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Gabriel B. Voisin was an aviation pioneer and manufacturer who in 1919 started producing cars using Knight-type sleeve valve engines at Issy-les-Moulineaux, an industrial suburb to the southwest of Paris. Former student of the Fine Arts School of Lyon and enthusiast for all things mechanical since his childhood, Voisin's uncompromisingly individual designs made extensive use of light alloys, especially aluminum. One of the company's most striking early designs was the Laboratoire Grand Prix car of 1923; one of the first cars ever to use monocoque chassis construction, and utilising small radiator-mounted propeller to drive the cooling pump. The characteristic Voisin style of 'rational' coachwork he developed in conjunction with his collaborator André Noel. Noel prioritized lightness, central weight distribution, capacious luggage boxes and distinctively angular lines. The 1930s models with underslung chassis were strikingly low.
In the early 1930s, Gabriel Voisin could not pay all of his draughtsmen any more and a young creative engineer called André Lefèbvre quit, recommended by Gabriel to Louis Renault. Lefèbvre finally entered Citroën where he conducted the three most profitable car projects of the firm: the Traction Avant, the 2CV and the DS, using a lot of Gabriel's lessons.
Voisin engine layouts used:(Knight engines)
- Inline four
- Inline six
- V eight (prototype)
- V twelve - 7.2 liter, 1921 (prototype)
- Inline twelve
- Seven-cylinder radial (prototype)
Near the end of production, Voisin was forced to use Graham 3.5 liter engines, the only exception to the Knight-types.
After the Second World War
After the war Voisin presented the little "Biscooter Voisin" at the Paris Motor Show of 1950. This was a small voiturette intended for an impoverished age, with a front mounted 125cc engine from Gnome & Rhône. The business had by now been nationalised  in the period of political turmoil that directly followed the Liberation, however. Government installed directors had no appreciation of the company's engineering traditions. The Voisin company failed to progress with the Voisin designed Biscooter and instead mandated a Mr Moglia, previously employed by Hotchkiss to develop an alternative voiturette. Moglia's design appeared at the 1952 Paris Motor Show fitted with the same Gnome & Rhône engine, but on Moglia's design the engine was moved to the rear of the little vehicle. The braking and suspension systems on the Moglia vehicle were also quite different from those on Gabriel Voisin's "Biscooter Voisin" offering from two years earlier. The Moglia design was nevertheless presented as the new "Biscooter Voisin", a nomenclature which at least one angry commentator found "abusive".
- A 1934 C-15 Ets. Saliot Roadster won best of show at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance for 2002
- A 1934 C-25 Aérodyne owned by Peter and Merle Mullin won best of show at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance for 2011
In Popular Culture
In the 2005 movie Sahara, the car stolen from the dictator is a 1936 Avions Voisin C-28. Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt recognizes the car and says "It's a 1936 Avions Voisin. Six-cylinder sleeve valve engine, you know there was only six of these ever made." In actuality, the movie car is a fiberglass replica of a 1936 C-28 Avions Voisin with a 4.2 Jaguar engine and Rover automatic gear box on a 4WD chassis built by D Tessier (a well known restorer of Avions Voisin automobiles) in Tours, France. Clive Cussler (author of the novel the movie was based on) has a genuine 1936 Avions Voisin, similar to the C-28 that inspired the replica, in his Colorado museum. It was designed by well-known British special effects expert and stunt vehicles coordinator, Steve Lamonby and completed in four months.To make the actors more visible, the roof was removed giving it the appearance of a mid-1930s 4-door cabriolet. “GV” letters on the registration plate are an insider tribute to the original C-28’s legendary manufacturer, Gabriel Voisin. The Voisin C-28 Sahara, as it has become known sold at auction for US$ 23,400 in 2008.
- The Voisin business was integrated into that of its principal creditor, engine suppiler Gnome & Rhône which was in turn nationalised in 1945 to form the basis for what now became the state-directed SNECMA business.
- "Automobilia". Toutes les voitures françaises 1953 (salon Paris oct 1952) (Paris: Histoire & collections). Nr. 14: Page 77. 2000.
- Vaughn, Mark (September 5, 2011). "French Elegance". AutoWeek 61 (18): 7.
- Jerry Garrett (July 26, 2013). "A Deco Confection, Flamboyant and French". The New York Times. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
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