Once again, we are grateful to Neil Thorp of the SAHB for this Snapshot. It shows a racing team of three French EHP cars – and initially we had no idea of the location or the event. However, Neil’s eagle eyes discovered the words ‘Le Mans’ on the roof of the marquee – so we started to look for cyclecar races where this team might have raced. From there, the route to successful dating of the picture became rather convoluted.
With this photo came another one (which, with devious delight, we shall hold back until Snapshot 140 next week). That showed a very famous car and some other clues that narrowed things down to Le Mans 1921.
And then the power of the internet came into play. The Team DAN website, using information from The GEL Motorsport Information Pages, gave us a complete list of Grands Prix in 1921 – and 17th September was the date of the ‘III Grand Prix de l’U.M.F. Cyclecars’. (The U.M.F. was the Union Motocycliste de France, founded in March 1913, which managed cyclecar racing. It continues today, under the name of Fédération française de motocyclisme.)
We found the complete list of entrants on that day in 1921 – and, sure enough, all three EHPs were in that list. No. 18 was an EHP Major driven by Chabreiron, and came in third after an 18-lap race, behind André Lombard in a Salmson AL and Marcel Violet in his own creation, a Major. Sadly, the two EHP Ruby cars, Nos. 7 and 13, retired with radiator troubles.
Les Établissements Henri Precloux started to make these racy little sports cars in the same year as our picture. As we can see, they had a transverse front spring. There were quarter-elliptics at the rear, and no differential – as was usual with this type of car. Power came from a pushrod overhead-valve Ruby of 59 mm. x 100 mm. (1,095 c.c.), which drove a separate 3-speed gearbox through a multi-plate clutch. Bodies were made by CGA of Courbevoie – a company that took over EHP in 1922. Thereafter, Precloux supplied chassis to CGA, who built the bodies and arranged sales.
As with many small makes, EHP was swept up in the disaster of the depression: CGA also supplied bodies to Bignan, whose financial problems ultimately brought down EHP. EHP had no stand at the 1928 Paris Salon, and nothing was seen in listings after 1929. The last that was heard of Henri Precloux was in the 1960s, when he was working as a welder in a suburb of Paris.
And finally we come to the mystery lady. Thanks to her, we managed to date another fascinating picture. But more of this next week…