This engine has proven a bit of a mystery, the auction house Aguttes is offering it for sale but they haven’t been able to conclusively identify it, and we haven’t had any luck either.

It’s clear that the engine is an inline four-cylinder with liquid-cooling and a flathead design. It appears that it may have been used as a stationary engine with a belt drive attached to the rear, and it has a crank up front for starting.

Ballot Cars Vintage Ad

Image DescriptionIf the engine is a Ballot it comes from a large family of engines used not just in cars, but in boats, aircraft, motor racing, and industry. Image courtesy of Ballot.

The team at Aguttes think it may have originally been an engine from the Ballot automobile manufacturer. If this is the case it would mean the engine has significant historic importance, Ballot was an important early French automaker that helped Ettore Bugatti design his first engines.

Ballot was founded in 1905 by brothers Édouard and Maurice Ballot at the Boulevard Brune in south-central Paris. Édouard was a former French naval officer, which is why the company logo features a prominent anchor along with his initials.

Early in the company’s history they were focussed on marine and stationary industrial engines, from 1910 onwards they also offered automobile engines. In 1918 Édouard Ballot had a conversation with successful French racing driver René Thomas, who convinced him to build four all-new 4.8 liter racing cars and enter them into the 1919 Indianapolis 500.

The timeline was short, but Édouard and his team succeeded in getting the cars designed, built, and shipped to the United States. Amazingly, Ballot cars finished in 4th and 11th places, an extraordinary success given it was their first outing.

Another Ballot would finish second in the 1919 Targa Florio, then Ballot would return to Indianapolis for 1920 and take 2nd, 5th, and 7th places. American racing driver Ralph DePalma would then drive one of these Ballots to an outright win in the 1920 Elgin Trophy.

Ballot Cars Logo

Image DescriptionThis is the official Ballot logo, as you can see it has an anchor and the initials “EB” in the center. This is because the lead founder, Édouard Ballot, was a former naval officer. He would later work with another famous “EB,” Ettore Bugatti, who he helped design his first engines.

Many other successes followed on both sides of the Atlantic, and the positive media coverage greatly helped Ballots road car sales. By the time the Great Depression came around in the late 1920s Ballot was in financial trouble, as were many other once great automakers, and in 1931 the company was taken over by Hispano-Suiza.

The mystery engine shown here is now due to roll across the auction block with Aguttes on the 10th of March with a price guide of €1,500 – €2,000 of approximately $1,650 – $2,200 USD. If you’d like to read more or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

Mystery Engine Top Mystery Engine Bottom

Images courtesy of Aguttes

Published by Ben Branch -