Weird and wonderful No7 – Renault 4cv ‘Labourdette’

Another in our occasional series of interesting things that have popped up on the internet…

Regular readers will be familiar with Mario’s ‘brother’ Regie the Renault 4cv, so we are always interested when something about 4cv’s catch our eye on the internet. Like Fiats, there were many different derivatives of the 4cv with unusual bodies but the one we spotted today really stood out.

Yes this strange quirky looking car is based on a 4cv. The 4cv Labourdette Vutotal was unveiled by the French President at the Paris Salon in 1949 or 50 where its design and styling were considered progressive. The Labourdette’s were a french family involved in coachbuilding and then very early car design. The Grandson, was visionary body-builder Jean-Henri Labourdette born in 1888 and who became well known for his bold transformations of prestige vehicles such as Bugatti and Rolls Royce.

The company had developed a glued frameless windscreen and front door glass which eliminated the A-frame, this ‘Vutotal’ (total view) design was patented in 1935 and appeared in many prototypes but never in a production vehicle. After the war Labourdette didn’t really resume their coachbuilding business but Jean-Henri devoted his time to research and inventions. He eventually retired to Grasse, near Nice, which by coincidence is where we found Regie.

The 4cv Vutotal was a three seater convertible with the single backseat turned through 90º and the famous panoramic windows. The headlights were built in under glass. It proved too revolutionary and never went into production.

Two years later Labourdette went on to make a more conventional convertible version of the 4cv. Only two doors but the front end is the same as the production model and you can see the famous star wheels which were fitted on the early cars. This was two years before Renault produced their own factory built convertible which they only made under 500 of, in 1954. Regie is actually, an after market convertible, made post factory to order, similar to what Crayford Conversions did to many Fords in the 60s and 70’s.

The 4cv convertible on a postcard believed to be shot outside the Labourdette’s house in Paris.
The Labourdette 4cv Convertible on track in 1952, believed to be at the Grand Prix de La Baule.

Cars we love but can’t have… No 2

The second in our new series of wonderful vehicles we’ve spotted on the internet, would love to own but probably never will…1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-3

1949 Georges Irat convertible by Labourdette
This lovely car turned up recently at the Artcurial Auction at this years Retromobile. It’s a prototype and so a one off and very unlikely to join our collection. It fetched €57,216 in the February sale.Irat-auction

Georges Irat was a French car producer from 1921-1953. They weren’t very successful and had financial difficulties. The companies biggest success was a small roadster produced in the 30’s with a Ruby engine although less than 400 were produced.Irat-other-1938-roadster
irat-otherposterDuring the war the company experimented with electric vehicles while making industrial motors. It was during this time that the revolutionary prototype, mounted on a magnesium frame was developed and first appeared at the 1946 Paris Motor Show with a 1100cc flat-four engine, possibly a Ruby from their earlier roadster.1946It was shown again in 1947 with a revised front, new wheels and revised styling.Georges-Irat-1946original6A third prototype appeared in 1949 with a 2 Litre engine, no bumpers and a fixed glass cover over the center-mounted headlamps but the design never made it into production, partly due to lack of materials after the war and the government not approving it. Years later the body coach built by Labourdette was found in the old Georges Irat factory and a Simca Eight chassis was used to underpin the car so it could be used. It is now powered by a 2L Simca engine and is reported to have a top speed of 150kph.original-2originaloriginal-3The model sold looks immaculate and has been beautifully restored. There is some wonderful detail in the car and it’s small size and streamlined shape make it very desirable.1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-1 1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-2 1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-4 1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-5 1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-6 detail-button detail-chasisplate detail-dash detail-engine detail-interior detail-interior2Georges Irat did go on to produce a few other cars including this 1950 Barquette which I cannot find any information about. In the early 50’s Georges Irat moved the company to Morocco and ended up building small Jeep like vehicles conceived by Emile Petit, these were known as La Voiture du Bled.

Irat-other-Barquette1950-2 Irat-other-Barquette1950 irat-other-LaVoiture du Bled1953
irat-other-Voiture_du_Bled Irat-other-Voiture-du-Bled2While researching this blog this handful of pics turned up, taken in 2007, the car is obviously red, not the white of the original or the restored version but it has the bumpers of the earlier prototype. So I don’t know if it’s an earlier prototype or has just been restored to the version that was auctioned – if anyone knows, please let us know…Original-72007-1 2007-2 2007-3 2007-4