1935 Georges Irat 6CV Roadster

Georges Irat was a little-known French manufacturer of touring and sports cars that first appeared in 1921, and disappeared in 1953, remaining the whole time in relative obscurity.  Automobile production began in 1921 with a fast touring car powered by a 1,991cc four cylinder engine. The engine was designed by Maurice Gaultier, an ex-Delage engineer and was certainly the highlight of the package. It was a somewhat conventional machine, though it did boast four-wheel servo-assisted brakes by Dewandre. The whole car was produced in-house with the exception of the bodywork. Gaultier returned to Delage in 1928 which coincided with the release of the Irat three-liter six cylinder model. Output was slow but steady at approximately 200 cars per year when Georges Irat decided he would source engines from America. A series of 8-cylinder Lycoming-powered models were produced though very few found buyers. It wasn’t until Georges Irat was on the brink of financial disaster that, in 1935 his fortune turned around when he was approached by a new engine supplier to highlight their products. As it happened, engine manufacturer Godefroy et Levecque needed a new customer for their “Ruby” 1100 cc engine, as most of their client base of small manufacturers had gone under. The deal came with some financial support and Irat fitted the engine into a new sporty front-drive roadster.

The 6CV roadster was the firm’s most successful endeavor to date. The 1100cc Ruby engine produced 37 horsepower, and was mated to a 3-speed manual transmission that drove the front wheels in a layout very much like that of a miniaturized Cord L-29 – the engine and gearbox inline but turned 180 degrees from standard. The styling was tidy and attractive, with earlier examples sporting cycle fenders (later versions had a full-fender look) and dash of “Gaelic Morgan” to the looks. The 6CV found favor with buyers for its sporty nature and good looks. About 1500 examples were built between 1935 and 1939 before Irat rolled out a replacement powered by a Citroen 11CV engine, however this model was far less successful and only about 200 units were produced. By the post-war period Georges Irat abandoned sports cars and experimented with an off-road vehicle called the VDB, which found few buyers. By 1953 he had bowed out of the automobile business for good.

Our featured Georges Irat 6CV is a delightful example from this rare and unusual marque. It wears an older restoration very well, presented in very attractive French blue over black trim. The paint quality is very good, and while it shows a few flaws here and there it remains attractive and very presentable. Bright exterior trim is limited to the large flat radiator shell, head and fog lamps, polished stone guards and bright body beading. The bumperless style with cycle fenders and mudguards give the Georges Irat a purposeful stance, particularly in the way it rides low on stamped steel wheels. The French market yellow headlamp and foglamp bulbs are a particularly nice touch, especially against the blue paintwork – invoking a bit of Delage or Talbot-Lago flair.

The highlight of the cockpit is undoubtedly the gear lever that sprouts curiously from the center of the dash, much like an L-29 or a 2CV. The gear lever operates a long horizontal connecting rod mounted atop a traditional shift lever on the gearbox. While it certainly takes some getting used to, the shift is quite satisfying to master. The original speedometer is a lovely piece with three supplemental gauges built in, chronograph style. A trio of auxiliary instruments faces the driver, perhaps added at a later date, as with the non-standard turned alloy dash and four-spoke wheel, both of which impart a decidedly sporting character. The seats are trimmed in black upholstery to a good standard and the floors lined with black carpet. A lack of a central hump allows for respectable leg room. A top and full tonneau cover is included. The 1100 cc Ruby four-cylinder is tidy and well-presented. It is healthy and runs well, reportedly subjected to a refresh in the hands of the previous owner. Detailing is tidy with an emphasis toward reliable running. The original Georges Irat identification plate remains intact on the firewall.

This fascinating little roadster is one of just a small handful of survivors from this seldom-seen marque. The handsome style, interesting mechanical layout and compelling marque history make it a great piece for fans of esoteric and unusual automobiles.

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