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GEORGES PAULIN was a talented inventor, car designer and dentist—and during World War II, an operative for the French Resistance. One of his automotive inventions earned him a French patent. One of his car designs competed in three Le Mans 24 Hours of Endurance races—and finished 6th overall in one—more than a decade after it was built. His activities and then death during WWII are worthy of a spy novel.
Paulin had three pursuits in the early 1930s: making dentures, designing cars and going to school at night to get his dentistry degree. In 1932, Paulin received French patent 733.380 for his retractable hardtop, called the Eclipse system. A Peugeot 601 D Eclipse was shown at the 1934 Paris Auto Show.
By 1936, Paulin was a full-fledged dentist, though he would have preferred car design for his career. However, losing royalty lawsuits against Peugeot kept him in dentistry. He continued car design only on a part-time basis, usually working for French coachbuilder Pourtout.
Emile Darl’Mat was a French businessman and car dealer who enjoyed tweaking his cars. He and Paulin cooperated in a streamlined series now known as the Darl’Mat Peugeots. Between January 1937 and June 1938, 104 of these cars were produced in roadster, convertible and coupé form.
In 1937, Paulin was given a commission by Rolls-Royce to design a Bentley for André M. Embiricos, a Greek banker and ship builder living in Paris. The result, the 1938 Embiricos Bentley, is likely the most recognized of Paulin’s designs.
Based on a 4 1/4-Litre chassis, the Embiricos Bentley lapped the Montlhéry circuit near Paris at 107 mph and later circled Brooklands at an average 114 mph for an entire hour.
Sold to Englishman H.S.F. Hay in 1939, the Embiricos spent WWII in storage. Hay and his co-drivers ran it at Le Mans in three successive years, 1949-1951. They finished the 24-hour race each year; a 6th overall in 1949 was the car’s best placing.
But what about Georges Paulin’s wartime exploits? In 1940, in part through the Rolls/Bentley connection, he was approached by an intermediary of British Intelligence. A Resistance network codenamed Alibi enlisted Paulin as agent Phill 703. His task was to scout Vichy France and make precise drawings of armaments and installations. Then, returning to his dental practice, he’d give these drawings to another Resistance member getting his “teeth fixed.”
Alas, unknown to Paulin, his colleague and mentor at the office was a double agent. The arrest of several Alibi members followed, including Paulin and Joseph Figoni (of renowned coachbuilders, Figoni & Falaschi).
Georges Paulin was shot to death by the Nazis on March 21, 1942. Figoni was spared by pure chance: A German officer who had worked with the Mercedes-Benz racing team recognized him and intervened. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013