to drive"! So what would you do with a car in a condition like the Lumineuses?

Words and photos: Hubertus Hansmann
 
            

Comments 

 
#6 2017-04-03 16:16
Thanks for the pictures, what a wonderfull car. Keep it like it is! Just like your'e not going to repaint the Mona Lisa because the paint is a bit old !
 
 
#5 2017-03-12 13:05
Sell it to America where it would be fitted with a 7litre V-8, automatic transmission, chromed wire wheels and a glittery metallic paint job.
 
 
#4 2017-03-12 11:26
Thanks for presenting us these wonderful machines, Hubertus!

As for the unrestored "Lumineuse", I don't see why anything but a technical overhaul should be justified. This is a unique historic artefact, a true time-machine which would lose all its magic and personality, if someone would start trying to put the body into "as new" condition (which, by the way, is the least representative for the condition of a prewar car during the decades of its existence).

In 2015, I spotted two Voisin C14 sedans at the fabulous Chantilly Concours d'Elegance - one was completely "restored", the other one had been and preserved in its original "as found" condition. I still remember the smell of old grease that surrounded the unrestored car - a fantastic experience!
 
 
#3 2017-03-07 08:27
Very interesting question Hubertus, what too do when it's too good to restore but too bad to drive. Mechanically restoring the car while keeping the patina is much more difficult and challenging than to just restore everything!
 
 
#2 2017-03-07 07:10
Thank you Hubertus, this is an excellent review of the 2017 Rétromobile Voisin!
 
 
#1 2017-03-07 03:10
Simple choice, preserve it as is, but driveable. It is just way to "cool", "neat", etc not to put it on the road. As I like to say "I wouldn't kick it out of my garage (or living room)for dripping oil"!
 

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