Avions Voisin built very few cars during its short existence as an automaker. But ever since one was named Best in Show at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, it seems Voisins are pouring out of the woodwork – and, predictably, winding up on the auction block.
Bonhams listed a 1931 C14 Chartre last month as part of its Goodwood Revival sale, but two additional Voisins are and RM Auctions currently has two rare Voisins scheduled for its sale in London, England, on October 26.
The first, a 1927 C11 Cabriolet bearing serial number 245681, is a little unusual. Unlike many late-model Voisins, it’s brightly colored, and its bodywork – custom-ordered by the customer yet allegedly built by the factory itself – is far less avant-garde than many of the designs penned by Gabriel Voisin. Instead, the narrow cabriolet body is quite traditional, with most surfaces aft of the cowl and A-pillars is covered in a woven cane pattern. The short wheelbase, large wheels, and svelte fenders add to its lithe, sporty appearance.
This C11 is powered by a 2.3-liter inline-six-cylinder engine, which is in turn mated with a three-speed manual gearbox. Like many period Voisin engines, the six-cylinder incorporates twin sliding sleeve valves licensed from Knight. Voisin built roughly 2100 C11s over the span of three years, but this is believed to be the only example sporting such bodywork. RM expects the car to bring between $57,000 and $93,000 at auction.
Those seeking a rolling piece of art deco sculpture can arguably do no better than the 1935 C25 Cimier Coupe that’s also up for grabs. It's almost identical to the C25 Aerodyne that swept Pebble, although the Cimier does without the Aerodyne’s arching, fastback roof and sports only two doors.
It does, however, retain the car’s geometrical styling, along with a number of unusual engineering tricks. The three windshield wipers appear to float in the windscreen itself, and the roof panel slides aft, thanks to a motor powered by the engine’s manifold vacuum pressure. Fanciful, but passengers were perhaps more distracted by the busy fabric pattern that was used on almost every interior surface. Beneath the skin, the C25 used a 95-hp, 3.0-liter I-6 (again using sleeve valves), a two-speed transmission with an electromagnetic gear selector, and adjustable dampers at all four corners.
This avant garde nature, along with an astronomical price tag, made the C28 a hard pill to swallow in its day. C28 sales figures make C11 volumes appear like those of a mass-produced vehicle. Voisin launched the car in 1934 and managed to build between 25 and 28 examples before production ended in 1938. Given the rarity and operating condition of this example (and, perhaps, interest in the C25 given the Pebble win), RM anticipates bidding to reach close to $370,000-$437,000.
Source: RM Auctions
Photos: Tom Wood/ Courtesy of RM Auctions