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Car and Driver: Avions Damn, Son! Voisin C28 Aerosport to Be Auctioned in Monterey

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1935 Avions Voisin C28 Aérosport


Perhaps you were thinking you might pick up an Avions Voisin C28 Aérosport this year at Monterey. After all, they’re dashing automobiles, arguably Gabriel Voisin’s greatest design—and Monsieur Voisin came up with some of the greatest lookers of the prewar era.


But we will tell you this. After walking past the Hermès store at SFO, we thought to ourselves, “Selves, it might be nice to have a Hermès belt. You certainly can’t go around springing for some manner of satchels from the famed Frankish leather house, but a belt could be a doable treat; a classic thing you’d own forever.” So we popped online and priced Hermès belts. We found that it is easily possible to spend over a thousand dollars on a leather strap that goes ’round one’s waist. Call us pedestrian rubes, but that puts said belt in air-conditioned front-yard territory, as our own John Phillips might put it. We point this out because the lone C28 Aerocoupe on offer at Monterey this year had its interior reupholstered by Hermès. We have no idea what that job cost, but we assume that one could purchase at least purchase a whole Porsche 718 Boxster with that money. Or perhaps a Citroën SM, a later example of fabulous Gallic luxo-speed engineering. In short, this will be a very expensive car.


1935 Avions Voisin C28 Aérosport


Gabriel Voisin first found fame as an aircraft designer and manufacturer. The destruction wrought by his creations during the First World War turned him into a pacifist, and he turned his attention to automobiles. He wrought striking, beautiful things; some sinister, and all imbued with a magnificence that can’t entirely be quantified. The C28 Aérosport might be the greatest of the lot; the Countach of its day. Sporting Bugattis of the era were all purpose, with opulence reserved for the marque’s luxury machines. Voisin’s Aerosport, with its aluminum body, triple wipers, and chopped roofline, managed to combine both. If Barney Oldfield’s Golden Submarine racer grew up to be a limo, the Aerocoupe would perhaps be its ultimate evolution.


Built around a 102-hp, 3.3-liter sleeve-valve straight-six backed up by a four-speed Cotal preselector gearbox with overdrive, the Aerocoupe rides on a relatively conventional chassis with solid axles at both ends. Hydraulic Lockheed brakes at all four corners haul the car down from its 90-plus-mph top speed. For reference, Ford used mechanically actuated brakes up through the 1938 model year.


1935 Avions Voisin C28 Aérosport


But the Aerosport’s real ability to stop the show comes not from the car’s excellent-for-the-day performance, but from its absolutely stellar body. Unveiled at the Paris Auto Show in 1935, it makes the prior year’s C25 Aerodyne—an example of which won Pebble Beach overall in 2011—look positively upright and a mite frumpy in comparison. The Aerosport share’s the Aerodyne’s retractible roof, though instead of presenting a semi-landaulet look when open, the C28 still retains its rakish profile.


Only two of the 10 or so cars that were constructed are still known to exist. This particular car was possibly the Paris show display automobile, which was then sold to an owner who drove it until the Second World War, when its original body was damaged in a bombing raid. A four-door body, possibly from a Hispano-Suiza was then fitted to the car by Carrosserie Charles Duval. The car spent the remainder of its second life in Brittany, where it was mothballed in the 1960s. Sold in 1980, the present owner acquired the car in 1998 and commenced restoration in 2006, coincidentally the same year the other known C28 Aerosport was displayed at Pebble Beach, where Voisin was a featured marque.


In short, this could very well be the most magnificent vehicle offered in Monterey this year. RM Sotheby’s, the house handling its auction, has not offered a public estimate as to what the Aérosport might go for, but you can bet the new owner will be postponing plans to upholster the restrooms in the Royal Albert Hall with Hermès belts. Or maybe not. It is Pebble Beach, after all.




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