The French car market of the immediate post-Great-War era was positively flooded with choice for prospective buyers – while the United States was the world’s leading car producer in terms of volume, France led the way when it came to the sheer number of different manufacturers. Some of the names from this era have survived in memory, associated as they are with sporting success in some cases – Bugatti, Amilcar, Lorraine-Dietrich – or the inimitable French sense of style in others – Delage, Voisin, Hotchkiss. However, a vast number have disappeared, to be found solely in the deepest corners of the most specialist of automotive history books. One example of such a car is the Carteret. Made for just one year in 1921-22 by Louis Vienne in Courbevoie, it was one of the innumerable ‘cyclecars’ that were to be found in France at the time. Cyclecars could come in many forms – some were extremely unconventional, such as the Bedelia, in which the driver and passenger sat line astern. The Carteret outwardly looked like a conventional car; the unconventional aspect of its design was to be found in the drive system. Instead of a conventional gearbox, the Carteret used a friction drive system called ‘Octo’, which seems to have functioned rather like an early version of the modern continuously variable transmission, though there were still four speed settings. This system was however problematic as the friction surfaces would wear out very quickly; presumably this is why this car had a conventional four-speed gearbox fitted many moons ago, probably in the 30s. Another interesting feature was rack and pinion steering, not a common sight of cars of this era.
This Carteret is possibly the only survivor of the marque. Bought new by a Mr Pellissier, whose plaque is still carried on the dash, it was purchased by the vendors from the second owner in Dordogne in 2008. A ten-year restoration followed, to an exacting standard, and the car is now very striking in its yellow and black colour scheme. The hood frame is missing, but old photographs of the car should enable a replacement to be made. It is believed that the car has not been started since the completion of the restoration, but given the quality of the work elsewhere, one would assume that the mechanical side is good. Now UK registered, this fascinating car represents a probably unique opportunity. It comes with a large file containing history, information on the marque, and correspondence.
Extra details and estimates:
£10,000 - 12,000
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