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Homepage. This page: A guide to the 1952 Le Mans 24hr race, 'Moteurs Courses' (Racing Engines).

Les 24 Heures du Mans 1952.

Fragile, tattered but still in one piece - just - is this rare edition of "Moteurs Courses" (ie "Racing Engines") from 1952. Edited by AAT, or "Action Automobile et Touristique" it serves as a guide to the upcoming 24 Heures du Mans motor race.
On its cover, this 30 Francs publication features an image of the Peter Walker/Peter Whitehead Jaguar XK120C (C-Type) charging away from the start in 1951, hotly pursued by a brace of American Cunningham C2-Rs and an Aston Martin. The C-Type would go on to win that year's event, completing 267 laps during the 24 hours, finishing ahead of the Talbot-Lago driven by Pierre Meyrat and Guy Mairesse. Neither Cunningham shown below (cars 3 and 5) completed the distance, although their car number 4 did make the flag, finishing in 18th.
The cover bears the signature of "?? Brooks", presumably the original owner of this guide rather than driver Tony Brooks, whose autograph looks totally different, and only began racing in small club meetings in this year.
Le Mans 1952 guide

Drivers and teams for 1952.

In addition to advertisements for Goodyear tyres and Cibie foglamps, the opening pages describe the event (in French, naturellement) accompanied by a photograph of a slightly bent car number 60, a diminutive Panhard-powered Monopole X84 that raced the previous year. This is then followed by a list of entrants and their machines. The Union Flag in this year was flown by the team members of Allard, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Morgan, Frazer-Nash, Jowett and Healey, while the home crowd may well have been rooting for the cars entered by Gordini, Talbot, Peugeot, Simca, Panhard, D.B. Panhard and Renault.
Each country's entries are then discussed in greater detail, starting with those of the USA which all hailed from Briggs Cunningham's organisation. Confident of success, interviewed following arrival on French soil Cunningham announced that "Je suis venu en France pour gagner les 24 heures du mans", predictably enough. The article is accompanied by a photo of a dark-coloured C2-R, plus views of the Chrysler-sourced V8 engine and the cars' front suspension and braking arrangements.
Two pages then describe "Les Voitures Britanniques" and the teams that comprised the cross-Channel assault on the famous endurance event. The Jaguar photo portrays standard-bodied C-Types, yet in the race the team - wary of the German Mercedes team and their predicted strength - fielded a line-up of cars with revised front and rear bodywork, in a bid to improve on their cars' aerodynamics and therefore increase their top-end pace on the faster parts of the circuit. The cars proved to be a failure. Rear-end lift was a real problem at speed, and all three cars retired, two with cooling issues that, on later investigation, turned out to be the fault of the engines' water pumps and coolant capacity, rather than lack of airflow which was initially believed to be the cause of their woes.
Aston Martin fielded DB2 and DB3 sports-cars, five cars in all, one their drivers being Dennis Poore, the former owner of my old transporter (a lorry which did at some point haul a DB3 like the one shown). Morgan entered a sole Plus-4, Allard two J2Xs, while Frazer-Nash honours were represented by a Mille Miglia and a Le Mans Mk2. In a slight faux-pas, the sections for both Healey and Jowett show two different photos of a Jowett Jupiter.
British teams competing in the 1952 meeting
Cars and drivers from Germany (Mercedes-Benz and Porsche,) and those of Italy (Fiat, Lancia, OSCA and Ferrari), feature on pages 8 and 9.
Two pages then cover the home-grown interest. Some look like warmed-up saloon cars, namely the Renault 4CV and Peugeot 203. Much more sporting though were the neat little 1500cc Gordini, the Monopole Panhard, a 1094cc Simca and a tidy 850cc Panhard. The Talbot-Lago T26 enjoyed mixed success in the event, with three of the four cars entered not reaching the finisher's flag.

Arista Roadster Sport Le Mans, and other advertisements.

Arista sports car
Other motor races held in France during recent times are then discussed, accompanied by other articles likely to have been of interest to French-reading motorsport enthusiasts in 1952. Several of the advertisements are also worth a study of. One that caught my eye is for the two-seater "Arista" sports-car. Shown is an Arista Roadster Sport Le Mans, and there are mentions also of the Cabriolet 2/4 seater "Ranelagh", and a similar coupe called the "Passy". The distributor is listed as SAVAM, 70 Rue du Ranelagh, Paris. Power came courtesy of running gear borrowed from the contemporary Panhard Dyna X.
The rear cover sports an advertisement for the Chemico "Auto Shampooing" car wash device, being demonstrated on an early-1950s Simca Vedette. Wisely, the operator stood to the left has donned full waterproofs and wellington boots before firing up the machine.
Chemico car wash and a 1952 Simca Vedette
Return to the Motor racing memorabilia section.
Fans of the Le Mans 24 hours may find these photographs, taken two years earlier in 1950, of interest.

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