Formerly part of a significant private collection
Historic French luxury automobile
Factory fitted Cotal pre-select gearbox
Mille-Miglia age eligible
Fitted with Marchal head lights
Ready for immediate use
Unique opportunity to acquire a piece of automotive history
The French Société Des Moteurs Salmson was a pioneering force in the development of aircraft and aero-engines. Indeed, many historians consider Salmson’s as the most notable of the radial aero-engines produced during WWI. In 1918 the company produced over 3,200 Sal2-A2 biplanes, fitted with their own 9-cylinder 270hp engine. At this time, the workforce of 9,000 could produce 700 aero-engines, 1,500 magnetos, and 300 complete aircraft each month.
When the war was over, Salmson diversified into other activities including manufacturing machine tools and automobile bodies, and from 1919 onwards produced a lightweight cyclecar – a built-under license GN – of which several thousand were made. The first of Salmson’s own designs appeared in 1921. The work of Émile Petit, this featured a cyclecar-type chassis, shaft drive and a differential-less back axle, and was powered by a 1,100cc overhead-valve four. A St Andrew’s Cross radiator motif made the little Salmson instantly recognisable and the firm was unusual in producing almost every component of the car itself, including the magneto. Competition successes, most notably 1st, 2nd and 4th place finishes in the 1921 Boulogne Races, came early.
The company’s British offshoot, British Salmson Aero Engines of Raynes Park, South London, began car manufacture in 1934, its first offerings being versions of the French Salmson S4C equipped with coachwork sourced from nearby neighbours Ranalah and Newns.
The star of the Salmson stand at the 31st Paris Motor Show in October 1937 should have the Salmson S4-E. The car’s 4-cylinder 2312 cc power unit extended the S4 range up, into the 13 CV category. In fact, the car was placed at the far end of the stand without fanfare and without any accompanying publicity campaign, so that many visitors to the show will have missed it completely.
The S4-E incorporated the technically advanced features of the S4 DA such as an engine with twin overhead camshaft, hemispherical piston heads with the centrally positioned spark plugs. The chassis featured rack and pinion steering, with independent suspension at the front. However, the front suspension was now refined through the addition of longitudinal torsion bars. Commentators noted that the new engine and suspension enhancements gave rise to a combination of performance and road-holding that was among the best in class for the time. Another novelty for the S4-E was a hydraulically controlled brake circuit in place of the then conventional mechanical linkage.
The wheelbase was extended by 15 cm (5.9 in). Three standard bodies were offered. The “faux-cabriolet” (rebaptized “coupé” in October 1938) 2-door four-seater was listed in October 1937 at 49,800 francs. The berline, still listed as a “conduite-interieure” bodied car was priced at 50,900 francs. The rear doors on this car were hinged at the back: when two doors on the same side were opened there was no central pillar to impede access. The four-seater cabriolet was priced at 54,800 francs. As on the 4-cylinder S4-DA, customers were able to choose between a classic 4-speed manual transmission and a ”Cotal preselector transmission”, but whereas S4 DA customers were expected to pay an extra 2,000 francs for the Cotal option, the Cotal transmission was now offered at no additional cost to S4 E buyers
Second world war. The technically sophisticated S4 was too complicated to interest the military and the manufacturer’s Billancourt factory was too small to be listed for a switch-over to war production. Production seems to have been drastically scaled back, during the early years of the war, but sources are vague on the extent and nature of any manufacturing activity, which presumably was further inhibited by the British bombing of the plant on 3 March 1942. At the end of the war, however, it was single-seater racing cars based on the chassis of the Salmson S4-61 that in 1945 were supplied for the activities of the “Union Sportif automobile” which launched a competition driving school in 1945. The venture did not endure beyond 1946, but the Salmson S4-61 was seen to have survived the war.
Postwar. In 1946 production of the S4 resumed, and it continued till 1952. Volumes were low, however, reflecting the dire state of the French economy. By 1950 volumes were beginning to recover, and even after the launch of a complementary model it is clear that many of the 817 Salmsons produced in 1951 will have been S4s. However, in 1951 the bank withdrew financial support from the company after which it was placed in a form of administration. Automobile production was run down, with the last S4s produced in April 1952.
Finished in the classical two-tone colour combination of Pine Green and Pistachio coachwork with Green hide and Champagne mohair soft top. The Salmson stands proudly on white wall tyres coupled with chrome pressed wheel trim centers, fitted with the highly desirable Marchal headlights and factory fitted Cotal preselect gearbox as used in a Delahaye.
The Salmson S4 oozes class from another time when engineering was of the highest importance stemming from its aviation engineering background. Formally part of a historic and significant large private collection where the car resided prior to DD Classics acquiring, now ready for immediate use and age eligible for the Mille Miglia.
Now available for viewing at the DD Classics Dealership in London, please call 0208 878 3355 for more information.
Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the above information but errors may occur. Please check with a salesperson.
Reference #9997160 | Trade
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