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Tucked inside the wealthy enclave of Santa Barbara, California is one of the most awe-inspiring collections of pre-war French automobiles ever assembled anywhere on earth — even inside France.

Just a few hours south of Monterey and Pebble Beach , the Mullins Automotive Museum is almost as exclusive as the cars inside. And for good reason: dozens of the cars in the collection are priceless and completely unique.

The Mullins museum has dozens of Bugatti ’s, including the all-time most-valuable car ever: the Type 57 Atlantique . This is too easy and common, so we will focus on some of the more obscure pieces in its priceless collection.

There are highlights are every turn, but we’ve assembled some of the most influential and visually breathtaking cars here in a list of Top Ten Coach-Built French Imports - between 1930 and 1950.

This list could also have been called the "unpronounceables" because their names are quite complicated to say out loud. Doing so is a real treat, however, especially in the case of the all-star Hispano-Suiza H6C Xenia. This gorgeous coupe has some of the most otherworldly styling ever seen then or since.

Winner of Best in Show at Goodwood 2009, this Hispano-Suiza features sliding side doors, a rounded fuselage design, and bespoke luggage that looks like a million bucks.

Click past the jump for all ten of these stunners: including a number of Bugatti ’s, Avoins Voisin and the first hard-top cabrio: the 1938 Peugeot 402L Cabriolet Metallique Decouvrable.

1938 Dubonnet Hispano-Suiza H6C “Xenia”

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

The Xenia coupe is one of a kind.

Manufacturer and Mechanical Specifications

Year and Model 1938 Dubonnet Hispano-Suiza H6C “Xenia”
Car Identifier Coachbuilder: Jacques Saoutchik
Serial Numbers Chassis No. 103
Serial Numbers Production No. 1 of 1 Produced
Serial Numbers Engine No. 103
Engine Material and Layout Aluminum Inline Six-Cylinder Engine
Power output 160 BHP At 3,050 RPM
Displacement 7,983 CC
Engine Design Overhead Camshaft,
Transmission 4-Speed Manual Gearbox
Suspension Solid Front Axle, Live Rear Axle With Four-Wheel Independent “Hyperflex” (Coil Spring) Suspension
Brakes 4-Wheel Servo-Assisted Drum Brakes

1938 Dubonnet Hispano-Suiza H6C “Xenia” - Door Open Detail

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

1938 Dubonnet Hispano-Suiza H6C “Xenia” - Trunk Open Detail

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

1925 Bugatti Type 27 Brescia Torpedo

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

With a name like Torpedo, this Bugatti might have wanted to be a submersible from day one. Found on the bottom of a lake, it is almost too valueble in its current condition to undertake a full restoration.

Manufacturer and Mechanical Specifications

Year and Model 1925 Bugatti Type 27 Brescia Torpedo
Car Identifier Coachbuilder: Unknown
Serial Numbers Chassis No. 2461
Serial Numbers Production No. 1 of 2006 Produced
Serial Numbers Engine No. 879
Engine Material and Layout Inline Four-Cylinder Engine (Twin Ignt.)
Power output 45 BHP At 3,800 RPM
Displacement 1,496 CC
Engine Design Overhead Camshaft
Transmission 4-Speed Manual Gearbox
Suspension Live Axles With Semi-Elliptical Front Leaf Springs And Reversed Quarter-Elliptical Rear Leaf Springs
Brakes 2-Wheel Cable-Operated Drum Brakes

1925 Bugatti Type 27 Brescia Torpedo - Discovery Detail

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

1938 Phantom Corsair Prototype

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

One one of these prototypes built, and it varies from the rest of this group as the only one not housed in Mullins Automotive Museum. Even so, its extreme aerodynamics and futuristic style fit right in with this group.

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

1931 Bugatti Type 54 Roadster

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

What makes this Bugatti special is that is pre-dated the English roadster boom by more than 20 years.

Manufacturer and Mechanical Specifications

Year and Model 1931 Bugatti Type 54 Roadster
Car Identifier Coachbuilder: O. Uhlik (second body)
Serial Numbers Chassis No. BC-70
Serial Numbers Production No. First of 10 Type 54s
Serial Numbers Engine No. 1
Engine Material and Layout Inline Eight-Cylinder Engine
Power output 300 BHP At 4,500 RPM
Displacement 4,972 CC Supercharged
Engine Design Double Overhead Camshaft
Transmission 3-Speed Manual Gearbox
Suspension Live Axles With Semi-Elliptical Front Leaf Springs And Reversed Quarter-Elliptical Rear Leaf Springs
Brakes 4-Wheel Cable-Operated Drum Brakes

1936 Avions Voisin C28 Clairiere Berline

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

In back paint with Berlim right in the name, this model was a political limousine created at precisely the wrong time. Its gangster style remains appealing even today, however.

Manufacturer and Mechanical Specifications

Year and Model Avions Voisin C28 Clairiere Berline
Car Identifier Coachbuilder: Voisin
Serial Numbers Chassis No. CG 28917
Serial Numbers Production No.: 1 of 30 Produced
Serial Numbers Engine No. 53010
Engine Material and Layout Inline Six-Cylinder Engine
Power output 102 BHP At 3,800 RPM
Displacement 3,315 CC
Engine Design Crank-Driven Double-Sleeve Valving
Transmission 4-Speed Electomagnetic Gearbox
Suspension Live Axle With Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs Front and Rear
Brakes 4-Wheel Lockheed Hydraulic Drum Brakes
Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

1938 Avions Voisin C30 Cabriolet

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

Manufacturer and Mechanical Specifications

Year and Model 1938 Avions Voisin C30 Cabriolet
Car Identifier Coachbuilder: Carrossier Louis Dubos
Serial Numbers Chassis No. 60007
Serial Numbers Production No.: 1 of 30 (See Text)
Serial Numbers Engine No. TBD Graham-Paige (Supercharged)
Engine Material and Layout “L-Head” Six-Cylinder Graham Engine
Power output 116 BHP At 4,000 RPM
Displacement 3,560 CC Supercharged
Engine Design Side-Valving, 2-Valves Per Cylinder
Transmission 3-Speed Manual Gearbox with Over
Suspension Solid front axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and friction shock absorbers. Live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and friction shock absorbers
Brakes Hydraulic Brakes

1938 Avions Voisin C30 Cabriolet - Exterior Detail

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

1929 Bugatti Type 40 Break De Chasse

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

Meet the original Shooting Break, which directly inspired the current Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake.

Manufacturer and Mechanical Specifications

Year and Model 1929 Bugatti Type 40 Break De Chasse
Car Identifier Coachbuilder: Carrosserie Gangloff
Serial Numbers Chassis No. 40485 (Stamped 40826?)
Serial Numbers Production No.: 1 of c. 780
Serial Numbers Engine No. 714
Engine Material and Layout Inline Four-Cylinder Engine
Power output 50 BHP At 4,500 RPM
Displacement 1,496 CC
Engine Design Overhead Camshafts
Transmission 4-Speed Cotal Pre-Selector Gearbox
Suspension Solid Front Axles With Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs And Friction Shock Absorbers, Live Rear Axle With Quarter-Elliptical Rear Leaf Springs and Friction Shock Absorbers
Brakes 4-Wheel Cable-Operated Drum Brakes
Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

1938 Peugeot 402L Cabriolet Metallique Decouvrable

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950
Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

Manufacturer and Mechanical Specifications

Year and Model 1938 Peugeot 402L Cabriolet Metallique Decouvrable
Car Identifier Coachbuilder: Carrosserie Pourtout
Serial Numbers Chassis No. 616787
Serial Numbers Production No.: 1 of 500
Serial Numbers Engine No. 333787
Engine Material and Layout Inline Four-Cylinder Engine, 8 Valves
Power output 55 BHP At 4,000 RPM
Displacement 1,991 CC
Engine Design Overhead Camshaft
Transmission 3-Speed Manual Gearbox
Suspension Independent front suspension with lower links, transverse leaf springs and hydraulic dampers. Live rear axle with links, cantilever semi-elliptical leaf springs, links and friction shock absorbers
Brakes 4-Wheel Cable-Operated Drum Brakes
Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupe

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

A delightfully short wheelbase and almost shrink-wrapped panels make this one cute coupe.

Manufacturer and Mechanical Specifications

Year and Model 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupe
Car Identifier Coachbuilder: Jacques Saoutchik
Serial Numbers Chassis No. 110101
Serial Numbers Production No. 1 of 36
Serial Numbers Engine No. 96282
Engine Material and Layout Inline Six-Cylinder Aluminum Engine
Power output 194 BHP At 4,000 RPM
Displacement 4,482 CC
Engine Design Dual Overhead Camshaft
Transmission 4-Speed Wilson Pre-Selector Gearbox
Suspension Independent Front, Transverse Leaf Spring with Upper Control Arms , Tubular and Friction Shock Absorbers.
Brakes Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs, Tubular and Friction Shock Absorbers
4-Wheel Lockheed Hydraulic Brakes
Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

1951 Delahaye Type 235 Cabriolet

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

A bit out of the age range from the header, but this stunning cabrio brings some of the Hispano-Suiza’s fender drama to a production design.

Manufacturer and Mechanical Specifications

Year and Model 1951 Delahaye Type 235 Cabriolet
Car Identifier NA
Serial Numbers Coachbuilder: Jacques Saoutchik
Serial Numbers Chassis No. 818005
Serial Numbers Production No. 5th of 84 Produced
Engine Material and Layout Engine No. 818005
Power output Inline Six-Cylinder Engine
Displacement 150 BHP At 4,200 RPM
Engine Design 3,557 CC
Transmission Overhead Valves
Suspension 4-Speed Cotal Pre-Selector Gearbox
Brakes Independent Front, Transverse Leaf Spring with Upper Control Arms and Lever Action Shock Absorbers.
Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs and Lever Action Shock Absorbers
4-Wheel Cable-Operated Drum Brakes

Conclusion

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

For a walk back in time through some of the most celebrated and priceless historic automobiles, a visit to the Mullins Automotive Museum is a rare treat. With limited open days and pre-printed tickets a mandatory requirement, this museum will be one of the best adult field trips ever taken.


- Priceless exotics on display for public viewing versus hidden in mansion garage somewhere
- Historically significant prototypes and styling models
- Shows a great period of promising design for the French coach-built auto industry

- Museum open dates are limited, so check the calendar first
- A private showing would be nice if you are a VIP
- Cars in captivity not as stunning as out min the world


Mullins Automotive Museum - Tickets and Information

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

VISITING HOURS (Tickets must be purchased in advance)
The museum opens at 10AM and closes at 3PM on scheduled open days. In order to properly tour the collection, you will need 2 to 2 1/2 hours. However, you may stay as long as you like between the hours of 10AM-3PM.

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

DATES

The Museum will be open on the following dates:
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Saturday, December 14, 2013
2014*
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Friday, May 23, 2014
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014

*Tickets will be available on 9/15/13

FOR VISITS ON DAYS THE MUSEUM IS CLOSED, SEE PARAGRAPH TITLE PRIVATE VISITS BELOW

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950
  • Tickets must be purchased in advance.
  • To purchase tickets, please click on the ticket button below.
  • Tickets are not refundable and cannot be exchanged.
  • Third‐party convenience charges will apply.
  • Please print your tickets. Printed tickets must be presented at the door.

Online ticket sales will close at 5pm on the day prior to the day the museum is open. Please call the museum after 5pm and leave a message with your name, phone number, and number of people in your party. We will return your call on the next day to confirm availability of tickets.

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

TICKETS PRICES

  • Adults: $2.00
  • Seniors (65+): $8.00
  • Children (5 through 11): $5.00
  • Children under 5: Free
  • No bags of any kind are permitted in the museum including totes, handbags, backpacks, camera bags (small wallets are permitted). Click on museum policies for more information. **PLEASE REVIEW OUR MUSEUM POLICIES BEFORE YOUR VISIT**

LOCATION
1421 Emerson Avenue
Oxnard, CA 93033
805.385.5400
805.385.5422 (fax)
Info@mullinautomotivemuseum.com

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

PRIVATE VISITS
Private Visits may be arranged at the museum, typically on Tuesdays from 10AM to 1PM, by calling 805-385-5400 (weekdays 8AM to 4PM) or e-mailing ruby.talbot@mullinautomotivemuseum.com

Classic Showcase: Coach-Built French Imports 1930-1950

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS

Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel
1260 Channel Drive
Santa Barbara, California 93108
Tel. (805) 969-2261
Fax. (805) 565-8323
www.fourseasons.com/santabarbara/

Four Seasons Westlake Village
2 Dole Drive
Westlake Village, CA 91362
Tel. 818-575-3000
www.fourseasons.com/westlakevillage/

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
905 Country Club Road
Ojai, CA 93023
805-646-1111
www.ojairesort.com/

Things to do in Oxnard
www.visitoxnard.com


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