Epic Glimpses into French Pre-War Motoring



Nestled amongst numerous commercial vehicles and more Ford Model T’s than you can count in a day, all of which combine as the listings for the first classic sale hosted by Epic Auctions in Rotterdam, are six intriguing cars that offer an insight into French pre-war motoring.

The oldest of these is a rather charming 1912 Clement-Bayard Tourer in an opulent shade of blue and complete with a quirky ‘coal scuttle’ bonnet. The radiator is located behind the engine, which was a fairly typical layout in French cars during the pre-war era. The founder of Clement-Bayard had found early success in bicycle and tire production before concentrating on motorcars and after producing vehicles for some 19 years, the company was finally bought by Citroen in 1922.

Perhaps unsurprisingly Citroen themselves are also represented in the sale. Out of two pre-war vehicles, their more noticeable representative is the 1922 Type C that would have been manufactured at the same time the Clement-Bayard was taken over by the major French brand. Often referred to as the ‘Petit Citron’ thanks to its zesty yellow paintwork, the 856cc engine was accompanied by a single Solex carburetor and magneto ignition and gave out approx. 11 bhp. Epic’s Type C has an unusual 3-seat arrangement making this one of the iconic “Trefle” models, named thanks to the layout for those onboard mimicking the shape of a cloverleaf. Also in the sale is a 1932 Citroen C4 with its 4-cylinder engine able to motor along at a top speed of 55mph whilst passengers enjoyed a comfortable and refined ride thanks to new designs in suspension that incorporated hydraulic shock absorbers.

One of the main rivals to the Citroen Type C would likely have been the Renault KJ1 and there is a turquoise-green KJ1 from 1923 in the auction. Manufactured only between 1923-1924, a KJ1 with its ‘alligator look’ hood and the 950cc engine make for a very unusual sight indeed. The prominent gills on the side of the hood indicating, like the Clement-Bayard, the location of the radiator behind the engine.

Finally, there are two La Licorne vehicles in the sale - a somewhat unique occurrence given there are only 30 known of within the Netherlands. Lot 146 is a LO4 Sedan from 1931 whilst lot 147 is a 2-door LO4 Coupe from 1932. Both proudly display their unicorn-themed badges up front and new owners will likely be enthusiastically welcomed into the enthusiast’s club thanks to the sheer rarity of this French marque.

Joining the small French collection at the up-coming Epic auction on Friday 17th & Saturday 18th November are just under 200 other vehicles including cars, buses, lorries, motorcycles as well as a varied selection of autojumble.

Text by Gillian Carmoodie, images courtesy of Epic Auctions

Published: Tuesday November 7th, 2017


  • Jan, someone must have made an offer that couldn't be refused.

  • What happened with the other (about 100) interesting vehicles on the site of Epic Auctions about a week ago/


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