This 1912 Gobron-Brillie may be the most wonderful, obscure and fascinating automobiles ever to pass the doors of Hyman, Ltd. Its skiff body by Rothschild is an instant attention-getter. Adorned with an array of brass nautical hardware from the oarlock-shaped door latch handles through cleats to tie down the tonneau cover to a pair of ship-type cowl ventilators it is lightweight, attractive and efficient. But even that is only a hint of the many details that set this idiosyncratic example of one of France's pioneering but now little known marques apart from others. Double chain drive powers rear wheels which mount a pair of 880x120 Dunlop tires on each rim (try taking them down to your local tire store for new rubber or a repair.) Ducellier headlights, a bulb-actuated horn (that looks like a cross between a cobra's head and a ship's ventilator), portholes in the front compartment sides, torpedo shaped brake lights and side-mounted spare wheels and tires, a single for the front on the left-hand side and another of the unique double-tired rims for the rear on the right along with a unique, artistic brass radiator cap mascot of a lady inside a rim and tire continue the captivating expression of Gobron-Brillie's individuality. So, why shouldn't that continue under the hood? It does. The engine is, if not unique, at least highly imaginative in its configuration: an opposed piston vertical four-cylinder of remarkable performance and ingenuity. Its performance is substantiated by the simple fact that in 1904 a Gobron-Brillie powered by a similarly-configured engine was the first automobile to crack 100mph when Louis Rigolly was clocked at 103.55mph on the Ostend highway. The lower pistons connect to a conventional crankshaft. The upper pistons, which have a shorter stroke, are rigidly attached to a yoke which at its ends connects to two long "coupling rods" driving front and rear crank throws. Induction and exhaust are through side mounted valve pockets. Earlier Gobron-Brillies had "L-head" induction with both intake and exhaust valves in the same pocket. This 1912 model is a later "T-head" configuration with cross-flow porting. This 1912 Gobron-Brillie with its lightweight and attractive Rothschild skiff body and ingenious engine is an older restoration but has been consistently maintained in good, presentable, running and driving condition. It won its class for skiff-bodied cars at Pebble Beach in 2005 and has been displayed at the Meadow Brook Concours. It is believed to have been displayed in the lobby of a chocolatier in Europe for many years, accounting for its remarkable survival. Prior owners include Marc Nicolosi, Uwe Hucke, Charles Howard and Gerhard von Raffay in Hamburg for whom it was restored to operating condition in 1993. The engine was recently rebuilt again by the specialists at Zakira's Garage in Ohio and it is accompanied by an extensive file of technical documentation and history. It is a never-ending source of fascination and a prime example of the creativity, imagination and skill which early automobile designers lavished on their creations. Charles Howard noted in his autobiography, "I was told by a very ancient chauffeur that the Gobron-Brillie was known to the trade as a µGobbling Billy.?" Automobiles don't get much more intriguing than this.
If you want to acquire a classic car or have vintage cars for sale, contact us today and inquire on our classic car consignment program. Our representatives are here to help.