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Lot '52: British Salmson S4C Sports

Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (23 June 2010)

The French firm of Salmson first came to prominence making aero engines during the First World War. In the 1920s they came became more famous for a range of Grand Prix winning light cars that were even a match for Bugatti. In the same decade they established a UK subsidiary, Moteurs Salmson in Chiswick, to sell and service their cars. In 1929 British Salmson Aero Engines Ltd set up a new factory in Raynes Park specifically to build Salmson engines for light aircraft, which they did initially, but as sales were not that successful they moved on to making cars.

In 1934 they started making their own version of the French Salmson S4C under licence. The British S4C had the same finely-engineered twin overhead cam 1471cc four-cylinder engine and chassis as its French counterpart, but the gearbox was updated to include synchromesh on the top two ratios. The coachwork was also to a British design and was available in four-door saloon, sports saloon, open tourer and drophead coup� versions bought in from Ranalah or Newns. Two engines were offered, the single carburettor 12/55 and the tuned, twin carburettor 12/70. The latter was claimed to take the car to 80mph. About 230 S4C cars are estimated to have been made before it was replaced by the larger engined S4D and S6D models in 1937.

Car production ceased at the outbreak of war in 1939 when just over 300 British Salmsons had been buit in total. Car production did not re-start after the war but a few small 31cc engines for converting bicycles were made. The company eventually moved to Glasgow where they made printing machinery.

First registered in January 1934, this S4C Short Chassis model is the earliest car known to the British Salmson Owner's Club. It was rebodied in aluminium in the 1970s and is believed to be unique. The previous owner extensively refurbished the car in the 1990s and it still appears to be in very good order throughout. Earlier this year the engine was fully rebuilt by the current vendor including a rebore and the fitment of four new pistons. The car has only covered a very few miles since and is said to run and drive well although the engine is still running in.

A two-seater with leather upholstery and a teak dashboard, it has lots of stowage for touring and comes with a hood and tonneau cover but no sidescreens. The steering and suspension detailing reflect the car's French ancestry, as does the 'Nice Blue' paintwork. The fuel tank, exhaust and luggage rack are all in stainless steel. With a current MOT and road tax, this appears to be a well cared for example of a very rare car that is ready for immediate use.

Lot Details
Auction Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster, Herefordshire
TypeMotorcycle
Lot Number'52
Estimate£10000-£12000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£13600
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1934
Condition rating0
Registration numberAXC 718
Mileage-
Chassis numberAZ102
Engine numberBZS223
Engine capacity (cc)1480
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors