The busy life of the inventor of the flying car

Cyclist, accordion player, inventor and above all self-taught: Fernand Maratuech developed the unique example of the car-flying machine during the blessed era of self-taught builders and pioneers.

The airplane came out of oblivion in December 2012 thanks to another enthusiast, writer, Jean-Luc Fournier, who delivered to Bielle editions a book telling about the life of Fernand Maratuech. That was the time when the Automobile Club du Sud-Ouest revived the past and presented in Bordeaux the amazing car plane, which looked more like a wingless plane than a motor car. A unique example, the flying car circulated on the roads of Villeneuvois. The machine was a single-seat car powered by a small single-cylinder De Dion engine that had previously powered his boat. To drive the car pilot, Fernand Maratuech adapts classic mechanics with a gearbox and chain transmission. Jean-Luc Fournier explains in his book, “in fact, Fernand Maratuech will build his machine not with elements he wants, but with those he can.” And despite these summary specifications, Fernand Maratuech will show originality: first with the monocoque body and then with the independent suspension. The driver sits behind a large Citroën B14 steering wheel and the pedals consist of three traditional pedals! The car is burgundy and beige, weighs 220 kg, is 1.20 meters high, 1.36 meters wide and 4 meters long. Fernand Maratuech’s self-propelled aircraft was registered with the mining services in 1925 and registered T3 3046 on 6 June of that year, 1925. Continuing the development of his machine, Fernand Maratuech changed the engine and fitted a mechanical unit in place of the De Dion. from a 250 cc BSA motorcycle developing 4.5 horsepower! This mechanism still equips Fernand’s flying car 98 years later. At the wheel of his car, Fernand Maratuech traveled several thousand kilometers on the roads of Villeneuve from Fumel to Villeneuve-sur-Lot, from Soturac to Cahors and from Bonaguil to Puy-l’Évêque.

One could say that Fernand Maratuech’s whole life was devoted to mechanical invention. It is true that when he was born near the Fossat dam in Fumel, which supplied one hundred kilowatts to the town of Fumel, he was in a sense a child of technology. His father, Noé, controlled the running of the dam’s turbine assisted by Victorine the mother. Fernand Maratuech, the couple’s 4th child was born in 1894. A good student, he got his school certificate and got a job at the blacksmith’s in Soturac with a boss “who understood that Fernand could be something other than an apprentice, even if he did” don’t pay it…”

A force of nature

To relax, Fernand Maratuech, who had not learned music, acquired an accordion and played fashionable tunes at local festivals, systematically beginning his musical ventures with “La Marseillaise”. In 1913, Fernand left Lot-et-Garonne and was one of his brothers in Ariège. Gabriel is an electrician, Fernand a mechanic. Noémie their sister moved to Paris and works as a civil servant in the PTT ministry. A year later, World War I, Fernand, who had just turned 20, found himself in the trenches of Champagne, where he was wounded several times. He ends the war in Lyons, where this mechanical genius demonstrates his talent by converting .37 caliber casings into self-igniting lighters. After the war we find him playing the accordion, but he changes his repertoire and opens his musical entertainment by playing “L’internationale” and fighting for strikes. Before then returning to Lot-et-Garonne, at the age of 28, “where it is time to settle down”, he is in Port-Vendres on the shores of the Mediterranean: he learns naval work and discovers a world of cycle race. This force of nature crosses the Pyrenees passes with more ease than others, and on the handlebars of his racing bike he becomes almost invincible, monopolizing the winner’s bouquets and the few bonuses that abound in his personal budget.

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