Category Archives: Rare and Interesting


The Judgement of Paris


Today is a significant day as the Special Correspondent turns 80 although you would never know it to speak to him or to read his wonderful articles. In defiance of convention the Birthday Boy gives us all a present, his thoughts and reflections of the recent Rétromobile. The show is without doubt one of the highlights of the motoring year, the 2018 edition maintained the high standard set by its predecessors. So please enjoy this cornucopia of automotive ‘Rare and Interesting’.

This is a Matra-Bonnet Djet and is the result of Engins Matra taking over the assets of René Bonnet’s small sports car company in 1965. These cars were made initially in Bonnet’s factory at Champigny-sur-Seine before production was transferred to their own plant at Romorantin.

One of the surviving pre-war prototypes of the 2CV Citroën. The car was designed to carry four people and 50 kilos of luggage at 50 km/h in great comfort. Its introduction was delayed by the declaration of war and it was finally presented to the public at the 1948 Paris Salon.

A Talbot Lago, a Coupé America of 1962, and one of the very last of this famous name.

Simca took over the Talbot Lago marque and its factories in 1958 and went on to complete just five more of these elegant coupés, equipping them with their Simca Vedette V8 engines.

With a 4-cylinder 951 c.c. engine, this Renault Type KG1 was the company’s response to the big popular demand for cars after the First World War. The early Renaults were characterised like this one by their scuttle-mounted radiators and it was only at the 1929 Paris Salon that policy changed and their cars henceforth had their radiators mounted at the front. A wide choice of bodywork was available and this cabriolet dates from 1923.

A one-off Siata built for 500 c.c. class records. It is based on an upgraded Fiat Topolino chassis with the engine reduced to 488 c.c. The bodywork was by Motto of Turin and Borrani made special wheels.

First seen at the Geneva Show in 1947, the Maserati A6 1500 was the company’s first true production road car. The elegant body was by Pinin Farina and the car was in the vanguard of the evolution of the GT car. An example, in the hands of Franco Bordoni, won the 1500 class in the May 1949 Coppa Inter Europa at Monza, the first race for GT cars. This car dates from 1949.

The Renault Type A G was the first proper Parisian taxi. From 1905 it gained in popularity despite customers reluctantly giving up the horse-drawn equivalents. It achieved immortal fame as the type of Renault which became known as the “Taxis de la Marne” when General Joffre needed urgent reinforcements to repel the German attack threatening Paris in 1914. It had a 2-cylinder engine of 1206 c.c.

A 1912 Mercer Type 35 Raceabout. This car was the work of Finlay Robertson Porter and it put the company of Trenton, New Jersey, on the American motoring map. It had a 4916 c.c. T–head engine and was capable of 75 m.p.h. It was often raced and would usually be driven to and from events. Two raced in the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911, finishing in 12th and 15th  positions; in 1912 one came 3rd while a year later a Mercer finished 2nd. Its great rival was the Stutz Bearcat and their respective fans would taunt each other with remarks such as “There’s no car worser than a Mercer” and “You’ve got to be nuts to drive a Stutz”!

This 1950 Jaguar XK120  was raced privately in period and came 9th and 2nd in class in the first Goodwood Nine Hours race in August 1952.

A Peugeot Type 176. This model was introduced in 1925 and was made in the factory at Issy-les- Moulineaux in southern Paris. It had a 4-cylinder sleeve-valve engine of 2493 c.c., being classified as a 12CV. The body was by Ets Charles Felber. During the Twenties Peugeot used sleeve-valve engines for all their larger capacity models.

There is no longer any trace of the original Citroën 2CV Barbot so this is a replacement – its history is too interesting to ignore. It was the dream of the engineer Pierre Barbot to transform a 2CV into a competition car – he cut off the roof, shortened the chassis, lowered the suspension, changed the aerodynamics and modified the engine extensively while reducing the capacity to less than 350 c.c. to qualify for records in Class J. On the 27th September 1953 Barbot and Vinatier father and son, aided by Yacco oils, drove the car at Montlhéry for 12 hours at an average of 90,960 km/h and for 24 hours at an average of 85,02 km/h, breaking 9 international records. Jean Vinatier also drove the car in the 1953 Bol d’Or at Montlhéry,  car no. 80, finishing in 19th position and winning its class. Interestingly in homage to the records, this replica ran on the track at Montlhéry in 2016 for 6 consecutive hours at an average of 104,31 km/h; among the drivers was a certain Jean Vinatier.

Velam was the Isetta bubble car made under licence in France and the company built this special car with a 236 c.c. motor to tackle records in Class K ( under 250 c.c.). At Montlhéry in 1957 drivers Bianchi and Peslier won seven international records including 24 hours at an average of 109,662 km/h. This is the actual car that achieved those successes.

This is one of two Guépards built in Paris between 1952 and 1953 by S.E.R. It is the car for Paul Bobet and has a tuned Renault 4CV engine and originally a barchetta body by Pichon.


It raced in the 1954 Bol d’Or with Bobet finishing 22nd and after an accident Bobet decided to have it re-bodied with the intention of making an attempt on the world records for the 750 class.


Marcel Riffard designed the new body which was similar to those he had done for Panhard’s Le Mans cars; it was made by Heuliez. The car took on the new name of Riffard-Renault. In 1956 it was raced at Montlhéry but again it was involved in an accident.

At the 1927 Paris Salon Chenard et Walcker presented two new sporting cars: this one, the ”Tank” Type Y8, a 1500 c.c. with an i.o.e. engine conceived by the engineer Toutée. It was based on the very successful racing “tanks” of 1925 and although a road car it was to be found in private hands on race tracks (one ran in the 1931 Spa 24 Hour race) and in the hugely popular Concours d’Elégances.

On the neighbouring stand a Chenard-Sénéchal, a roadster with more conventional body with cycle wings – the Y7 “Torpille” which used the same engine. In 1928 the Sénéchal name was dropped ( Chenard had been making the popular Sénéchals for Robert Sénéchal in the preceding years).

This Y7 saloon was 4,000 Francs more expensive than the roadster and did not find public approval!

Industrialist Jérôme Donnet bought the Zedel concern in 1919 and produced cars of conventional design to become France’s fifth largest car manufacturer by 1927. He then acquired the Vinot Deguingand company with their factory at Nanterre which he expanded considerably and inherited a 4CV design which he produced as the Donnette. This is unusual in having a twin cylinder 740 c.c. 2-stroke engine designed by the engineer Marcel Violet, the acknowledged master of the 2-stroke cycle. Possibly about 100 only were made and this car is thought to date from c.1932.

Marcel Violet presented his cyclecar in 1924 with a 496 c.c. air-cooled flat twin 2-stroke engine. It scored numerous successes, claiming in 1925 alone the Championship of France, two world records and winning all the major races in the 500 c.c. category. This car dates from 1925.

Think of Amilcars and we tend to remember the sporting CC, CS, CGS and CGSS but over the years Amilcar had developed a range of tourers and at the 1928 Paris Salon the Model M was introduced. This Model M3 came in October 1931 and had a lowered chassis, powered by a 4-cylinder side-valve engine of 1244 c.c.

This strange looking machine is a Dolo. It was first seen at the Paris Salon in October 1947 and subsequently at Brussels and Geneva. It had a 592 c.c. horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine driving the front wheels and all-round independent suspension by torsion bars. It had a rigid box type chassis and the roof was a “plexiglass” dome, a new material at that time. During 1948 two cars travelled across France, visiting fairs etc. This came to be stored under the Autodrome at Montlhéry and was rediscovered in 1967.

The Deep Sanderson 301 Coupé which made the marque’s first (of three) appearance at Le Mans in 1963. It used Mini mechanicals set transversely amidships (before the Miura!) and was driven by Chris Lawrence and Chris Spender before being flagged-off for covering insufficient distance.


Fernand Maratuech was an inventor/constructer who lacked the means to build his own aeroplane so he made this “aeroplane without a wing”. He used a 250 c.c. single-cylinder motor-cycle engine and covered more than 5,000 kilometres in his 3-wheeler.

David Blumlein, February 2018














Straight, No Chaser

My local track is Brooklands, racing there was suspended at the outbreak of the War in September 1939 and never resumed. In recent years there have been considerable efforts to restore Brooklands to some of its former glory. Our Special Correspondent was on hand to witness the re-opening of the Finishing Straight last month. Naturally he found some of the Rare and Interesting to keep us entertained and informed……………

A superb example of a French Bédélia cyclecar which dates from 1910. The owner had just brought it over from France and it is a Type BD2 with a 990 c.c. V-2 Train air cooled motor. The driver sits at the back with the passenger in tandem in the front. One of these cars won the Cyclecar Grand Prix at Amiens in 1913.

The outstanding sports car of the late Thirties – the BMW 328. This is a Frazer Nash–marketed version and is the ex-Hugh Hunter car, albeit re-sprayed German white instead of the grey it was pre-war. It has a rich competition history including coming 4th in the Brooklands 3-Hour production Car Race on the Campbell Circuit in 1938.

Enjoy the view through the windscreen over the long bonnet with the recessed headlights; these cars from Eisenach dominated the international 2-litre class in their time.

This is the pre-war 2-litre Aston Martin that was raced in the 1948 Spa 24 Hour race by Jack Fairman and Richard Stallebrass. Fairman came in to hand over to his co-driver during the very wet early Saturday evening of the race and the inexperienced Stallebrass lost control on his out lap on the long sweeping bend to Malmédy somersaulting off into a field and sustaining fatal injuries.

This is a Frazer Nash-BMW 319 saloon.

It had a 6-cylinder engine, an ordinary pushrod version not the special head used for the 328.

It is always pleasing to see Babs back where she was born.

We do not often see a 4-seater tourer version of the Alvis front-wheel drive cars, and rarely with the hood up! This is a 1929 long chassis car with bodywork by Carbodies and was raced at Brooklands by Edward Farley.

Geoffrey Taylor made a series of advanced sports and racing Altas with advanced suspension and 4-cylinder twin-cam engines he made himself. This single-seater is the one raced by George Abecassis to good effect.

A 1914 Chater Lea. It used a Singer engine tuned by Lionel Martin who had great success with Singers before launching Aston Martin.

This beautiful Austin Seven Ulster ran in the 1931 Double Twelve race at Brooklands, driven by Phillip Marriage and HJ Searle.

This was the race where the Austin Sevens were finally outpaced by the new Montlhéry C-type M.G. Midgets and this little Austin finished 24th and last.

Here we see Lord March with Alan Winn, the Director of the Brooklands Museum, behind giving his address at the opening ceremony.

For the first time since 1940, we see the Finishing Straight.

Where motoring began – a lovely little Léon Bollée Voiturette made in Le Mans.

David Blumlein, July 2017

Techno Matters

The Techno Classica is one of the highlights of the year for those who appreciate the heritage of the automobile, here is the first of a few pieces from this year’s show. Our Special Correspondent goes once more on the trail of Rare and Interesting.

In 1937 Fiat produced the 508C M.M., a full-width and all-enveloping sporting coupé based on the 508 Balilla model. This was intended as a racing version; it had a 42 b.h.p. 4-cylinder ohv-engine of 1089 c.c. and Dubonnet coil spring independent front suspension. It made its début in the 1938 Mille Miglia where it won its class. This car was the ancestor of the post-war 1100S we see here.

The 1100S was made from 1947-50 and its chassis and running gear were based on that of the 1100 Saloon. It was given 51 b.h.p. and the bodywork was by Savio of Turin; in fact, the cockpit was so narrow that staggered seating was fitted. It was also 10 inches shorter than the 508C M.M.
The first prototype appeared at the Sassi-Superga hillclimb in May 1947 in the hands of factory test driver Carlo Salamano but it was in the Mille Miglia that year that the 1100S did so well, finishing 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th overall. A splendid 3rd overall was achieved in the same race in 1948.

Alfa Romeo presented the Merosi-designed RL model at Milan in October 1921 and two versions were offered in 1922, the Normale and the Sport. A racing version was developed which won the 1923 Targa Florio in 1923 driven by Ugo Sivocci. This in turn led to the RL Super Sport in 1925 with the power increased to 83 b.h.p. for the 6-cylinder 3-litre engine.
Shown is an RL SS and Alfa Romeo entered five of these Super Sports for the first Mille Miglia race in 1927.

Despite leading the race at Rome the best result they could manage was 7th. However, with the coming of the Jano-designed cars Alfa Romeo went on to win this famous Italian race a record eleven times.

This is an Allard JR. Built for the 1953 season, it was the last of that company’s attempts to make a successful sports racing car. Preliminary outings took place at Ibsley, in the Silverstone Daily Express Production Sports Car Race where Sydney Allard lying third spun off at Beckett’s and dented the tail and at a club meeting on an early circuit layout at Thruxton. Two cars with 5.4-litre V8 Cadillac engines ran at Le Mans but their only claim to fame was that Sydney led round the first lap which seemed to matter to the French in those days! Both cars were out before nightfall.

We must remember Allard for two outstanding achievements: a superb third place overall at Le Mans in 1950 and Sydney Allard’s outright win in a P1 Allard saloon in the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally, the only time a driver has won this prestigious event in a car of his own construction.

I wonder how many of our readers have ever heard of a Ford Rheinland? Ford were early in Germany using a factory in Berlin Westhafen until 1931 after which they moved to Köln (Cologne) where they still are. This model used the Model B chassis but had a 4-cylinder 3.286 c.c. engine and was made in 1934. And did readers know that all the modern Aston Martin V12 engines have been made in Ford’s big factory in Köln?

Fiat upgraded its 500C Station Wagon in 1951 by giving it all-metal bodywork and calling it the Belvedere. This 1952 example with a 596 c.c. 4-cylinder ohv engine ran in the 1954 Mille Miglia.

Citroën was celebrating 90 years of production in Germany. Their first factory was in Köln Poll and this Type B 14 was their first product in 1927. It was known locally as “ Der Poller”.

Wanderer was from 1932 a member of the Auto Union combine and this is a factory replica built on an original chassis of one of the team of three special aluminium-bodied roadsters for the Liège-Rome-Liège rally in 1938 and 1939.

Its 6-cylinder alloy engine, designed for Wanderer by Ferdinand Porsche, had three Solex carburettors and ran in 2-litre form. One car finished 8th in 1938 and the cars won the Team Prize in 1939. They have all disappeared since.

In 1932 Dr Porsche received a contract from NSU to build three prototypes of a small car ( Porsche Type 32) – it had a flat-four air-cooled ohv rear-mounted engine made by NSU and bodywork by Reutter.
However, there was a problem: NSU had made an agreement with Fiat in 1930 when NSU decided to cease car production because of the economic crisis and handed over their automobile department to Fiat, leaving NSU to concentrate on motor cycles. Thus this car could not possibly go into production.

Meanwhile Dr Porsche was discussing with Hitler the possibilities of a People’s Car – a Volkswagen – and it reached a point where Hitler ordered Porsche to undertake the design of such a machine. As can be seen, Porsche leaned heavily on the work he had already done for NSU.

I cannot resist the chance to show the Skoda Popular Monte Carlo Coupé, a great favourite, and with it the Roadster version. By building these cars (72 in all) Skoda was celebrating the 2nd place in class of their 420 Popular model in the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally, their first participation in this prestigious event.

Skoda made superb cars in the Thirties – this particular car had, for example, independent suspension and even a transaxle (rear –mounted gearbox) to help with weight distribution. Compare this advanced engineering for the time with that of, for example, an Austin Ten of the same period!

The Opel Admiral, the flagship of the Rϋsselsheim range in the late Thirties. It had independent front suspension and used a 3626 c.c. version of General Motors’ excellent 6-cylinder ohv engine which went on to power the Opel Blitz 3-ton lorry, the German Army’s first choice. (Readers may be surprised to know that Mercedes-Benz was obliged to build these lorries as the L701 in their Mannheim factory).

Guess what this is! It is a Volkswagen “Beetle” with bodywork by the Berlin coachbuilder Rometsch. This company also made 4-door versions of the “Beetle” for use as taxis!

David Blumlein, July 2017

NEC Magic

Mea Culpa, the Special Correspondent sent me this piece ages back. It got lost in what passes for my filing system but has popped back into view and is too good to waste…… a quick look back to the 2016 Classic Car Show at the NEC.

The 6/80 and its 4-cylinder counterpart, the 4/50, were the first new post-war Wolseleys, having much in common with Nuffield’s new range of Morris cars presented at Earls Court in 1948 – the Minor, Oxford and Six. They used the same 4-door monocoque body, the newly-introduced torsion bar independent front suspension ( a first for both Morris and Wolseley), the fashionable steering-column gear change and even the pull-out door handles. The Wolseleys, however, used overhead camshaft engines and the Morris Six shared the 6-cylinder unit of the 6/80.

The first public awareness of the future MGA was the appearance of prototypes under the code EX 182. Ken Wharton and Dick Jacobs carried out testing in April 1955 at Silverstone and three cars were entered for that year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race. Ken Miles and racing motorcyclist Johnny Lockett finished 12th in the car shown above and Ted Lund and Swiss Hans Wäffler came 17th. The third car was crashed at the White House corner and burnt out, Dick Jacobs being seriously injured, bringing to an end his racing career.

Three cars also raced in the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod, one with an experimental twin-cam engine.

Singer launched their 1100 c.c. Ten in 1912, the first proper light car (as distinct from the cyclecars), and forged a fine reputation with it. This was enhanced with the introduction of their excellent Junior in 1926, by which time Singer was Britain’s third largest manufacturer behind Morris and Austin. The Junior was given an 847 c.c. overhead camshaft engine, the smallest British car so equipped, although Wolseley and Rhode had been using this layout beforehand. The little Singer came with a variety of body styles from the outset.

On December 4th 1928 Bill Deeley of the Aylesbury Motor Company and Ernest Wood of the Singer dealer in Exeter took a Singer Junior Sports Model to the notorious Porlock Hill in Somerset where the gradient was as much as 1 in 4.5 and where there were two very sharp hairpin bends, and made 100 ascents and descents in 15 hours, all under R.A.C. observation. In recognition of this achievement Singer renamed the boat-tail Sports model the Porlock in January 1929.
This is one of them.

This is a 1936 Rover Speed Twelve Sports Tourer. The Sleaford, Lincolnshire Rover agent, Billy Maidens, entered the car for the 1937 R.A.C. Rally in March and achieved 924.4 points out of 1000. The car also ran in the Scottish and Welsh rallies that year.

It was specially prepared (probably at Rover’s Seagrave depot in London) and had twin downdraft S.U. carburettors.

Good to see the latest Ford GT which won the LM GTE PRO class at Le Mans in 2016.

This Triumph was one of three specially built Gloria four seat Tourers with lightened chassis, all aluminium body construction, a 17-gallon slab tank and twin spare wheels entered for the 1934 Monte Carlo Rally. John Beck and Reg Tanner finished 27th overall. The design became the prototype of the popular sporting “Monte Carlo” model.


This is an authentic example of the Military version of the Austin Seven of which about 150 were built in 1929-31 with bodies by Mulliners of Birmingham. They were useful transport for junior officers and NCOs.

David Blumlein, June 2017

Stoneleigh Special

A while back The Special Correspondent travelled up to Stoneleigh for the latest edition of Race Retro. As ever he spotted a few gems hidden away amongst the sheds……………so Rare and Interesting it is…………………

The exhibiting club did nothing to enlighten their visitors about the cars on their stand but in fact the two Triumph TRs have important competition history. I am indebted to my good friend Rob Rowland, the former TR archivist, for giving me corrected information on them. This TR3 is an ex-works factory car driven by Annie Bousquet and Jo Ashfield in the 1956 Midnight Sun Rally to 13th in class.

A month later Tom and Anne Wisdom took it on the Alpine Rally, came 5th in class, winning an Alpine Cup. The car was then prepared with two other TR3s as factory entries for the 1957 Sebring 12-Hour race where it finished 21st and second in class, driven by Bob Oker and Ed Pennybacker.

This TR4 also has Sebring history. It was one of three selected at random from a shipment to the U.S.A. by Kas Kastner and race-prepared by his team for the 1963 race. This number 38 was hit from behind by an A.C. Cobra not long after the start but managed to finish 24th and second in class, piloted by Charles Gates, Bob Cole and Ed Diehl.
Some published results of the TRs at Sebring may contain unintended errors – these are the corrected versions.

This is a 1958 Lotus 15, powered by an aluminium alloy 3532 c.c. Buick V8 with twin Holley carbs giving 240 bhp and driving through an XK140 gearbox. The car was campaigned by Dizzy Addicott in 1961 and 1962.

Arnott was a family-owned manufacturer of superchargers and carburettors in Harlesden, north London. In 1951 they decided to design and construct a car for the 500 c.c. Formula 3 category. Designed by Daphne Arnott and George Thornton, the prototype had its first outing at Brands Hatch in the October. The car has a tubular chassis and uses torsion bar suspension. This car is one of a batch of 9 built in 1952 and in the September Gerald Smith had two wins on the day at Brands Hatch. Further successes were scored by Ivor Bueb, John Brise and Dennis Taylor.
An Arnott sports coupé with an 1100 c.c. Coventry Climax engine ran at Le Mans in 1957.

Not many will remember the Toj sports racers, the name an acronym for “Team Obermoser Jörg”, which embraced the racing activities of its German leader, a successful supplier of electrical equipment to industry in the 1970s. This is the SC302, built in 1977 and powered by a 3-litre Cosworth DFV motor. That season it gave the Alfa Romeos something to worry about especially when Rolf Stommelen was at the wheel!

A brace of 21st century racing Bentleys, the Le Mans Speed 8 and the GT3.

Out and About

The Special Correspondent has been enjoying the summer months, especially August, with visits to several of the traditional motoring events in the UK. Here he considers some special cars that were seen at Croxley Green’s Classics On The Green and VSCC Prescott.

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A 1936 Series II Super Six Wolseley 25, the largest of the range.

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Powered by a 6-cylinder Morris Commercial-derived 3.5-litre o.h.v. engine. Sammy Davis, the 1927 Le Mans winner, took a similar model on the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally and finished a respectable 42nd out of 121 starters, winning the Concours de Confort outright.
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This is a 1924 Cluley 10/20 tourer, a typically vintage light car from Coventry. It has an in-house built 4-cylinder side-valve engine, and this car’s third owner was the well-known Brooklands historian and Editor of Motor Sport Bill Boddy.
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Unmistakable are the A.C.s of the vintage period. This fine example of 1926 is powered by the 1500 c.c. 4-cylinder Anzani engine.
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Most of us are all familiar with the Buick-derived V8s in the Rover P5s, P6s and SD1 models but a Rover 75 V8? This is a rare bird indeed!

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Rover announced this model at the 2004 Geneva Show and here is its Ford Mustang 4.6-litre V8. As can be seen above, the car was given a much larger front grille to keep this powerful unit cool. Only 166 were made.
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This view, taken from the edge of the Paddock, conveys something of the charm and warmth of Prescott.
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A lovely example of a Riley Sprite. This was their last sports car before the Receivers were called in sadly in February 1938 – the marque was rescued by Lord Nuffield.
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Two superb examples of the famous Riley Brooklands model, Riley’s most successful sporting car.

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Conceived originally by Parry Thomas and Reid Railton, it effectively took over the 1100c.c. class from the French and went on to score many international successes, including the 1932 Tourist Trophy.
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A rare cyclecar, built by Henry Baughan, a talented engineer in Stroud , Gloucestershire. One of only about six manufactured, it uses a 1000c.c. J.A.P. V-twin air-cooled engine.
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This Alta Sports was returning to Prescott for the first time since 1946 when it was then driven by George Abecassis. Alta cars were the work of Geoffrey Taylor who built a limited number in Surbiton, using his own twin overhead camshaft engines.
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The car park at the VSCC Prescott is invariably as interesting as the Paddock! Here is a Crossley Regis, the last model made by the Gorton, Manchester firm before it ceased car production in 1937. A Coventry-Climax overhead inlet and side exhaust valve engine lurks under that long bonnet driving through an ENV preselector gearbox. The popular stylist of the Thirties, C.F. Beauvais, was responsible for the bodywork.
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A famous Hill-Climb Special, the Freikaiserwagen, was inspired by Dr Porsche’s pre-war thinking. Powered by a mid-mounted Blackburne V-twin, it brought Joe Fry the Shelsley Walsh outright record in June 1949. Here its iteration is seen in the shadows at Pardon Hairpin.
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One has to include a Bugatti at Prescott, the home of the Bugatti Owners’ Club! So here is a Brescia going well at Pardon.
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I was privileged to be taken to Prescott in a friend’s superb Riley Kestrel – it has the optional Sprite engine.

David Blumlein, August 2106


Brooklands Bash

A few weeks back Brooklands was the source for subject matter in the latest chapter in our ever-popular ‘Rare and Interesting’ series. The Special Correspondent dug out a few gems for our appreciation.

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This Lotus Mark V1 M.G. gave Team Lotus their first race win when Peter Gammon won the up to 1500 c.c. Heat of the British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park on 10th April 1954.
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A 1929 Chrysler 65. This was the basic offering of the range for the 1929 season with a six-cylinder side-valve engine of 3,200 c.c. A 65 model covered 53,170 miles non-stop to set a world endurance record in Germany.
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A 1937 Chevrolet Master Sport. This car was assembled in South Africa by General Motors, hence the right-hand drive.

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Here is its 3.5-litre six-cylinder o.h.v. engine:
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A superb example of a 1935 Hillman Minx. The work of Capt. Irving (of Golden Arrow fame) and Alfred Wilde, this model did much to put the Rootes Group on the international stage.
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A lovely Rover 12 Tourer, showing the influence of the Wilks brothers who turned Rover into “One of Britain’s fine cars”.

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And here is a rear view:
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This is an exceptionally rare car – a 1946 Bristol 400 Drophead prototype. During 1946 Bristol, with plans to enter the car market, built two prototype saloons and two drophead coupés. Despite being used in publicity material and being shown on the Bristol stand at the Geneva Show in 1947, the 400 Drophead programme was cancelled.
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I have never been a motor cycle enthusiast but I could not resist the temptation to snap this machine – a Calthorpe motor cycle! Calthorpe cars, yes, popular in the first two decades of the 20th century, I know about – they even ran cars in the 1908 Tourist Trophy (Leslie Porter finished 4th) and in the 1912 Coupe de l’Auto race. Well, those motor cycles eventually outlived the cars, being produced up to 1938!

David Blumlein, August 2016

Vintage Style

The Special Correspondent took a run out to the Chiltern Hills Vintage Rally recently. It proved to be a charming occasion with much to admire……………
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Made in Biggleswade by Berkeley, Britain’s biggest maker of caravans which had vast experience of glass-reinforced plastic fabrication, the Berkeley sports car, in 1956, was the world’s first production car to use a fibreglass chassis/body unit, pre-dating the Lotus Elite by some twelve months.
This car is Chassis no. 10 with the Anzani 322c.c. twin cylinder two-stroke air-cooled engine. Only 163 Berkeleys were made.
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A real vintage car, a 1924 Humber 12/25 saloon.

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Humber was a well-respected make which, in the Twenties, fitted their cars with overhead inlet and side exhaust valve engines – this is the 1795 c.c. 4-cylinder unit in this car.
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This is one of the first production Morgan 4/4s, dating from October 1937.

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Here is its Coventry-Climax overhead inlet and side exhaust valve engine.
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In 1957 came this rather charming Wolseley 1500, based on a modified Morris Minor 1000 floorplan and given a BMC B-series engine. This is a Series 3 version, produced from 1961 until 1965. The cars were made at Longbridge.
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A 1935 6-cylinder Riley Kestrel 15/6. The Kestrel was not a separate model but a body style built by Riley in their Coventry factory and available on a variety of their chassis. Riley – like Triumph and Singer – made far too many different models, a policy which hastened their demise.
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The Austin 16 was the company’s first new post-war model. It used the chassis of the Austin 12 which was introduced only a few days before the outbreak of war in 1939 but had a completely new 4-cylinder 2.2-litre o.h.v. engine developed for military purposes. It was a good car, comfortable, reasonably priced and with a good performance. It was the first production Austin car to have overhead valves.
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A 1935 Wolseley Hornet Special with the 6-cylinder single overhead camshaft engine. Wolseley only supplied Hornet Specials in chassis form, leaving buyers to select their own choice of body builder. This car has a one-off body by an unknown maker.
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Last of the legendary 1172 c.c. Ford side-valve engines. This one is in a 1960 Popular De Luxe. These Ford engines were the last side-valve units to be in production in Britain.

David Blumlein, July 2016

A Vintage Crop at Silverstone

The Special Correspondent visits Silverstone for the Spring VSCC meeting, rare and interesting is his quarry…………….

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A beautiful spring morning tempted me to drive up to Silverstone to this event where there is always an abundance of interesting cars especially when the sun shines to lure owners out with their treasured possessions. Before leaving the car park I came across this lovely Lea Francis.

It is a 2.5-litre Sports – they made 77 between 1950-53. Lea Francis was active in competitions before the war, particularly in the late Twenties when they won outright the 1928 Tourist Trophy and scored two class wins at Le Mans in 1929 and 1930.

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A very unexpected visitor! A 1913 Morris Oxford, representing the start of the extraordinary William Morris story. These early cars had the White and Poppe engines.
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Here at the other end of the scale! This is a 1928 4.5-litre Bentley, one of the Team cars. It came 7th in that year’s Tourist Trophy, never a race to suit the big cars of W.O. In the first Double Twelve at Brooklands in 1929 it retired but redeemed itself at Le Mans by completing the quartet of Bentleys which dominated that year’s results at La Sarthe. In the final Brooklands Six Hour race it came 3rd and managed 5th in the Irish Grand Prix.
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This is the Nash-Healey which finished 3rd behind the two Mercedes-Benz 300SLs at Le Mans in 1952, driven by Leslie Johnson and Tommy Wisdom, winning also the 3,000-5,000 c.c. class.

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Known as X8 and was hurriedly put together to replace the Le Mans Coupé (X6) which was badly crashed in the Mille Miglia.
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The big 4.1-litre 6-cylinder pushrod Nash engine.
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I loved this 1929 Amilcar Type M, completely unrestored.

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Amilcar, of St Denis in Paris, is chiefly remembered for its little sports two-seaters, rivals to the Salmsons in the Twenties but at the time of this saloon the company was giving up competitions and concentrating on touring cars.

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Here is its side-valve 1244 c.c. motor.
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A Kurtis 500 with solid front axle and Chevrolet small-block V8 – all very American!

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There were masses of Frazer-Nashes at Silverstone. This is a Sebring model, the last of the Isleworth-built two-seaters – this one made in August 1954, the first of just three.
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This Riley is a mixture! It has a Sprite chassis but is allegedly powered by the engine from Raymond Mays’s “White Riley” which had developments leading to the E.R.A. engines which were of course Riley-based.

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Appropriately for this meeting some BMW 328s with right-hand drive marketed as Frazer-Nash-BMWs to reflect Isleworth’s involvement with the Munich company.

David Blumlein, May 2016

Upstairs, Downstairs

The 2016 Rétromobile expanded to an additional upstairs hall, mainly occupied by the Artcurial Auction lots. The quality was outstanding, like a museum display and The Special Correspondent had a field day.

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The Graham brothers built up their business by producing large numbers of trucks using Dodge mechanicals and then bought the Paige-Detroit Motor Company. In January 1928 the Graham-Paige range of cars was announced.
It was ambitious and in 1929 the firm made 77,000 cars – they even won the Monte Carlo Rally that year! The Paige name was dropped in the early Thirties and the company attracted plenty of customers with its new ”Blue Streak” styling in 1932, the cars having sloping grilles. In 1934 Graham offered a supercharger on the Custom Eight and, apart from the Auburn 851 Speedster, it was the only American company to feature a supercharger (until 1939). For 1938 a new styling innovation was introduced with sloping-back grille, square headlamps set in the front wings and spats on the rear wheels, this aggressive design earning the nickname “shark nose”. The public did not take to it and only 8,800 were made up to 1940.
The above car is a 1939 Type 97 supercharged cabriolet, a rare example having bodywork by the French coachbuilder Pourtout. It has a straight six 3.5-litre engine developing 115 b.h.p. and a 3-speed gearbox with overdrive.
A final thought: a Graham-Paige of uncertain vintage was bought in 1935 by a Mr Baker for less than £50 and ,with the 8-cylinder engine rebuilt and a two-seater long-tailed body made specially by Harrington of Hove, it went on to win in August 1939 the last ever race at Brooklands!
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1922 was the year that Georges Irat was making at Chatou an excellent 2-litre sports tourer with a 4-cylinder o.h.v.engine, the work of the former Delage engineer Maurice Gaultier. These cars performed well in the long-distance races of the era. In 1935 the company switched to making attractive 2-seater sports cars, first with Ruby engines and then with Citroën units.

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After the war a completely new prototype was shown at the 1946 Paris Salon with a lightweight magnesium alloy frame, a flat-four engine and all-enveloping bodywork. There was no positive response to this and a second attempt was made for the 1949 Paris Salon. This is the car shown here with its Lambourdette body found in the factory at Bègles (near Bordeaux) but it has since been underpinned with a Simca Huit chassis. Again it aroused no commercial interest and thus sadly represents the end of Georges Irat motor cars.
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Designed by Marcello Gandini, the Bugatti EB110 had a mid-mounted 3.5-litre V12 60 valve 4 turbo engine driving through all four wheels and a carbon fibre chassis made by Aérospatiale. It came about when Romano Artioli, a big Ferrari dealer in German-speaking northern Italy and the first to import Suzuki cars into the region, set up Bugatti Automobili S.p.A. in a brand new factory at Campogalliano near Modena.. The cars were produced between 1991 and 1995 after which the firm went bankrupt.
The appearance of the EB110S at Le Mans in 1994 has been well documented but less well-known is the racing history of this EB110SS of Gildo Pallanca-Pastor, a Monégasque entrepreneur who entered the car during 1995 and 1996 under the banner of his Monaco Racing Team.
The car’s first race was at the Watkins Glen 3 Hours in June 1995 where Patrick Tambay co-drove it into 19th place. Three weeks later Pallanca-Pastor came 16th on his own at Sears Point. A switch to the BPR Championship race at Suzuka in August brought retirement when a broken front drive-shaft sent Eric Hélary into the sand. The 1996 Daytona 24 Hours saw the car running in the GTS-1 class but there was no luck for Derek Hill (son of World Champion Phil Hill), Olivier Grouillard and Pallanca-Pastor, the gearbox failing after 154 laps. Even more disastrous was Tambay’s accident at the start of the Le Mans Test Day, effectively ending Pallanca’s hopes of running in the 24 Hour race.
The car’s last race came at the non-championship GT event at Dijon in June. Pallanca-Pastor finished 3rd in Heat 1 but Bertrand Balas, having initially led in Heat 2, was cruelly pushed off by Wolfgang Kaufmann’s bi-turbo Porsche 911.
To date this was the last racing appearance of a Bugatti in period.
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This is the Citroën 15-Six H (Hydropneumatique), a limited series available to selected clients only in 1954, which had the hydropneumatic rear suspension destined for the forthcoming DS19 which appeared at the 1955 Paris Salon. It served as something of a test-bed for the complicated new system and trials revealed that the front suspension needed adjustment to compensate – hence the front torsion bars were lengthened, being extended out at the front.
All this rather mirrors what Citroën did in 1934. Having launched a completely new range of 8, 10 and 15CV at the 1932 Paris Salon, they became known as the Rosalie series after Citroën had gone record-breaking at Montlhéry with Yacco-sponsored special versions, labelled “Rosalies”. In 1933 an 8CV collected many long-distance records, this car known as the “Petite Rosalie”. In May 1934 Citroën equipped the Rosalie cars with the independent torsion bar front suspension that was just appearing on the recently unveiled Traction Avant, Citroën feeling that it was wise to continue offering the Rosalie range while the completely new car was getting established.
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The Simca 8 Sport started life as an elegant cabriolet prototype with a Pinin Farina body at the 1948 Paris Salon in the Grand-Palais. The Head of Simca, Henri-Théodore Pigozzi, liked it so much that he decided to market it and production was entrusted to Facel-Métallon; the process was unusually complicated with the pressings made at Amboise, the assembly at Colombes and the final touches put on at Dreux! A fixed–head coupé accompanied the open version and the car was given an upgraded 1200 c.c. engine.
The coupé gained glory in the 1950 Monte Carlo Rally where the cars finished 4th and 5th overall, Scaron/Pascal winning the 1.5-litre class. A year later the cars were outclassed by the Jowett Jupiters, the Scaron/Pascal Simca Sport finishing 16th and even Trintignant managing only 48th.
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One of nine Frazer-Nash Le Mans Fixed-Head Coupés. It has the usual adjustable slats in front of the radiator, centre-lock wire wheels, an Austin rear axle, iron brake drums and adjustable torsion bars. It was ordered by Mrs Kitty Maurice of Castle Combe and completed in April 1955. It travelled to Le Mans in June 1955 as a support vehicle for AFN’s entries. Mrs Maurice did not keep it for long and AFN eventually bought it back in November 1957.
XMC 1 was sold to John Dashwood in March 1959 and he had AFN prepare the car for that year’s Le Mans race . The rear axle location was modified with a Panhard rod and rose joints in place of the original A-bracket. Driven by Dashwood and Bill Wilks, this was the last Frazer-Nash to race at Le Mans. After three hours Dashwood slid into the sandbank at Arnage when the brakes faded. The gearbox split as he tried to slow down and the steering was damaged.
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When launched at the 1934 Paris Salon the Renault Vivastella Grand Sport had a 3.6-litre 6-cylinder engine. But shortly after the Show the Vivastella Grand Sport became the Viva Grand Sport (Type ACX 1) and this had a 4.1-litre motor and more aerodynamic lines inspired by the famous Caudron-Renault Rafale aircraft, holder of the World Hour Record. The first Viva Grand Sport for 1936 (Type ACX 2) appeared in the summer of 1935 at the Concours d’Elégance du Bois de Boulogne. Refinements included a single-piece windscreen and a re-designed rear profile.

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This 1936 example is one of only three drivable surviving cabriolets. Notice how the gear lever, although operating a central change, is deployed through the dashboard! I note that the prominent French racing driver of the Thirties, René Le Bègue (winner of the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally and the 1939 Comminges Grand Prix) began his career using a Renault Viva Grand Sport.
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This is a Bugatti Type 40. Jean Bugatti took it off the production line in 1928 and designed a “fiacre” type body for it especially for his younger sister Lydia. The car was often “borrowed” by Bugatti racing drivers!
Bugatti launched the 4-cylinder racing Type 37 at the end of 1925. In mid-1926 he introduced the Type 40 to replace the Brescia as the 1.5-litre touring car. He took the engine of the Type 37 and fitted it to a new touring frame, stronger than that in the Brescia. He gave the car a narrower track and a new radiator.
Two French ladies, Marguerite Mareuse and Odette Siko, drove a Type 40 in the 1930 Le Mans race, finishing in 7th place.
Approximately 830 of the Type 40 and 40A were made.
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Back in 1908 you could buy a Detroit Electric car which would do 45 m.p.h. and have a range of 70—80 miles; not much progress since then evidently! There is currently a new vogue for electric cars in the name of zero emissions but, the moment the car is plugged in to recharge its batteries, the pollution is, of course, merely transferred to the power stations!
Under German Occupation during the Second World War, the French had little alternative to resorting to electrical power with a serious shortage of petrol and raw materials. All sorts of crude cars came on the market, this 4-wheeled Pierre Faure being one of the better ones. Constructed from October 1940 onwards at Vitry-sur-Seine, this 2-seater had a backbone chassis with a narrow track at the rear to avoid the use of a differential and front suspension by a transverse leaf spring. Six batteries were located in the nose and these gave a speed of approximately 25 m.p.h. with a range of some 50 miles.
The car was shown at the 1946 Paris Salon but could not compete with the new petrol cars and production ceased in 1947. It is thought that about 20 were made.

David Blumlein March 2016