Unlike the aero-inspired Voisins that feature flat panel bodies with sharp angles, our feature car has tremendous French curves, the type made for a Concours d’Elegance. So much so, it was good enough to win Pebble Beach even though much of the car’s history and providence is totally unknown.
This car’s story started at Etablissement Saliot, a dealership in the P1934 Voisin C15 Saloit Roadsteraris suburb of LeVallios. There, Monsieur Delacluse ordered a distinct body for his chassis that he personally drew up that was unlike any Voisin was currently promoting. The design included a massive hood that gave the car a commanding presence. However, a car with these proportions was probably better suited for a straight eight or V12 engine compared to the four pot which resided under the hood.
And this is where the exact history becomes muddy. Details beyond Saliot’s initial involvement remain a mystery, as they were not known for many coach building skills but the body might have been made in their shop. All we know is that the car was ordered at Saliot so that’s the closest we can get to a credit on the body design.
The chassis itself is a total mystery, as it carries no chassis number and its type is debated. It believed that Monsieur Delacluse either received the car as an old show-chassis or it was modified from a wreck. When the Saliot body was attached, a cross member had to be removed to relocate the cockpit further back. And the Voisin community is still debating what type of chassis this is. Many people, including author Pascal Courteault, say that it is a C15, while others, including the Pebble Beach committee, speculate that it is a C25 (which would have twin Zenith Strombergs, a 3.28m wheelbase and a 3.0l engine).
The current owner, Sam Mann believes it’s a C15 with a Saliot body. He acquired the car in 1998 and immediately funded a restoration. During which, he added some personal touches including enhanced fenders, a revised cowl, Marshall headlights and an ostrich skin interior. Original details such as the 16 sixteen inch wire wheels and telecontol shock absorbers adjustable from the cockpit remained on the car.
Despite all its mysteries, and modest performance, the Saliot Roadster is still one of our favorite Voisins. While it might not perform like a Duesenberg or Hispano-Suiza, it makes up for its sluggish performance with grand elegance. This probably explains why the Pebble Beach Judges were willing to look past a questionable origin and award the car the 2002 Best of Show.