Posted on 11 October 2012
C6 Amilcars were one of the most desirable and successful small capacity French ‘voiturettes’ produced during the 1920s and could often show a clean pair of heels to the better known Bugattis of the same era.
Some of the most desireable cars combine intricate and highly advanced design, with beautiful looks and high performance and the C6 has all of these factors in abundance. This has ensured that a small number of these heavily raced thoroughbreds have survived and around 20 examples of the (likely) 50 or so built remain today.
Luckily for us, not one but two of those examples have come to us from one very dedicated and knowledgeable gentleman who intends to have both cars up and running next year.
Chassis No. 11052
One of the most exciting projects to come to our workshops is the ex-Louis Devaud/Georges Grignard 1928 Amilcar C6, a veteran of a number of French Grand Prix in the 1920s and 1930s including impressive second places at the 1935 and 1936 ‘Bol d’Or. Interestingly this car was fitted from new with an extension to the chassis to take a much larger fuel tank for long distance racing, a feature found on some of the works CO racers. At some stage in its life it was also fitted with Dubonnet independent front suspension, which was subsequently returned to standard with the original front axle.
Over the course of the British 'summer' two of our most experienced team members have been not so quietly working away on this the first of the two cars car to come in. (which we received back in May)
C6 engines are intricate but beautifully designed - not only are they supercharged, they feature (as the name suggests) six cylinders inline with a twin overhead camshaft detachable head (the works CO type had fixed head to avoid it separating from the block!)
Our chief mechanic, Paul Woodwood, has rebuilt five C6 engines already during his career. He has been assembling the engine including the complex overhead cam cylinder head. This requires both knowledge and patience; initial assembly is followed by disassembly for machining. This process is carried out a number of times to ensure that the cylinder head fits correctly and runs the correct 7/1-compression ratio.
Assembly of the chassis is also well underway with both the front and rear axles correctly final fitted as well as the pedal assembly.
While the engine and chassis are assembled Kevin (our machining ‘guru’) has constructed the correct Roots-type Supercharger in preparation for the completed engine. ‘Our’ supercharger features a thicker and stronger casing (a common weak point in period) with a lip type seal (rather than felt) to avoid leaks. New rotors have been made which along with the thicker casing reduce the clearance allowing the supercharger to produce more boost. All of this basically allows for a stronger yet more powerful supercharger.
Chassis No. 11014
At the start of September a second C6 arrived which awaits the magic touch of Paul and Kevin.
This car has spent its whole life in England; it was one of the first two imported into Britain by the agent and well-known racing driver, Vernon Balls, and was initially campaigned by Bob Twist and Brian Porter, members of a syndicate of Cambridge University students which included A. S Llewellyn and one of whose number may have been Maurice Falkner who later owned the car on his own.
Post war the car was purchased by the TNC Group - the initials standing for Tozer, Narramore and Clutton. The TNC group had a team of C6 Amilcars and far from racing in historic events modified these pre-war cars and successfully raced them in contemporary events demonstrating the quality of the initial design!
Chassis 14 featured a lightened drilled chassis, lightened dural conrods a Wade supercharger and a lightened body, all modified by Russian engineer Zerekidze. The car was raced extensively by John Tozer and wast was the quickest of the TNC cars on account of the stronger and more modern Wade supercharger. The photograph shows John Tozer leading Rex Clutton in a nearly identical car at Silverstone, although the Clutton car was never fitted with the later type supercharger.
Coincidentally, Robert Glover’s father owned a share in the Rex Clutton (from the TNC Group) car during the 1970s and this had some of the same features including the lightweight body.
Whilst the car has been assembled to have the body constructed this is only a temporary assembly. The car will now be taken apart and Paul will commence assembly of the engine and chassis during November.
We are very privileged to have been entrusted with two such important and exciting cars by such a knowledgeable enthusiast. Watch this space for an update on the progress of both these super French 'voiturettes' towards the end of 2012.
Credits for work previously carried out on Chassis No. 11014
Alastair Gibson: co-ordination of project, out sourcing components and assembly of chassis and running gear.
Nick Jarvis: Repair of chassis, framework, windscreen frame and tanks.
Pete Southan: New panelwork.
Patrick Henry: Restoration of instruments