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Lot 585: Citroen P19B Kegresse Autochenille

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

The vehicle offered here is a replica of the Citro�n Kegresse autochenille, known as the 'Silver Crescent', which was left behind at Gilgit, Pakistan following the abandonment of Andr� Citro�n's audacious Central Asian Expedition in August 1931. Known popularly as the 'Croisi�re Jaune', this was the third such venture undertaken by Citro�n using autochenille half-tracks, which had been developed following its acquisition of the sole rights to an ingenious form of caterpillar-tracked drive system invented by engineer Adolphe Kegresse (chenille = caterpillar). Unlike the previous two expeditions, which had seen Citro�n's half-tracks cross the Sahara Desert and Central Africa, the Central Asian crossing would be attempted by two separate groups: one travelling west-east from Beirut in the Lebanon; the other east-west from Peking in China, the plan being to meet at Kashgar on the ancient Silk Road. Lightweight four-cylinder autochenilles would be used by the former (six P17s and one P14); seven heavier six-cylinder P21s by the latter. The enterprise was dogged by misfortunes from the start, commencing when the planned route through the southern USSR had to abandoned because of the prevailing political situation, forcing a diversion through Afghanistan and into Northern India (now Pakistan). This new route took the expedition through the Karakoram Mountains (part of the Himalayas), a region with terrain so severe even a handcart would have been considered useless, let alone a motor vehicle. Led by Georges-Marie Haardt, leader of Citro�n's two previous croisi�res, the west-east group faced some of the toughest challenges imaginable, even being forced to completely dismantle its vehicles and load their components onto pack horses on one occasion in order to traverse a landslide. On 4th August 1931 the reassembled autochenilles rolled into Gilgit where Haardt learned that the expedition's China group was way off course, detained at Urumchi by a local warlord, Marshal King. He had no option but to abandon the original mission and travel onwards to Urumchi on horseback to try and secure the release of his colleagues. Haardt and the China group eventually arrived back in Peking on 2nd February 1932, 315 days after the departure from Beirut, having travelled some 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles). Of the two autochenilles that had made it to Gilgit, one (the 'Silver Crescent') remains on display there while the other (Haardt's 'Golden Scarab') was taken back to France and is currently displayed in the Mus�e Automobile de la Sarthe at Le Mans. Undertaken with Citro�n's collaboration, the construction of this replica using as many original parts as possible began in the late 1970s and was completed in 1982. In March 1982 the vehicle was exhibited at the Maison de la Culture in Montauban in the presence of Andr� Cecillon, one of the mechanics on the 'Croisi�re Jaune'. The Citro�n Car Company also exhibited the autochenille in 2011 at the Moscow, Berlin, Essen, Paris (Les Invalides) and Lyon shows to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Central Asian Expedition. We are advised that the vehicle is in generally very good condition, the engine and gearbox having been fully overhauled. The luggage trailer is included in the sale. A wonderful opportunity to acquire a unique motor vehicle built to commemorate one of the most heroic journeys ever undertaken by powered transport of any kind.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number585
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating2
Registration number
Chassis number9289
Engine numberD6620
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors