Tuesday 25th December 1973
Gabriel Vousin (93), an aviation pioneer and the creator of Europe’s first manned, engine-powered, heavier-than-air aircraft capable of a sustained (1 km), circular, controlled flight, died in Moulin d’Ozenay, France. He designed and produced luxury automobiles under the name Avions Voisin. His early cars were some of the finest luxury vehicles in the world, with unique technical details. Many of them won in competition. However, the luxury car market shrank in the 1930s because of depressed economic conditions followed in June 1940 by the invasion of France by Nazi Germany forcing him to close down his factory. “In 1939, a certain Hitler unleashed the regrettable chain of events that French people are all too familiar with.” – Gabriel Voisin. After 1945, he turned his attention to designing a minimalist car for the masses, the Biscooter, thousands of which were produced under licence in Spain during the 1950s as the Biscúter. Today, his pre-war luxury automobiles have become highly prized by collectors, both in Europe and in the USA.