In the winter Formula 1 hacks get a little more leeway than in the summer months when we are rushing about from place to place. I could have gone this week to Barcelona to watch the testing, but it is nicer not to be living out of a suitcase for a bit and today I decided to go out to lunch and wandered up the road to the local Japanese restaurant for a little sashimi.
On the way back I happened to turn down a side street which I do not normally use and noticed one of those lovely old garages that used to be everywhere but have gradually disappeared as anonymous service centres have taken over. This one smelled of old oil and had an array of sleek and sexy bolides, all jammed in as tightly as possible. I spotted a racing car that looked as though it come straight out of the 1920s, plus an old US Army Jeep and various other expensive-looking machines. I was intrigued, all the more so when I looked at the radiator of the racing machine and discovered a badge that said it was a Salmson. I am not an expert in these things, but it did not look a lot like the Salmsons I have seen before and so I snapped a quick shot and headed home.
I like a nice mystery to solve and so it was inevitable that I would end up having a look on the Internet. I quickly concluded that this was definitely not a conventional Salmson, which seemed to suggest that it was probably some kind of special using a Salmson engine and radiator. I did find other pictures of the car and was intrigued that it was identified as a Jahan, although I could find no further references to that marque. I concluded that it must somehow be related to André Jahan’s Equipe Toril, which raced a machine called a Toril-Salmson. Perhaps it was a Derby chassis mated to a Salmson engine. Whatever the details, Jahan was racing his “Salmson” in the early 1930s. At some point I will go back and find out the whole story, but in the meantime if there is anyone out there who can throw any light on the mystery I’d be delighted to hear about it.
What a nice way to spend a cold and crips Tuesday afternoon in February…