Thursday, May 14, 2015


Marcel Léyat's' Hélica' aerocar of 1921 in full glory - what an object!  There's another example in the excellent Musée des Arts et Metiers in central Paris.
The smoky end of Frank Chatokhine's '38 Triumph Speed Twin
1921 Hélica, 1925 Excelsior Super X racer, and 1926 Motosacoche 804 Sport, amazingly sharing a single track, but there's plenty of room...
Cars as full of character as an antique bike, and surely as much trouble to keep in good running order!
A bored ambulance crew is an excellent sign that riders kept matters under control...
The Amilcar/Hispano-Suiza aero-engine mashup...
...and the pilot's view of the beast.
A Dixieland jazz band kept things light
A series of tented workshops from Yesterday's, the Hockenheim Museum, the Brooklands Museum, and several private owners corralled a wide variety of machines in a small space; visible here are Indian, Douglas, Peugeto, and Werner - the products of four countries, all pre-WW1.
No, not a racer, but a rare and wonderful beast, the 1924 BSA 770cc v-twin
Red, white, and blue...the French flag represented in the engine bay of a Bugatti type 35 straight-8 racer
One could get lost in the sensuous landscape of a Bugatti Type 59's front suspension - leaf springs, dampers, and axle...
...with cable-operated brakes of enormous size.
The crowd mostly kept to the balcony over the starting grid, and avoided the grandstands; the better to smell the Castrol R!
The 1902 Clément-Gladiator, which was also produced under license in the USA
No excuses here: I have one too, and this example looks great.  Compared to a 1902 Indian, it's a moped, but this is what motorcycling looked like at the turn of the Century.  And the Indian would have set me back several zeros more than a Clément!
A 1928 Norton CS1 racer, with Walter Moore-designed 'cricket bat' engine.
Cyclecars!  A 1921 Tamplin Cyclecar to be exact - with seating a cozy one-two inline, and the body made from plywood soaked in resin to make it waterproof.  It's a unibody, with direct chain drive to the left rear wheel only (no need for a differential!).  Over a thousand Tamplins were produced.
Lots of vintage bicycles in use, which expedited transversing the grounds.  Especially nice in period dress
The hot rods confer - Dimitri Coste and Frank Chatokhine
The Hockenheim Museum's immaculate 1928 Douglas SW5 road racer.  
This early Bugatti bears the maker's signature on the cambox!  A nice touch; as Ettore was raised in a family of artists, it's understandable he'd sign his creations
The VRM staff, always helpful, generally smiling.  Lots of work to do, but what an office!
The owner reckoned this might be the first Peugeot v-twin ever sold, the ex-Paris Show 1905 machine
Well bashed aluminum bodywork on this GN, the twin-carb 'Piglet Special', with plenty of louvres to keep the air-cooled engine cool.  A fantastic sight to watch sliding around the corners 
Jean-Luc Gaignard in his 1920 Silver Hawk 1480cc OHC racer; he brought motorcycles too!
Period correct gents...
...and ladies!
A rare Gnome-Rhone with pressed-steel frame and forks.
I captured this gent in 2013; the car has been in one family since new, and no doubt these youngsters will inherit it
Big smiles in a big 'teens Mercedes GP racer
1913 Henderson on the track - the magnificent American 4-cylinder, this is the short-chassis second version.
Jonathan Rishton, editor of The Automobile (to which I occasionally contribute), peers out the back of the 'works' Ford Vedette van
'Cally' Callamon looking distinguished in his everyday attire.  A well-known exponent of high-wheeler bicycles, who's done the full length of Britain on one
Even the kids get a race course - with vintage pedal-cars.
Ultra-rare beast; the OHC Koehler-Escoffier GP 350cc of 1934, a big improvement over their late '20s OHC racers, as it has a proper oil pump and positive oiling for the camshaft, rather than the total-loss feed prior.  Cams need lots of oil!
Laurence Chatokhine with a lovely vintage Peugeot in full Deco decor.
Rackety old open-wheelers crowding the grid.  Just fabulous.
The technically advanced work of Nougier, here with a gear-driven DOHC head added to a Magnat-Debon 
The 1928 La Mondial with full pressed-steel chassis and JAP engine.  A very rare machine, with a cool half-round gas tank - very Deco indeed.  Note the doubled-up front brakes.
Lining up for the Morgan/Salmson 3-wheel races
Nice ad placement!  The command center of the track
A shot of the 500cc DOHC Magnat-Debon with the full Nougier treatment, originally modified in 1936. Francois-Marie Dumas has recently written a full account of the Nougier enterprise from 1932-72; worth investigating, as their DOHC 4-cylinder racer of the 1950s is serious stuff. 
Oliver Way and his Austin aero-engine racer
Paterfamilias of the Coste clan
Sebastien Chirpaz, proprietor of A Piece of Chic silk scarves, some of which adorn my neck!
I love two wheels, but four wheels like this look like fun too
A very early Rochet motorcycle, looking very original
A better view of Jean-Luc Gaignard's Silver Hawk racer, with the banking behind, looking like a wall
A rare 1932 Styl'son R12 250cc with Blackburne engine
How the racing across his back must haunt his dreams...
A gorgeous seafoam green Terrot
And another Terrot, with an engine of their own make
Pavel Malanik's 1909 Torpedo recreation, with 1640cc fan-4, which sounded amazing on the track
Ready for the staging area
DOHC Amilcar with supercharger replaced by a pair of carbs!  Less trouble in actual use?
Not a men's club; Gillian Carr on an early 60s Velocette Venom
Thanks for the party Vincent!  You're the man! 


Barry Brown said...

Great stuff Paul ! The Henderson if indeed a 1913 can only be a long wheelbase as the shortened variety only came into being in 1915. . The photo you posted definitely looks like a long wheelbase bike. Cheers, Barry

amilcar26 said...

Great set of pictures,
please note that the engine picture "DOHC Amilcar" is NOT Amilcar, but the only 1500cc LOMBARD engine existing, with detachable head, and ex. Serge Pozzoli race engine.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the article which really captures the weekend. I also realise how much I missed. Certainly there was not enough time in a weekend to take it all in. It was well worth a 1200 mile round trip from Belfast in a van with the Salmson GS8 in the back (the white one photographed against the trees).

I’m looking forward to 2017 already.


Dermot Johnson

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul

Sorry to have missed you at Montlhery. After a lot of trouble trying to find a taxi from Bretigny (I though it was a great idea to take the RER) we arrived before opening time and had a chance to see the participants setting up. We went by the Bonhams tent but could not locate you. We bumped into Alastair Gibson ( we had met him at Bonneville in 2013), had a short talk with him, gave him a copy of "Salt Fever" (he shows up in many parts of our movie) and a chance to admire his immaculate BMW...
We really liked the meeting with it's relaxed atmosphere, next time we will bring a real picnic (the food was expensive and not so good)
Will try to go back in 2017, are there similar meetings in Europe?

Anonymous said...

Hello Paul,

Firstly thank you for your excellent publication, recommended to me last year, top quality! I enjoy seeing the unusual and exotic machines you unearth!

You pictured a BMW R5 about two thirds of the way down in the Montlhery article, but unfortunately no details! Do you have any detail, and more pictures? I believe it is a UK bike, from South Africa,with lots of history. I would love to see it! Good to see it being used, they should be! Rather than hidden away..

Regards, and thank you,
Nick Dulk

Greg Prosmushkin said...

These are some cool old cars and motorcycles. Its a shame they don't make cars like this anymore. Motorcycles were really nice when they were plain and simple. I really enjoyed reading this article!!

Noot said...

Thanks Paul - Great Pics and Coverage !

Anonymous said...

Wow, heavenly. Need to make a point of attending. It looks like a more intimate, inclusive Goodwood Revival. - JZ

olivier iacconi said...

Hello, very nice pictures. Just one minor corrcetion if I may : the Styl'son motorcycle is not a RI 250cc but a RK 500cc. This is mine and I enjoyed riding it during this event. It was my first time at VRM, surely not the last one ! Hope to see you there again. Take care. Olivier

Chen Alan said...

Nice post...
Great pics.