Category Archives: Voisin

1:10 Scale Hand-Made 1923 Voisin C6 Laboratoire

From Jerry Broz

Hand-Made 1923  Voisin C6 Laboratoire to 1:10 scale

The text is by, and copyright of, Jerry Broz. All photographs are by, and copyright of, Yves Bertola.

This article shows a handmade 1:10 scale model of a unique full size Avions-Voisin C6 Laboratoire Formula One race car that ran in Grand Prix ACF de Tours 1923.  At a later date part two of this article series will look at the details of the race, the car and its designers, Gabriel Voisin and Andre Lefebvre, as well as the commercially produced and hand crafted models of the Voisin C6 Laboratoire.

It has been 40 years since this meticulously handmade, proportionally correct model was made.  Frenchman, Yves Bertola, was 30 years old when a few black and white vintage photos, and the principal dimensions of Voisin C6 Laboratoire were printed in the first issue (Nov./Dec.1978) of the bi-monthly magazine “The Enthusiast“.  The article sparked his passion for this technologically and aerodynamically advanced race car, which was significantly different in comparison with the other contemporary race cars.
He decided to build a model of this car not realising he was taking on
quite an endeavour to make this model.

Before he began building the model he had to make a series of detailed drawings. In 1977, there were no personal computers with CAD, no three-view engineering drawings or any other documents readily available for this car. The scale engineering drawings for this car were made the old fashion way, i.e., with ink pen on drafting paper, a ruler, a protractor, and other manual drafting tools.  All drawings were painstakingly extrapolated from the perspective and the position of the photographer. Yves Bertola was able to transform all this, along with technical data, front and rear track, wheelbase, wheel and tire size, etc., to get right proportions.  Finally, after numerous tests, verification, and comparisons, the three-view drawings were ready to be used to build the model. When personal computers arrived in 1990s the pen and ink drawings were redrawn on AutoCAD.

The 1;10 scale model of the Voisin C6 Laboratoire race car is a
quintessentially handmade model, as there is not a single part of the model produced commercially. Absolutely everything is painstakingly “hand-made“.  In fact, relatively simple hand tools were used to build the model. No lathe, no milling machine, or hand held power drill/grinder, only a soldering iron and small hand tools (shears, files, hand drill, sanding blocks, jeweller’s saw, etc.). Most of the model is made from brass pieces such as 0.5mm sheets, rods and tubes of various diameters, flat and extruded H profiled strips, nails to represent rivets, mini fasteners, chrome paperclips, glove leather, thin sheets of steel, very fine wire mesh, etc. Forty years ago the materials and various small pieces commonly used in model making today were unavailable.

The wooden base of the seat is padded with foam and the leather is stretched over it and glued to the base.  The front and back of the wheels are made from a brass sheet, with the front bent to a slightly conical shape and the wheel halves soldered together.  The tires are made from the round rubber rod, cut and the ends glued together and then carefully fitted onto the wheels. The dashboard dials were
drawn at a large scale and cleverly reduced to correct size on the photocopier and then glued into the eyelets.  There are other handmade parts of the model that required ingenious and imaginative methods to create such as the hood leather belt, steel
cables, shock absorbers, wooden body sides protectors, windshield frame, suspension leaf spring clips, etc.

When Yves Bertola visited automotive dealership in Nimes, he met an 82 years old gentlemen who worked as a mechanic in 1923 when he was 23. As a mechanic he had an opportunity to work on Tours’ Voisin C6.  The retired mechanic said that the Voisin C6 was not blue, but had the color of eggshells, sand, or cream.  In the 1923 photos from Tours’, the Voisins C6 were apparently of aluminium
color.  Unfortunately, there is no credible or substantiated information whether the Tours’ Voisins C6 were painted or not.  And if they were, what was the colour.

The following photographs show in great detail the exceptional 1:10 scale model of the Voisin C6 Laboratoire built by Yves Bertola.


Thanks to Yves Bertola for the information about this unique model and for his photographs. 

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