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1999 Hommell Vaillant Grand Defi Coupe : Classic Cars

The pretty little sports coupé offered here is the product of Automobiles Michel Hommell and takes its name from the fictional racing driver Michel Vaillant and the title of one of his adventures, 'Le Grand Défi' (The Big Challenge). Created in 1957 by graphic artist Jean Graton and noted for their realistic artwork, the Michel Vaillant comic strips were first published in Tintin magazine and typically pitch the eponymous racing-driver hero into adventures both on and off the racetrack, often involving skulduggery of some kind. 'Le Grand Défi', the first complete Michel Vaillant comic, appeared in 1959. Graton's comics are unusual in featuring many real-life motor racing personalities including drivers Gilles Villeneuve, Jacky Ickx, François Cevert, Patrick Tambay, Thierry Boutsen, René Arnoux and Jean-Pierre Beltoise, while Vaillant's lengthy career has also seen him compete against the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Graham Hill and Ayrton Senna. The most successful French racing driver of all time, Michel Vaillant has won the Formula 1 World Championship four times, the Indianapolis 500 twice and the Le Mans 24-Hour Race on four occasions. It is estimated that the comic-book series has sold 17 million copies worldwide, and there has also been a full-length feature film, released in 2003.

The basis of the Vaillant Grand Défi is Hommell's Berlinette, which was first seen in prototype form in 1990, shortly after the company's formation by ex-racing driver and motoring magazine owner, Michel Hommell. A mid-engined design powered by a 2.0-litre 16-valve Peugeot engine, the Berlinette Échappement (named after Hommell's magazine) entered production in 1994 followed by open Barquette and more powerful RS versions.

Maximum power outputs ranged from 155bhp (Échappement and Barquette), to 167bhp (RS) and 195bhp (RS2), the latter's top speed being 230km/h. The Vaillant Grand Défi version premiered at the Paris Motor Show in 1999. The 16-or-so cars built were intended for the 3COM Star Challenge, a race series featuring French sports and media celebrities, and one even appeared in the 'Michel Vaillant' motion picture.

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Sources : 1999 Hommell Vaillant Grand Defi Coupe Photo | 1999 Hommell Vaillant Grand Defi Coupe Article


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