T his month, we have double Dubs, one, a rally-prepped Beetle and a Kombi — a VW and Porsche Sales, Services, Parts panel van — to give away.
Our mystery this month keeps us in parlez-vous territory but 10 years later than last month. Not many of this unusual car were made, but it was catalogued between 1963 and 1965. Send your answer to email@example.com by June 17, with ‘Mystery Car 244’ in the subject line.
Last month’s mystery 243 was a final fling by Ford France, just before the company’s Poissy factory was sold to Simca. Introduced at the 1953 Paris Motor Show, the Ford Vendome caused a bit of a stir, as the fitting of the 3.9-litre Mistral version of the Ford/ Mercury flathead V8 into the existing Vedette saloon produced a car with considerable performance for the time. The Vedette was still continued with its own small 2.2-litre version of the flathead V8, but the new car offered more performance than any other home-grown saloon on the French market — Citroën’s big six-cylinder Traction Avant was way better in terms of roadability, but its 2.9-litre six-cylinder’s 56.7kw (76bhp) couldn’t match the power and torque of the Vendome’s big V8, and the olderdesign Hotchkiss Anjou (which ceased production in 1953 but was available through 1954) cost a lot more, though its 3.5-litre six-cylinder matched the V8 for power output if not torque.
There were problems with the Vendome, though. The 3.9-litre version of the V8 was heavier than the Vedette’s smaller-capacity unit and put a lot of weight on the front wheels. As such, the Vendome was a determined understeerer and quite a handful on twisty roads. Allied to this was a big thirst for fuel when full engine power was used: much of the design effort probably came from the States, and, if those designers had been briefed on the high cost of petrol in France, they may have geared the car a little higher. The brakes, too, were stressed by the Vendome’s extra weight.
But the worst problem for the Vendome was that Ford France was in the throes of selling out to Simca, and, in the end, the car had a showroom life of just over a year through 1954, with over 3000 units sold. Under Simca, there was no room for the thirsty Vendome, though the Vedette was continued from 1955, using the small V8; with its restyled body, it continued through to 1961, and to 1967 overseas in Brazil, while the Vedette body, powered (underpowered, perhaps?) by Simca’s 1290cc overhead-valve engine was produced as the Ariane until 1963.
The Vendome’s vital statistics follow, but be aware that many internet sources can be misleading about this car, confusing the car with the Vedette. Power from the 3.9-litre side-valve V8 is variously quoted as 69–74kw (93–99bhp), vehicle weight 1350–1370kg (2980–3021 pounds), wheelbase 2.69m (105.9 inches), length 4.67m (184 inches), and top speed 145–148kph (90–92mph). A threespeed manual gearbox was fitted.
following the race, Fjastad stated, “The car is in excellent condition and is ready to around again.” The same car went on to win its class in the same event two year later.
The East African Rally continues today as the Safari Classic, still appealing to all comers in everything from classic 911s (eight of the top-10 positions were taken out by 911s in the 2015 event) to Triumph TR7S and Ford Escorts across some of the most trying onand off-road conditions anywhere in the world.