The Historical Vehicle Association’s Preservation Award was one of the top moments of the award presentation for me, not because I’m particularly interested in ancient, exorbitantly-valued motorcycles, but because owner Bryan L. Bossier, Sr. of Loozee-anna was entertaining and genuine on the mic, a much-needed respite from the forced “humor” employed by the presenters throughout the ceremony. Bossier, who owns many of the Broughs on display, described the 680, a custom-ordered machine, as—I’m paraphrasing from memory—looking like “the north end of a southbound goat.” Or maybe it was a sheep, maybe even headed a different direction. You get it.
The first documented functional motorcycle – still extant at the Sceaux Musée in Paris – was a combination of a new pedal-driven ‘boneshaker’ (invented by Pierre Michaux in 1863), and a small, single-piston, alcohol-burning steam engine built by Louis-Guillame Perreaux. Perreaux’s ‘steam velocipede’ was patented in 1869, and was capable of 30km/h, as demonstrated frequently outside his Paris workshop on rue Jean-Bart. In 1874 Perraux headlined a paper discussing his inventions (also with three wheels) as ‘a likely replacement for the equine species‘ – how correct he proved to be.
As all machines at Pebble are expected to run (and ride onto the podium in case of a prize award), starting this Harley presented a challenge, solved via the largesse of Bryan Bossier, who allowed his ‘Big Tank’ Crocker to be used as a starting mule, the two machines backed into each other and making an unforgettable racket as the HD came to smoky life. It was quite a scene, worth the price of admission – definitely the most expensive set of starter rollers Ever.
The irrepressible Bryan Bossier with his Peugeot 515. Note the chrome tank emblem – a Deco version of the Peugeot ‘lion’ logo in profile
Magnat-Debon emerged with an ultra-light racer in 1906, on which their #1 racing rider, Jules Escoffier, had success at Mt Ventoux and other important events. In 1911, Escoffier insisted M-D needed a more powerful v-twin, which they refused, so he stole Joseph Magnat’s niece along the chassis design of the Magnat-Debon, creating the ‘Mandoline’ OHV V-twin; the new Koehler-Escoffier became a French racing legend. In 1927, Raymond Guiguet designed a completely new engine for KE, with a shaft-and-bevel OHC similar to the Velocette KSS of 1925. The ‘500 GP’ had a crankcase flat ready for drilling to create a new OHC V-twin; the resultant 1927 Koehler-Escoffier ‘Quatre Tubes’ (four exhausts) is surely one of the most charismatic motorcycles of all time, although little known outside Europe, one of very few overhead-camshaft V-Twins produced before 1930. Alas only 7 were built, and while all survive, their owners are understandably covetous, and they never come up for sale.
Historical Vehicle Association (HVA) Preservation Award
The HVA Preservation Award recognizes historically significant motor vehicles that have been meticulously preserved and retain much, if not all, of their original mechanical components, body, and finishes. As such, these important artifacts are excellent examples of our cultural past and national heritage.