The world’s largest collection of automobiles, boddied with a French Vanvooren coachwork, belongs to the Volante collection in Kirchzarten near Freiburg. The exact number of remaining Vanvooren bodies is unknown, but the number is estimated at 150. Of these, 9 vehicles are owned by the collector Martin Waltz, who has put together the Volante collection. Now this Vanvooren collection will be auctioned at Artcurial during the Rétromobile in Paris.
It all began with the discovery of a Hispano Suiza- “ruin” with Vanvooren body in Switzerland. Martin Waltz managed to buy and restore the vehicle. For the next eight years he searched for Vanvooren bodies, visited collectors, museums, historians and also archives and created the largest register for vehicles with Vanvooren coachworks. A book about the coachbuild company is planned be published by him in near future.
Among the vehicles auctioned off the collection is an absolutely original and unrestored Panhard & Levassor Type X14 7-seater, which was once delivered to Argentina and remained there until the 1990s. In 1995, the vehicle was auctioned in England. The vehicle was driven very little and was carefully preserved by all previous owners in their original condition. It is one of the oldest vehicles with Vanvooren body that is still ready to drive.
Martin Waltz is a lover of true originality. A complete restoration to a condition better than new would never be in question for him. Rather, he uses all his knowledge in a substance-preserving repair of the original state, to counteract further damage or deterioration and to preserve the unrestored state. As with the Alvis Speed 20, whose chassis 1935 was delivered to Vanvooren. In the same year, the vehicle with the extremely elegant convertible body was shown at the Paris Motor Show. The vehicle was subsequently acquired by a well-known French lawyer and remained until 1966 in his possession. Serge Pozzoli, founder of the magazine “Le fanatique de l’Automobile”, was the next owner. After his death, the family kept the vehicle and sold it in 2012 through a dealer to Martin Waltz. For three years, Martin Waltz worked on the substance-preserving restoration of the Alvis. With a scalpel, he carefully took the once applied second paint job and released the original paint. The interior was repaired and preserved. The Alvis Speed 20 is also a perfect example of originality.
The Bugatti T57 from the Volante collection, built in 1939, was equipped with one of two Vanvooren bodies, which were built on a Bugatti T57. The Bugatti was a mystery for a long time, even for Bugatti connoisseurs. The bodywork for a Bugatti T57C was already made in 1938 by Vanvooren for the Paris Motor Show. After the Paris Motor Show, the Vanvooren Cabriolet was delivered to the famous tennis player Jean Washer in Belgium in the 1920s. During the Second World War, the convertible was confiscated by the German Wehrmacht and partially rebuilt for military use. Between 1944 and 1950, the body was probably put on a new chassis from 1936 and a new engine installed. A common practice at this time, when the technology was badly damaged. Fortunately, Waltz found some photos of the original condition of the body in the descendants of the previous owners. So the Bugatti could be restored to its original state of 1938.
Also for auction comes the very last vehicle that left the Vanvooren plant in Courbevoie in 1950, the Delahaye 135M. In the 1970s, the Delahaye was owned by four-time rally world champion Bernhard Consten. The metallic nitro livery of the vehicle is a single coat with real metallic flakes, as originally delivered. The Delahaye was repainted in between by an owner in blue and the large sunroof was replaced by Plexiglas. Martin Waltz also had this vehicle restored as far as possible to its original condition and kept all the original parts and the patinated leather interior. The estimate for this extraordinary vehicle is between 250,000 and 350,000 euros.
Also from the Volante collection comes the extraordinary 1937 Horch 5 liter 853 Cabriolet in unrestored condition. The Horch points out just 20,000 kilometers on the odometer. It origins from Norway and was confiscated during World War II by the German Wehrmacht. After the end of the Second World War, the Horch was handed over to the Norwegian Crown Prince Olav, who used the Horch for the victory parade in the streets of Trondheim.