1929 Rally ABC -Abaissée-
Original UK Registration Nr.: UL8540
Chassis Nr.: ABC635K
Engine Nr.: X11 21030
MM Coefficient 1,7
Automobiles Rally was a small company which made sporting automobiles in Colombes, a north western suburb of Paris. The company traded from 1921 until 1933, but they did not manage to survive the Great Depression. Known for sporting and handsomely designed cars, Rally competed with other French cyclecar makers of the era such as Amilcar, B.N.C., and Salmson.
The company was founded in 1921 by Eugène Affovard Asnière, an engineer. His first product was a classic cyclecar equipped with a 989 cc Harley-Davidson V-twin engine. As is typical of most producers in this category, subsequent automobiles (beginning in 1922) used proprietary engines (usually of about 1.1 litres) and transmissions from producers like Chapuis-Dornier, CIME, Ruby, or S.C.A.P. The early Rallys were long, sleek, and light and seated two. On early cars the passenger seat was mounted slightly farther back than the driver's seat, although this was later changed so as to improve comfort.
At the 1926 Paris Salon the underslung Grand Sport was shown, with a supercharged 1,093 cc Chapuis-Dornier engine of 70 PS (51 kW). This enabled a top speed of circa 180 km/h (110 mph). 14 to 16 Grand Sports were built, beginning in 1927. Three still exist. In 1928 a Grand Sport cost FF 42.900. Mechanical drum brakes and a three-speed manual transmission was the norm for Rally's cars of the twenties.
In 1927 the Rally ABC, was available with three inline-four engine options of 1,093, 1,170, or 1,494 cc. Roots superchargers were also available for some of the engines. Wheelbases ranged between 2.3 and 2.5 m (91 and 98 in), while a 31 PS (23 kW) "1100" could reach about 135 km/h (84 mph). "ABC" signified abaissée, or lowered, reflecting its underslung chassis. The ABC series was retired in 1930.
Rally ABC's were also entered into the 1932 and 1933 Mille Miglia road race, and finished third and fourth at the San Sebastián Grand Prix. Another ABC finished third at the 1929 "Double Twelve" (a 24-hour race broken into two parts, as night-time racing was not permitted there) at Brooklands.
Rally was not strong enough to survive the economic depression of the early thirties, and the company was closed in 1933 (or 1934) after having spent perhaps a little too much on competition efforts. A Rally NCP with a Salmson 984 cc engine took part in Le Mans in 1934, but did not finish. A significant proportion of the limited production of Rally cars have been carefully conserved and see use in classic events.
This car, One of a pair imported new to the UK by motor trader J.A. Driskell and L. Cutbill Jnr to promote the marque, was initially finished in red, christened 'Moulin Rouge' and road registered as 'UL 8540'. Entered for the MCC Land's End Trial in late March 1929, it was rewarded with Silver Medal (still with the car).
Contesting the inaugural Brooklands Double Twelve race two months later, it demonstrated an impressive turn of speed until suffering piston failure after some six hours in. Repaired using parts from the spare car, Driskell / Cutbill's made-up much lost ground on day two and finished well.
Sold off thereafter It was re-acquired by J.A. Driskell during early 1933. In between times he had campaigned a BNC and engaged the services of Ralph Silva as an apprentice mechanic (the latter subsequently worked for first ERA and then Prince Bira alongside Stan Holgate).
Re-Painted from red to blue, 'UL 8540' participated in numerous sprints and hill climbs with Driskell / Silva aboard as well as returning to Brooklands for the High Speed Trial and Relay Race etc. Doubtless more agile than the Ford V8 that he piloted on the 1934 Monte Carlo Rally, Driskell is rumoured to have kept the French sports car until his death during late WW2. An accompanying list of former keepers suggests that 'UL 8540' remained in the Home Counties until the mid-1950s when it migrated northwards. Acquired by Douglas John Moray Stuart, the sometime Lord Doune and The 20th Earl of Moray in 1972, the voiturette formed part of his renowned motorcar collection for nearly thirty years.
Restored whilst on display at Doune Castle, it changed hands twice thereafter before entering the current ownership during 2003. 'UL 8540' retains what we believe to be its original SCAP X11 1.1-litre engine.
Still wearing the same 'Grand Prix'-style, tapered-tail bodywork that it sports in the numerous period photos on file, the two-seater even displays evidence of what is thought to be its initial 'Moulin Rouge' livery (visible to the chassis and axles in places). Sparingly used over the last dozen years, the Rally Type ABC has nonetheless benefited from new internals for its three-speed manual gearbox. Thought to have been fitted with an uprated rear axle during the 1930s (the original unit lacked a differential), the two-seater also sports a period Rene Thomas four-spoke steering wheel.
Beautifully painted and with its 'patinated' blue leather upholstery, 'UL 8540' was much admired when invited to form part of Cartier's 'Style et Lux' exhibit at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Seemingly highly original and potentially eligible for the Mille Miglia Storica with a coefficient of 1,7 among many other prestigious events as Le Mans Classics, this remarkable Rally comes along with V5C Registration Document, history file and its silver medal from the 1929 MCC Land's End Trial.