Tag Archives: Techno Classica

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Investigations in Essen

The sharper blades amongst you will have noticed the absence of the Special Correspondent for most of 2018. There were several reasons for this unfortunate state of affairs, time spent finishing off his next book, then some health issues, all conspired to deprive us of his wisdom. The good news is that he is fighting fit once again and that the book is now in the production stage, more on that exciting prospect later. Even better news is that he has a series of pieces stored up to carry us through this season of short days and miserable weather. Earlier this year we hopped on the train and made our way to Essen for Techno Classica, here are some of the delights that he found in the halls……….

Often overlooked is the Lamborghini Islero, a replacement for the 350GT/400GT and made from 1968 to 1970. It had a body by Marazzi who founded his Carrozziera in 1967 outside Milan, employing some workers from the bankrupt Touring concern – Marazzi is remembered especially for his production of the beautiful Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.

The Islero was the first Lamborghini to appear at Le Mans: a private Islero 400GT, painted a gorgeous red, practised in 1975 but it was too heavy and failed to qualify.

This Type 640 Skoda was the first of their cars to be given the name Superb. It had a 6-cylinder side-valve engine of 2,492 c.c. and was built from 1934 to 1936. This was also the first Skoda to have hydraulic brakes.

Porsche built 44 of their 365/2 coupés in their original home in Gmϋnd, Austria. They proved ideal for competitions with their aluminium body, high torsional stiffness and aerodynamic efficiency.

The rally-plate on this example recalls the outright win by Polensky and Linge in 1954 on the Liège-Rome-Liège, always one of Europe’s toughest events.

Once in power the Nazi Party was both quick and keen to promote German motorsport and one of the important events of the mid-Thirties was the 2000 km durch Deutschland Trial, a demanding run around this big country.

The major German motor manufacturers built special cars for the event, not least Mercedes and the Auto Union combine, and this Horch 830 Coupé was one of a team which took part in July 1933. A 3-litre V8 supplied the power.

This is a DB-Renault, one of three built for Le Mans in 1954. They were unusual in several ways: they were the first cars to come from Charles Deutsch and René Bonnet with a mid-mounted engine, they used Renault motors whereas all DBs from 1950 had used exclusively the flat-twin Panhard engines and they had central driving positions. This car is chassis 2003 and, like its team-mates, failed at Le Mans It also retired in the Reims 12-hour race but Jean Lucas won his class at Amiens and finished 5th at La Baule.

DB did not repeat the experiment and stuck with Panhard power till the end but when Bonnet split with Deutsch for 1962 he turned completely to Renault power and mounted the 4-cylinder engine amidships in the Djet.

Veritas was one of the main small companies instrumental in the revival of German motorsport in the immediate years after the Second World War. They used the chassis and engine of the pre-war BMW 328 as the basis of their initial production and created modern streamlined bodywork, the tuned machines being successful in domestic sports car races.

The company went on to make some attractive road-going coupés and as the supply of BMW engines dried up, a 2-litre 6-cylinder overhead cam engine made by Heinkel was used. Eventually one of the founders, Ernst Loof, set up on his own at the Nϋrburgring this is one of four Nϋrburgring Coupés of 1957.

TAILPIECE

This microcar, the Zϋndapp Janus, was the only car made by the German motorcycle manufacturer. Powered by a single-cylinder two-stroke 245 c.c. engine giving just 14 h.p., the car with opening front and rear doors was named after the Roman god Janus who had two faces.

 

David Blumlein November 2018

 

 

Essen Delight

A visit to the Techno Classica is always something to savour, 2017 did not prove an exception to this rule.

Almost too much to see and do, but virtually every aspect of the automobile is illustrated and there is something in every corner to excite.

Here is my take on the show.

John Brooks, July 2017

Alfa Romeo at Techno Classica

We are fortunate indeed to have John Elwin, a recognised Alfa Romeo expert, to guide us through the fantastic selection from the Italian craftsmen that was on display at this year’s Techno Classica. Avanti!

Alfa Romeo enthusiasts visiting the 29th Techno Classica Essen would surely not have been disappointed for amongst the 2,500 classics packed into the Messe Essen was a good array of the Milanese masterpieces from across the ages. What’s more one unique example picked up the ‘Best in Show’ accolade from the concours judges, whilst two others were amongst the trophy winners.

The FIVA-endorsed ‘Best in Show’ award was presented to the 1960 Alfa Romeo 6C 3000CM Pininfarina Superflow IV exhibited by Britain’s Jim Stokes Workshops and Fast Cars Ltd., from the USA. The car (chassis #00128) has an interesting history, as it was one of six Colli-designed Coupe’s hastily built by the works for the 1953 competition season. The original plan had been to use the futuristic-looking Disco Volante but that proved to be aerodynamically somewhat unstable in testing.

This car’s primary claim to fame was to be taken to second place in that year’s Mille Miglia by Juan Manuel Fangio, only losing out in the closing stages to Marzotto’s Ferrari when suspension damage sustained by the Alfa left it with steering on only one side. Nevertheless the Argentinian maestro was still averaging more than 100mph! It was a particularly competitive year, with the Mille Miglia counting towards the World Sportscar Championship, so the contest at the front was ferocious, not only between the leading Italian marques of Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Lancia, but also with the likes of Aston Martin and Jaguar sending works teams.

At the end of its competition life chassis #00128 was packed off to Pininfarina, where it was used as the base for a string of show cars – there was no revered retirement even if it was an ex-Fangio car! It first appeared at Geneva Motor Show in 1956, Paris later the same year and Geneva again in 1959, eventually appearing in the form you see today at Geneva in 1960, when it incorporated various features from the previous designs such as the plexiglass roof. Styling cues for the forthcoming Duetto Spyder are also evident, and with its show career over the car was packed off to the US where it toured dealerships attracting buyers into the showroom where they would hopefully buy a new Duetto.

The Superflow IV is now in the hands Craig Calder’s US business Fast Cars Ltd., and rumour suggests it could be yours for around $10 million. Whilst the bodywork has gone through various transformations, it is still very much a race car mechanically, with its 3.6-litre engine, so not really suitable for road use.

Another worthy winner was the stunning battleship grey 1937 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Pescara Coupe Pininfarina exhibited by German specialists Thiesen.

One of only two cars built, its sister car was first shown at the Concorso d’Eleganza Torino in 1937, where it won first prize, naturally! In more recent times this car has done the rounds of prestigious events, picking up awards in places like Villa d’Este, Pebble Beach and Kuwait.

It was not the only Alfa Thiesen’s brought along to Essen, for also on offer was a 1949 6C 2500 SS Villa D’Este Cabriolet, this time with body by Touring. The rather elegant metallic grey machine was first seen at Turin’s Autosalon in 1950.

The third of our prizewinners was a 1962 Giulietta SZ Coda Tronca, one of just 30 examples built and delivered to the Swiss Alfa Romeo importer. The first owner, one Pierre Scaramiglia, used the car to contest various national and international events before selling it on to a new owner in Geneva, who used it on the road until the engine blew up. He replaced the blown unit with a Giulietta 1300 engine before selling the car on. It eventually ended up with the current owner who has spent a considerable sum restoring it mechanically to original specification, complete with correct 120 series engine. As a result it was awarded a ‘Targa d’Argento’ award at Villa d’Este in 2006. Dutch dealers VeniVidiVici have it on offer for a mere 675,000 euros.

By comparison, the 1968 1300 GTA Junior on sale at Gallery Aaldering sounds cheap at 245,000 euros. It is an ex Rhoddy Harvey Bailey car, but not the works racer he drove for Autodelta. However it is a matching-numbers car built in 1968, rather than being works car raced by Harvey Bailey at the time it seems he acquired it at a later date to race in the UK. Nevertheless it is a desirable and original example of the model, of which there are many replicas. Indeed the 105-Series Giulia range is popular in all its forms (saloon, coupe, spider) and many examples were to be found dotted around various dealer stands throughout the show.

Also related was the Montreal, the V8-engined confection created for the Expo ’66 staged in Montreal, Canada. A very nice low mileage example in white was on offer in Essen.

Alfa Romeo has consistently put more effort than most manufacturers into maintaining its heritage, but whilst the company stand in Essen was providing a first opportunity for many to see the new Stelvio SUV, they also brought along some exhibits from the newly revamped Museo Storico. On show was an RL Super Sport, of which just 393 examples were built during the period 1921-27. It had a sporting pedigree, a Corsa version having taken part in the 1923 Targa Florio, whilst five RL SS’s competed in the 1925 Mille Miglia, the Gastone Brilli-Perj car even leading the race.

There was more sporting influence in the 1931 8C 2300 Spider Corto Mille Miglia, the chassis being developed from the 6C 1750 model. The model debuted on the Mille Miglia in 1931, Campari only narrowly being defeated by Carracciola’s Mercedes-Benz. However, Alfa filled nine of the top ten places in 1932, with Borzacchini winning from Trossi. The following things went even better with a clean sweep of the top ten places, Nuvolari being victorious.

Success for the model was not limited to the Mille Miglia either, for despite building just 308 examples of the 8C 2300 between 1931-34, there was also success in the Targa Florio, at the Le Mans 24-Hours, and even in Grand Prix racing. Speaking of Grand Prix cars, a P2 did appear elsewhere, but with no information.

Making a return visit, having first been seen at Essen two years ago, was the 1947 Ghia-bodied 6C 2500, this being one of two surviving examples of the four originally built. Probably not the most beautiful body ever to adorn an Alfa, it nevertheless has been a class winner at Villa d’Este.

It was sold by The Houtkamp Collection from Holland after showing it at Techno Classica in 2014. Now that owner has spotted something else Houtkamp have on offer, so has put it back on the market.

Yet another Dutch dealer, Strada e Corsa, was offering – actually it sold early on – a 1956 1900 ‘Primavera’ Coupe with bodywork by Boano, looking remarkably like a Sunbeam Rapier from some angles.

It was severely in need of a full restoration although appearing complete. However, it was a matching-number car complete with comprehensive documentation and a known history so well worth the effort, especially as it is one of the few remaining survivors of just 300 cars built.

Certainly not in need of restoration was the gleaming black 155 V6, a local car that appeared on the German Alfaclub stand, where they were marking the model’s 25th anniversary. The understated, and under-appreciated, 155 provided the basis for a tremendous racing success both in highly developed DTM form and in Super Touring championships around the world, Gabriele Tarquini most notably sweeping all before him in the British Touring Car Championship in 1994 when as many as ten manufacturers competed with works- or works-supported teams.

The 155 was replaced by the more stylish 156, it too achieving great success in touring car racing. It is a bit too new yet to be appearing in classic car shows. However, one trader was offering a real rarity, in the form of a car devised for a still-born Spanish racing series. With more than a passing nod to Bernie Ecclestone’s 164 Procar prototype, the 2001 Alfa Romeo 156 ‘Maxi-Turismo’ featured carbon fibre 156 bodywork a-top a Tampoli sports prototype chassis. The Enzo Coloni-built car is powered by a race spec. version of Alfa’s 3-litre V6, mated to a Hewland sequential ‘box.

There we have it. The scale of Essen being what it is I am bound to have missed something but hopefully I’ve spotted all the important ones!

John Elwin, 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

Techno Prisoners?

Prize-winning Fiat 8V Vignale

The Techno Classic is one of the great car shows in the historic calendar and we are fortunate to have John Elwin pay his annual visit to Essen and bring us his observations.

Swedish BP tanker on Autostadt stand

Size isn’t everything, or so they say, but they think differently in Germany where Techno Classic Essen has long held sway as the biggest and best classic car show in the world (as Jeremy Clarkson might say). Show organisers’ S.I.H.A. were not content with that however, and the biggest just got bigger.

Pozzi Ferrari

Despite having previously had a total floor space of 120,000 square metres to fill, S.I.H.A. have a growing waiting list of exhibitors wanting to join the party; construction work is due to start imminently on an upgrade and expansion to the Messe Essen, but three extra halls were added to the show this year by taking over the adjacent Grugahalle concert venue, together with a temporary structure, to give a total of 127,000 square metres spread over twenty one halls. Squeezed into that space was some 1,250 exhibitors representing thirty different countries, whilst the in excess of 2,500 classic vehicles on display must surely have satisfied the tastes of every one of the record 201,034 visitors who passed through the show during the five days.

A girl can dream

There, that’s the statistics dealt with, but what was the show like? Pretty good actually, although admittedly my visit was briefer than normal this year, meaning that I probably missed as much as I saw.

Droptop Mercs

I did notice that – going against the grain – some of the manufacturer displays were a little reduced from previous years, notably Mercedes-Benz and BMW. They were impressive, all the same. Mercedes’ emphasis was on cabriolets, with a fine display from down the years, well laid out as usual.

BMW 635 Convertible prototype

BMW have a centenary to celebrate this year and so the emphasis was on BMW Classic, with little evidence of Mini and Rolls-Royce history to which they usually like to lay claim. Cars on display were predominantly from the various 3-Series generations as well as the 1500/2002 predecessors.

BMW 2002 turbo

Amongst them was a 2002 Turbo, complete with mirror-image script across the front. From the early days of ‘all or nothing’ turbo power, it was said to be a bit of a handful on the road. Oh, and there was an aeroplane hanging from the ceiling…

VW Golf-based concept

Apparently untroubled by their woes in other parts of the world, the VAG constituent brands once again filled an entire hall with machinery from the back catalogues. VW itself was majoring on 40 years of the Golf GTI, which in keeping with the ‘getting bigger’ theme has put on a bit of middle-aged spread over the years, but then haven’t we all?

Porsche 924 prototype

By contrast, Porsche was also celebrating the 40th anniversary of the transaxle models by showing a 1974 924 prototype, which looked rather more bulbous than the eventual production models. Also on view was a 1995 928 GTS, the very last one built – but weren’t these cars supposed to spell the death-knell for the 911 range, which twenty-one years later is still showing no signs of fading away?

Audi Group S rally car

Audi can always be relied upon to bring along something interesting and this time it was a prototype rally car. Back in the mid 1980’s the World Rally Championship was contested by fire-breathing Group B monsters such as the Peugeot 205 T16 and Metro 6R4, whilst Audi was using the closer-to-production quattro. With a revised set of rules, designated Group S, due to be introduced in 1987 Audi set about creating the Mid Engine Rally Prototype. However, a series of dreadful accidents led the FIA to can both Groups B and S, eventually taking rally cars back to a more production-like formula in a bid to curb performance, consequently Audi’s new car never turned a wheel in anger. It has to be said that the plain white machine is not the prettiest thing to emerge from Audi but no doubt it would have been effective.

Audi Avus concept

Far more appealing was the Audi Avus quattro concept car alongside, which dazzled the crowds with its polished aluminium bodywork at the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show.

Abarth's new rally-prepared 124 Spider

Elsewhere on manufacturer stands, Alfa Romeo gave its new Giulia model its German debut, shown alongside some of its forbears, whilst Fiat and Abarth both had examples of the very appealing new 124 Spider, Abarth’s being in rally trim. Volvo meanwhile was marking the 60th birthday of the Amazon.

Mistral-bodied Jaguar XK120

You can always count on the high-end dealers to bring along some interesting exhibits and this year was no exception. Switzerland’s Lukas Hüni never fails, this time showing a one-off re-bodied Jaguar XK120. In 1954 Californian Bob Young Dahl tried to buy a C-Type to race in West Coast events, but Jaguar had sold out of the model, offering him instead an XK120SE, which he bought although he really wanted the racer. However, he discovered that the British company, Microplas, produced a glassfibre body called the Mistral, so he obtained one and had it fitted to his Jaguar. He contested a number of races but eventually badly damaged the car and lost interest. It lay unloved in storage for many years before being bought and repaired in 1989, eventually finding its way to Belgium in 1999. Subsequently Frenchman Xavier Lebeuf took it on and conducted an extensive restoration, such that it now has an FIA technical passport and is up for sale.

Bentley R Graber Convertible

Thiesen’s had a couple of fine examples of the Bentley R-Type’s with very different bodywork. The 1950 Contintal Cabriolet was one of just four produced with bodywork by the Swiss Carosserie Graber, the rear-end styling displaying similar lines to those deployed on the Alvis by the same company. Meanwhile the aluminium bodywork adorning a 1955 Continental Coupe was a one-off creation by the French company of Marius Franay, working in conjunction with Chapron.

Ferrari 250 GT Boano

Axel Schuette Fine Cars is another dealer that is always worth a visit, and this time the stand was home to the FIVA ‘Best of Show’ concours winner in the shape of a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta. In addition to that award a panel of journalists – including your correspondent – also make their own choices in various classes in addition to ‘Best of Show: Cabriolet/Limousine/Coupé. Here we too demonstrated a definite bias in favour of Italians by picking a 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Pescara, 1934 Lancia Astura Series 3 and a 1953 Fiat 8V Vignale respectively.

1960 Fiat Abarth record breaker

Two very different Italian machines but with a common link in that they were both styled by Pininfarina attracted a lot of attention too. Remarkably, they both dated from 1960 but couldn’t have been more different. American dealer Hyman had the remarkable Pininfarina X, whilst Auto Classic srl brought the Fiat Abarth 1000 record-breaker on its first journey away from Turin, where it has resided in a private collection, in more than fifty years. Originally conceived as an engine test bed, the sleek silver machine – dubbed ‘La Principessa’ by the mechanics – went on to establish no less than eight speed records in the hands of various drivers such as Giancarlo Baghetti and Umberto Maglioli at Monza in September/October 1960.

Fangio's Mille Miglia Merc, or is it

The Italian theme was continued by show organisers’ S.I.H.A., the subject of their central display being the 1955 Mille Miglia. It was headed up by a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR from the Mercedes Museum and ‘replicating’ Fangio’s car from the race in which he finished second to Stirling Moss. However, amongst the others on display was the fourth-place Maserati A6 GCS and the Ferrari 750 Monza that came home sixth.

1951 BMW Canta

There was just so much more to see at Essen, but time ran out. I’ll just mention three very different exhibits, all with a BMW connection, that caught the eye. Upstairs in the private sales area was a ‘prototype’ 635 Cabriolet – was it a factory job? Looking like new on Rareparts.nl stand was a very low mileage BMW 600, somewhat optimistically described as a Limousine, whilst French specialist La Galerie Des Damiers brought along a 1951 BMW Canta – a combination of a BMW 750cc engine mounted in a tubular chassis and clothed in aluminium bodywork by Canta of Turin. It might be a tiny machine but it’ll want an awful lot of work!

Next years’ show takes place on 5-9 April 2017. For info: www.siha.de

John Elwin, April 2016

Rare and Interesting at the Techno Classica

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The Special Correspondent casts his eye around the halls of this year’s Techno Classica, as is his wont he uncovers some gems for our appreciation.

1937 Mercedes-Benz 230N
A rare Mercedes model. This beautifully preserved car has a 2.2-litre 6-cylinder side-valve engine and transverse leaf independent front suspension.
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Here is its cockpit. Only 38 of these cars were made.

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1925 Renault 40CV
This was Louis Renault’s attempt to compete in the luxury market with the likes of Hispano-Suiza, Maybach, Rolls-Royce and Isotta Fraschini. The basic model was introduced in 1921 and they were only made in limited numbers. This monumental car, the MN model, has the “new” losange Renault badge introduced in 1925. It was in this year that Renault took one of these cars fitted with a L’Avocat & Marsaud 4-seater open body to Montlhéry where it captured a host of records including the world’s 24 hour record at 87.65 m.p.h.
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This is what it’s like to sit in, still with the fashionable right-hand drive for luxury cars.

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Tatra 80
Still with luxury cars, this is the largest car made by this fascinating Czechoslovakian company, the work of the gifted Hans Ledwinka.
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It is powered by this impressive 5.99-litre V-12 uncharacteristically equipped with side valves – note the unusual dynamo drive on top of the engine at the back – and the rear suspension has a massive transverse leaf spring controlling the swing-axles. Again like the Renault it was aimed at the top luxury market and a mere 25 were built from 1930-35. The President of the Czech Republic, T.G. Masaryk, used one as did the Minister for Foreign Affairs, E. Beneš.
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Skoda Superb 640

We are used to regarding Skodas as excellent cars these days but before the Second World War and the subsequent onslaught of the Communist regime they made very fine cars.

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This is a typical example with a type name familiar today. This version has a 2.5-litre 6-cylinder side-valve engine giving 68 m.p.h. Only 201 of them were constructed between 1934-36.

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1931 DKW F1

There’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1 v9)! No, McLaren was not the first to name their road-car an F1 and Mini was not the first to use a transverse engine to drive the front wheels! This little DKW did both.

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It had a 2-cylinder 2-stroke unit mounted across the frame driving the front wheels although it did not take advantage of the space this layout afforded. It was Europe’s first high volume series production car with fwd and it offered the first competition to the motorcycle in Germany.

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1937 Lincoln Zephyr
The Zephyr was designed to fit into Ford’s model range between the Ford V8 and the up- market Lincolns. It was introduced in November 1935 for the 1936 year and was one of the first successful streamlined cars after the market failure of Chrysler’s Airflow. It had a V12 version of Ford’s flathead V8 and the car still used Ford’s transverse leaf suspension with rigid axles dating from the Model T! 15,000 were sold up to 1940.
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Just what is this, I hear you say? Well, it’s a Zaporoshets, a Russian small car, built in the Ukraine, and very popular in the Soviet Union for many years.

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As shown, it has a rear-mounted V4 engine of various small capacities.
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Bentley used the Essen Show to launch their new Mulsanne Blue Train model to commemorate the 85th anniversary of Woolf Barnato’s race with the Blue Train from the south of France to Calais.
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For much of the time since it was believed that Barnato used this elegant Gurney Nutting-bodied Speed Six but this was not the case – this car was not built until after the famous run! In fact Barnato used a Speed Six with a four-door saloon body by Mulliner.

TAILPIECE

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An 1897 Malicet & Blin single-cylinder car. This company did not really make cars but they were one of France’s main suppliers of components, especially chassis and steering gear, to the fledgling industry at the dawn of motoring.

David Blumlein August 2015

Deutsche Post

24th TECHNO CLASSICA ESSEN

 

Others may try to emulate or even usurp Techno Classica’s position as the biggest and best classic car show in Europe but they’ve got a long way to go to match the sheer breadth and depth of quality drawn to the Messe Essen where organisers S.I.H.A. packed all nineteen halls of the huge complex and even have a waiting list of exhibitors. The visitors obviously appreciate their efforts too, as attendance figures of 181,400 testify – and that was up by just over 11,000 despite there bizarrely being a rival event staged in Stuttgart on the same weekend.

Techno’s strength is the sheer variety of exhibits from major manufacturers, high-end dealers, clubs large and small and an array of traders and autojumblers. Many European manufacturers are proud of their heritage; Mercedes for instance made much of the 60th anniversary of their SL models which began with the 300SL and that Le Mans victory in 1952, whilst the VW Audi Group now encompasses so many brands that they fill an entire hall with everything from a humble NSU to Lamborghini Countach. Opel meanwhile were concentrating on record breakers from their past.

Numerically, Porsche 911 was probably the most common car with every conceivable variant to be seen, but the factory chose to honour the RS Carrera with a pair of Martini-liveried racers adorning their area in the VW hall. 356’s abounded too with several restorers – most notably Hackenberg – displaying their abilities, whilst one of the dealers concentrated on cars that had clearly spent too long in the Californian sun!

BMW somewhat amusingly put a lot of emphasis on the British brands – Rolls-Royce and Mini – that they now own. But did they shoot themselves in the foot by displaying their latest Mini Coupe alongside a gorgeous Broadspeed Mini GT? The latest product looks truly hideous anyway, only emphasised by putting the Broadspeed gem beside it.

As befits a company that has passed its 100th birthday, Alfa Romeo has had much to celebrate in recent times and this year the boxy-looking but remarkably aerodynamically efficient Giulia saloon clocks up its 50th. Celebrations are taking place in Italy in June but in the meantime the factory brought an example along from their Museo Storico, whilst other examples were to be found on club stands, one of which was also marking the 40th birthday of the Alfasud, almost certainly the best small saloon of all time (well, this writer did own four of them over a 27-year period so should know!).

Moving on to a more obscure anniversary, did you know that the Volvo Amazon Kombi is 40 this year? Well, no neither did I until I got to Essen but Volvo devoted their entire display to the model, with examples in Polis and Fire Chief livery as well as a mildly customised one (it had big shiny wheels). Attracting most interest though was a rather ratty 1967 model that had been converted to electric power in 1995 and has subsequently covered some 200,000km despite having a range of only 120km. For longer journeys the owner takes a trailer-mounted generator with him.

Show organisers S.I.H.A. always mount an impressive central display and this year featured Spanish manufacturer Pegaso, bringing together a remarkable 21 of the total 86 cars built. They made for an eye-catching display arranged around the outside of S.I.H.A’s ‘palace’.

Indeed, look hard enough at Essen and you will find examples of many obscure and long-forgotten marques but who would have thought that a humble Riley would be awarded the ‘Best in Show’ accolade? Actually this particular representative of the Blue Diamond was not so humble, being a one-off coach-built model built for the 1949 Geneva Motor Show by Walter Koeng, who was better known for working on more upmarket brands. However, he created the Riley as his personal dream car and it remained in his ownership for many years until passing it on to a close friend. Only now has it come to market via well-known dealer Lukas Huni, who was showing it at Essen.

Having visited Essen several times in the company of a Riley enthusiast who has always been frustrated by the lack of Riley’s, it is somewhat ironic that he did not come this year as there were several examples to be found. In particular, pre-war sports cars were found on several dealer stands, a reflection of growing interest on the back of a burgeoning series of events in Germany for just such cars.

Whilst many of the dealers inevitably cram as many cars as possible into their allotted space, making inspection and photography difficult, it’s often some of the smaller traders and individual sellers that have the real gems. How about a 1961 Austin Mini Seven with less than 3,000 miles on the clock? This genuine, remarkably original example must be one of the lowest mileage Mini’s to be found anywhere and comes with all its original documents and some very period accessories.

The clubs run their own competition, leading to some innovative displays, some very well done, others a little bizarre (how about the gay car club promoting sex on the beach?) but again you never know what you’ll find. Whilst the Smurfs carrying out maintenance on a VW Kafer was different, equally so was the one and only 4-door version of the original Audi Quattro, restoration of which had only been completed the night before the show opened.

And that’s the beauty of Essen – there really is something for everyone. Next years’ event has already been confirmed for 10-14 April 2013, so make a date. More information can be found on www.siha.de

John Elwin, April 2012

 

 

Tecno Classica from a Special Correspodent

It has been a busy few weeks on the road, Essen, Le Castellet, Zolder, Monza, Le Mans, all in short order. So posting to the blog tends to get lost in the fog of priorities but the beast must be fed.

 

We are lucky to have David Blumlein on board to dispense automotive wisdom. Listen, learn and enjoy.

John Brooks, April 2011.

Rosso

 

 

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.

Alfa Romeo owes its revival in sports car racing in the late Sixties to Carlo Chiti’s T33 sports –racer, powered by a 2-litre V-8. The company wanted to offer the public a taste of what they were achieving on the tracks and the result was this exquisite Stradale version, shown at the 1967 Turin Show. It was designed by Franco Scaglione but only 18 were made.

Wedding Present

 

 

1928 Mercédès-Benz Nürburg saloon.

A typical product after Benz and Daimler A.G. merged in 1926. Its name celebrated the recently opened Nürburgring circuit on which one of the company’s cars won the first race.

Imposing

 

 

A roadster version took part in the 1929 Alpine Trial driven by future star Rudolph Caracciola.

Rear Gunner

 

 

1934 Mercédès-Benz 130H

Influenced by former Benz engineers, the Stuttgart company experimented with some rear-engined designs in the Thirties and this Type 130 H (Heckmotor – rear-engined) was introduced in 1934 – it did not sell well!

Hanomag Kommissbrot

 

 

Hanomag Kommissbrot and Rekord

A name largely forgotten nowadays but Hanomag started life in the mid-19th century producing steam locomotives and then trucks, tractors and military vehicles in Hannover. By the Twenties they had turned to petrol vehicles and in 1925 they made the Hanomag 2/10, an open 2-seater with a rear-mounted 500 c.c. single-cylinder water-cooled engine. Because it resembled a loaf of Army bread, it was quickly nicknamed Kommissbrot but it was popular – 15,775 were made.

Up Town Top Ranking

 

 

By the Thirties Hanomag had moved up market and the 1.5 litre Rekord dates from 1938.

Every Silver Cloud has a Lining

 

 

1967 Glas 1304T

Hans Glas rose to fame with the introduction of the Goggomobil in 1954 which proved to be a very popular micro car. The Glas range moved up market in the following years with bigger cars using mainly 4-cylinder engines, of which this car is typical. Glas is remembered also for the fact that he was the first to use belt drive for overhead camshafts. BMW took over his Dingolfing factory – today it produces not only BMW cars but also the bodies for Rolls-Royce cars.

W.O.'s You Know...............

 

 

Bentley 8-Litre

The top of the range Bentley with a 6-cylinder overhead camshaft engine, designed to compete with the Rolls-Royce Phantom II. Only 100 were produced between 1930 and 1931. This was W.O. Bentley’s own car.

It's Mr. O'Reilly, Sybil.

 

 

1936 Riley Sprite

The Riley Sprite (1936-1938) was the last of the sporting Rileys before the Second World War, using a developed version of the famous engine with high camshafts and hemispherical head, introduced in the Riley Nine in 1926. Rileys had an enviable reputation in competitions particularly in endurance events. This car has special bodywork by Pourtout and was raced privately in France. The Riley company failed in 1938 and was absorbed into the Nuffield Organisation.

Bob Marley & The Wailers

 

 

1963 BMW 1500

This model, introduced at the Frankfurt Show in 1961, was the car which saved BMW. The Munich firm was in serious financial trouble by the late Fifties – the market for Isetta bubble cars was declining and the big V-8s were hardly profitable. Fortunately the 1500, with its excellent overhead cam engine, was the right car, at the right time and was an immediate success – all the cars that followed stem from it. It is no exaggeration to say that without the 1500 there would be no BMWs today.

Iron Curtain Cruiser

 

 

Tatra 603

Hans Ledwinka showed his sensational streamlined Tatra T77 at the 1934 Berlin Show. It had a rear-mounted air-cooled V-8 engine and initially a central driving position. Derivatives followed and when Czechoslovakia fell under Communist control the theme was continued with this, the 603. A team of these cars performed well in the Marathon de la Route at the Nürburgring.

La Sarthe Limousine

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cockpit

 

 

Skoda 1101 Sport

This is the actual car that Skoda raced at Le Mans in1950 but without success. Nationalisation kerbed future ambitions.

Monte Carlo or Bust

 

 

 

 

1937 Skoda Popular Sport Monte Carlo Coupé

Back Seat Drivers


 

Skoda made advanced cars in the Thirties and this example, one of just 72 made, is a celebration of Skoda’s second in class and eighth overall in the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally. It has not only independent suspension all round but also a transaxle.

Gearboxed

 

 

Notice the linkage to the rear-mounted gearbox.

Bulldog Spirit

 

 

Lanz Bulldog

And now, for something completely different! The Bulldog tractor made by Heinrich Lanz in Mannheim from 1921 to 1960 had a single-cylinder horizontal hot bulb engine whose capacity was gradually increased over the years from 6.3-litres to 10.9-litres. No wonder it needed a large flywheel! It was very popular in Germany and some 220,000 were made.

 

David Blumlein, April 2011