The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

15-16 February 2013

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Lot 292

1957 Voisin Biscooter C31

  • ID No. 217.57.75

Sold for $80,500


A unique four-seat example by aeronautical and automotive genius Gabriel Voisin.



SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Aeromécanique

Origin: Paris, France

Production: 16

Motor: Villiers 2-cyl., 2-stroke

Displacement: 197 cc

Power: 9 hp

Length: 8 ft. 6 in.

Identification No. 217.57.75



Gabriel Voisin was an eccentric genius who walked his own path through the 20th century.



His education was at the École des Beaux Arts. The influence of his architectural studies would be seen throughout his many works, particularly in the modular approach to car design, where separate components, each with their own function, were skilfully arranged to form a whole. His first sight of an early airplane, the steam-powered Eole, which had flown 50 yards, convinced him that he must work with dynamic objects, not static ones. He built airplanes, which were chosen by the French military, and he was a millionaire by the end of the First World War.



Voisin abruptly left aviation and began the manufacturing of automobiles at his factory in Issy-les-Moulineaux, along with engineer André Lefebvre, who would later go on to design the 2CV and DS/ ID for Citroën. They built their cars according to a number of principles, which emphasized chassis dynamics and aerodynamic stability, with disregard and even contempt for conventional thinking.



The Voisin cars of the twenties and thirties rank as some of the most original, inventive, and brilliantly conceived automobiles ever built, and they are amongst the most highly prized collector cars of today. The Knight sleeve-valve engines were favoured. Cars were fitted with Dynastarts, and they had auxiliary gearboxes, which doubled speeds. The principle of “infinite simplicity” was obeyed in engineering, as well as in the efficient monocoque bodywork. His Lumineuse car had a remarkable glass area and angular “prismatic” contours, which spoke of Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. Body design would reach its greatest heights with the huge, low-slung, and eccentric grand tourers penned by Gabriel’s faithful designer Noël. The cars were relentlessly tested in competitions.



But business affairs were not “infinitely simple” in the thirties, and Voisin lost control of his company to veteran aircraft engine builders Gnôme et Rhône. He continued working there during the war. Afterwards, the company was nationalized under the aeronautical corporation SNECMA, but Voisin still worked for them at Issy, in research, until the plant finally closed in 1958.



Post-war, Gabriel Voisin designed the brilliant Biscooter, or double-scooter. It was a startling new concept in minimalist personal transportation, and its appearance at the 1950 Salon du Cycle et de la Moto was a sensation, with over 1,000 orders placed. It appeared to be just a bare chassis with two chairs and a perfectly flat windbreak-cum-windshield, all in polished aluminum and covered by a voluminous canvas top. But every detail was very carefully thought out according to Voisin’s principle of “infinite simplicity,” with modular components each arranged according to its function.



But the new directors of his nationalized company did not see its merits, and they would not put this product, which could have saved the company, into production. Instead, they designed and built their own conventional small car and displayed it at the 1952 Salon, where it garnered little attention and utter contempt from Voisin.



Frustrated, he sold the rights to the Spanish company Autonacional in 1951, who would build many thousands of them with redesigned, more enclosed bodywork, as it suited perfectly the needs of the country at the time. Voisin continued developing the Biscooter for several years, building single-, triple-, and four-seater versions.



This particular example came from a French museum. It is a unique four-seater prototype that was possibly developed for the Spaniards but rejected for cost reasons, featuring full, near-circular doors, basket weave seats, a speedometer in the steering wheel, and a wealth of fascinating artistic and engineering detail. It is a truly exceptional car that pays homage to a visionary genius.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more