Model history: One of the automotive pioneers, Gobron-Brillié is mostly forgotten today. The French company was established in 1898 by industrialist Gustav Gobron and engineer Eugene Brillié. The latter brought with him a rather unusual engine design that featured two opposed pistons in one cylinder. The unconventional configuration certainly worked as a 15-litre four cylinder powered Gobron-Brillié became the first car to break the magical 100 mph barrier in 1904.
Even though Brillié had left the company in 1903, the focus remained on developing the 'opposed' engine. It used a conventional bottom half with the lower pistons connected directly to the crankshaft. The top pistons were indirectly connected to the same crankshaft through a crosshead and coupling rods. The two pistons would move in opposite directions, creating compression as they approached each other. One of the later developments was the adoption of a cross-flow or 'T-head' with valves actuated by two laterally mounted camshafts.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the early Gobron-Brillié chassis were also far from conventional. They were constructed from tubes rather than the more usual pressed-steel section. This changed soon after Brillié had left when a more straightforward ladder frame became standard. Suspension was by solid axles on both ends, sprung by semi-elliptic leafs. Chain drive was used on most pre-War Gobrons as was the unusual setup of twin rear tyres to cope with the grunt of the 'opposed' engines.
Although Gobron-Brillié also offered two and six cylinder engines, the straight four was the most popular choice. It was constructed by adding two rows of two cylinders on a single crank. A choice of displacements was available. The 12 CV of 1912 had a swept volume of just under 5 litres and was officially rated at 35 hp. This power was fed to the twin rear wheels through a four speed gearbox.
Hard hit by the Great War, Gobron-Brillié did not resume production until 1922 and without the engineering genius of Eugene Brillié, the company failed relive the glory days of the 1900s and early 1910s. The manufacturer was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1930. Today only very few examples of the mostly forgotten marque survive.
Produced in 1912, this 12 CV Gobron-Brillié was fitted new with a 'Skiff' body by Rothschild & Fils of Paris. Using the design principles pioneered by rival Labourdette, the body's wooden rear section resembled a skiff and is held together by no fewer than 5,000 copper rivets. It is believed that the car was displayed at the Paris Auto Salon in 1913. By 1920 the Skiff was updated with some user-friendly features like a windshield. It was subsequently displayed in the entryway of a chocolatier in Luxembourg for many years. Having lost its engine, the Gobron-Brillié passed through various hands before it was restored with a replacement engine.
In 2004 it was acquired by the Off Brothers Collection and a year later it starred at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. The very rare and unusual machine captured the judges' imagination and it was awarded 'best in class' in a skiff only class. Some six years later the Gobron-Brillié will be offered in the Gooding & Company auction after the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 21st. Its pre-sale estimate is $300,000 - $400,000.
I fully agree with that asked price seems quite unrealistic, particularly for a car with very little proven driving history. Frankly I only konw one Gobron-Brillié running regularly: a Belgian-made Gobron-Brillié dated 1899-1900 (mine)
Also interesting to notice that this car was not called Gorbon-Brillé since 1904 i.e. when engineer Eugène Brillié left Gobron to join Rocher -Schneider. correct name is just 'Gobron'.
Can anobody help me in identifying Gobron or Gobron-Brillié across the US? to the best of my knwledge the 1903 world speed record one is somewhere in a US museum, but where? and there is another Gobron around somewhere.
Thanks a lot in anticipation,
Gobron-Brillié 12 CV Rothschild Skiff
I'll be very surprised if it sells for close to the auction estimate. At Amelia Island in 2010, RM hammered it at $170,000... with rather slow bidding (I was there). Expecting nearly double that in just a little over a year is quite a flip.
An interesting car that has sadly been shuttled around since it's Pebble win in 2005.