A 1949 Voisin Biscooter prototype, one of two personally owned by famed luxury car designer and aviation engineer Gabriel Voisin, was the consensus choice of judges here Saturday for the 2013 Concours d’LeMons Worst of Show Award.
The flimsy little aluminum two-seater, which has no doors or windows, is currently owned by Celeste Pappas-Boses of Clearwater, Fla. She said she bought the car last year at auction with the express intent of winning the not-very-prestigious Worst of Show Award. She paid a rather astonishing price of $66,125.
Powered by a smoke-belching, six-horsepower, 125cc Gnome et Rhone scooter engine, the Biscooter got its name from a play on words about its being a scooter with four wheels. Voisin intended it to be an economical form of motorized transport for poor people in post-war, recession-ravaged France.
The prototype was met with such universal scorn and hostility, however, that production models were never built. The technology was later licensed to a Spanish company, which revised the concept to become the Biscuter. Production started in 1953, and the Spanish owners of Autonacional SA went on to turn out more than 12,000 versions – coupes, vans, trucks, convertibles and woodie wagons – over the next few years.
Eclectic Spanish tastes for cheap econoboxes notwithstanding, the French never would soften their hearts about the original Biscooter. It’s really difficult to understand how the man who created some of the most elegant cars of the Art Deco era could also come up with something like the Biscooter.
“When I saw the Biscooter, I told my husband, ‘If we really want to win Worst of Show, we need this car,’” she said. “And if we were ever going to own a Biscooter, this would be the one. This was personally owned by Mr. Voisin up until his death” in 1973.
She and her husband Scott Boses were so determined in their quest for LeMons glory, they trailed the car all the way across country to the annual Monterey Bay area event.
The car is unchanged from the condition in which she bought it, with the exception of a gas mask she purchased for protection during the starting procedure for the smoky engine. The engine is started by pulling on a cord, much like an old lawnmower, she noted. Oily clouds of bluish smoke ensue.
“It smokes,” she explained. “Oh yes, it smokes like mad.”
All of Voisin’s creations were noted for smoking – including his luxury cars, like the 1935 Avions Voisin C-25 Aerodyne Coupe, which was offered at a different venue here this weekend with a pre-sale estimate of up to $3 million.
“If your Voisin doesn’t smoke, there’s something wrong with it,” said Peter Mullin, who owns the world’s largest Voisin collection – 17 of them, although no Biscooters.
The catalog description from the auction at which Ms. Pappas-Boses purchased the Biscooter described it as “a wonderful example of Gabriel Voisin’s visionary genius.”
What were they smoking?
August 17, 2013