Gabriel Voisin's records

After the setbacks experienced by his entries for the Grand Prix de l'ACF at Lyons in 1924, Gabriel Voisin decided to withdraw from circuit racing altogether in order to confront an adversary of his own stature: time itself. He decided to attack the world's speed records...

The winter of 1924 and the first half of 1925 were duly devoted to the preparation of a dedicated record-breaker. And thus it was that on September 23rd the Voisin team arrived, along with the official timekeepers, at the Montlhéry Autodrome for their first attempt.

The car with which they intended to contest world and international records was an 18CV 4-cylinder of 3969cc loosely based on the C5 production car, incorporating certain features of one of the previous year's Lyon Grand Prix cars.

Lefebvre at the wheel of the 4-litre

André Lefebvre, who had masterminded the design, mounted the engine considerably further back in the chassis than the standard car for the purposes of optimum weight distribution. The radiator was accordingly mounted just behind the front wheels, with the driver sitting virtually over the rear axle.

With its conventional radiator and bonnet, streamlining of the lightweight doorless pointed tail body was minimal; it was finished in blue with quasi-tartan fine lining, similar to that applied to the more fashionable Voisin touring models of the time. The familiar 4-litre sleeve valve engine was tuned to deliver a reliable 118bhp, with a single Solex carburettor.

The factory drivers who took their turn at the wheel of this first Voisin record-breaker were AndrŽ Lefebvre, the test driver and mechanic CŽsar Marchand et Julienne. Because of the reinforced concrete of the banked oval, they soon became known as 'les tourneurs de ciment'.
The attempt began soon after noon, with Marchand in the cockpit. He completed the first hour at an average of 161,533kph; this rose to 162.55 for the first three hours, covering almost 488 kms.

Lefebvre took over for the next three-hour stint: 969,95 kilometres in six hours at an average of 161.66kph. The 1000 kilometre threshold was passed 11 minutes later (average 161.7 kph)..

Julienne was driving the third session when an oil leak put a stop to the attempt. 1500 kilometres had taken 9 hrs 39 mins and 25 secs; 1000 miles, 10 hrs 20 mins, 21 ses; 2000 kilometres, 15 hrs 59 mins 49 secs (154.47kph); and 1500 miles, 15 hrs 45 minutes 10 secs (153,28 kph).

Behind the car : Lefebvre (in white), on his right Marchand and certainly, Julienne.

During its 'ronde infernale' lasting 16hrs 5mins, the Voisin covered almost 2,454 kilometres. The car's resilience and effectiveness suggested that these results could be improved upon, and the team returned to the banking two weeks later, on November 6th.

During the November attempt, Gabriel Voisin (in the background)... closely the operations, two teams seem to provide simultaneously.

The four-litre took to the track in the morning, with Marchand at the helm. It set a new 500 kilometre record after 2hrs 53 mins 46 secs, and the three-hour record was secured after 517.84 kilometres at 172.61 kph. Lefebvre drove the next three hours to take the 1000 kilometre record in 5 hrs 48 mins 54 secs, and the six hour record with 1,032.28 kms at an average 172,046 kph.

The 1925 world records
September 23rd

Average speed
1 000 kms
161,694 kph
6h 11mn 3s 87/100

Average speed----
6 hours
161,657 kph

November 6th

Average speed
500 kms

172,500 kph

2h 53mn 46s 62/100
500 miles
171,650 kph
4h 41mn 26s
1 000 kms
171,968 kph
5h 48mn 54s 63/100

Average speed
3 hours
172,611 kph
517,834 kms
6 hours
172,046 km/h
1 032,280 kms

NB : the record statistics reproduced here are based on the pages on this subject published in 'Toutes les Voisin' by René Bellu and a three-part article by Serge Pozzoli in 'Le Fanatique de l'automobile' N°23, 24 and 26.

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