This weekend, France will open its doors to the public. From government buildings to private farmhouses, people will be given free access to some of the country’s most beloved, cherished and important heritage sites. But it isn’t only old buildings on display. Together with Motul, the French national federation for classic cars (FFVE) will feature a display of 20 rare and historically important vehicles at the Palais-Royal in Paris. On display will be some of the rarest cars and motorcycles in France – some of them restored thanks to the help of Motul and its support of the Fondation du Patrimoine. Romain Grabowski, Motul’s head of brand, shares the story of the brand’s efforts to protect motoring heritage in France.
Romain, first of all, what is the Fondation du Patrimoine?
In 2008, Motul decided to become a national patron of the Fondation du Patrimoine. This is a well-known organisation in France. For example, when Notre Dame was being rebuilt following the fire a couple of years ago, this was the foundation collecting donations. They are focusing their efforts on preserving the heritage of France, notably in historic buildings and things not normally preserved by the French government. We decided to partner with them to preserve motoring heritage: cars, motorcycles, buses, trucks and so on. Normally we select four to five projects a year, and in total we have helped preserve 50 vehicles.
Two of these vehicles are going to be on display at an event in Paris this weekend. Can you tell us more about the event at Palais-Royal?
In French we call it “Journées Européennes du Patrimoine”, which translates as European Heritage Days. It is organised by the Ministry of Culture in France. Over two days one weekend per year, the entire heritage – national or private – is opened for free to the public. Even the Élysée Palace, the home of President Macron. As part of this, the FFVE is organising at the Palais-Royal in Paris a vehicle exhibition of 20 classic cars to promote the motoring heritage of France. And to show that classic cars must be preserved. Motul was the very first partner of FFVE back in 2005. We said we would support the exhibition by supplying two vehicles for the event.
The first car on display is the Maratuech. Can you tell us more about the unique history of this car?
Our very first project we call the airplane car. The name is Maratuech. In 1925 a crazy guy in the South of France, Fernand Maratuech, was in love with airplanes and decided to create his own car that had the look of an airplane. It’s a three-wheeler car, using a British BSA 250cc engine. Three-speed gearbox. And this car was a one-off. He made it himself. He passed away, and in 1979 his wife gave the car to the Automobile Club of South West France (ACSO), located in Bordeaux. They got the car, but it wasn’t in such good condition. In 2012, they contacted us, and we financially supported the restoration with the Fondation du Patrimoine.
Can you tell us more about the motorcycle on display, the BCR Type IS?
Yes, it’s a French motorcycle called BCR. It’s named after the founders: Mr Bertelletto, Mr Cosnay and Mr Raynal. They built very few bikes like this in 1932. Today, only three survive including this one. The engine is a 500cc CHAISE engine. Top speed of 110km/h. This 1932 motorcycle was found in its original condition in 2017 asleep for more than 60 years in a garage in downtown Angoulême. The owner of this bike is Clément Brouzes, chairman of the Véloce-Club Bordelais.
What does this patronage and support of motoring heritage mean for the Motul brand?
For us, it’s part of our commitment to help society and an important part of our corporate and social responsibility. For instance, we also have the Motul Corazon Foundation, which was set up to help young people. We support many initiatives worldwide to help underprivileged kids get a head start and give them life skills to find jobs. And the second is preserving motoring heritage. Because we have been around for a long time, we have been there when all these vehicles were made, so we think it’s an important part of our brand story and it’s our mission to contribute to this heritage.