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Monday, June 15, 2020

Wimille streamlined car of the 1940s

Nobody doubts that Jean-Pierre Wimille was one of the greatest racing drivers. This great French racing driver should have been the Formula 1 world champion. He who since he was young really loved the automotive world and began sketching four-wheeled vehicle design since the 1930s. His racing career began at the French Grand Prix in 1930 by driving the Bugatti racing cars, his dream vehicle until 10 years later. 
1946 Wimille Prototype JPW No. 1 designed by Philippe Charbonneaux to specifications laid out by race driver Jean-Pierre Wimille. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/3fkMdPt)
During the Second World War, Wimille began to think about building a very modern car. A streamlined body was designed with a panoramic windscreen, integrated headlights, independent wheels and electrical control gear box. Three versions were already planned, a 70hp Grand Tourisme; the Sport, with a 100hp V6 1,500cm3 engine; and a 220hp racing version expected to reach speeds of almost 300km/h. This was how the Wimille GT came into being on paper in 1943.
Rear three quarter view of 1946 Wimille Prototype JPW No. 1 uses a 56hp Citroën Traction engine with streamlined bodywork built by Henri Chapron(Picture from: https://bit.ly/2UC2pnM)
1946, the first appearance of the Wimille 01 prototype was an immediate success. The car’s shape and design was revolutionary. Due to lack of time, the V6 engine planned was replaced by a Citroën Traction engine, which made it possible to conduct initial tests over long distances. The prototype was made in 1945 and presented at the auto show at the Grand Palais in Paris in October 1946.
1948 Wimille Prototype JPW No. 2 with twin inset headlamps, and then restyled with a central "cyclops" headlamp. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/2YpUXgB)
The 1946 Wimille Prototype No. 1 was bodied in Paris by Henri Chapron to Wimille's ideas, didn't much resemble anything that came before it. His concept had a tubular chassis, an aerodynamic body, 3 front seats, central steering, a rear engine, a semi-automatic gearbox, and a panoramic windscreen. The first prototype used a 56hp Citroën engine though Wimille had wanted to use a V6 engine.
1948 Wimille Prototype JPW No. 2 uses an 2,158cc, 8-cylinder, V-shaped Ford engine(Picture from: https://bit.ly/2YpUXgB)
In parallel, Jean-Pierre Wimille pursued his driving career, taking Alfa Romeos to a string of victories. But he never stopped thinking about his (car of tomorrow). To adapt his idea for a revolutionary car to the constraints of production, Jean-Pierre Wimille signed a contract with Ford France.
The restyled of Wimille Prototype JPW No. 2 in 1949 with a central "cyclops" headlamp. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/2BSNBuk)
The 2nd prototype was redesigned by industrial designer Philippe Charbonneaux at least attempted to improve visibility to the rear. And the new prototype was fitted with the V8 engine used for Ford Vedettes. At the 1948 auto show, Ford presented two (Wimille) cars.
1949 Wimille Prototype JPW No. 3 which was driven for many years by the Philippe Charbonneaux's son(Picture from: https://bit.ly/2zopvGX)
The amazing car sparked immediate interest, and the model was on the brink of being produced and sold. Later, the Wimille Prototype No. 2 has restyled with a central 'cyclops' headlamp.
1949 Wimille Prototype JPW No. 3 was kept by Cité de l'Automobile in Mulhouse. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/3hdEBjE)
But fate was to decide otherwise. On 28 January 1949, Jean-Pierre Wimille was killed at the wheel of his Simca-Gordini at the trials for the Buenos Aires Grand Prix. It was a terrible blow: with the great driver gone, the revolutionary car found itself orphaned, and in the same year Ford France withdrew from the project. The two Wimilles made their last appearance at the 1950 auto show, having clocked up 45,000 kilometers.
During his live, some sources speak about a production of four prototypes, others of eight. And today, at least three Wimille prototypes still exist today. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | VELOCETODAY | RETROMOBILE | CARSTYLING.RU]
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