This is the last in a four part series highlighting my visit to the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum. I really enjoyed this small, off the beaten path car museum and it has a wonderful car collection which I've partially discussed already. You can read about and see lots of great car photos by visiting the prior posts; part 1 (Czech) by clicking here, part 2 (German) by clicking here and part 3 (UK and USA) by clicking here.
Today's post features some of the Museum's cars from France (not all), in my opinion the best part of the collection. Much of the information herein is abstracted from the Museum's displays and website (which like the museum is worth exploring and the link to it found above). The cars included in the collection but nicely represent those produced in the 1920s and 1930s, but with some other interesting models thrown in. These cars include:
Car 33: 1770 Fardier de Cugnot (replica) (France)
Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot 's steam powered Fardier (wheeled cart) was the first self-propelled vehicle in the world. It had front wheel drive, rack and pinion steering, forward and reverse gears, and a braking system. He had to design and build the first steam engine in which steam, at higher than atmospheric pressure, drove a piston in a cylinder. He also invented a rotary valve activated by the piston to let the steam in and out of the two cylinders. The vehicle can attain speeds of 5 km/h and was demonstrated in France in 1770, pulling a five ton artillery cannon. The original Fardier de Cugnot has been in the collection of the Le Conservatoire de Arts et Metiers, Paris, France since 1801. The Museum's Fardier is a completely functional, faithful reproduction created from scratch at The Tampa Bay Auto Museum. It's a massive fascinating creation!
Car 35: Citroen Half-Track (France)
1922 - ? Production unknown.
In the 1920s and 1930s Andre Citroen sponsored two expeditions meant to show off this hybrid vehicle (his body design with Kegresse's track system), and to demonstrate the ability of a half-track to travel across extremely inhospitable lands. The first expedition (1922-1923) involved 12 people crossing the Sahara Desert from Toggourt, Algeria, to Timbuktu, Mali (the first exploration of that desert by car). The second traversed Africa from north to south, beginning on October 28th, 1924, and ending on June 26th, 1925. The third, and most famous expedition, known as the Citroen-Haardt Expedition, commenced in 1931 in Beirut, Lebanon, and successfully followed Marco Polo's Silk Road route to Beijing, while seven other half-tracks left the Yellow Sea City of Tianjin to meet them part-way. The expedition was covered by publications such as National Geographic.
Car 36: 1924 Avion Voisin C7 Chastness (France)
1924-1938. 1350 cars
Car 37: 1929 Tracta A (France)
1929. 2 cars
Two cars were made in 1929 to race at Le Mans. Number 27 was the car driven by Valon and Gregoire in 1929 and 1930. Gregoire placed first in his category and seventh overall in 1929 behind Bentleys and other big-block engines. The Tracta A has a four speed gear box with overdrive specially designed for the Le Mans race track. Its top speed was 140 Km/hour (90 miles per hour) (995 cc 45 hp). The same car raced all over Europe, at Francorchamps in Belgium and at San Sebastian in Spain. Other than a new coat of paint, the car remains original.
Car 38: 1930 Tracta E (France)
1931-31. 50 cars
In 1929, a French Tracta A sports car won the one-liter class in the LeMans 24 hour race in France. It was driven by its designer, Jean Albert Gregoire, proving itself as one of the best and very durable front wheel drive designs in the world at that time. This 1930 Tracta E has a much larger 2.7 liter Continental six-cylinder engine and used the same Tracta constant velocity (cv) joints in the front drive. Its odometer registers an original 60,000 miles. The only other known Tracta E is a roadster with a replica body by Chapron commissioned in later years by Gregoire and is a part of the Pechiney Collection in the museum in Le Mans, France.
Car 39: 1933 Derby L8 (France)
1933. 11 cars
Derby was a French company that manufactured sports cars and race cars from 1920 through 1936. Derby cars were very successful with their racing cycle cars and voiturettes with engines less than 2 litres. Production of the Derby was limited to 10, with different body styles. The Museum's Derby, VIN 803, has a roadster body called “Montlhery”. This car was driven by Gwenda Stewart in the 1934 Monte Carlo Rally. This particular Derby was lost during the Second World War and was later
saved by the museum of La Rochetaille. In the 1950’s Lepicard and his friend Monsieur Veniard bought the car and changed the engine block for one of the engines mounted on a LeMans car from 1934. Otherwise, the car is original including its body.
Car 40: 1933 Chenard et Walcker (France)
1933. 10-40 cars.
A front wheel drive car manufactured in France with Tracta CV joints, four speed gearbox and four wheel independent suspension. The front wheel drive was engineered by Jean Albert Gregoire. Unfortunately, it was too costly to manufacture and there were perhaps only 10-50 made; no one knows exactly how many were produced. The Museum's car may be the only surviving “Super Aigle.”
Car 41: Citroen 7 CV (France)
1934-39. 88,066 cars.
The "7" was Citroen's first new front wheel drive car made available to the public. In 1937, the bugs were ironed out and the car proved itself to be very reliable. The finish is almost Spartan. The engine lacks power but is robust. The car delivers superb handling. The color scheme is original: black body and night blue fenders.
Car 42: 1936 Panhard Dynamic (France)
1936-39. 2,581 cars.
The art deco-styled Dynamic was a departure for Panhard, whose stately and conservative cars in the 1920’s and 1930’s were built for high-class clients such as bishops, military and government officials. It was the largest car made in its time with a unibody construction, and it featured dual circuit brakes and an independent front suspension. The timing was wrong for the Dynamic; it arrived when France was going through a period of social and political unrest. The Second World War was looming on the horizon and only 2,500 cars were made during the Dynamic’s first year in production.
Car 43: 1937 Peugot Darlomat (France)
1934-1939. 103 cars
Emile Darl'Mat was a Peugeot dealer in Paris who came up with the idea for a light, affordable sports car built on the Peugeot chassis and engine. The body was styled by George Paulin, a former dentist with an affinity for automobile design. Four models were available; a convertible, a coupe, a roadster, and a race car. The race car was almost identical to the roadster, and was the last model produced. Darl'Mats raced in the two-liter class at Le Mans in 1937 and 1938, where they finished fifth and eighth overall.
Car 44: 1938 Amilcar Compound (France)
1938-1941. 950 cars
This type of body, where the top could be rolled down, was called a Cabriolet Limousine, a concept originated in Germany and popular in the 1930s. The cast aluminum body, front wheel drive, rack-and-pinion steering, torque bars for rear suspension, and all-independent suspension made it a very nice car in 1937. This car was designed by Jean Albert GrÉgoire. The aluminum frame is in perfect condition and does not show any corrosion, even after 60 years
Car 45: 1950 Hotchkiss Gregoire (France)
1950-1953. 253 cars
There were very few Hotchkiss Gregoires ever exported to the United States. This car was shipped from France to the Mack Corporation in New York in 1953. The Museum found this car in Colorado; it had covered less than 7,000 miles, but was almost beyond repair. It had been parked under a tree for 40 years, when the tree fell on top of the car, caving in the roof. But the aluminum was in good enough condition to be straightened and welded. The Hotchkiss Gregoire was an advanced car in the very early 1950s, and despite its age, it drives much like a modern car.
Car 46: 1950 Salmson S4E (France)
1938-1951. 1300 cars
Salmson was very well known in earlier times for radial plane engines and later for small "cyclecars" with a respected dual overhead cam engine. The S4E convertible was built in 1950. The engine, from 1952, is made of aluminum with OHC, an electromechanical Cotal gear box and torque bars for the independent front suspension. It handles well.
Car 47: 1952 DeLaHaye 235 (France)
1952-1953. 83 cars.
Delahaye is one of the oldest names in automotive history, dating back to 1894. Delahaye raced and won numerous competitions, including Le Mans. Its last car, the 235, has a body, made of steel and aluminum. Only 83 model 235s were made.
Car 48: 1950 Hotchkiss Gregoire (France)
1950-53. 6 cars.
This exact car was exhibited at the New York show in 1953 and was sold to Ed Cole, who was the Chief Engineer of Chevrolet at the time. Interestingly, the steering wheel features a logo of an impala, an animal whose image and name would later appear on a Chevrolet vehicle. The Museum's Hotchkiss coupe has been completely restored to original condition. Very few Hotchkiss Gregoires were ever imported into the United States. The Museum's collection contains two of them.
Car 48: 1956 Claveau (France)
1956. 1 car.
This car is a prototype designed by Emile Claveau and presented at the Paris auto show in 1955. The engine is a two stroke, 3 cylinder from DKW with a four-speed gearbox. It is a unibody with four independent wheels. Rubber rings nested in each other provide the suspension. The car was exhibited, but never tested. In fact, the gas tank was never even installed. A French Collector, Doctor Jeanson, rescued the Claveau from a salvage yard and it was later purchased by the museum. After restoration and the addition of a gas tank, the Claveau was finally driven, 50 years after being introduced at the Paris auto show
Car 49: 1969 Citroen SM Maserati (France)
1969-1975. 12,920 cars.
Citroen was never one to follow conventional wisdom. The SM incoporates Citroen’s hydra-pneumatic suspension, inboard front disc brakes, front-wheel drive, swivel headlamps, and an odd power steering set up that required drivers to re-think their steering input choices. The Maserati derived 2.7 liter 60 degree V6 was an engineering marvel, though prone to timing chain problems. The top speed was reported to be 137 mph.
Car 50: 1971 CGE Gregoire Electric (France)
In 1942, Gergoire's small car, the “Tudor” had broken records for electric automobiles: 150 miles at an average speed of 27 miles per hour without recharging the batteries.
In 1970, Jean Albert GrÉgoire was involved in a new project concerning an electric car. The chassis is cast in aluminum (alpax) and supports the mechanical, electrical components and the batteries (some in front, some in the rear to balance the weight). The variation of speed was already electronic through a “chopper”. Independent suspension on the four wheels is provided by air cushion, a patent from GrÉgoire. Rear wheels are driven. Eleven cars were made and for a period as long as ten years, they were driven and tested but no production was started. The maximum speed is 50 miles per hour and the “economy speed” to obtain the best range is 40 miles per hour.