VIDEO. Normandy on the vintage car side: the world of brass and leather for a collector

Series (2/4). Old cars do well in Normandy. The passion for obsolete bodywork is nurtured by a once-rich pioneer and meets enthusiasts and collectors who are always attentive at Retromobile, the show in Paris open until February 5, 2023.

Reading time:
3 min

Moïse Gagier activates the switch and light emerges from the darkness of brass radiators, bronze lanterns and leather chairs. When it comes to vintage cars, this collector from Eure and his wife, Catherine, show a clear preference for the pre-war period, even before 1914. Of course, in garages with carpeted floor and walls decorated with enamel advertisements and rally plates, we also come across a Simca P60 full of nostalgia, a 1977 Corvette or even two massive Ford Mercury and Galaxie from the 60s, but the darlings remain venerable ancestors who all passed the 100-year mark.

“Saved by enthusiasts who pass for the originals”

While detailing the magnificent Pilain Lyon double phaeton from 1906, Moïse returns to the source of this passion: “My stepfather once asked us to drive the car of one of his friends. We were in the 70s, old cars, they say, were popular at village festivals. Driving is a change from what we know and it’s really nice. We started by driving a 1919 Vinot-Deguingand, then a 1907 FAS, a Citroën 5HP and a 1912 Rochet-Schneider. There are so many brands that fans dream about these days. “At the time, they were saved from being scrapped by enthusiasts who passed for the originals”, Catherine summed up.

“We ended up buying a 1934 Renault Primaquatre to rebuild it, but we sold it then,” notes Moses. This is to put the finger in gear. Today, the Gagiers look after twenty old cars. Their crush? “This is the Renault 1908 type AM taxi. It is a four-cylinder in two blocks, with two liters of displacement, but above all it always starts and works best! », answered the collector. At 75, that’s the kind of detail that matters. Catherine and Moïse always loved to ride, and in retirement it did not subside. Every time, there is a part of the adventure, this is what makes the beauty of the great ancestors. The De Dion-Boutons, whether from 1903, 1904 or 1907, the Pilain Lyon from 1907 or the Renaults from 1908 share the fact that they start with the crank and rely on a magneto for ignition. Here, there are no electronics, calculators or injectors. You have to know how to get your hands dirty when necessary.

“A simple, rustic and very interesting mechanism”

At this price, time travel is guaranteed. And, along with the important mechanical culture, the driver is often able to make repairs on the side of the road. “It is a simple, simple and very interesting mechanism”, confess Moses. Another characteristic of the ancestors of the car, the doors are theoretical, the roof is reduced to an umbrella and the wind is everywhere. Summer fun, winter adventure. And if the test seems too difficult, there’s always the 1950 Traction 15/6, the 1923 Donnet-Zedel torpedo or the 1936 Hotchkiss 411. More modern cars…

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