“Le Bolide” de
Chateau de Heers
Legends are enthused to offer this wonderful 1950’s sports racer for sale. Recently discovered in Belgium with an intriguing back story encompassing a fascinating noble family’s legacy. Exceptionally designed and engineered, powered by a Constantin Supercharger Fiat 1100 engine.
When this prototype car, known as ‘Le Bolide’, was brought to my attention in July 2015, I was immediately intrigued and decided to buy it purely on the basis of the design and the exceptional engineering displayed in the car’s build. The story of the car which subsequently unfolded is one of the most astonishing, and in many ways sad, tales which I have come across in any research project.
In 2015, ‘Le Bolide’ was removed from the basement of the now crumbling ruins of Heers Castle which lies forty miles East of Brussels, along with a collection of decaying Alfa Romeo sports cars, all of which had been lying dormant for decades. The vehicles were the property of the castle’s two noble brothers; principally Viscount Michel Desmaisieres and his younger brother Ricardo Desmaisieres who from an early age shared a fascination with sports and racing cars.
Heers Castle dates back to the 13th century with the Desmaisieres family name being associated with the castle from the years 1859 to 2008 when the Belgian government formally took control of the historic building due to the decades of neglect it had suffered. Heers Castle was once an imposing and magnificent building of great importance which had vast swathes of farm land attached to it. Now, sadly, the great building has suffered many years of exposure to the elements and without the required funding to keep up the substantial maintenance of such a building, Heers castle has now been almost entirely engulfed by the surrounding vegetation and has been subject to vast amounts of water damage through the castles failing roof structures.
Michel Desmaisieres and his brother Ricardo were born in 1929 and 1931 respectively, in Seville to Viscount Antoine Desmaisieres and noble Spanish lady Carmen de Rojas y Solis and spent their first years in Spain. According to Ricardo, their passion for cars was ignited by an Uncle in Spain, a Raphael Rochas, who was an amateur racing driver who ran a Mercedes SSK during these pre-war days.
Michel was sent back to the family seat in Belgium at the end of the war in 1945 followed by his brother in 1947. Arriving in Belgium in 1945 the then sixteen-year-old Michel displaying a continual fascination for mechanical objects, retrieved some shells from an abandoned military tank near the castle, and accidentally detonated one resulting in the loss of three fingers.
During the 1950’s, as Michel and Ricardo grew older their love of cars and racing took them all over Europe following Grands Prix and spending time with inspirational characters such as Juan Manuel Fangio amongst others. It is clear both brothers shared a passion for European Sports cars but whilst Ricardo developed a particular love for Maserati racing cars, the elder brother was clearly developing a passion for design and engineering which would result in the birth of his own prototype racing car design which he called ‘Le Bolide’. It is clear that, as noble men, the Desmaisieres brothers were not destined for conventional employment but were to be afforded the lifestyle associated with wealth and nobility. Nevertheless, Michel clearly showed a huge interest for engineering and had the discipline to teach himself the principles required to design and build a racing car. Five notebooks of sketches and a large folder full of engineering drawings for ‘Le Bolide’ were recovered from the castle in 2016 and clearly display a professional degree of technical design and engineering calculation which went into ‘Le Bolide’.
Michel’s first designs appeared for Le Bolide in the early 1950’s which resulted in ‘version one’ of the car and can be seen in period photos to be painted red and with a flatter nosepiece than ‘version two’ which was a reworking of the bodywork in the later 1950’s and was clearly influenced by the shape of the then highly successful 1957 Ferrari 625 TRC Spider which is widely regarded as being one of the prettiest Ferraris ever made.
As with many racing cars of the period, the car was to be powered by Fiat based engine components utilising the 1100cc block and was fitted with a French made Constantin Supercharger. The tubular chassis of the car was created by Henri Melon, and the body of the car has been formed from aluminium by an extremely talented artisan; the build quality of this prototype car is exceptional and highly considered.
The car is known to have been raced by the Viscount at the Zolder circuit -which is documented in Zolder’s archives - and from Michel’s diaries we can see that he used the car on public roads for travels throughout Europe.
‘Le Bolide’ is a truly unique and fascinating racing prototype which now requires complete reassembly and returned to the public eye after languishing for decades in the basement of Heres Castle. The car is disassembled but is accompanied by what looks to be the entirely of its original parts and drivetrain.
Please contact for a complete photo pack and movie documenting the extensive original parts, design drawings as well as the Desmaisieres family history.