The ex-Violette Morris, works team car 1922 Benjamin Type B Cyclecar Registration no. DS 6654 Chassis no. 1951 Engine no. 1951
Founded in 1921 in Asnières, France by Maurice Jeanson, Benjamin started out as a cyclecar manufacturer whose first product was powered by a 750cc sidevalve four of its own manufacture. This engine went into a chassis similar to that of the Austin Seven, boasting transverse leaf spring front suspension and quarter elliptics at the rear. Drive was taken via shaft to a three-speed transaxle and there was no differential. Two-stroke-engined and larger four-stroke powered models followed.
We are advised by the vendor that this early Benjamin cyclecar was a works entry at the 1922 Bol d'Or where it was driven by the notorious Violette Morris (see photograph on file). Born in France in 1893, Morris was a celebrated athlete and all-round sportswoman whose activities included shot put, discus, soccer, water polo, boxing and many other sports, motor racing among them. Bizarrely, she opted for a bilateral mastectomy in order to fit more easily into competition-car cockpits. No mere dilettante when it came to motor sports, Morris won the 1927 Bol d'Or 24-hour race driving a BNC, retiring from active competition soon afterwards. During WW2 she collaborated enthusiastically with the occupying German forces in Paris and in 1944 was shot by the Resistance.
Chassis number '1951' was imported into the UK in the mid-1980s by Stephen Langton and has been much written about since, featuring in numerous magazine articles. In 1988 the car was bought by ex-VSCC President, Barry Clarke, who undertook considerable refurbishment including having the wheels rebuilt, radiator re-cored, dynamo and starter motor rebuilt and the engine overhauled (by Alistair Templeton). Clarke later sold the car via Pioneer Autos, from whom it was bought by the current vendor. Since acquisition the Benjamin has benefited from further work including new spring hanger bolts/shackle pins, front wheel bearings, front prop shaft bearing, hood rear window and brake drums (x2). In addition, valve caps have been made to accommodate 14mm spark plugs, the camshaft re-profiled (by David Newman Cams), the clutch thrust plate repaired, and an SU carburettor and new manifold fitted (the original Zenith carburettor and its manifold are included).
The Benjamin has visited France twice, took part in the VSCC's cyclecar demonstration at Mallory Park and has competed regularly in the Club's driving tests. Apart from some wear to the cam followers, it is described as in generally good condition, with delightfully patinated paintwork. Contained within a large history file, accompanying documentation includes an original sales brochure, VSCC 'buff form', sundry restoration invoices and Swansea V5 document. Currently taxed and MoT'd, this delightful French cyclecar is eligible for various historic motoring events including those of the VSCC's Light Car & Edwardian section.
Please note that this vehicle is not offerred with an MoT. It is now MoT exempt.