Thursday, March 29, 2012

AVIGNON MOTOR FESTIVAL, 2012

The unsung hero of the show...the ex-Dick Mann, 1970 Daytona-winning Honda CR750, which has lived in France since 1971, in obscure circumstances, but is now coming to public view...
Escaping the gray skies of winter, a weekend in Provence sounds holiday-brochure perfect, which fairly describes this year's Avignon Motor Festival.  As related in last year's post, the Festival is a sprawling mélange of internal combustion applications, from motorcycles old and new, to vintage, sports, and luxury cars, tractors, farm equipment, buses, articulated trucks, military hardware, and the occasional plane and boat.
This lad had his own functional tractor to ride parallel with his dad...
The mechanical highlights of the weekend included focused exhibits in the main hall, this year on French racing cars and motorcycles, which was instructive, wide-ranging, and delicious.  The racing cars ranged from very early single-cylinder monstrosities to a very slick 1950s Peugeot streamliner/record breaker, all in matching French Racing Blue.  Why French racing motorcycles didn't adopt this color is a mystery, as it seems every racing car from the period was painted the same distinctive color - they look fantastic, and you know exactly who made them.
The timeline of French GP cars included some stunning - blue - machinery; Bugattis, Talbots, Amilcars...
Its not all static display, as noisy demonstrations/parades cut through the fairgrounds all day, from plonking tractors to revving bikes, and best of all, the Tour Jacques Protherat starts and finishes at the heart of the Festival every day, as a timeline of prewar Bugattis, Peugeots, Aston Martins, etc, take in the amazing Provencal countryside on day-tours of the region.  Southern France has some excellent and uncrowded roads through the Alpilles and down to the sea, some of which looks like SoCal, but with thousand-year-old stone villages and the odd two thousand year old Roman ruin thrown in the mix.  Yes, its different after all from Cali, eye-poppingly beautiful, warm and sunny, with great food too.
On the road between Bonnieux and Aix; plenty of bikes taking advantage of the curves...
Exploring the roads of the Luberon and Alpilles, modern bikes were a frequent sight, carving the rock canyons and burbling through villages.  I was hoping to be on a bike myself, but the vintage-moto-tour was cancelled this year.  If it happens next year, I'll be back...
The incredible reproduction of an equally amazing machine; the 1913 Peugeot 500M racer, with double-overhead-camshafts and four valves per cylinder.  None of the original GP bikes exits, so a new one was made, with cooperation from Peugeot, who supplied the original blueprints.
The 1921 iteration of the 500cc vertical twin-cylinder racer had a shaft-and-bevel driven single overhead camshaft, and two valves per cylinder.  Perhaps a retrograde step, but it proved more reliable, and more powerful, given the crude understanding of valve timing and port shapes of the day.
Clearly apparent that the shaft tower for the cams upstairs was a massive affair, and reliable.  The duplex frame tubes beneath the engine were also pioneering frame construction.
The external flywheel of the 1921 Peugeot 500 racer
The ABC was designed by Granville Bradshaw, and originally built by WW1 aircraft maker SPAD, then licensed to French aircraft firm Gnome et Rhone, who carried on after ABC went bust.  A very advanced design, with machined steely cylinder, overhead valves, a robust duplex frame, three-speed gearbox, and full suspension front and rear.
Just another beautiful evening in southern France...
A solitary AJS Big Port tagged along on the Tour, for at least the first day...
Another fantastic Amilcar of the early 1920s
From the Concours d'Elegance, conducted in the original meaning of the phrase, with period attire to complement the vehicle...
This Brescia Bugatti surely captured the American spirit of Hot Rodding...much earlier than we think!
Another Bugatti, this time a Type 37, lovely in grey
Yet another Bugatti, off for the day's Tour...
'Cafe Racers' magazine had a booth with a few hot bikes on display
The ultimate pedestrian killer, from the days when stoplights were unknown; the Leyat prop-car
For whatever reason, Corsican food dominated the concessions; salamis, fresh breads, cheeses, etc.  Nothing fried here...
La Famille Coste; parents of Jérome (Ruby), and Dimitri.
'Speed' indeed
Lots of children entered into the Concours d'Elegance this year...




















































8 comments:

WhitelinePsycho said...

Total sensory overload, the Mann bike is one of my all time faves, definitively gorgeous !!!

GuitarSlinger said...

This event is so completely right up my GearHead alley I've got to go !

Any links Paul on attending next years ?

Travel suggestion ?

I'll have to be sure to bring a set of blinders though ... to keep my attention on the Gearhead goodies and off of those French beauties you usually feature , but didn't this time :o(

Aggroton said...

Just in case you were not aware...you have the greatest job ever.

Andrew Macpherson said...

Great pics and story as always, thanks for being our eyes at these amazing events!

Anonymous said...

Good April Fools Day change-up to your blog site! Still the best Paul. Thanks for your work.
zam284

Anonymous said...

Great April Fools Day change up to your blog site. Always good work Paul.

Matt Dougan said...

Another great post from Paul, you lucky dog!

Charlie Huckins said...

Paul,

Wonderful pictures! I was wondering if you could tell me what bike with the blue instrument panel and JAP engine is?

Thanks,
Charlie