Rain splashed upon the cars gathered for Saturday morning’s shows at Amelia Island, Florida, but Sunday shone blue-sky perfect for the 28th Annual Amelia Concours d’Elegance. It was particularly resplendent for noted collectors Merle and Peter Mullin and their 1935 Avions Voisin Type C25 Aérodyne, which was awarded 2023’s Best in Show.
“Winning here at this beautiful venue on this beautiful day on Amelia Island has been an A-plus experience for us,” says Merle Mullin. “We were up against some serious contenders, so I am very honoured that the judges chose us to win.”
Concours prizes and top-flight shows are old hat for this particular Type C25 Aérodyne, chassis number 50010. Purchased by the Mullins in the early 2000s, the Voisin underwent a comprehensive, three-year restoration that was completed in time to participate in and win Best in Show at 2011’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It remains one of only a handful of four-door cars to secure the honour.
The Type C25 Aérodyne, which debuted at the 1934 Paris Salon de l’Automobile, presented aeroplane pioneer and manufacturer Gabriel Voisin’s take on “the car of the future.” One of just six made and only four known to exist today, the Aérodyne showcased Voisin’s focus on light weight, with alloy touches, including headlight trim, lights on the wings, and door handles made specifically for this car.
Perhaps its most notable highlight is the electrically retractable roof, a novel concept for the ’30s. Technical innovations weren’t limited to the luxurious accommodations, however, as the Aérodyne also sports an early form of adjustable suspension. Powered by an inline six-cylinder, sleeve-valve engine, the car is exceedingly quiet while running, even by modern standards.
The Aérodyne’s advancements are accented by its opulent presence. Embodying Art Deco design while managing to cut its own avant-garde profile, the car’s flowing lines and stark creases between horizontal and vertical panels present an aeronautical visual, hinting at Voisin’s other profession. That theme continues on the interior, with gauges that wouldn’t look out of place on an aeroplane.
Now, about that interior. Dramatic gray-and-black upholstery covers the Voisin’s seats and panels. During the restoration, Peter Mullin (whose name you might recognise from the Mullin Automotive Museum, in California, an hour’s drive north along the coast from Los Angeles) identified the fabric company that originally produced the material; miraculously, the design remained in the company’s archives. He also located the looms and, unbelievably, two of the craftsmen who operated them back in the ’30s. As a result, the interior was completely retrimmed, as part of the Aérodyne’s restoration, and the cabin looks just like it did all those years ago.
That level of diligence extends to every part on this Aérodyne.
“I have the blessing of being married to a passionate car collector who’s never, ever restored a car with the intent of winning a prize. His intention has always been to restore a car to its historical correctness,” says Merle Mullin.
“But winning a prize is greatly validating, and it’s always fun to win, though we’re never disappointed if we don’t.”
This article was originally published on Hagerty US.