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Eure-et-Loir: 71 years ago, this unique car took part in the Tour de France caravan!

He is not a fan of bicycles but rather of original cars. Denis Briand, physiotherapist in Chartres (Eure-et-Loir), has always owned exceptional cars, such as, for example, a Peugeot 604 limousine with bodywork by Heuliez. In a barn in Chartres, surrounded by other vintage cars, his exceptional blue France car quietly waits for someone to come and fix its little electrical problem. The story of this 4-seater Salmson S4E Torpedo, from February 1950, is quite simply unique. It is intimately linked to the Tour de France. Not the one that starts from Copenhagen, Denmark, this Friday July 1, but at the 38th edition of 4,500 km divided into 24 stages of the 1951 Grande Boucle.

The 4-seater Salmson S4E Torpedo, from February 1950, is unique in the world. It was used to follow the 38th edition of 4,500 km, divided into 24 stages, of the Grande Boucle in 1951. DR

René Fouquereau, passionate and great connoisseur of this French aeronautical and automobile brand, which hosts the 71-year-old old lady, is in awe of the 5 m long machine. “This convertible was built solely for the sports agency West France of Rennes. The body was designed especially for the 1951 Tour de France.” The car was to accommodate four sports journalists from the daily newspaper with the largest circulation in France and all their equipment necessary to follow the cyclists. It is the work of the famous coachbuilder Le Bastard, in Rouen (Seine-Maritime). “The Tour must have been comfortable. They were lucky journalists,” notes René. The car has, for example, no doors. “Convenient for the mechanics, sometimes on board, to repair the bikes while riding”, comments René.

A renovation at 10,000 euros

The sumptuous car with 83,000 km is driven by a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 68 horsepower, with a double overhead camshaft, “the most common engine on almost all Salmsons”, specifies the host. To keep up with the 128 riders in the peloton of twelve teams, the car weighing more than one and a half tonnes has a 60-litre tank. The gearbox is electromagnetic. A total of four speeds and an inverter. At the steering wheel, located on the right, the gearbox control is no bigger than a nut and is handled with just a thumb. The blue velvet interior is not original. “The seats were in Havana leather, light brown”, specifies the fourth owner, who bought it a little over a year ago, between the two confinements, in Tours (Indre-et-Loire).

“The bodywork was a bit darker as well,” he continues. In total, since 2013, when the convertible was found in the South-West, 10,000 euros of work has been carried out, in particular at the level of the bodywork and the engine. “I’m going to put the original seats back and I found one of the two pennants, metal plates enamelled with the Ouest-France logo of the time. I’m going to redo the second identically, ”rejoices Denis.

The 50-year-old drives with it from time to time. One day perhaps, it will be able to parade with other vintage vehicles. “The daily West France would like to run this car as well as other vehicles from the newspaper of the time. It seems to me that he is in discussion with the organization of the Tour de France. »

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