Salmson 2300 Sport Coupé 1954
Coachwork by Henri Chapron
Chassis no. 85126
•One of only 188 Chapron-bodied examples built
•The last Salmson model produced in Billancourt
•1956 Tour de France and Lyon Charbonnieres participant
•Mille Miglia participant in 2011
In the aftermath of WW2, there was little demand in France for high-performance luxury cars of the type Salmson had been producing in the late 1930s, the result of punitive rates of taxation. Nevertheless, for the 1953 season their talented technical staff produced an updated version of the 2.2-litre Randonnée: the 2300 Sport.
Styled by Eugène Martin, the 2300 Sport was a pretty 2+2 coupé, 227 examples of which were made up to 1957 with bodies by Esclassan (39 cars) and Henri Chapron, the latter being responsible for the remaining 188. The Randonnée's four-speed electromagnetic Cotal gearbox was retained, while other noteworthy features included torque tube transmission and rack-and-pinion steering. All Salmson cars were built in right-hand drive configuration. With 105bhp on tap from its 2.3-litre twin-cam four, the 2300 Sport was a strong performer by the standards of the day, boasting a top speed of around 180km/h.
For Salmson and its wealthy clients, racing and rallying was to prove the strength, speed and reliability of the 2300 Sport. They competed at Le Mans in 1955, 1956 and 1957 (in 1956 in completely standard trim complete with all luxuries including a radio!) and the 1956 Mille Miglia. While little was achieved on the track, the 2300 Sport proved a much more effective rally car, winning on 13 occasions in 1954. However, like France's other quality motor manufacturers Salmson was struggling to survive and the factory was bought by Renault in 1957.
The car offered here is one of fewer than 80 Salmson 2300 Sports believed to survive worldwide. These cars very rarely come to the market, particularly so in roadworthy condition. Chassis number '85126' was purchased new by Mr Paul Mazaud, owner of the Salmson concession in Nantes. Used as a demonstrator, the car was sold a couple of months later to Mr Stanislas Motte, who competed with it in the Tour de France Automobile (now Tour Auto) in 1956 and also in the Lyon-Charbonnieres. In 1967, the Salmson was sold to a Mr Letreguilly, and in 2004 was purchased by a Mr Vallez.
This Salmson has been sympathetically refurbished on various occasions throughout its life. In 2005-2006 the body, engine, and interior were restored, while further works were carried out between 2009 and 2014. The car participated in the Mille Miglia, Coupe des Alpes, and Liège-Rome-Liège (all in 2011) and in 2014 took part in the Tour Auto, being completely overhauled for that event. It has been used only sparingly since then.
Accompanying documentation includes current Belgian registration papers; FIVA identity card (dated 2006); copies of old articles featuring the car; and copies of old photographs showing the car in action during the 5th Tour de France (1956), 9th Rally Lyon-Charbonniere (1956) and Mille Miglia (2011).
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