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1924 Renault

Labourdette Skiff

1924 Renault Labourdette Skiff

Woodie?

  Oui!

Once, long ago, the ultimate in wheeled transport were carefully crafted bodies built by artisans on the chassis and running gear of famous manufacturers. Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza, Duesenberg, Delage, Isotta-Fraschini and Renault all provided the motive base for exquisite, chauffeur driven works of art. For the sporting customer, a  frequent theme was the boat-tail 'torpedo'. Drawing from the features found on fast and elegant watercraft, these boat-tailed land-craft looked fast even while stopped.

But what was a fellow to do, when one just wanted to take the wheel and navigate the city streets in 1924?  To be seen at the wheel, in the chauffeur's seat, of your custom bodied grand touring car would have been gauche. No, a different sort of vehicle was required for such a situation. Monsieur Henri Labourdette knew what was required for his genteel clients - a skiff, a diminutive version of his coach-built cabriolets and roadsters. In the mid twenties, Carosserie Henri Labourdette built several torpedo skiffs on a small Renault chassis. This car, a 1924 model, is believed to be the only Labourdette short chassis "boat tail" to survive.

Among antique Renault aficionados, the opinion is that only a handful of these chassis were ever sent to coach builders. Archival pictures of this body style show several differences between similar cars which, obviously, were because of the whim of the person ordering the car. Mahogany wood was used, not just for deck, dash and floors, but also for the internal structure of the body. In general, these customizations cost several times the cost of a completed factory car, but those in the cities who owned large chassis custom-bodied cars could now own a self-driven runabout with the same flair as their chauffeur-driven 40CV or Hispano-Suiza.

Jeff Brock, of Nashville, Tennessee USA, oversaw the "body-off" of the frame "nut and bolt" restoration, which was completed in 1998. The skiff has produced consistent AACA "Best of Show" and 1st place awards. In 1999, It received the Fogle Trophy for Style and Design at Cincinnati’s Ault Park Concours d’elegance.

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Labourdette Skiff front

Labourdette Skiff right-rear

Labourdette Skiff left-rear

Special thanks to Jeff Brock of Nashville, Tennessee, USA

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Features and Specifications

  • Radically pointed knife-blade boat tail with third seat
  • Labourdette signature "flying" wings and small rounded-bottom doors.
  • "V" windscreen (extremely rare for short chassis)
  • Fine hand-rubbed mahogany deck, dash, floor
  • Coach-built body internally framed in mahogany
  • Leather interior (recreated as per original patterns still with the car)
  • Three place seating
  • Two fine canvas tonneaus
  • Dual side-mounted wheels (very unusual on this chassis).
  • Marchal headlamps
  • Tool boxes on both sides
  • Electric starter, with auxiliary crank
  • 950 cc 4 cylinder 6CV engine
  • 3 speed transmission with reverse

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Further Information

  • Un Siecle de Carrosserie Francaise: H. Labourdette by J. Labourdette, (French) published 1972 by Edita
  • Renault 1898-1965 by Richard Yves, (French) published 1965 by Editions Pierre Tisne, Paris
  • RenaultWeb
  • Katriina's Renault Center
  • VintageWeb
 
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