Pre-war racing at its best, with a French twist
If you don’t remember French carmaker Amilcar, we forgive you—they started out with tax-free cyclecars in 1921, and had closed up shop by the end of 1939. Yet in the years leading up to bankruptcy, Amilcar built a number of noteworthy racing cars, including the ones based on the mid-sized Pégase launched in 1934. Unfortunately, the Delahaye-engined Pégase coupé was discontinued once Hotchkiss took over Amilcar in 1937. Then, Amilcar’s endurance prototypes kept going pretty much as long as France managed to keep the Nazis out.
There were two versions of the Amilcar Pégase G36, of which only four were built in total. Some ditched their 2.1-liter Delehaye four-cylinders in favor of a new pushrod 2.5-liter designed by Amilcar’s own engineer called Grillot. Others G36s, known as Grand Sports, packed a 2.7-liter six-cylinder from the Talbot Baby.
French enthusiast Michel Lampidakis has quite a collection of vintage cars, bicycles and memorabilia, but the car he takes for a number of rallies is not his Ferrari 250 GT or Bugatti Type 35; it’s the Amilcar Pégase G36 of 1938 24 Hours of Le Mans fame. This aluminum-bodied endurance machine weighs 1650 pounds fully loaded with gas, with an 85-horsepower engine connected to a four-speed transmission from a Delahaye 135M. It also features an independent front suspension, a solid rear axle, and dual hydraulic brakes by Lockheed, an artifact from a time when the American aircraft company had to survive however it could.
To make itself as sleek as possible, the Pégase G36 will drop its headlights and fenders in no time, along with its windshield that disappears into its body. In 1938 at Le Mans, it blew its Amilcar 2.5-liter on its 101st lap. Now, 71-years later, this French oddball it’s more cherished than on that day, as evidenced by this latest Petrolicious film: