… was a little atelier in a nearby town where a third generation motorcycle dealer was restoring his grandfather’s 1925 Alcyon cyclecar.
It’s long been a source of mystery to me that the Pays Basque just didn’t seem to have any vintage cars; the Classic scene is well represented but anything pre-1939 didn’t appear to exist. In the Basque Museum in Bayonne, a period photograph of Saint-Jean-de-Luz shows some mid-20’s cars in a square but the photos of life in the country at that time are devoid of anything resembling motorized transport.
The Alcyon’s engine is a horizontally opposed two-cylinder, two-stroke of about 500cc and made I think, by the cyclecar manufacturer, SIMA-Violet.
The rear axle is complete with a two-speed gearbox – an early transaxle possibly – operated by a sleeve which runs inside a torque-tube propshaft tunnel.
There is a reverse gear, the engagement of which is approached with caution as it somehow involves engaging 1st, first – so to speak.
The body was a very lightly constructed two-seat tub with a throttle lever mounted on the steering wheel. The dash had a clock and this lovely maker’s badge.
Scattered about the workshop were several other interesting bits and pieces, indicating that all three generations; Jean, his father and his grandfather, were similarly afflicted with the creative bug.
A spark ignition model aeroplane engine,
And this wonderful period go-kart, built by Jean’s father with the red fuel tank made from a headlamp shell. Of course, as soon as I mentioned all of this to some engineering chaps who I used to see at breakfast some mornings in the Hotel de La Paix, they all knew about the cyclecar and even introduced me to one of their company who was restoring a 1940’s Mochet cyclecar. Maybe I was asking the wrong questions? Peut etre my franglais?
Whilst I was away, Learned Counsel had been busy and taken the engine out of the Jowett racer. A dent in one of the tubes has to be repaired – it’s going to be easier to cut the piece out and replace it with the same spec material than try to get the dent out. There’s also been some discussion about the merits of an aluminium bulkhead and the possibility of adding lightness. Neither of us can see the advantage really because to retain the same integrity, the gauge of aluminium would have to be increased and I wouldn’t mind betting – in fact I’ll do the experiment with a good set of scales – that the saving, if any, would be negligible. The other factor is whether the FIA would accept a car so altered – probably not worth the risk to go to all that trouble only to be told it wasn’t allowed.
And Learned Counsel has also been doing a bit of ferreting about and come up with his first ‘barn find’. Well, it’s a chicken shed find really but it’s one up from his Jowett Jollyboat which I found under a tarpaulin. This is an Austin 10 Cabriolet and it’s all there except the hood. Discoveries and trebles all round then!