Monthly Archives: April 2015

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Coventry Considerations

The Special Correspondent has been to Coventry and, as usual, he brings us some automotive treasures.

While attending the excellent seminar of the Society of Automotive Historians at Coventry Transport Museum, I grabbed a few moments in the lunch hour to nip around that part of the museum which has already been re-furbished. Here are some of the gems:

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This is where the story all began. In 1888 F.R. Simms met Gottlieb Daimler at the Bremen International Exhibition. Five years later the Daimler Motor Syndicate Ltd was formed in London following Simms’s acquisition of the Daimler engine patent rights for Great Britain. In 1895 the British Motor Syndicate Ltd, led by the dubious Harry J. Lawson, acquired those rights from Simms. This in turn led to the flotation of the Daimler Motor Company Ltd in Coventry in 1896. By 1897 production was under way of Daimler cars in the Coventry “Motor Mills” alongside the MMC cars. This Daimler dates from 1898.

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In 1896 Lawson paid Léon Bollée £20,000 for the English manufacturing and patent rights of his 3-wheeler – thus did Humber make the first Léon Bollée Voiturette built in this country.

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A Rover 6 displayed in front of a depiction of the original Meteor works in Coventry with some early Rover cycles. This factory never survived the Luftwaffe’s onslaught. The 6hp model was the second model Rover produced, the first being the 8 in 1904, the first car with a backbone chassis, designed by Edmund Lewis.

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John Davenport Siddeley took over the ailing Deasy company in 1909 and the cars were known as Siddeley-Deasys – they had bulkhead- mounted radiators like the Renaults. This is a 1912 model. After the Great War the cars became Armstrong-Siddeleys.

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A Coventry Premier 3-wheeler. The company made a cyclecar in 1912-14 and an advanced 4-cylinder failed to make production with the coming of the war. This cheaper model was considered more appropriate for the post-war conditions. It had a V-twin engine. Singer took over the firm and produced a 4-wheel variant and a cheap version of the Singer Ten was badged as a Coventry Premier in 1923 before dropping the name altogether in the next season.

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This is the Lea-Francis Hyper which was driven by Kaye Don to victory in the revived Tourist Trophy race, run on the Ards circuit for the first time in 1928.

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Lea-Francis were at the peak of their competition successes in the late Twenties and this 4-seater version of the Hyper won the 1500 c.c. class at Le Mans in 1929 driven by Peacock and Newsome, finishing 8th overall. The following year they won the class again with a 6th place finish.

TAILPIECE

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A portrait of Siegfried Bettmann who, as a German immigrant, adopted England as his home and who rose to become Mayor of Coventry in 1913. He is remembered also as the creator of the Triumph Company.

David Blumlein, April 2015

A Glimpse of British GT, 2015 – style

The Special Correspondent has been a long time supporter of GT Racing, especially in recent years the excellent British GT Championship. So he seized an opportunity to preview the 2015 edition with a visit to Brands Hatch a week or so back.

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Wednesday 25 March – Media Day for the British GT at Brands Hatch. Wet weather was forecast but it was dry and sunny the whole day. This year the splendid entry of 35 cars is almost completely balanced between the GT3 cars (18) and the GT4s (17), this latter class becoming deservedly very popular. A number of cars spent useful time on the circuit – here are some of them:
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One of three BMW Z4 GT3s entered, this being run by Barwell Racing for Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen.
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There are Aston Martin Vantage GT3s aplenty. No. 4 is one of the Oman Racing Team cars.
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This RAM Racing Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 is one of two expected to run this year.

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New this season are two McLaren 650S cars entered by Von Ryan Racing.
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Hopefully the Toyota GT86 will race more regularly this year.
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Lots of Astons in the GT4 category this season. Here Beechdean’s car is entering Druid’s Bend.
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Good to see three Lotus Evoras – no. 77 is the car for Lotus Engineer Gavan Kershaw;

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no. 54 is one of the two Ultra Tek Racing entries.
TAILPIECE
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The part of the Lotus that hopefully the other GT4 contenders will see!

David Blumlein, April 2015

A Continental Tour

 

The Special Correspondent has been visiting shows on the continent, Paris and Bremen have been his targets. He brings us a fine selection of the rare and interesting from these venues, sit back and enjoy the automotive education. 

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The Bugatti Type 43 is considered to be one of the four “landmark” cars from Ettore’s factory, the others being the Brescia, the Type 35 Grand Prix car and the Type 57 from the Thirties.

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The Type 43 could be thought of as the McLaren of its day when introduced in 1927. Based on the Type 38 chassis it had a Type 35B 2.3-litre 8-cylinder supercharged Grand Prix engine mounted in a Molsheim open four-seater body of narrow torpedo shape with a single left-hand door. The car ran on the detachable rim alloy wheels from the Grand Prix car.
The car had no outstanding success in competition – a team of three works cars could only manage 6th, 13th and 16th in the 1928 Mille Miglia. It tended to be unreliable and had a certain proclivity for catching fire (Campbell’s at the 1928 Tourist Trophy, for example).
Bugatti made just over 150 of them and it seems that one was presented to Louis Chiron in lieu of payment for racing successes!

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The Germans were undoubtedly the pace-setters in the art of streamlining in the 1930s as exemplified by the Mercedes factory’s recreation of their 1938 W29 5.4-litre Stromlinien-Limousine.

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Le Mans enthusiasts tend to be familiar with Grégoire’s little front-drive Tractas which did well at the 24-Hour race but do they know of this very pretty Type E two-seater built for the road? It is powered by an American-made 2.6-litre Continental 6-cylinder engine.

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What do these three cars have in common, the Amilcar CG SS……..

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……the Delaunay-Belleville Type H.C.4……

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and the Hotchkiss 864 Vichy?

The answer is that they all emanated from factories in the northern Parisian suburb of Saint Denis. Away from car lovers the Abbaye of Saint Denis is famous as the place where the pointed Gothic arch which adorns so many cathedrals and churches in Europe was invented.

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This lovely 1935 Rover 14 Streamline Coupé reminds us that streamlining to the English manufacturers at that time invariably meant what we came to call “fastbacks”. Nevertheless, with a 6-cylinder 1600 c.c. o.h.v. engine fed by 3 S.U. carburettors, this car could reach 131km/h. Rover made just 300 of them.

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1937 Bugatti Type 57S (surbaissée) with a 3.3-litre 8-cylinder, built for T.A.S.O. Mathieson, a very competent amateur driver. It has a unique cabriolet body by Corsica. He raced it in the 1938 Tourist Trophy at Donington, finishing 20th and 4th in class.

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This car is the beginning of the HWM story. John Heath used this sports racer in 1948. It had a tubular chassis, pre-selector gearbox and a 4-cylinder twin –carburettor 2-litre Alta engine. It first raced in the Jersey Road Race, retiring after 19 laps when the timing chain broke. He was encouraged to enter it for the revived Spa 24-Hour race but his co-driver, George Abecassis, crashed it during the night. A front wheel parted company twice (!) during the Paris 12—Hours in September. All this led to a heavily revised car for 1949 and soon to the Formula 2 HWMs.

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This is a Ford Eifel, the German version of the Model C, built in the Köln factory. Henry Ford had a rather sympathetic relationship with Hitler which explains the continued presence of the Ford factory in Nazi Germany. The Wehrmacht was always desperately short of lorries during the war and Ford helped to oblige.

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Adler commissioned Hans-Gustav Rohr to design a 1501 c.c. front-wheel drive all independent suspension car with bodywork by Ambi-Budd – this was the Adler Trumpf, introduced at the 1932 Geneva Show. It was very successful and came to be built under licence by Imperia in Belgium and Rosengart in France. Ultra-streamlined versions eventually ran successfully at Le Mans and Spa.
TAILPIECE

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Here is the former Karmann factory in Osnabruck, rescued by VW.

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David Blumlein, April 2015

 

Rétromobile 2015 – Classics with a Gallic Flavour

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The 2015 edition of Rétromobile had the usual top quality ingredients, a combination of cars, clubs, manufacturers, dealers and petrol heads served up as automotive haute cuisine.

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Perhaps the biggest act was the Artcurial sale of the Baillon Collection. This made headlines all around the globe…..nothing like a “barn find” raising millions to grab the attention.

I looked at it earlier HERE

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Back in 1977 this Porsche 936 and its drivers, Jacky Ickx, Jürgen Barth and Hurley Haywood came from last place to win the Le Mans 24 Hours, destroying the hopes of Renault along the way. More on that HERE

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The Bugatti T41 aka Royale was the last word in luxury motoring between the wars, just six were sold, all different. This example is described HERE

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Another fantastic restoration job from the folks at Mercedes-Benz Classic on this 540K, the full story can be found HERE

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The Retromobile is a must see/do for anyone with petrol in their veins, make a date in the diary for 2016.

John Brooks, April 2015

The Right Crowd

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The 73rd Members’ Meeting held at Goodwood a few weeks back was a resounding success according to all who attended. Less desperately crowded than the Festival of Speed and less theatrical than the Revival, the MM is focussed squarely on celebrating great racing cars.

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Fortunately here at DDC we have the services of ace snapper Simon Hildrew who has really captured the spirit of the event. So enjoy this vision of great cars in a grand setting.

John Brooks, April 2015