CGV Fire-Up

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Some 160 guests turned up at Pentlepoir in Wales at the invitation of John Carter and his family, to see his 1904 CGV fired-up for the first time since its meticulous rebuild.

This is a rare veteran, only two of the make surviving here and two more, including a 70hp limousine, in America. From its French birthplace this Type H1 (No 2125) CGV was found some 20 years ago in the Mahy Museum in Gwent, with a De Dion Bouton on top of it. John Carter has added it to his pre-1914 collection, which encompasses a 1903 Sunbeam, 1911 40/50hp Rolls-Royce two-seater, and 1913 Sunbeam tourer.

The product of the three well-known French racing drivers Charron, Girardot and Voigt, who had driven Panhards in the early races, the CGV was known as the Charron after 1907. The car which Carter has been painstakingly restoring for four years or so is a 115 x 150mm 6.2-litre 25/30hp CGV with a four-seater, side-entrance touring body by Pingret, Guion et Breteau of 45 Quai National, Seine, finished in red with black lining overlaid in red. The frontal metalwork was remade by a local unemployed craftsman and the running boards have yet to be covered.

The engine is a four-cylinder T-head, fed through a copper manifold on the offside, with four separate riser-pipes and a Zenith carburettor. A huge exposed-magnet magneto on the nearside (a Rivet I think) fires plugs on the opposite side of the engine, and the cooling system comprises a rear water reservoir, a low-slung encased gilled-tube frontal radiator, pump-feed, and an underfloor filler; until the engine is running there is no water in circulation. Originally the aforesaid magneto was supplemented by a second set of sparking plugs fired from dashboard-mounted trembler coils.

The “mangle-wheel” timing gears at the front of the engine are completely exposed and the bonnet is of the typical, rather undistinguished CGV coal-scuttle type, but gives the car an imposing frontal aspect. Ahead is a centrally-mounted L’Autoroche of Paris headlamp. Rear springing is of the platform type.

Final-drive is by side chains, sprocket sizes suggesting a very high top gear, and there are three control pedals, the right-hand one a tiny piano-type accelerator. Rear brakes are augmented by an expanding-pattern transmission brake. The dashboard carries six oil drip-feeds, each labelled unto its function, a water-pressure gauge, the usual lubrication arrangements and an ignition switch; the “signal-box” aspect of the side levers and the fine serrations on the teeth of the two quadrants above the steering-wheel are noticeable. Varnished wooden wheels with a multiplicity of spokes carry Dunlop Cord 880 x 120 tyres. Originally the chassis, which displays artistically-shaped steering connections and a massive front axle, had no greasers, but this has been rectified.

To appreciative clapping from the assembled guests, the engine of this fine CGV started first pull-up after its long silence, and John drove it into the open.

Bryan K Goodman, who has the only other CGV in this country (No 2054, also a 1904 25cv model which he acquired in 1969) had come from Reigate to be present. He told me that although both CGVs are of identical type, there are some interesting differences between them, such as the sprockets on the Carter car being attached to every one of the rear-wheel spokes, but to fewer on his car, whose transmission brake is of contracting type. This suggests that, while lesser manufacturers may have been content to introduce improvements annually, CGV in Puteaux preferred to make theirs continually . . .

Cars which had come to pay homage to the CGV included the big 1913 Napier tourer which Mr Goodman had recently sold to its new owner and which came from Newbury and back in the day; the aforementioned vehicles from John Carter’s treasure-trove of garage; a yellow bull-nose Morris Oxford two-seater and a bull-nose Cowley two-seater, both I believe from the Carter stable; Austins from four-cylinder Twenty to Chummy Seven; Bruce Dowell’s 1919 Sunbeam motor-carriage; a Derby Bentley saloon; a Model B Ford saloon; an immaculate vintage Humber tourer; a rough Singer Le Mans; an ohv solo AJS and a vee-twin AJS sidecar outfit.

This made for an enjoyable day, and we wish John well with the CGV in forthcoming VCC events. WB