1952 Gordini Type 16 Formule 1900.000-1.400.000 EUR - Estimate

Gordini Type 16 Formule 1

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Competition car
Chassis n° 33

- Offered by Amédée Gordini to Christian Huet in 1972
- Driven by Behra, Trintignant, Schell, Simon, Frère, Bayol, Pilette, Hamilton, Menditeguy, Birger…
- Incredible documented history
- Outstanding racing provenance between 1952 and 1955, 47 World Championship participations
- Winner of the French Grand-Prix in Reims in 1952 with Behra

Reference Number 513043

as of 2/23/2018

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Lot 99

Artcurial - Rétromobile  Contact  Location
Salon Rétromobile Hall 1  Phone  +33 1 42 99 20 56  City  Porte de Versailles
75015 Porte de Versailles  Fax  +33 1 42 99 16 39  State  Paris
France  Mobile    Country  France France
Car 1952 Gordini Type 16 Formule 1
VIN 33 
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Known History

Amédée Gordini was freed from his other commitments in time for the 1952 Drivers' World Championship, contested in Formula 2000cc, and also for sports car endurance races. He decided to put his design team to work on a 4-cylinder engine (Type 18) that could be developed into a 6-cylinder (Types 20, 22 and 23), and an 8-cylinder version (Type 24). The 6-cylinder format was used in the 1952 World Championship. Remarkably, the aluminium and magnesium block was constructed using thinner metal than the 4-cylinder Ferrari engine. It was highly sophisticated, with lubrication passing through the overhead camshafts. The Type 16 chassis with torsion bars was selected for the drivers Robert Manzon, Jean Behra and Prince Bira.

No.31 was the first Type 16 single-seater to make its appearance at Pau in 1952. The first race for this car was the Marseille GP on 27 April, driven by Manzon and ending in a retirement. The Gordini Type 16 no.32 made its debut on 18 May at the Swiss Grand Prix in Bern, where Behra finished 3rd. At the next race, in the European GP, at Spa-Francorchamps, on 22 June, Behra had an accident that caused damage to the axle and left rear suspension. For reasons of safety, he chose to drive the new Gordini Type 16 no.33 the following weekend in the French GP at Reims on 29 June, leaving Prince Bira to pilot no.32. Manzon stayed with no.31 (the last Type 16 was no.34 and the Type 16/24 was no. 35). This race was auguring well, according to Amédée Gordini, Robert Aumaitre, Robert Vidue, Libère, Loris (mechanics) and Marc Bande (designer and occasional timekeeper). The Gordini team's Lancia truck was driven by the famous Robert Aumaitre, former race director for Bugatti, who was known as " Le Grand Robert ", and Vidue, nicknamed " Bibiche ". They transported the single-seaters 31 and 32, and the old Type 15 single-seater no.6 GC for Maurice Trintignant was on the trailer. The two spiders (16S and 18S), competing in the Sports race 11 hours before the Grand Prix, set off on the road towards Champagne, accompanied by Jean Behra, who took the opportunity to try out his new car no.33 ! The heat at the end of June that year was stifling, but the Gordinis had been behaving well and it promised to be an exciting race. The twenty-two cars on the grid included Scuderia Ferrari with Ascari, Farina and Villoresi, the Maserati of Schelle, de Graffenried and Landi, and the HWM of Moss, Macklin and Collins. The Gordini camp established itself in the St Christophe Garage in Reims. The mechanics were managed by Robert Aumaitre, who was personally responsible for the single-seater number 33 to be driven by Behra who had decided to have an adjustable wind deflector fitted. Testing took place on the Friday and Saturday. To aid with cooling, the front grilles were removed from all the Gordini. After qualifying, the Ferrari 500 F2s and the Gordinis were at the front : Ascari, Farina and Manzon on the front row, Behra and Villoresi on the second row and Bira on the third row.

On Saturday evening, the Gordini team met for dinner in " Le Lido " restaurant in Reims. As he passing behind Behra, Le Grand Robert asked him :

-" Is everything OK with the car, Jeannot ? "

-" It's going very well, but in the tight corners, I think there's a groaning noise coming from the differential ! "

-" I don't think it can be anything serious...I'll look at it in the morning. For now, don't mention anything to Le Patron, as it might put him in a bad mood ! "

And turning to Vidue :

-" So Bibiche, can you meet me at the garage really early tomorrow, so we can have a look at Jeannot's car ? "

With a nod of the head, the mechanic agreed...

By 5am on the Sunday, they were both hard at work. Engine no 31 was started up and in the fresh early morning air, le Grand Robert set off to the circuit, waking up part of the town. Once there, he got the oil and water up to the correct temperature, and he started to lap a little faster....no suspicious noises...

-" Perhaps Jeannot was mistaken ? "

He continued to push the car faster, trying to lean on the back to make the rear axle work harder and then going through Thillois, the differential emitted a disconcerting groan. Robert didn't need to know anything else. He went straight back to the garage, jacked up the car and, with Vidue, began dismantling.

Time was short...the drums and drive shafts were removed. Loris, who had come to join them, removed the nose of the differential and handed it to Aumaitre. He quickly realised that a bronze tooth on the gearing was unusually worn, causing too much play. At times, the tip of this gear must be rubbing on the metal case of the differential.

There wasn't enough time to take the whole differential out. Le Grand Robert decided to grind the ends of the gear teeth.

-" Right, let's put it all back together...Don't say anything to Behra, as he may lose confidence in the car. And not a word to le Patron, he'll get angry again ! "

When Jean Behra arrived at the garage later that morning, his first thought was to ask Robert Aumaitre about his Gordini.

-" I had a quick look at it,' he replied, " everything is fine. "

A few moments before 15 pm, the engines, gearboxes and differentials were warmed up. The water and oil was at 80° and 90° on Manzon's Gordini and 80° and 100° on Behra's, who was extremely focused before the start. With a sense of mischief, he positioned his single-seater at a slight angle on the second row, behind Ascari's Ferrari. " Engines ! ". At the same moment, engines started roaring...5"...3"...1"… and the flag was lowered by Charles Faroux. Behra shot to the right of Ascari and Manzon who had passed Farina. At the end of the first lap, Behra was in the lead by 40 metres. The crowds cheered...Le Patron, stopwatch in hand, noted the times, lap by lap, for all three drivers. Le Grand Robert put out the board for Behra. On the third lap, Ascari caught up and overtook Behra, who took the lead again a little further on. The same thing happened again the following lap. In the 5th lap, the leading Gordini (with its 150 bhp) increased its pace and the Ferrari (165 bhp) was unable to match it, particularly its top speed. Behra lapped in 2'31", and on the 10th lap, in 2'30"5/10th. Ascari had to put up with following some 50 metres behind. On the 13th lap, the driver from Nice achieved the fastest lap of 2'30"3/10th, at an average pace of 172,400km/h. Ascari gave up hope the next time round and, suffering from the start of sunstroke, he came in and handed the car over to Villoresi, who had retired in the 5th lap. Behra was lapping between 2'31" and 2'32" with an advantage of 15 seconds on the Ferrari of Farina, who was now giving chase. Robert Aumaitre, on the orders of the " Sorcerer " told him to pick up the pace, and his lap times went down to 2'29" then 2'28" 7/10th. Manzon had retired just before the end of the second hour and Bira was now running in 4th. There was a gap of 50 seconds between the leading Gordini and the Ferrari. Two hours and forty-five minutes into the race, 15 seconds from the start line, Behra spotted a Ferrari in his mirror. As he went past stand 3, he queried this with a gesture to Amédée Gordini, who told Aumaitre to put a board out with " Ascari à 2 T " (Ascari 2 laps down). As he was not under threat, Behra let Ascari past. The Ferrari driver was back in his car and, profiting from an almost empty fuel tank, he set the fastest lap of 2'28"2/10th. This information was commmunicated to Behra by Le Patron who told him not to try and beat this time, but to make sure he won, which he confirmed he would do, on the next lap, with Farina one minute behind. Two laps to go, then one...Amédée Gordini, Robert Aumaitre and Robert Manzon were standing to the right of the track just passed the finish line. Le Patron scrutinised the end of the long straight before the finish, looking for a touch of blue...Tension was running high and was broken by a loud burst of cheering as the Gordini of Jean Behra passed Charles Faroux' chequered flag on the finish line, at 18.00. The crowd, delirious, invaded the track, the Marseilleise started up and there were tears of emotion. Gordini was the only marque in the World Championship to represent France. It was a feat, with such a limited budget, just to line up cars in one or more races every week. This victory couldn't have been more brilliant. Behra's first place and the fourth places of Bira, and Loyer in the Sports race, earned them 810,000F, which paid less than half the month's wages (1.726.744F). The drivers would have to be paid another time...

The following day, the Gordini victory made the front page of all the papers and congratulatory telegrams arrived at Bd Victor from around the world. The workshop was already at work, however, preparing cars and their engines for the ACF GP at Rouen the following weekend, wanting to give themselves the greatest chance of success.

Amédée Gordini succeeded in maintaining this hellish rhythm, and secured another great F1 victory at Pau in 1954, the year of disc brakes for Gordini. But in 1955, after the terrible accident in the Le Mans 24 Hours, there was no racing in France, and this cut revenue for the team. Gordini kept on his team, and focused on racing abroad. He also presented his new 8-cylinder Formula 1 car, with an internal aerodynamic flow, that C.Faroux called the " wind-car ". Sadly there wasn't a big enough budget to develop this single-seater in the face of competition from Mercedes, Ferrari and Maserati. In the autumn of 1956, Gordini signed a contract to develop and build engines for Renault, and in June 1957 he decided to wind up his racing team. This proved to be the start of a very long involvement in racing through to F1 with Renault. The Gordini chassis 33 enjoyed a long and glorious career, securing other victories at the Sables d'Olonne 1953 with Behra and at Cadours 1953 with Trintignant. Then, after 70 races, the car was lent to Duncan Hamilton to compete in the Daily Express Trophy at Silverstone on 7 May 1955. The first test session took place on the Thursday between 15h10 and 16.20. The weather was dry but there were winds of over 80km/h. Manzon, Pollet and Hamilton formed the Equipe Gordini. With 700X16 tyres, Hamilton went out for 7 laps, the quickest being 2'. He did another five laps then had 650X16 tyres put on. He went out again and after two laps, shot off the track suddenly at Copse Corner. The driver was unscathed, but the four sections of the left-hand suspension, and the axle, were bent. This was the car's last race...but not the end of its life.

I first got to know Amédée Gordini in 1968, during the V8 era. I met up with him again numerous times, in his workshop, or during long evenings, in the restaurant chez Suzanne in Suresnes, which ended nearly every week-end with a Belote World Championship, involving Jean Todt, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Jean-Paul Behra, Stéphane Collaro etc. In 1970, the activity at Bd Victor was transferred to Amédée Gordini's new factory in Viry-Chatillon. The workshop at Bd Victor remained full of " scrap metal " and an amazing array of mechanical parts that all had stories to tell... At the end of 1971, the Belote-playing friends of Amédée asked me to make - in secret - a 1:10 scale model of the Reims-winning chassis 33 Gordini (this was my profession at the time), to be presented to him on 29 June 1972. And so, I made many trips to rifle through this hoard of spare parts and draw up various designs of the Type 16 single-seater. In June 1972, the gift of the model came as a huge surprise. Gordini was overjoyed, and asked me how I had been able to build the model so accurately. I told him that I had searched through all the parts in his old workshop, and discovered that there were most of elements there to rebuild the two Type 16 single-seaters (nos. 31 and 33). He replied: " If you think it's still possible to assemble the two cars, all you have to do is take them ! ". And, of course, that is what I did.

Between 1975 and 1979, Amédée Gordini asked me to organise his archives, photos, press cuttings and plans, which he then offered to me. He only wanted to keep the folders that summarized the history of the Gordini team. After he died on 29 May 1979, I wrote a book on l'Equipe Gordini, that I published in 1984 and launched at the Eiffel Tower, in the presence of Fangio and members of the Gordini team. I had previously offered this book, by subscription, at Retromobile 1984, on the " Editions Christian Huet " stand, alongside the Gordini 33, without a body, that I had built myself in a lock-up garage in Paris. To work on a different project, I sold this chassis in 1987 to Hervé Ogliastro, who passed it on to another great French collector, who today, would like to see it go to another passionate and dedicated enthusiast.

Gordini took part in nearly 700 races, and won many of these. Of the 33 chassis built by Gordini, 14 are in the Schlumpf National museum and the museum at La Rochetaillée in Lyon. Of the 15 remaining, there are only two Formula 1 cars in private hands, including the one presented here, which is equipped with a 2.5-litre Type 23 Formula 1 engine rebuilt by Pierre Lamoureux, and also comes with a 2-litre Type 20 Formula 2 engine.


Christian Huet 2017


Palmarès according to Christian Huet research



Configuration Championnat du Monde de Formule 2


- 29-06 : Grand Prix de France à Reims

N°4 Jean Behra 1er


- 06-07 : Grand Prix de France et de l'A.C.F. à Rouen

N°4 Jean Behra 7e


- 13-07 : Grand Prix de France aux Sables d'Olonne

N°4 Jean Behra NP (accident aux essais)


- 07-09 : Grand Prix d'Italie à Monza

N°4 Maurice Trintignant AB (soupapes)


- 14-09 : Grand Prix de Modène

N° 24 Maurice Trintignant AB



- 18-01 : Grand Prix d'Argentine à Buenos Aires

N°32 Carlos Menditeguy AB (boîte)


- 01-02 : Grand Prix de Buenos Aires

N°32 Carlos Menditeguy AB (freins)


- 06-04 : Grand Prix de Pau

N°20 Maurice Trintignant AB (arbre de roue)


- 03-05 : Grand Prix de Bordeaux

N°20 Maurice Trintignant AB (pont)


- 09-05 : Daily Express Trophy à Silverstone

o N°4 Harry Schell 7e de la 2e Eliminatoire

o N°4 Maurice Trintignant AB dans la Finale


- 24-05 : 23e Grand Prix des Frontières à Chimay

N°2 Maurice Trintignant 1er


- 07-06 : Grand Prix de Hollande à Zandvoort

N°20 Harry Schell AB


- 21-06 : Grand Prix de Belgique à Spa-Francorchamps

N°16 Jean Behra AB (moteur)


- 28-06 : Grand Prix de Rouen

N° Maurice Trintignant AB (moteur)


- 05-07 : Grand Prix de l'A.C.F. à Reims

N° 4 Maurice Trintignant AB


- 18-07 : Grand Prix d'Angleterre à Silverstone

N°29 Maurice Trintignant AB (pont)


- 26-07 : Grand Prix d'Aix Les Bains

N°2 Maurice Trintignant AB dans la 1ère Manche


- 02-08 : Grand Prix d'Allemagne au Nürburgring

N°9 Jean Behra AB (boîte)


- 09-08 : Grand Prix des Sables d'Olonne

o N°4 Maurice Trintignant 12e de la 1ère Manche

1er de la 2ème Manche


- 23-08 : Grand Prix de Suisse à Berne

N°8 Maurice Trintignant AB (boîte)


- 30-08 : Grand Prix de Cadours

o N°36 Maurice Trintignant 1er de la 1ère Eliminatoire

1er de la Finale

- 13-09 : Grand Prix d'Italie à Monza

N°36 Maurice Trintignant 5e


- 20-09 : Grand Prix de Modène

N°20 Maurice Trintignant 4e



Configuration Championnat du Monde de Formule 1

- 17-01 : Grand Prix d'Argentine à Buenos Aires

N°18 Jean Behra AB (disqualifié)


- 31-01 : Grand Prix de Buenos Aires

N°22 Roger Loyer AB (embrayage)


- 19-04 : Grand Prix de Pau

N°4 Elie Bayol 4e


- 09-05 : Grand Prix de Bordeaux

N°4 Elie Bayol 5e


- 15-05 : Daily Express Trophy à Silverstone

o N°28 André Simon 5e de la 2e Eliminatoire

3 de la Finale

- 23-05 : Grand Prix de Bari

N°10 André Simon AB


- 06-06 : Grand Prix de Rome

N°26 André Simon / Jean Behra 4e


- 20-06 : Grand Prix de Belgique à Spa-Francorchamps

N°12 Jean Behra AB (barre de torsion)


- 04-07 : Grand Prix de l'A.C.F. à Reims

N°24 Jean Behra 6e


- 11-07 : Grand Prix de Rouen

N°4 Clemar Bucci AB (volant moteur)


- 17-07 : Grand Prix d'Angleterre à Silverstone

N°18 Clemar Bucci AB (sortie de route)


- 25-07 : Grand Prix de Caen

N°4 Clemar Bucci AB (vilebrequin)


- 01-08 : Grand Prix d'Europe au Nürburgring

N°10 Paul Frère AB (fusée)


- 15-08 : Grand Prix de Pescara

N°2 Clemar Bucci 6e (abandon mais classé)


- 22-08 : Grand Prix de Suisse à Berne

N°12 Clemar Bucci AB (alimentation)


- 05-09 : Grand Prix d'Italie à Monza

N°46 Clemar Bucci AB (alimentation)


- 12-09 : Circuit International de Cadours

N°2 André Pilette 2e de la 1ère Eliminatoire

2e de la Finale

- 19-09 : Grand Prix de Berlin à l'Avus

N°17 André Pilette 4e


- 02-10 : Daily Telegraph Trophy à Aintree

o N°17 André Pilette 5e de la course de Formule 1

4e de la course de Formule Libre


- 24-10 : Grand Prix d'Espagne à Pedralbes

o N°48 Jacques Pollet AB (bielles)



- 16-01 : Grand Prix d'Argentine à Buenos Aires

N°40 Pablo Birger AB


- 30-01 : Grand Prix de Buenos Aires

N°40 Pablo Birger 12e de la 1ère Manche

11e de la 2e Manche

12e du classement général

- 11-04 : Grand Prix de Pau

N°32 Jacques Pollet 11 (abandon)


- 07-05 : Daily Express Trophy à Silverstone

N°14 Adrian Hamilton NP (accident aux essais)