Model history: In a rather cruel twist of fate, Gabriel Voisin reached an artistic peak when right when his company was under receivership. Perhaps having the bankruptcy hanging over him like the Sword of Damocles brought out the best in him. In those final years, Voisin managed to combine the aerodynamic shape of his first cars with the Art Deco designs that dominated his late 1920s work. Amazingly at this time he had little resources left other than his own talent. It proved sufficient to produce some of motoring's finest designs.
One of the reasons Voisin originally strayed away from the aerodynamic shapes was the influence of his friend, business partner and artist Andre 'Noël-Noël' Telmont. Towards the end of 1933, 'Noël-Noël' and Voisin parted ways, leaving the design of the bodies now solely in Voisin's hands. In the previous years, he had focused more on the technical and mechanical designs, which included the development of a variety of new engines including a V12 and seven cylinder radial engine. The latter was intended for "The Car of the Future Project", which would have a monocoque type chassis and independent suspension all-round. Unfortunately the dire condition of his company forced Voisin to concentrate on the present.
At the 1934 Paris Salon, Voisin's new design direction had taken shape in the form of the C24 Aerodyne. As the aptly chosen name suggests, the new Voisin had a very aerodynamic shape, but still incorporated some of the Art Deco design cues. The roof line had a very round shape and looked as if it was part of a much larger circle. One of the most amazing features was the fully automated sliding roof. It sported several 'portholes' that lined up with rear window, which enabled the driver to look behind him even with the roof opened. Not much later Voisin also showed a two-door variant of this design on the C27 chassis, but both cars remained one-offs.
Voisin was back at the Paris show a year later with the brand new C28 chassis and the promise of a range of aerodynamic bodies inspired by the Aerodyne. The most exciting these was present in completed form; the C28 Aerosport. This highly aerodynamic two-seater coupe was the first or one of the first to use pontoon style front fenders, which looked like they were part of the body. As with so many of Voisin's bold ideas, this body treatment would later be the norm and formed the basis for modern car design. The other two and four door models available from the factory for the C28 chassis featured more conventional separate fenders, but still bore a close resemblance to the Aerosport.
Under the fabulous aluminium bodies, the C28 was still every bit a Voisin. The Knight patented sleeve-valve six cylinder engine was derived from the original C23 powerplant with a slightly larger bore for a displacement of just over 3.3 litre. Brought alive by Voisin's super-quiet Dynastart, the straight six produced around 100 bhp, which was sufficient to bring the large car up to its cruising speed of 150 km/h. Like so many luxury cars of the day, the C28 was fitted with a Cotal semi-automatic gearbox. The silent and smooth drive train was installed in a conventional, but underslung ladder frame chassis. The chassis was available in 3-metre short and a 3.2 metre long wheelbase version, depending on the body fitted.
Production of the C28 commenced in earnest early in 1936 with the top of the line Aerosport model selling for 92,000FF, compared to 70,000FF for a comparable Bugatti Type 57. Sadly only Voisin's friends and admirers opened their wallets and not much later Gabriel Voisin lost control of his company. One of the new management's first decisions was to cut prices, but that did not help much. The C28's price was still too high, its sleeve-valve engine underpowered and outdated and the styling too daring for most. Eventually only around sixty C28s were produced in total and only three or four Aerosports. In 1937 the C30 with a conventional side-valve engine was introduced, but it proved too little, too late to save Voisin.
Although universally accepted as Gabriel Voisin's finest work, there was a brief period when all three or four Voisin C28 Aerosports constructed were believed to be destroyed. Fortunately legendary French collector Serge Pozzoli managed to retrieve the featured example in the mid 1950s from the estate of the original owner. It comes complete with all the bells and whistles, which made the last Voisins such amazing machines. These include the vacuum-operated sliding roof and the well equipped dashboard that seems to come straight out of an airplane. The most unusual instrumentss are found on the transmission tunnel, one of which seems to be a speedo, although it goes all the way up to 750 km/h.
This C28 Aerosport was bought from the factory by famous Parisian chocolate producer Antoine Menier. He had the car painted french racing blue and fitted with a second exhaust system for racing. He kept the original, much quieter exhaust on the cars, so he could drive it on the streets as well. Menier raced the cars in numerous racing events throughout France. In 1955 the car was purchased by Pozzoli, who stored the by then unique machine under the banks of the Montlhery track. The much sought after Voisin changed hands only a few times after and every time it was the most prized part of the owner's collection. In recent years the car was offered on the open market for the very first time, which saw the car leave European hands for the first time.
Looking at the survival rate of Voisins, it's quite amazing that the featured C28 Aerosport is still around, but what is really startling is the absolute original condition it is in. The owners must have realised very early on that this Voisin was something very special and have taken extra good care of the car. It still sports the French blue livery with racing numbers from the Menier days. The only thing 'wrong' about it is the three litre engine fitted, which proved more reliable than the larger 3.3 litre engine originally fitted in the C28. It is difficult to say whether it originally came equipped with this engine, or that it was fitted later.
Celebrating the unique Voisin cars, the C28 Aerosport was lined up along the shoreline at Pebble Beach for the 2006 Concours d'Elegance. It was rightly awarded the 'Best in Class' prize in the 1934 - 1936 Voisin class.
Yes,definitely Voisin was a unique designer.The cars he made were extremely creative, original and breathtaking, with no compromise, neither influence from colleagues as Delage, Delahaye and many other bright body makers. Between hundreds of shiny brand new restored classics, the Aerosport is always one of the few you keep in mind, at the end of the day!
French pre-war design and "high tech" were surely the schools to be at this time, and a true high class car had to be dressed there.All this collapsed with the war and the weight of the art became nothing compared to fast growing metal one...Most of these marvellous bodies and frame became guns, tanks, bombs...A shame? Yes, but difficult to re write history!