My 1001 Cars
This is the first English edition of the second volume of Gabriel Voisin's autobiography, which was published in France in 1962 as Mes Mille et Une Voitures.
It follows a first volume (published in the UK in 1963 as Men, Women and 10,000 Kites) covering Voisin's childhood and early career as an aviation pioneer – the man who founded the first company in the world to manufacture aeroplanes, and who created what many still regard as the first practical heavier-than-air flying machine.
As its title implies, My 1001 Cars is the companion memoir relating the period between 1917 to the sixties, during which the legendary designer and engineer turned his attention to the motor car – initially, with the distinctive luxury machines of the Vintage years and the famously exotic art déco creations of the thirties, through to the various iterations of the minimalist Biscooter concept of the fifties.
Modernist in spirit, rational in conception and unconventional in execution, this prolific and eclectic body of work is described in the context of a richly colourful personal life, related with both humour and honesty. Packed with personal drama, political intrigue, innovative thinking, trenchant commentary and the distillation of a long life interestingly lived, it's the story of a man who cared more about exploring radical ideas than making money (though he certainly knew how to spend it).
Although a seminal work for anyone interested in the marque, or in French engineering over this period, the book was written when Voisin was in his eighties, and without the support of an editor. Understandably, his recollections and chronology are therefore sometimes confused and many of the references inadequately explained and hard to follow, especially at a distance of 50 years.
This reference edition sets the record straight by correcting the errors in the published text, and by comprehensively annotating the original with supplementary information to illuminate what Voisin originally intended.
It is also lavishly illustrated with more than 150 period photographs, many of which have never before been published, and is likely to remain the definitive edition for English speakers. The translation and commentary are by an authority on the marque and a longstanding member of Les Amis de Gabriel Voisin.
1913-1918: Scandal, bureaucracy and the end of aircraft manufacture
1900-1919: The first cars, post-war diversification and the 4-litre prototype
1919-21: On front brakes, a successful launch, steam and the ambitious V12
1922-1925: coachwork, hillclimbs and the C5
1922: belief and temptation
Knight engines, the Blue Train and Marius Bernard’s small fours and sixes
‘Boom’, bearings and design approach
The Strasbourg GP, the Circuit des Routes Pavées scandal and the 33CV
1923-24: the Tours and Lyon Laboratoires and the question of balance
1927-31: record breaking at Montlhéry and the C23
The thirties: V12s, the Aérosport, the FWD V8 and the Belgians
Late thirties: the Voisin dockyard, the lozenge car, the C30 and Aéromécanique
The war years – steam, pedal power and political treachery
Liberation: SNECMA, Biscooters, the Spanish adventure and the TEP
On safety, traffic and weight
Notes on modern car design
The patents of Gabriel Voisin
£49.95 + P&PBuy Now
Hardcover: 296 pages
Published: January 2012
Dimensions: 22.6 x 22.6 cm
“This wonderful work is at last available in English. (…) Elegantly designed, sensitively translated and with photographs plus extensive captions, this impressive edition does its subject proud. Highly recommended.“
- Mick Walsh,
Classic & Sports Car
“There’s so much of the subject matter that captivates. (…) Voisin was one of the last generation of manufacturers who were truly auteurs of the products that bore their names. (…) It helps that the design mirrors the artistry of the subject matter. It’s accompanied by a wealth of illustrations which almost want to make you track down a Biscuter microcar – almost. Highly recommended.“
“A splendid copiously-illustrated translation, which not only captures the idiosyncratic nature of Gabriel Voisin’s highly opinionated prose but includes a host of explanatory footnotes which add greatly to the original text. Highly recommended!“
- David Burgess-Wise,