The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

15-16 February 2013

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Lot 590

1955 Inter 175A Berline

  • ID No. 1706

Sold for $161,000


Interesting engineering; restored by marque expert.



SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Societe Nationale de Construction Aéronautique du Nord

Origin: Lyon, France

Production: est. 280

Motor: Ydral 1-cyl, 2-stroke

Displacement: 175 cc

Power: 8.5 hp

Length: 9 ft. 8 in.

Identification No. 1706



The Inter is the one microcar in the entire collection whose sleek lines most closely resemble those of a small aircraft. The Cyclops headlight, slab sides, tapering tail, and in particular, the shape of the nose contribute to this impression, as do the separate wheel spats and the steering handlebar. It comes by its avionic looks honestly, as it was produced in the aeronautical factories of S.N.C.A.N. (Société Nationale de Construction Aéronautique du Nord) on behalf of A.E.M.S. (Ateliers Electromechaniques de la Seine), and sold by G.E.S.C.O.F.I. in Paris. The French do love their acronyms.



Introduced at the Paris Salon in the fall of 1953, the little “Autoscooter” was a sensation. It was positioned in the marketplace as halfway between a scooter and a small car, offering stability and complete weather protection, combined with the nimbleness in traffic and simplicity of maintenance of a scooter. The prototype on display was still under development, however, and the actual production car differed slightly in appearance when it finally became available to the public in the spring of 1954.



Two models were offered: the “Berline,” with a left-side hinged canopy complete with glass windows in the front and rear and sliding plastic side windows, and the “Torpedo,” with a small Plexiglas windscreen and no lifting canopy. Seating was in tandem, with the front seat adjustable. The sunroof consisted of an elasticated piece of fabric that fitted around a lip surrounding the roof opening. The Ydral motor (the odd name is a reversal of the designer’s name, Lardy), in at least two versions, drove the rear wheel by chain. The front outrigger wheels were covered by full helmet-type fenders, which turned with the steering. A startling feature was the ability of the front suspension to fold together on parallelogram arms upon releasing two pins, thus reducing the overall width from 4.4 feet to 2.9 feet. Much was made of this ability to pass through garden gates, but in reality, it was found to be impractical, and the majority of the cars had fixed suspension. The wheels were sprung by Niemann rubber rings, still in use on French trailers in modern times. Also typical of aviation practice is the bicycle chain steering, in this case connecting to a rack and pinion.



Yet another startling aviation-type feature of the Inter is its Westinghouse “Gyrostarter,” a system similar in principle to that used on helicopters. Raising the starter lever inside the cockpit causes the flywheel to spin at an ever-increasing speed, accompanied by a whining sound that rises in pitch. Once the gyro is up to speed (at least 10 seconds is recommended) the lever is quickly dropped, engaging the motor via a hefty clutch and imparting the flywheel’s stored rotational energy to the motor, which starts and then reverts to generator mode. This system was not particularly effective on an out of tune engine, as the six volt battery was only good for two or three attempts. The starting sequence itself never fails to draw a crowd.



The cars were constantly under development, and it seems no two cars were ever exactly alike. It is a great source of interest to make detail comparisons between vehicles. On late cars, the single central headlight was dropped in favor of two fender-mounted lamps. Full width Messerschmitt-type front fenders were also experimented with. Only a small number of these rare and elegant vehicles exist today; this particular car was restored to a high standard by the British Inter expert Robert Purton.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more