Tag Archives: Paris

An Education – Bristol 405 Saloon

Back in February I looked at the Bristol 405 Drophead, fit for for a Sheikh, today I am looking at the 4 door saloon, seen here at the recent Silverstone Classic, built on the same chassis design.

Bristol 405 Saloon, Silverstone Classic

When launched at the Paris Motor Show in October 1954 the 405 experienced overheating problems while running in heavy Parisian traffic, this turned out to be due to a faulty batch of cylinder heads rather than the fog light blocking the radiator.

Bristol 405 Saloon, Silverstone Classic

Once the overheating problem had been sorted customers were full of enthusiasm for this versatile model which was lighter than the preceding 2 door 403.


Larger doors and windows, than those seen on previous Bristol models, were accommodated by dropping the hitherto successful Superleggera body construction in favour of body work built around a wooden frame.


Unlike the 405 Drophead chassis which were sent initially to Abbots and later Tickfords for their bodywork to be built, the 405 Saloon had bodywork built in the Bristol works factory.


Gary Barker told the Adelaide Advertiser in 1956 “The Bristol 405 is a car in the very best tradition of high British performance.”


A maroon 405 Saloon was the star of the 2009 coming of age film ‘An Education‘.

My thanks to Christopher Balfour who’s book Bristol Cars A Very British Story supplied many of the background details for this blog.

Tomorrow I hope to be attending the Bristol Owners Club Concours d’Elegance a free event held at the Old Royal Naval College Greenwich – The Painted Hall.

It is sad to have to report that Chris Lawrence, one of the men behind the Morgan Triumph SLR cars that featured on a GALPOT blog two weeks ago, passed away on August 13th. Along with the SLR Chris was responsible for the Mini based Deep Sanderson and much more recently the Morgan Aero 8 amongst many other vehicle developments. I hope you will join me in sending condolences to Chris’s friends and family.

Thanks for joining me on this British Performance edition of ‘Getting a lil psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a large sports car from a revived brand that now hails from Chippenham, Wiltshire. Don’t forget to come back now !


1914 Indy Winner – Delage Y

Continuing this months series of blogs celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 today’s photograph by Ed Arnaudin was taken in 1964 and shows the most famous of the Delage Y’s which, in the hands of Rene Thomas, won the 4th running of the Indy 500 in 1914.

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Designed by Arthur Michelat four Y models are thought to have been built between 1913 and 1914 at the Delage factory on Boulevard de Verdun in Courbevoie in NW Paris.

This one was fitted with a 113 hp, 4 cylinder 4.5 litre 275 cui motor, featuring 4 valves per cylinder, was connected to a 5 speed gearbox making it one of the most advanced racing cars of it’s time.

In 1913 Paul Bablot drove the pictured vehicle to victory in the, latter of two, French Grand Prix held at Le Mans.

With support from British journalist in Paris WF Bradley, the Indianapolis 500 attracted the first foreign entries in 1913 which in 1914 included two Delage Y’s, the 2nd Delage driven by Albert Guyot placed 3rd in the race.

Rene Thomas prior to winning the Indianapolis 500 at his first attempt is also known for surviving the worlds first mid air collision near Milan in 1910 after his Antoinette monoplane ‘fell’ onto the Farman biplane of Captain Bertram Dickson who was not so lucky.

Thomas went on to record a land speed record of 143 mph in 1924 at Arpajon south of Paris aboard another Delage. Amazingly after a full life of risk taking Rene Thomas died aged 89 in 1975.

The story goes that as this winning car was being loaded on to a ship to return to France it was purchased and ultimately remained in the USA. The car was later ‘found’ by Edgar L. Roy a founding member of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America and restored by him prior to the car finding it’s way to the IMS Hall of Fame Museum.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for sending me the scan of his Dad’s photo and to E.B. of The Nostalgia Forum for identifying this vehicle.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s 1914 edition of ‘Getting a lil psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for a look at a 1915 White Squadron Stutz. Don’t for get to come back now !


Asymmetrical Anniversary – Renault 4 GTL

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With the demise of the Renault 4CV in 1961, Renault needed a new utility vehicle to compete with the ubiquitous if agricultural Citroen 2CV which had been in production since 1948.

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Renault Chairman Pierre Dreyfus came up with an urban vehicle that was superior to the 2CV in almost every aspect in the form of the front wheel drive Renault 4.

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Built from 1961 to 1994 the Renault 4 was powered by a variety of motors from 747 cc 45.6 cui to 1300 cc 78.7 cui all water cooled in line 4 cylinder engines. In the first year there was a baby R4 with a 603 cc 36.7 cui engine marketed in France only as the R3.

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Over 8,300,000 Renault 4’s were built, the 1st million had been built by 1966 in just over four years. Renault 4 was built / assembled at Billancourt, France in Australia, Spain, Belgium, Colombia, Slovenia, Portugal, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Ireland, Morocco, Algeria and from 1965 to 1964 41, 809 R4’s were built under licence by Alfa Romeo in Italy.

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Few people outside Renault and the motor industry realise that the Renault 4 has an asymmetrical wheel base with the left hand rear wheel being mounted just ahead of the right rear because each wheel is sprung by its own torsion bar mounted across the width of the chassis.

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Like the 2CV the Renault 4 has a box chassis unlike the 2CV the R4’s chassis stiffness is dependant on all the body panels being attached.

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A 20hp Renault 4 was entered in the 1962 Monre Carlo Rally in which it was classified last, an all wheel drive Sinpar version came 3rd in the 1980 Paris Dakar Rally and to celebrate it’s 50th Birthday a team of three Renault 4’s were entered in the 2011 Monte Carlo Rally.

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Renault 4’s are great fun to drive with dash mounted umbrella gear sticks and hand brake levers,
happy Golden Anniversary Renault 4 !

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for reminding me of this anniversary.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s asymmetrical edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for another 50th Anniversary. Don’t forget to come back now !


Air bag exempt – Ferrari F 430

Last week on Ferrari Friday we looked at seven magnificent Ferrari F430 GT2 racing cars this week were looking at the road car that the racer was based on. The F430 was launched at the Paris Motor Show in 2004.

This USD $225,000 vehicle came loaded with electronics including limited slip active differential which varies the distribution of torque from the engine to the rear wheels based on information on steering angle and lateral acceleration, Electronic Stability Control which detects and minimises skids, Skyhook electronic suspension and is fitted with little knobs on the steering wheel to adjust all of the above to ones personal preference. Unusually US authorities granted the F430 exemption from US airbag requirements.

These brake discs / rotors are cast from an iron molybdenum alloy developed in collaboration with Brembo and are claimed to be good for over 300 laps of the Ferrari Fiorano test track with out fading.

196 mph capability is afforded courtesy of a 483hp 4300 cc / 262 cui V8 a shared Ferrari / Maserati design that is a complete departure of all previous Ferrari V8’s that trace their ancestry and architecture back to the 1950’s Dino V6 racing programme.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s air bag exempt edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me tomorrow for a look at a fast cat from Coventry. Don’t forget to come back now !


Perfect car for a wedding #1 – Citroen Traction Avant

I don’t propose to post photos of cars used at Weddings every Saturday but I thought I’d give today’s blog a topical theme, though I suspect the summer wedding season is probably already over.

Most of the photo’s I have taken of cars used at weddings are not even taken on a Saturday, this is because just down the row of buildings from my city centre bank is an old court house that has been rebranded as a Registry Office. The City centre location is of course used for weddings 6 days a week though as can be seen from these photo’s the location is not without a few ‘parking issues’.

The Citroen Traction Avant is probably most famous as being the car that the cartoon detective Tintin used in the, now deemed less than politically correct, series of stories by Belgian artist Georges Rémi who published his work under the nom de plume Hergé.

The Citroen Traction Avant Garde was a revolutionary vehicle for it’s time, which spanned 1934 -1957, it was the worlds first front wheel drive steel monocoque production car, setting a trend that is almost ubiquitous for passenger vehicles 76 years later.

The construction without the hitherto universal separate chassis was available with a variety of 4 and 6 cylinder engines from 1.3 litres / 79.5 CUI up to 2.9 litres / 176 CUI which sit behind the gearbox driving the front wheels, optimising the weight distribution on the independently sprung wheels.

There were plans to build a 3.8 litre / 231 CUI V8 version of the Traction Avant featuring an automatic transmission with a torque converter, similar to that later employed in the GM Dynaflow transmission, however after 20 prototypes had been built Citroen had gone bankrupt and Michelin who bought the company to primarily test its tyre and other rubber products cancelled the project.

In 1954 a Traction Avant was used to test the self levelling hydropneumatic suspension of the later equally revolutionary Citroen DS which would eventually replace the Traction Avant series in 1955. 759,111 of these vehicles were built in Paris (France), Forest (Belgium), Cologne (Germany) and Slough (England)

Best wishes to anyone who is getting married to day, hope you have enjoyed my first week as a blogger as much as I have, I look forward to to hearing from you all, ‘y’all come back now ! Hear !.’