Sold for $181,500 at 2014 RM Auctions - Amelia Island.
Chassis #: 27119
The French Company, Bollack, Neeter, et Cie, more commonly known as B.N.C, was established by Lucien Bollack and Rene Netter in January of 1923. Bollack had been an engineer who had also worked for Hispano-Suiza while Netter provided financial backer. The company's technical director was Jacques Muller who's earlier J.M.K. cyclecar formed the basis of their first car the 'DZ.'
The company produced cyclecars, adding touring, sports and delivery models along with several engine choices over the years. The early models featured proprietary side-valve, four-cylinder engines by SCAP or Ruby. By 1925, the company offered a supercharged car, with power from an 1100 cubic-centimeter overhead-valve SCAP engine. This was followed in 1927 by the Type Course, a racing voiturette that was the first model to feature a steeply sloping grille that would become the marque's distinctive feature. The Type Course was later developed into the Type 527.
BNC vehicles were raced successfully at events all across Europe, including taking the top three places in the 1927 Bol d'Or at Fontainbleau and competing at LeMans from 1928 until 1935. In 1928, Dore and Treunet finished in 7th overall, and the company achieved 10th overall in 1933.
This particular vehicle is a BNC Type 527 Voiturette. Its early history is not known, but around 1940 it was purchased in the United States from dealer George Taylor by George Caswell for use in SCCA events. Caswell purchased the car with a Ruby engine but soon after the purchase, decided more power was required, so he installed a larger-displacement Ford V-8 unit. The V8 offered 60 horsepower and was a favorite in competition.
Between 1944 and 1946, Caswell competed in hill climbs and other East Coast Competition events with the BNC, but teething problems continued to plaque the vehicle. The V8 engine offered more power than the rear axle was capable of handling, and the engine also needed more cooling that what was offered. To help fix the problem, a large radiator and a Bugatti axle were installed.
In 1947, Otto Linton - a motorcycle racer and close friend of Caswell - competed with the car at Connecticut's Thompson Speedway. Caswell also used it in a hill climb at Fairfield. The following year, the car achieved its greatest success when it appeared at Watkins Glen and took part in the inaugural Grand Prix. The car finished in 8th place overall and 4th in class as it competed against some of motorsports' greatest legends.
As the 1940s came to a close, the car's original sloping radiator had been reinstalled, and Caswell continued to race the BNC as such places as the Langhorne Speedway and Giant's Despair, both in Pennsylvania.
After many years of racing with the BNC, Caswell sold the car around 1951. Subsequent owners included Eric 'Sonny' Grainger, a founder of the Bridgehampton circuit and later an announcer at the Islip, New York, track, and Ray Heppenstall, known for the Howmet gas turbine Le Mans car. It is believed that while the car was in the ownership of Heppenstall, the BNC's original cable-operated brakes were replaced with hydraulics. The car was then owned until 1960 by Chuck Molin, who sold it to John Gianella. Mr. Gianella raced the car for several years, including at Bridgehampton in 1960. After a decade of use, the voiturette was put into storage in his garage where it would remain for four decades.
George Lymber was helping Gianella move into a new house when he discovered the BNC. In 2008, Lymber purchased the car and cleaned it up to show at the 2010 Watkins Glen historic meet.
The car is currently in working condition and shows signs of its age and use. It has cycle fenders, wire wheels, a boat tail rear end, a distinct sloping grille, and enough room for two occupants.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2014
The car is powered by an L-head V8 engine displacing 136 cubic-inches and mated to a three-speed manual gearbox. The wheelbase measures 92.5 inches and at all four corners are hydraulic drum brakes.