Big things with little cars
Big things with little cars
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French Friday: Le Bourdon Jaune

Illustration for article titled French Friday: Le Bourdon Jaune

Not many of you will recognize this one. I think. Well, maybe if you played Gran Turismo (4?), it was in there. The chance you’ve ever ran into a 1:1 ain’t that big though. It’s French, totally. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I for one know better looking cars. It’s history is interesting though.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Le Bourdon Jaune

Well, it’s design could be called “interesting” as well. Because it actually was designed around all kinds of “requirements” from the readers of French car magazine Échappement. The publisher of that magazine, former rally cross driver Michel Hommel, gathered all those requirements and built a car around it. The Hommel Berlinette Échappement. And this is the second iteration of it, the Berlinette RS Coupe.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Le Bourdon Jaune

Of course the requests were for a nimble mid rear engined car as the Échappement (for exhaust) magazine is for the sportier gear heads. And, this might come as a surprise to some of you, the French are a bit chauvinistic. So it had to get a French engine.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Le Bourdon Jaune

Michel turned to PSA for that. An engine from the Peugeot 405 MI16 would be sufficient with it’s 155hp and they found a 6-speed gearbox to fit. All quite suitable for a 980kg car. For the design of it’s body Michel turned to Erick de Pauw. And if you think this RS ain’t a beauty: Better don’t check out the earlier (1994) Berlinette or (1995) Barquette.

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But Erick de Pauw died in a car crash in 1995 so for the redesign we see here in this post another not all that known designer was hired: Sylvain Crosnier. He came up with the Berlinette RS in 1997, the one we see here in yellow. The engine was uprated a bit to the Peugeot 306 S16 engine. With a small increasement in displacement (from 1.9 to 2.0 liter) and other small tweaks it went to 167hp.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Le Bourdon Jaune

An RS2 was also developed. This one got an engine that was even further tweaked by French Tuner Danielson (who you might know for the bodykit on the Alpine GT V6 Turbo Le Mans), to 195hp. Hommell came up with another body design, the Cabster, which was supposed to be a combination of a Cabrio and a roadster. I won’t share a picture of that. For a reason.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Le Bourdon Jaune

Hommell tried to put a Peugeot 206RC (180hp) engine in his car but that proved to be his last “convulsion”. In 2003 the little car company stopped manufacturing cars. No need to feel sorry for Michel Hommell, he still owns one of France’s biggest car collection and his publishing company still earns him a decent income. But the other stake/shareholders of the media company didn’t want to finance this unprofitable “project” anymore.

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Just that logo always intrigued me. No idea why anyone would use a logo of three wheats in an automotive setting. It wasn’t some environmental green car. It’s not the surroundings the car was produced in as it was assembled in St-Cloud, a commune in the western suburbs of Paris.

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It could be Michel Hommell’s background. He was born and raised in rural Normandy. His car collection has been gathered ina museum, the Manoir de l’Automobile. And that’s located in an old farm and it’s barns in Lohéac, near Rennes (Normandy). Well, farm...

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There’s a race track next to it (the bend in the top left corner is part of that track) as well. So Michel is doing something amazingly well if you ask me...

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So how successful was the car? Well... Not. Michel had projected to produce about 600 cars a year. The first (1994) and last (2002) year though 11 units were made. But those probably weren’t full years anyway. Hommell’s top year was 1996 with 16 Berlinettes and 22 Braquettes assembled. Of the RS Berlinette you see here it’s either 57 (official Hommell production number) or 63 (Wikipedia) units.

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The model itself is a 1/43 from IXO. Other then the Hommells in Grand Turismo I’ve never seen one so no idea how accurate it is. The black tips on the mirrors seems odd, that fuel cap is a bit too “stickerish”. And shouldn’t a French Berlinette (Alpine used this name often as well, Jean Charles Rédélé, son of the founder of Alpine, even was having lunch with Michell Hommell when the idea to come up with a new French sportscar) be blue/bleu?

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Le Bourdon Jaune

It has perforated discs though, and calipers. And it rolls. All in all not bad for what I paid for it, 10 euros. It was about time I got something obscure again...

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Le Bourdon Jaune

C’est ça! I wasn’t the first today with a French Friday entry so I’m sure it’s gonna be a fantastic day.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Le Bourdon Jaune

Bon Week-End!!!

Illustration for article titled French Friday: Le Bourdon Jaune

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