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C27 Figoni Cabriolet
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  Voisin C27 Figoni Cabriolet
 

  Article Image gallery (17) 52001 Specifications  
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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1934
Numbers built:one-off (two C27s in total)
Designed by:Joseph Figoni
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:March 01, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionLooking back at his career as an automobile manufacturer, it is quite amazing that Gabriel Voisin managed to sell well over 11,000 vehicles between 1919 and 1939. His cars were never conventional, always highly expensive to buy and certainly not cheap to run, but nevertheless he had built a loyal following of customers particularly in the 1920s. They were certainly not idiots, but rather true enthusiasts that opted to accept the common Voisin quirks in exchange for driving one of the most advanced and exclusive cars on the market.

Originally trained as an architect, Gabriel Voisin quickly turned to the emerging aeroplane industry and together with his brother formed 'Avions Voisin'. The company did good business in the Great War and as soon as the peace was signed Gabriel switched interests once more and converted his business into 'Automobiles Voisin'. He immediately created his own style with influences from his two former interests, but also had a more than average focus on passenger safety; his brother had a fatal car accident a few years earlier.

Apart from the obvious unique styling cues sported by most Voisins, the cars also stand out for the use of lightweight materials like aluminium and exotic technical solutions. The best example of the latter is the Knight patented sleeve-valve engine design of which Voisin was a big fan. This design allowed the engine to run virtually quiet, thanks to the absence of the rattling created by a regular valvetrain. One of the downsides was the large amount of oil required to properly lubricate the sleeves, usually resulting in quite noticeable oil smoke from the exhaust.

Voisin's most successful period was the mid-1920s when the range consisted of four and six cylinder models with relatively small displacement engines. Quite unusual for the time, most the cars were offered as complete cars with the coachwork designed and constructed in-house. Inspired by the success, Voisin started working on larger engines to rival the likes of Hispano Suiza, Isotta Fraschini, Bugatti and Rolls Royce. In a cruel twist of fate, he introduced these new six and twelve cylinder machines right at the moment the world economy hit a major depression.

With sales dwindling rapidly in the early 1930s, Voisin was faced with a decision to either tone it down a little and sell cheaper cars, or continue on the same path with no compromises. Fortunately he persevered and used all his experience to develop some of the finest vehicles of the decade, or arguably of all time. The first sign of the great things to come was the C24 'Aerodyne' on display at the Paris Salon in 1933. Its typical, but also very modern art-deco design signaled a new direction for Voisin that would further perfected in the next year.

A year after the first Aerodyne saw the light of day, a second one was unveiled in Paris, now using the all new C25 chassis, which came complete with high tech features like adjustable shock absorbers. It clearly shared its aerodynamic design theme with its predecessor, but the brightly painted C25 'Aerodyne' sported several new features, including an incredible sliding roof. Although not present yet on the Voisin stand in Paris, the company also announced two variations of the three litre engine C25 chassis; the long wheelbase C26, and the shorter and underslung C27.

The Paris Salon of 1934 was clear proof that Gabriel Voisin was at the very top of the game, but sadly the world was not ready yet for his exotic machines and the sales figures remained poor. Just 28 examples of the C25 chassis were ever constructed and with one and two built respectively the C26 and C27 were even less successful. Voisin tried once more with the even more advanced 3.3 litre C28 chassis, but despite the incredibly modern 'Aerosport' coachwork without separate fenders, the company struggled to find buyers for their cars. Sadly Gabriel Voisin was forced to give up just when he reached the peak of his abilities.

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  Article Image gallery (17) 52001 Specifications