Well done, CR Class of 2008! I reckon we sorted out the mystery of this ultra-rare machine!
The fretwork-like drop-outs really do seem to pinpoint the frame as a Gitan e, as do,possibly, the Prugnat (or similar lugs) The frame appears to be a mid-to-upper range road frame, as opposed to a touring or randonneur, and i t has some neat features such as the reinforcement tangs on the rear brake bridge.
I tried very hard to blow up the photos of the seat-stay top-eyes as these looked as though they might be interesting, but I failed to get any real de finition.
The Helyett transfers are a simple white ink on a clear vinyl sheet..pretty tacky really, but still better than the metal foil variety, I think. They were the last of the variations on the Helyett theme, and I had come across them before, but had assumed that they were the last from the Sully-sur-Lo ire factory before it closed in 1962.
Helyett's best- remembered era was the late 50s-into-the early60s when Jacq ues Anquetil road their frames to three T-d-F victories and success in coun tless other races, his last T-d-F on such a frame being 1962, coincidentall y the year that the company closed down. The next year he rode Gitane frame s..and finally finished up on Gitanes with his own transfers.
Now it is a well-known fact that most large French manufacturers made frame s branded with other riders names on them, such as L. Bobet, R.Geminiani, B .. Thevenet, J. Anquetil..and it is common knowledge that Gitane were as act ive in this badge-engineering practice as all the others such as Mercier, C izeron, Jeunet etc. In the 80s alone they produced bikes with the names of Bernard Hinault, Cyrille Guimard, Raymond Delisle, Jaques Anquetil, to name but a few...and all these frames had tacky white lettering on clear plasti c, except for some of the better Hinaults.
My reasoning on this Helyett is that Gitane bought out the company in 1962, and retained the name. Years later in the 70s the company, needing another brand in its portfolio, decided to reintroduce the Helyett name...and t he green flam finish.
As for the bike itself, it could be a factory-produced item so specced as t o use up back inventory of accessories..no one was racing on TA Criterium c hainsets by that date, or it could be a custom-build by an individual. In t he late 70s Gitane produced a range of entry level road bikes, with standar d tubing, Simplex delrin gears, Atom S/T hubs on Mavic clinchers, Weimann 5 00 brakes, steel bars in an unbranded stem....but elegant Campagnolo 3-arm steel-cranked Gran Sport chainsets!
Rocvale, the well-known French eBay trader knows a chap near him who collec ts Helyetts..just anything and everything Helyett..so I might be able to so lve the riddle via him.
Norris Lockley, Settle UK