The now nearly forgotten French auto manufacturer Chenard & Walcker produced aerodynamic open cars often described as tanks because they resembled the World War battle wagons.
Chenard & Walcker was a French automobile and commercial vehicle manufacturer from 1898 to 1946. Chenard-Walcker designed and manufactured trucks marketed via Peugeot sales channels until the 1970s
Chenard & Walcker enjoys one accomplishment that will never be equalled, let alone surpassed: it was the winning marque in the first 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1923. In the mid-Twenties, it was the fourth-largest auto manufacturer in France. Later in the ’20s, Chenard & Walcker were represented at Le Mans by a series of aerodynamic open cars.
The 1923 24 Hours of Le Mans, officially the 24 Hours Grand Prix of Endurance, was the inaugural Grand Prix of Endurance and took place on 26 and 27 May 1923.
A strong field of twenty manufacturers entered, all from France aside from a single Bentley from Great Britain and a pair of Excelsiors from Belgium. The Chenard-Walcker team and the Bentley set the pace in a rain-soaked race, chased by the smaller 2-litre Bignan. Stones smashing a headlight and puncturing the fuel tank delayed the Bentley. In the end, the Chenard-Walckers of René Léonard / André Lagache and Christian Dauvergne / Raoul Bachmann had a comfortable 1–2 victory.
Chenard & Walcker carried on with its aerodynamic development work and produced such motor cars as Chenard Walcker 1495 1931.
With its enclosed wheels, semi-envelope bodies and recessed headlights extracted maximum performance from their 1,495cc overhead valve engines on the long straights of the Sarthe circuit. They inspired a series of road cars with even more streamlined bodies in the following years.
Its distinctive vee-shaped sloped grille folds forward for access. Access to the engine is through hatches atop the flat hood. Cockpit air intake vents and the fuel filler top the cowl, while the sides have narrow aluminium running boards.