Bugatti, Avion-Voisin, Hispano-Suiza… their collection of classic cars is one of the finest in Occitania
Deep in the Haute-Garonne, a passionate couple has assembled a collection of cars as rare as they are exceptional, some of which are unique in the world. Guided tour.
In the old building where the fireplace in the kitchen takes us back to another century, an installation is out of place: perched on a shelf, a television scans the outside. Other screens, installed everywhere, do the same. The slightest fox, cat, owl or other predator cannot escape this state-of-the-art electronic watch and sirens. The place is under heavy surveillance. Not that the owners, Alain and Juliette, are afraid, but they know it: their passion is synonymous with treasure. On the edge of Haute-Garonne, in a peaceful countryside, surrounded only by nature-loving neighbors, they have created an open universe with few guests.
Thirty years ago, a first De Dion…
In this den, the couple has simply assembled one of the finest classic car collections in the region. These are rare, exceptional cars, models admired by connoisseurs but whose authenticity and uniqueness do not leave newbies indifferent. “It’s a pleasure. We had houses, lands, but today we have transformed them into classic cars. It suits us better. We enjoy ourselves with our toys like big children!”, Juliette and Alain explain modestly, each as passionate as the other other.
Thirty years were needed to construct this three-dimensional photograph of the history of the automobile. From auction rooms to fairs, through simple handbags and small garage sales, these two enthusiasts have frozen time through a multitude of car-related objects. But the real stars are their cars. In large numbers here. Almost everyone is spinning… though not everyone is spinning. “We use some from time to time, but our pleasure is above all to have them there, before our eyes, because they all have a soul”, they repeat.
A soul, it is undeniable, but also a sometimes very rich past, the first reason for buying for Juliette and Alain, now owners of a real heritage. “It all started with a De Dion Bouton and its tiny V8, a unique car. It was in ruins. We reassembled it and continued. We haven’t stopped since then!” confided the two accomplices.
So over the years, and in the kilometers on the roads of Europe, their garage has filled up with real nuggets dating back for some to the early hours of the automobile. An 1897 Benz, one of the first cars in the world, or this 1908 Sizaire – Naudin, proud of its world speed record, known all over the world, tells us about them here.
More “classy”, less aged, a Bugatti “Petite royale” from 1931, never restored, catches his attention. This one, a few meters from an imposing 1927 Renault 40 CV in turn parked just behind a magnificent 1933 Hispano-Suiza. More modest, a real Marne taxi, a 1908 Renault, in perfect condition, seeks to compete with a whole original Avion-Voisin from 1932… without however being able to match its futuristic lines and its extraordinary design.
The visit is also appreciated for its models steeped in history such as this Delaunay-Belleville, owned by Marshal Joffre, a 1939 Hotchkiss that belonged to a war minister, a 1909 Rolland Pilain, once driven by the famous Fangio. But we are also pleased to discover a Hispano-Suiza H6B, found in the basement of the Palais Rose, in Paris, after having passed through the hands of the Duchess of Tallayrand-Périgord, or this Hispano-Suiza from 1936 acquired by the designer Kréma sweets…
Further on, nothing to see, and in poor condition, a Renault 4 L would almost look like a wart, only this one, saved from breaking down, is a single prototype… Electric! Next to it, a pretty intruder, a 1965 Lancia Flaminia, would like to spit out the horses. It sleeps under another collection, original, of bicycles, tricycles, big bi, “Tue belle-mère” and other rolling machines unearthed here and there like these old engines, De Dion Bouton gearboxes and dozens of other parts, wheels and machines that have become untraceable.
This is how, in the greatest silence, enveloped in the smell of fabrics, wood and oil, far from speculation of any kind, pampered like children, Juliette and Alain’s cars have found owners who admire them for what they are: remains of a time when technology flirted with art, a time when cars were simply loved.