Mr. Gabriel Guillaume Duhoux was born on the 29th of May 1897 in Saint-Gilles (a municipality in Brussels-Capital Region). He was a son of Mr. Hilaire Louis Duhoux from Braine-l’Alleud (https://gw.geneanet.org/a259?lang=en&pz=annick&nz=duhoux&p=hilaire+louis&n=duhoux) and Mrs. Emma Flore Dewaet from Brussels. The couple had married on the 28th of January 1896 in Wauthier-Braine. It is still not verified if Mr. Duhoux’s mother was a relative of Mr. Dewaet who bought a Stoewer license and, during the years 1934-1935, built several Stettin-designed cars in Brussels.
Mr. Gabriel Duhoux was a member of a well known family of builders, architects and entrepreneurs strongly linked to Braine-l’Alleud (https://www.wiki-braine-lalleud.be/index.php5?title=Rue_du_Hautmont). He had a brother whose names were Pierre Joseph Norbert (born on the 7th of April 1896). The word “Norbert” appears on the third position on the birth certificate, but it is underlined. There are some sources showing that Mr. Gabriel’s brother tended to use it as his first name. For example, he is listed as Norbert, alongside his brother Gabriel, in a press note about a cross country run organized by the Commission Centrale de L’Athlétisme de l’Union Belge des Sociétés de Sports Athlétiques on the 24th of December 1911 (https://uurl.kbr.be/1257104)- the Duhoux brothers were 14 and 15 years old at that time.
Messrs. Gabriel and Norbert had a sister named Hélène Léocadie (born on the 15th of February 1900).
Mr. Gabriel was an architect and an entrepreneur. The site called “Monument.heritage.brussels” contains a mention about his architectural heritage (https://monument.heritage.brussels/fr/Saint-Gilles/Chaussee_d_Alsemberg/10601005). There is also a record about a building designed by Mr. Gabriel’s brother, Mr. Norbert (https://monument.heritage.brussels/fr/Saint-Gilles/Avenue_Adolphe_Demeur/49/39). Mr. Gabriel’s grandfather, Mr. Pierre Joseph seems to have been the first person from the Duhoux family who started investing in that field (https://monument.heritage.brussels/fr/Saint-Gilles/Rue_d_Andenne/75/606, https://gw.geneanet.org/a259?lang=en&pz=annick&nz=duhoux&p=pierre+joseph&n=duhoux&oc=7 ). Nevertheless, it is the father of Mr. Gabriel and Mr. Norbert, Mr. Hilaire Louis whose activity in the domain of real estate in Brussels-Capital Region is the most documented (https://monument.heritage.brussels/fr/Saint-Gilles/Rue_Antoine_Breart/123/842 ).
Shortly after the death of their father (09.06.1929 in Uccle), in the early 1930s, the Duhoux brothers (Mr. Gabriel and Mr. Norbert) created two automotive showroom companies (such showroom is called “garage” in French). The first enterprise, which belonged solely to Mr. Gabriel, was named “Red Star”. It had two showrooms- at 100-102, Chaussée d’Alsemberg and at 150, Rue Josaphat (https://archives.bruxelles.be/almanach/watch/AC/AC_1931/AC_1931_RUES%20STRATEN#page/11, https://archives.bruxelles.be/almanach/watch/AC/AC_1931/AC_1931_RUES%20STRATEN#page/170).
The other company, called Garage Métro, located at 305-307 Chaussée d’Alsemberg, was reportedly created by Mr. Norbert Duhoux (https://archives.bruxelles.be/almanach/watch/AC/AC_1932/AC_1932_RUES%20STRATEN#page/10 ). However, it was very close to Mr. Gabriel’s home at 47, Rue Cervantès (https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Rue+Cervantes+47,+Forest,+Belgia/Chauss%C3%A9e+d’Alsemberg+305,+Forest,+Belgiaemail@example.com,4.337032,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x47c3c4457705be6b:0x6155fb1cc1932212!2m2!1d4.3385522!2d50.8179737!1m5!1m1!1s0x47c3c44558bc9687:0xa84c93c61c830dad!2m2!1d4.3402364!2d50.8171639!3e0?entry=ttu ). According to my sources, Mr. René Dupont who was the manager of the Garage Métro from 1936 to 1948 was Mr. Gabriel’s friend.
Mr. Gabriel Duhoux seems to be a bit forgotten in the automotive world, but he participated in some important events. He finished 18. in 1932 Monte Carlo Rally (https://www.ewrc-results.com/profile/139696-g-duhoux/ ). Year later, he started from Athens (https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/february-1933/5/the-complete-list-of-entries-of-monte-carlo-rally/ ). It seems that he did not finish that rally. In 1933 and 1934 he took part in the Liège-Rome-Liège Road Marathon (https://www.ewrc-results.com/entries/43613-liege-rome-liege-1933/, https://www.ewrc-results.com/entries/43614-liege-rome-liege-1934/). In 1933 he finished 4th (https://www.ewrc-results.com/final/43613-liege-rome-liege-1933/). The result is described as a “place of honor” in a newspaper article covering the Brondeel expedition.
From the 17th of January 1934 to 9th of May 1934 Mr. Gabriel Duhoux was involved in a Trans-Saharan journey from Brussels to Kitega in Kongo (currently Gitega, Burundi) and back (https://www.memoiresducongo.be/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/MDC-42.pdf). The articles covering the start of the event describe Mr. Duhoux as a technician and as a high class driver.
The leader of the expedition was Commandant Louis Brondeel- a war hero, but also an entrepreneur. Mr. Brondeel owned a Dodge dealership in Brussels at 94, rue Joseph II. He was also the president of FEBIAC (Fédération Belge de l’Indsutrie de l’Automobile et du Cycle) and the originator of the Brussels Motor Show. Mr. Duhoux and Mr. Brondeel seem to have been good friends as Mr. Duhoux had been a Dodge driver in the Monte Carlo Rally and in the Liège-Rome-Liège Road Marathon.
The journey to Congo has been documented in several newspapers including “La Nation Belge” (as Paul Neuray, the editorial secretary of “La Nation Belge”, had participated in the expedition). It is also reflected in the award-winning movie entitled “Terres brûlées” (https://archive.org/details/terres-brulees-un-film-sur-le-congo-belge-1934) filmed by two other members of the expedition- Mr. Charles Dekeukeleire and his camera operator Mr. François Rents.
It is not well known who invited Mr. Duhoux into the Bugatti world. He could have been inspired by the winners of the Liège-Rome-Liège Road Marathon. Another inspiration might have come from Mr. Louis Chiron as Mr. Duhoux and Mr. Chiron had both participated in the same edition of the Monte Carlo Rally. The Chiron hypothesis is supported by the fact that Mr. Duhoux chose Mr. Ernest Friderich (a patron of Mr. Chiron) as his Bugatti dealer. On the other hand, Mr. Duhoux had some other links to French Riviera. According to my sources, he had a restaurant in that area.
Among the people who live in the Brussels-Capital Region, Mr. Gabriel Duhoux is known as the founder and the designer of Le Berger Hotel (https://www.lebergerhotel.be/). The hotel de rendez-vous was built from 1933 to 1935. It was meant for illicit couples, but the ladies of easy virtue could not enter it. Mr. Duhoux designed both the exterior and the interior of the hotel. The monograph entitled “Le Berger : Souvenirs d’une maison de rendez-vous”, written by Mrs. Isabelle Léonard and illustrated with the photos by Mrs. Marie-Françoise Plissart contains a chapter about the founder of the hotel. Mr. Duhoux is described as a very ingenious person who filled Le Berger with a lot of inventions like:
- a system of pipes delivering drinks orders to the staff,
- round magnifying glasses placed around the hotel, letting its owner observe its key parts from his office
- a double lift system protecting the guests from embarrassing meetings.
Having designed Le Berger and expanded it (after buying and demolishing a convent of nuns that neighbored with it), Mr. Duhoux took the job of its head cook. He was very good at it. Despite the character of the hotel, people came there just to eat.
Mr. Duhoux was in a relationship with Mrs. Thérèse Goyvaerts. A niece of Mrs. Thérèse, Mrs. Denise, who died on the 26th of January 2016, is quoted by Mrs. Isabelle Léonard in the “Le Berger” book. In a conversation between Mrs. Léonard and Mrs. Denise Goyvaerts, Mr. Duhoux is described as “authoritarian”. He was definitely very goal-oriented, but at the same time he remained a free spirited person who showed a great love of life, pursued hobbies like painting and hated to wear a tie.
On the 29th of September 1937 Mr. Gabriel Duhoux took the delivery of his Bugatti 57S Atalante with the chassis number 57562 (the car’s factory date was 28.09.1937) in Ernest Friderich’s agency in Nice. The authors of the “Bugatti Type 57S. Evolution, prototypes, racing cars, production” book, Messrs. Bernhard Simon and Julius Kruta point out that the 57562’s color scheme is different from other Type 57S Bugattis. It resembles a color scheme of a Type 57 car. This may suggest that Mr. Duhoux was a demanding customer who wanted to have an impact on the style of his automobiles. It can be considered as one of the hypotheses concerning the origin of the name “Belg. Coupé”.
The 57562 was not the only Bugatti of Mr. Duhoux. There is a factory document, quoted in the “Bugatti Type 57S. Evolution, prototypes, racing cars, production” book (page 67), saying that the “Belg. Coupé” with the chassis number 57454 was ordered by Mr. Gabriele (sic!) Duhoux (http://www.bugattibuilder.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1831 ). In the “Bugatti : les 57 Sport” book, Mr. Pierre-Yves Laugier clearly identifies the label “Belg. Coupé” as another name of the car with the “2SC” engine i.e. of the 57453/57222/57454 Atlantic known as La Voiture Noire.
There are good reasons to believe that Mr. Duhoux was not only the person who ordered the 57453/57222/57454 Atlantic. He was also, very likely, the one who actually took the delivery of the car.
Le Berger research done by Mrs. Isabelle Léonard (including her talks with Mrs. Denise Goyvaerts) inspired the article in “Humo” (https://www.humo.be/nieuws/het-leven-zoals-het-was-rendez-voushotel~b9cbe9a9/ ).
Although Mrs. Denise Goyvaerts might have not been much aware of car brands (the “Le Berger : Souvenirs d’une maison de rendez-vous” book contains a photo of a Dodge described as Bugatti), the phrase “En Duhoux hád geld, genoeg om in één van zijn Bugatti’s deel te nemen aan de Rally van Monte Carlo” (Mr. Duhoux had much money, enough to participate regularly in the Monte Carlo Rally with one of his Bugattis) strongly suggests that Mr. Duhoux had more than one Bugatti.
The book by Messrs. Bernhard Simon and Julius Kruta contains a story which is attributed to the Holzschuch couple, but which could actually apply to Mr. Duhoux. In the “Chassis No.: 57473” chapter, there is a speculation about the Holzschuchs: “Apparently they returned the car at short notice in 1937 and took another Type 57, although there is no further entry concerning this in the factory reports”. The return of the first car to the factory and the order placed for another type 57S may be what Mr. Duhoux did with the 57453/57222/57454 and the 57562. But it is more than probable that the initial rejection of the Atlantic was not the end of the story.
Jean De Dobbeleer, who bought the 57562 in 1952, was informed that the Atalante had been kept in some hideout. The information sounds very credible as Mr. Duhoux was good at hiding people and things. For example, during the WWII two floors of Le Berger (the first and the second) were at disposition of the officers of the German Army (which took over many hotels in the Brussels-Capital Region). However, Mr. Duhoux had created a hideaway in the cellars beneath the hotel, to keep papers and a few vintage bottles of wine. So, while keeping the members of the occupation forces in his hotel, he used the hideaway to help parachutists and escapees.
Nevertheless, the 57562 story told by Mr. Jean De Dobbeleer in Bugantics vol. 17 No.1 from February 1954 seems to be only partially true. It is hard to believe that the engine was impossible to start in 1945 as in 1946 Mr. Duhoux participated in two Concours d’Élégance with his Bugatti … or Bugattis. The first Concours is well documented. It was held on Sunday, the 26th of May 1946 in Parc de Bruxelles (Parc Royal), organized by the Syndicat d’Initiative de la Ville de Bruxelles with the support from the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium and the newspaper entitled “Le Soir”. There are photos of the 57562 Atalante from that Concours.
Mr. Duhoux’s participation in the second Concours has been announced in “La Meuse” on the 14th of August 1946. The Concours was due to be held the next day in Parc de la Boverie in Liège. It was organized by Royal Automobile Club Liegeois and by La Meuse.
A member of Mr. Duhoux’s life partner’s family claims that the architect drove a blue Bugatti similar to the 57473 Reconstruction/Replica in 1945. The testimony plays well with an excerpt from Lester G. Matthews’ book “Bugatti Yesterday and Today: The Atlantic and Other Articles” which says “It has been suggested that, originally, in 1937, this chassis was used for a tank for the Le Mans race and that it was later used in an Atlantic sold to a Belgian named Du Houx of Brussels, color Bugatti blue”. Therefore, there are two independent sources claiming that La Voiture Noire (the black car) has become blue and that it was delivered to Mr. Duhoux.
It is still more probable that the car brought by Mr. Duhoux to the Liège Concours d’Élégance was the 57562 Atalante, but photos have not been found yet.
According to a French automotive enthusiast, Mr. Duhoux sold the 57562 to Mr. Jean De Dobbeleer through the intermediary of Mr. Charles Henri “Carlos” Hubené (https://forum-auto.caradisiac.com/topic/373076-il-%C3%A9tait-une-foisbugatti/page/436/, https://gw.geneanet.org/raulguti?lang=en&pz=gauthier&nz=walravens&p=carlos&n=hubene). The question how much did Mr. De Dobbeleer know about Mr. Duhoux has no simple answer. Mr. Duhoux’s life partner’s family keeps a photo of the 57562 from Mr. De Dobbeleer’s era. On the other hand Mr. De Dobbeleer commissioned some Atlantic replicas (the most accurate one was done by Mr. Jean Bats) and none of them seems to be a result of a consultation with Mr. Duhoux. Moreover, Mr. Duhoux has been confused for a pilot in the “Bugatti Type 57S. Evolution, prototypes, racing cars, production” book. The mistake may originate from American customers of Mr. De Dobbeleer who misunderstood the French word “pilote” which means “a rally driver”. The family of Mr. Duhoux’s life partner denies his links to aviation.
Ironically, the man taken for a “pilot” could have become a seaman. The “Berger” book by Mrs. Isabelle Léonard contains a nice anecdote told by Mr. Fredy Mertens (the manager of Le Berger): Mr. Duhoux and his friends planned to buy a boat or a ship in order to be able to enter the extraterritorial sea between Ostend and England and express themselves freely, without concerns about the legislation which was being tightened up at that time.
Mr. Duhoux had a pulmonary disease which he tried to cure in Grasse, in the French Riviera. He died on the 29 of December 1958. He bequeathed all his fortune, including 11 houses, multiple terrains and at least one automobile, a blue 1952 Mercedes 220 A cabrio, to Mrs. Thérèse Goyvaerts (according to the documents the Mercedes was the only car, but it does not rule out the possibility that Mr. Duhoux kept the ownership of the 57453/57222/57454- the Bugatti could have been overlooked as it had been damaged).
According to Mr. Fredy Martens, after the death of Mr. Duhoux, Mrs. Thérèse Goyvaerts took care of that car as if she waited for a return of her partner. Every year she had the car checked in the Mercedes Europa showroom.
Besides the Bugatti Atalante 57562, the 220 A became another classic car with Mr. Gabriel Duhoux in its owners history which has been acclaimed in the community of the automotive enthusiasts. With the license plate “GFD 012”, owned by Mr. Francois Duhoux (a nephew of Mr. Gabriel), it has been shown during the “Semaine Auto” in Charleroi in 1995.
Although the club article covering that event does not mention Mr. Gabriel as the first owner of the Mercedes, one can not say that the memory about the Belgian architect who loved cars was not kept alive at that time. Till her death in 1998, Mrs. Thérèse Goyvaerts published a note of remembrance in “Le Soir” every year on the 29th of December.
- Why am I convinced that Mr. Duhoux ordered the “57453” Atlantic?
- Because it is well known that the number 57454 was assigned to that car (that is why I call it “the 57453/57222/57454” instead of just using the initial number).
On the list that has been published in the “Bugatti Type 57S. Evolution, prototypes, racing cars, production” book by Messrs. Bernhad Simon and Julius Kruta and posted on the BugattiBuilder forum by “GCL Wales” (http://www.bugattibuilder.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1831 ) the “Belg. Coupé” is the only position which has not been identified as a specific model. The list contains no explicit mention about the Atlantic. Therefore it is logical to assign the Atlantic to that name. It is consistent with a finding made by Mr. Pierre-Yves Laugier- the note saying that the “Belg. Coupé” had the 2SC engine.
- Why am I convinced that Mr. Duhoux actually received the “57453” Atlantic?
- I am almost sure that The Lady from Mr. Duhoux’s life partner family did not know about the testimony quoted by Mr. Lester G. Matthews (I tend to attribute that testimony to Mr. Noel Domboy who was pretty credible). As the claim made by The Lady and the suggestion quoted by Mr. Matthews are consistent with each other and inconsistent with the legend of “La Voiture Noire”, they seem to tell the truth about the post-war fate of the Atlantic.