The centerpiece of a small homage to the gifted French automobile engineer Jean-Albert Gregoire at this year’s Retromobile is the space age SOCEMA Turbine coupé.
Revealed in 1952, the advanced SOCEMA Gregoire was powered by a single rotor kerosene-fuelled ‘cematurbo’ turbo engine, developing 100 bhp at a heady 25,000 rpm! This, combined with an astonishingly aerodynamic shape – a Cx of just 0.19 – enabled a claimed 200 km/h top speed, not bad for 1952.
The SOCEMA remained a one-off experimental prototype, based around the aluminum platform of the production Hotchkiss-Gregoire, another advanced model engineered by Gregoire in the early 1950s in co-operation with the long-respected Parisian luxury car maker.
Gregoire was a leading pioneer in front-wheel-drive technology, as beautifully illustrated by the Chapron-bodied Tracta Type E roadster, sharing stand space with the SOCEMA at Retromobile. An innovative all-electric 1940s CGE completed this small but intriguing celebration of just some of the work of the talented but sadly long-forgotten Monsieur Gregoire.
Photography: Tom Shaxson