Coming up in Buckingham: A clockwork model of a V5 Citroën half-track – the first vehicle to cross the Sahara during the 1922 trans-Sahara expedition – is expected to make over £3000 when it is sold by Vectis, the Teesside auction house, in April.
The model was made at the time of the expedition and is in very good condition for its age. It comes with artwork that was produced for Citroen magazines at the time of the expedition and photographs of the real vehicles taking part.
“This is an extremely unusual item,” said David Nathan from Vectis. “We know that a ‘special series’ of toy models were made at the time of the expedition but this is the first one that we have seen. It will create a great deal of interest worldwide from both collectors of unusual model vehicles and those who are interested in automobilia.”
The toy originally belonged to the late Squadron Leader Shepherd. It was given to him by his father Brigadier Shepherd who had almost certainly purchased it at the Bassett- Lowke shop in Edinburgh situated at the end of Frederick Street where it meets Princes Street.
It was at the beginning of the 1920s that André Citroën decided that his cars were to “open up the world, conquer nature and open up new roads”. He launched a series of expeditions, which were both human adventures as well as technical challenges. His vehicles employed the caterpillar propulsion method invented by engineer Adolphe Kegresse.
The Sahara was still an area of conflict and Citroën, with his half-tracks (‘autochenilles’) dreamed of crossing the Sahara by car, creating a link between the French colonies of the time in North and West Africa. The first crossing was organised in 1922 between Touggourt and Timbuktu under the management of Georges Marie Haart and Louis Audouin Dubreuil.
Fernand Migault, a toy manufacturer, had the idea of using miniatures as a means of advertising. He decided to manufacture a Citroën on a scale of 1/10 and placed it on Andre Citroën’s desk. The car had immediate appeal and Citroën realised that the miniatures – precise reproductions of real vehicles – would not only fascinate children but also their fathers, future vehicle buyers. Citroën miniatures went into production in Fernard Migault’s factory and subsequently at Marcel Gourdet’s factory. In the run-up to Christmas 1922, miniature Citroën B2s and 5CVs sold like hot cakes with demand far outstripping production.
Over the years the technical progress made by the real cars has passed onto the toys. The object of the toy range was to keep pace with the real range and this is exactly why models of the V5 were made. The V5 appears in a Citroën catalogue of the time entitled Auto-Chenille Citroën lieproduction exacte au 1/10 du type Sahara.
The Vectis auction takes place at Buckingham Community centre on April 10.
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