Editor: Jaap Horst
At a very early age passionate about mechanics and beautiful bodywork, Caroline fixed the Peugeot 403 family car or cleared the carburettor jet of her mother's 2CV since the age of 10, seeking to understand what miracle makes an engine start at the turn of a key… After having followed the School of "Beaux- Arts" in Clermont-Ferrand and the Letters faculty (History of Art and Visual arts), she becomes a teacher because her intelligence tells here to do so, but the passion for cars remained omnipresent.
On the other hand, as a child, Tristan assembled and collected miniature model cars, and when he could not find the model he wanted, he made it himself out of resin! Later, this helped him beginning his professional life by creating his laboratory for dental prosthesis and running this for several years.
From left to right: Machining in the milling machine, the Work bench (with Ferrari F40), and Sketch for the Bugatti Type 22.
In 1984, Caroline and Tristan meet at the trackside of a racing circuit, they give up their respective activities and very quickly start their lives together and share their passion. Thus was born the "ATELIER FOURNIER", a studio for fine model cars in 1/8 scale. They start manufacturing to order miniature models which can be qualified as goldsmithery or jewels, very detailed, very mechanical and especially entirely hand made, which makes each one a unique piece. The attention to authenticity, the quality of the materials used and the exceptional finish very quickly lead to enthusiastic reactions from art lovers like Hervé Ogliastro-Vuitton, Pierre Bardinon and Alain Prost…
Soon they make miniature versions of such exceptional cars as the Bugatti Brescia of 1920, the Type 18 Indianapolis of 1914, the Type 22 of 1913, the Type 18 Roland Garros of 1912, the Type 37 of 1925 and the Rolls-Royce Legalimit of 1906. The traditional and flattering question which is asked to them regularly is if the engine functions. Unfortunately the resistance of materials does not allow this in this scale and in any case, Caroline and Tristan do not produce toys but static "objets d'art", even if they do their utmost, for their pleasure and that of the customers, to make all mechanisms in the model function, as long as one can operate them!
Brescia, Type 18 "Roland Garros" and Type 18 "Indianapolis".
Soon requests for Ferraris follow : initially one 308 GTB, then five Daytona's in race and street versions. These are much more sophisticated, with retractable headlights (from the dashboard), moving windscreen wipers, and unlocking of the trunk and the fuel trap door using two levers inside. Displayed at the Hotel Byblos in Courchevel, the first Daytona attracted the attention of Alain Prost who advises them to make the Ferrari F 40 with the same materials as the original, namely in carbon-kevlar to stick to reality! A little later Jean Redele, creator of Alpine Renauls, gives them the same advise. Caroline and Tristan decide to take up the challenge and give up temporarily hammered sheet metal to learn how to handle composite materials. The final result is so convincing that five specimens are ordered successively.
Type 37, Type 22,1914 and Type 57G.
The Bugattists do not have to give up much though: the following will be a type 32 (Grand-Prix de Tours 1923) and a type 57G (Le Mans 1937), both called “Tank” because of their enveloping body unlike the stripped shapes of most racing cars of the time. To carry out the type 32, Caroline and Tristan go to the Museum of Mulhouse where the only authentic car survives. They excell in the creation of a very mechanical model, where the accelerator actuates the linkage of the carburettors, the hand brake lever applies the brakes in the rear drums, the gear shift lever makes it possible to feel the notches of each gear, etc….
The type 57G will profit from the same kind of functional mechanisms; the advance of the ignition functions by moving a lever on the dashboard, through articulated linkages, and adjusts the rotation of the magneto! Period photographs gracefully provided by the grand-daughter of the victorious race driver Robert Benoist made it possible to reproduce the folding windshield imposed by the regulation at that time for the cars with 2 seats competing at the "24 Heures du Mans".
Mechanics of the 57G, Type 32 "Grand Prix de Tours" 1923
Further orders are for the Auto-Union Type C of 1936, most technical revolutionary racing car at the time… This model received the prize of S.E.M.A. in 2005 (Société d'Encouragement aux Métiers d'Art).
Lastly, they decide to accentuate the side work in Art while choosing to carry out a model where a patina with produced using acid replaces painting, the wings are in varnished mahogany, the “Chesterfield” bench is made of lambskin, the accessories are plated with 24 carats fine gold and the rear light glass is a red Swarovski crystal: the Bugatti Type 22 of 1914 !... which obtained the prize of S.E.M.A. in 2008."
Visit Caroline and Tristan's website