The Amilcar Marque

The Amilcar was born in 1920, the factory situated in Paris on the rue du Chemin Vert at first and then moved to  31 Route de la Revolte which subsequently changed the road name to Boulevard Anatole France in Saint-Denis. The company was set up by two engineers ex Le Zèbre, Edmond Moyet and André Morel and financed by Emil Akar and Joseph Lamy. The name Amilcar was said to derive from the names Akar and Lamy.  Moyet was chief engineer and Morel, whose main interest was competitions, was the first works driver.

 

 The first car from rue du Chemin Vert was the type CC in 1920, and marketed as a 1921 model. The CC was the basis for all the four cylinder models to follow. The engine was said to have been designed by Jules Salomon who came from  Le Zèbre and subsequently departed to join Citroën.

 

The early CC engines had a cubic capacity of 903cc and produced 18 b.h.p. but were soon to be increased. The early engines were of the "splash feed" type, later "pressure fed" lubrication was introduced in the Grand Sport (CGS) and Surbaisse (CGSS) models. It was these models with their pointed tails and sporty appearance in which enthusiasts could compete themselves at reasonable cost which gave the marque its sporting reputation.

 

Amilcar were unusual in the 1920’s as they produced the engines themselves, and among the major components the company only bought in  radiators, carburettors from Solex, the electrical equipment mainly Ducellier, wheels from Rudge-Whitworth and R.A.F., the universal joints from Hardy-Spicer and the shock-absorbers from Repusseau. The bodies were principally made by Duval of Paris and much later the factory made their own. Bodies were also made under licence by foreign importers on factory- supplied chassis. Chassis were sold to companies in Australia, Italy and Germany.

 

 The factory was quickly on to competition events and by 1922 took part in the Bol d’Or, a three  mile circuit in the forest of Saint-Germain. Morel’s Amilcar won covering 900 miles. This was the beginning of a long and successful race history for the factory team and private entrants. All the variants of the Amilcar were entered for race and hillclimbs throughout the 20’s and into the early 30’s. The most charismatic and rare being the C6, a sensational and revolutionary six cylinder twin overhead camshaft engine with a supercharger manufactured by the factory which swept all competition before it. This opened the door to a C6 model being offered to private buyers. The cars were extremely popular in Britain and were imported by Vernon Balls of Holborn and Boon & Porter of Castelnau in London. Both Porter and Balls were most successful entrants in races and hillclimbs and competed at Brooklands with both the 4 and 6 cylinder cars.

 

The factory produced many variants with the CC, C4 , CS, CGS, CGS3 (having a small seat in the tail) , and the CGSS the “S” standing for surbaissé, - lowered chassis.   Touring cars were also produced in various forms and styles. The types G, M, L and E were mainly 4 seaters with drop head and fixed roofs and more sophisticated bodies. The Saloons were also successful in competition with successes in international rallies, including winning the 1927 Monte Carlo Rally [Supercharged Model G]. In the dying days of Amilcar the factory made an 8 cylinder model in an attempt to move up-market and attract a new type of customer but by 1930 the economic state of Europe proved that the car was a commercial failure.

 

The days of the light sporting Amilcar came to an end in 1929, when the market collapsed. The driving public were looking for more creature comfort, cars with roofs and heaters. The factory struggled on in the teeth of the depression with a variation of cars until they fell under the banner of Hotchkiss and manufactured the Amilcar Pégase saloon.

 

                                            The Amilcar factory at St Denis closed in 1934.

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