Category Archives: From A Special Correspondent

image_pdfimage_print

Rare and Interesting at Techno Classica

It may be the dog days of summer but here at DDC Towers we are beavering away, playing catch up with material that has taken time to get posted. Here are the Special Correspondent’s reflections on the Techno Classica.

It was Clément Ader who made the first V8 engines and he entered three V8–engined cars for the tragic Paris–Madrid race in 1903. The race was stopped at Bordeaux because of the fatal accidents but all three of these cars successfully reached Bordeaux safely.

However it was de Dion who gave us the first production V8 car which was introduced at the 1910 Paris Show. This de Dion V8 dates from 1913 and its engine is of 4.6-litres.

In 1930 the Mille Miglia organisers introduced a Touring (Turismo) class for four-seater saloons to attract more entrants. In 1931 Alfa Romeo entered three 6C 1750 Gran Turismos with special “Aerodynamic” coupé bodies built by Touring – these can be considered the true ancestors of the modern GT.

In 1931 Gazzabini/Guatta came 8th and 1st in class; in 1932 Touring prepared new aerodynamic bodies and Minoia/Balestrieri came 4th and 1st in class.

This is a Talbot Grand Sport, chassis 110105. It ran at Le Mans three times but was never a works car. In 1951 it finished 17th; in 1952 André Chambas and André Morel raced it with two Roots-type superchargers fitted and brought it home 9th, the only Talbot to finish.

1953 was the car’s last race and Chambas had Charles de Cortanze (of Peugeot fame) as his co-driver – alas, Chambas spun after just 25 laps, damaging the gearbox and causing retirement; poor de Cortanze never got to drive!

During 1951 John Wyer, the Aston Martin racing manager, was hoping the new sports racing DB3 would be ready but , when  it became obvious that it would not be available until the end of the season, he decided to build two “lightweight” DB2 cars, registered XMC 76  and XMC 77. They had extensively drilled chassis, bodies in lighter 18-gauge alloy, Perspex side and rear windows and a power output of 128 bhp.

This car first appeared in the Production Sports Car Race at Silverstone in May and Parnell won the 3-litre class with seventh overall. At Le Mans Parnell shared with Hampshire to finish in 7th place and then Shawe-Taylor took another 7th in the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod.

In the 1952 Mille Miglia Parnell and Serboli finished 13th overall and in Switzerland’s Prix de Berne at Bremgarten in May Parnell came 5th, lacking the speed to challenge the Mercedes-Benz 300SL opposition.

TAILPIECE

A little Rovin microcar, made after World War 2 in the former Delaunay-Belleville factory at St Denis, Paris. One of these splendid machines won its class in the 1950 Bol d’Or at Montlhéry.

David Blumlein, August 2019    

Paris Métro

Paris in February is a cold and grey place but for those of us who appreciate the automobile there is a hot spot to be found at the Porte de Versailles, within the halls of the Paris Expo. I refer, of course, to the Rétromobile, a cornucopia of motoring excellence from all points of the compass. The Special Correspondent patrolled the aisles and uncovered these treasures for your appreciation.

In 1931 the oil company Yacco was seeking to obtain publicity for its products and bought a Citroën C6F with which to tackle long distance records at Montlhéry using its oils. Re-clothed in an aerodynamic body in aluminium, this car, baptised “Rosalie” after Sainte Rosalie, went on to attain 14 international records.

The Citroën-Yacco team returned to Montlhéry in 1933 with a special version of the 8CV model. Known as the “Petite Rosalie”, this car covered 300,000 kilometres at an average of 93 km/hr

This is the second prototype Bentley and the oldest surviving Bentley. Known as EXP2, it is the first Bentley to win a race, having crossed the line the winner of the Whitsun Junior Sprint Handicap at Brooklands on 16 May 1921 with F.C. Clement at the wheel.

It was eventually used as a practice car for the 1922 Tourist Trophy in the Isle of Man.

Very rare indeed is this Micron cyclecar, the nose of which seems to steer with the wheels! Made in Toulouse by Henri Jany, it had front wheel drive and used single –cylinder engines of either 350 or 500 c.c. Its claim  to fame was that four of them were entered for and successfully completed the Bol d’Or, Europe’s very first 24 hour race.

In 1953 Lancia introduced their first proper sports racing car, the D20 Coupé. This scored a third place in the Mille Miglia and won the Targa Florio but persistent cockpit heat caused Lancia to make a spyder- bodied version, the D23.

Painted pale blue, this model first appeared at the Gran Premio dell’ Autodromo di Monza at the end of June. This was a race for sports cars of up to 3-litres capacity and Felice Bonetto finished 2nd to Villoresi’s Ferrari in this actual car, which is chassis 0002.

Bernard Pichon and André Parat formed in the late Forties a coach building company at Sens. Initially they modified production cars, especially the Ford Vedette. Having made a fixed head coupé on the Panhard Dyna Junior, they introduced a more sporting “berlinette” based on the Dyna chassis, the first example being shown on their stand at the 1953 Salon de Paris. Much lower and lighter, the body was made of Duralinox and the model was known as the “ Dolomites”. Some 20-30 of these Panhard Pichot-Parat Dolomites were produced between 1953 and 1957 and sporting successes were achieved, for example, Bernand Consten and Pichot came 5th in the 1956 Rallye des Routes du Nord.

The example shown is a 1954 model with the earlier split windscreen.

In the Spring of 1936 Panhard introduced a radically new model, the Dynamic. Although it still used a sleeve-valve engine, two six cylinder sizes being offered, it had torsion bar suspension, independent at the front, and a completely new Louis Bionier-designed aerodynamic body with enclosed wheels and, most unusual of all, a central driving position, albeit on the earlier cars.

The pictures above show the driving position of one such car dating from 1936; the complete car shown is a 1939 example with the later left-hand drive.

Two views of the Serenissima V8 3-litre that ran at Le Mans in 1966, retiring with gearbox trouble.

Eugène Mauve, who created the Bol d’Or race in 1922,  built and raced the Elfe cyclecar from 1919 to 1921. This is a truthful replica of the version he ran in the Gaillon hillclimb in 1921 – it has a V-twin Anzani engine.

The work of Robert Bourbeau  and Henri Devaux, the Paris-built Bédélia was considered the first successful French cyclecar. It was like a wooden coffin on wheels with tandem seating and the driver at the back! Power came from single cylinder or V-twin air-cooled  engines at the front driving the rear wheels through enormously long belts.

It looked rather crude at first sight but these machines turned out to be surprisingly effective: one of them won the 1913 Cyclecar Grand Prix at Amiens and they were used by the French Army as field ambulances in the First World War.

TAILPIECE

What a Giant! This Berliet T100 is one of two survivors of the four originally made. They were conceived for work in the Algerian desert and the 50 tonne machine has a V12 Cummins diesel. It appeared at the commercial Salon in Paris in 1957 but for this year’s visit it had a journey from the Fondation Berliet (Lyon) of four days on a low-loader trailer hauled by a Volvo FH 16 of 750 h.p.

David Blumlein, March 2019

View from the Byfleet Banking

The gathering of automobilists on New Years Day at Brooklands has established itself as the opening highlight of Britain’s classical motoring calendar. It being the first day of the year helps but the event has grown in popularity as the Brooklands site has been redeveloped to reflect some of the past glories. Our Special Correspondent braved the conditions and a few rather dull exhibits to bring us this first dispatch from the 2019 Motoring Front. 

The New Year’s Day gathering at Brooklands is the biggest such event and in 2019 the majority of cars were nothing special – too many MGBs, VW Golfs, Triumph Stags etc. – but the day was saved for your correspondent by the arrival of a few “gems”:

First in the line of small sports cars that quickly gave the company its international reputation, the “M” type M.G. Midget was based on the newly introduced (in 1928) Morris Minor and shared with it the excellent Wolseley-designed overhead camshaft engine.

This car is an early Oxford-built example (before the final move to Abingdon) and has the central throttle pedal and transmission brake. It has Brooklands racing history and is equipped like the two cars that ran at Le Mans and Spa in 1930.

The pioneering Lanchester company amalgamated with Daimler in 1931 and this co-incided with Daimler casting aside their sleeve-valve engines (which they had used since 1908) and resorting to the use of poppet valves. In 1931 an interim Lanchester model, the 15/18, was introduced using the Daimler fluid flywheel and an example won the first R.A.C. Rally in 1932.

In October 1932 a completely new design was announced with a 6-cylinder ohv engine and the Lanchester cars were increasingly “Daimlerised”, this example having a 1378 c.c. 6-cylinder driving through a fluid flywheel and bodywork by Mulliners of Birmingham.

For Britain’s first post-war Motor Show in 1948 the Nuffield Group introduced a completely new range of Morris and Wolseley cars, quite unlike anything to emerge from their factories before. The Issigonis-designed Morris Minor was one of the Earls Court stars but two new Wolseleys were there as well: the 4-cylinder 4/50 and the bigger 6-cylinder 6/80. These both had, in the best Wolseley tradition, overhead camshaft engines (the 6-cylinder shared with the new Morris Six) and they were the first Wolseleys to have independent front suspension, this being an adaption of the Issigonis wishbone and torsion bar design. And steering-column gear changes, all the fashion at the time, were also new for Nuffield.

They were not sporting cars, although some private owners turned up for the Monte Carlo Rally for a few years, and the Police chose them in quantity as Patrol cars.

The car shown is a typical 6/80 saloon.

In July 1937 Lord Austin introduced to the Press at Longbridge the Big Seven. This was a supplementary model to the famous Seven and had a longer chassis and an engine of 900 c.c. It was intended to bridge the gap between the Seven and the Ten. It turned out not to be a best seller and production stopped on 1939 when it was replaced by the Leonard Lord-inspired Eight which became a real success.

The Big Seven did compete on a small scale, four works cars, for example, taking premier awards in the 1939 Exeter Trial.

David Blumlein February 2019

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.

TAILPIECE

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.
TAILPIECE


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).
TAILPIECE

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……..so 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.

TAILPIECE

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!
TAILPIECE


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

Rare and Interesting at the 2017 Rétromobile

The Special Correspondent has been on his travels, the target in February was the Porte de Versailles and the Rétromobile, that celebration of the automobile that is an unmissable part of classics scene. He brings us a menu of rare and interesting……….


Today hatchbacks are justifiably popular but to the French they are nothing new. Citroën and Peugeot were, for example, making the “commerciales” from the late Twenties onwards. Here we have a 1939 Traction Avant Citroën Commerciale showing off the considerable capacity available.

Jacques Bignan was one of the big names in French motor sport in the Twenties. He made a variety of sporting cars , a 3-litre version winning the 1921 Corsican Grand Prix, a race considered to be the first proper sports car race. This car is a blatant case of badge-engineering – it is a Salmson AL3 with a Bignan radiator! Ever the enthusiast, Bignan spent too much money on racing and his company did not last the decade. However, one of his 2-litre cars won the 1924 Monte Carlo Rally and Jacques himself went on to win the 1928 event in a Fiat 509.

This is a very rare car, in fact the only known survivor. It is a Crossley Bugatti Brescia, part-machined and assembled by Crossley Motors Ltd of Gorton in Manchester.

Bugatti’s factory was in a pretty poor state after the Great War and he licensed out some production of his successful Brescia model to Rheinische Automobilbau AG in Dϋsseldorf in Germany ( the Rabag cars), to Diatto in Italy and to Crossley. Not many were made in England, possibly 24/25. A Diatto-Bugatti led home two O.M.s in a race at Brescia in 1921.

This was a surprise because this unique car has normally resided in the Le Mans Museum. It is the 2-litre class-winning Moynet which ran at Le Mans in 1975 with an all-female crew.

Still at Le Mans but a year later and again a unique car. This Lenham P71 used a 1.8-litre Ford engine but retired just after half-way.

The DB3 was Aston Martin’s first sports racing car. The company was hoping that the Le Mans organisers would soon abandon the prototypes which were introduced after the war as a temporary stand-in and get back to production-based sports cars but the prototypes were too big an attraction, so Aston Martin was obliged to join in!Prof. Eberon von Eberhorst was called in to design the car but its development turned out to be too protracted; furthermore it was late on the scene, it was too heavy and was powered only by Aston’s 2.6-litre engine which was inadequate.

It did take some class wins and won outright the 1952 Goodwood Nine Hour race against works Jaguar C-types but Aston Martin only found real success when “Willie” Watson, on his own initiative, offered the team his much lightened version, the DB3S.

J.A.Prestwich (JAP) was famous for making single and twin-cylinder engines for a wide variety of motorcycles, cyclecars, road cars such as the three-wheeled Morgan, the 500c.c. Formula 3 racing cars and others. In 1908 JAP decided to construct some V8 and V4 engines aimed at the budding aviation industry.
Here we see an overhead valve JAP V8 engine mounted in a pre-WW1 GN wooden chassis. It is the prototype unit and is one of only four known surviving JAP V8s; it has a capacity of 5-litres.
In a more modern context, JAP made the cylinder heads for the Lotus Cortina.

This is a DB Panhard 848c.c. with bodywork in aluminium by the coachbuilder Cottard of Bourg en Bresse. It was lighter than the plastic-bodied cars but only five were constructed, all in 1958. The third car made was destroyed during that year’s Tour de France Automobile at Reims.

A rare sight indeed! We associate the all-conquering 1100c.c. Salmsons of the Twenties with their superb twin-cam engines but before these Emile Petit had devised a clever arrangement whereby his 4-cylinder engine had its valves operated by only four pushrods! The special rockers can be seen.
TAILPIECE

Breguet was well- known as a French aircraft manufacturer from Toulouse and, because of the acute shortage of petrol during the German occupation in World War Two, Louis Breguet joined the ranks of electric car makers.

This is his A2 2-seater coupé with a Paris-Rhône motor mounted at the rear. It had a range of 65 miles, top speed 30 m.p.h.

David Blumlein, March 2017

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.

2016 DB General

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

2016 DB General

 

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.
2016 DB General
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.
2016 DB General
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.
2016 DB General
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!

2016 DB General

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.
2016 DB General
This view, taken from the edge of the Paddock, conveys something of the charm and warmth of Prescott.
2016 DB General
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.
2016 DB General
Two superb examples of the famous Riley Brooklands model, Riley’s most successful sporting car.

2016 DB General

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.
2016 DB General
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.
2016 DB General
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.
2016 DB General
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.
2016 DB General
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.
2016 DB General
One has to include a Bugatti at Prescott, the home of the Bugatti Owners’ Club! So here is a Brescia going well at Pardon.
TAILPIECE
2016 DB General
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