Tag Archives: Lancia Aprilia


Yellow Fever!

John Elwin dropped in on the new Interclassics Brussels show, as ever he found plenty to comment on for our edification.


It is always interesting to spot new trends as fashions come and go at classic car shows. At the inaugural Interclassics Brussels event a preponderance of yellow cars shone through (quite literally!). Now it may have been because yellow happens to be the national racing colour of Belgium, or more hopefully, perhaps we are moving away from the domination of drab silver, grey and black cars that fill our roads today.


Actually, one could have been forgiven for thinking one was in Italy rather than Belgium for the full gamut of Italian machinery was on display, from tiny ‘Etceterini’s’ to those from the Raging Bull and Prancing Horse stables. Leading the way was the central Brussels-based Autoworld museum, promoting its own forthcoming Italian Car Passion exhibition by bringing along a vibrant yellow Lamborghini Miura and an OSCA 1000.


The OSCA was one of many small racers on view and Belgian dealer Marreyt Classics had a particularly delightful three-car line-up comprising of a 1951 Stanguellini Barchetta MM, 1952 Parisolto Sport 750 Spider and a 1953 Bandidi Maserati.The latter claimed to be one of just four built and that too seemed to be a bit of a trait with many cars claiming to be ‘one of just…’. Another well-known Belgian dealer, LMB Racing, had a pretty pale blue 1955 Moretti 1200 Special, this one representing half of the total production! Whilst many of the small sports racers of the day were Fiat powered modifying Turin’s finest was not confined to the track, with some very pretty road-going machinery being produced too, as personified by the Lombardi Grand Prix 850 Sport.


On a rather grander scale, Bonham’s was showcasing a trio of mouthwatering Italians, all of them rare survivors of very small production runs. The 1959 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint Coupé, in silver and black, was one of just five cars so-bodied by Carrosserie Ghia-Aigle, the 1961 OSCA 1600GT Coupé was one of only two built by Touring Superleggera, whilst the 1968 De Tomaso Vallelunga (in yellow, of course!) was positively mass produced, with 53 having originally been built. Its dainty lines rather put it in the same class as the Ferrari Dino but somehow doesn’t quite please the eye in the same way. There was in fact a Dino (yes, a yellow one!) on a neighbouring stand, whilst a 246 GT Competition in the more traditional red, could be found elsewhere in the show.


Back to Marreyt Classics where aside from the cars we have described there were two very different variations upon the Lancia Aprilia. Farina was responsible for the rather glorious white Convertible dating from 1948 and claiming to have had only one lady owner, whilst Francis Lombardi created the more utilitarian Woody estate car. Bugatti was the show’s featured marque, of which more later, but Marreyt was offering a 1938 T57 Atalante chassis that had been part of the Schlumpf Collection, where it was separated from its bodywork at the time the French authorities took control.


Aside from Bugatti, the 60th anniversary of the Citroen DS was also honoured with a small but select display which as much as anything featured the work of coachbuilders such as Henri Chapron, who created the gorgeous Le Dandy Coupé amongst other things.


There were ‘Best of Show’ awards presented for different era’s and it was gratifying to see the 1980’s trophy awarded to a metallic green 1980 Lotus Eclat that was once the personal property of Colin Chapman, who in turn presented it to French journalist Gerard ‘Jabby’ Crombac, for so many years a personal friend to both Chapman and Lotus. The Oliver Winterbottom-designed Eclat was developed in tandem with the Elite, representing a big leap forward for the Lotus company when they were launched forty years ago.


There was a lot to like at Interclassics’ first effort, the show attracting a good attendance with one couple even choosing it as their wedding venue! The organisers have already announced their dates for next year (18-20 November 2016) and also that they will be doubling the size of the show from two to four halls.

John Elwin, February 2016

Showroom Soliloquy

As money is losing value almost as fast as the politicians and bureaucrats can waste it, many are turning to assets to hedge against the silent theft of their wealth by the State. So art dealers’ businesses are  flourishing, as are those in the buoyant classic car market. Our Special Correspondent paid a visit to the hallowed ground at Brooklands, to see for himself what was on offer in the first big sale of the year in this locality.

Auctions invariably turn up some interesting cars and that of Historics at the Mercédès-Benz World at Brooklands was no exception, and a quick excursion into the museum at the old track also revealed one or two new exhibits as well.

1934 Hillman Aero Minx Streamline

Conceived by Capt. J.S.Irving – designer of the “Golden Arrow” Land Speed Record car – and A.H. Wilde, the Hillman Minx was launched in 1931 and went on sale in 1932. Some six months later the Aero Minx was introduced.

1934 Hillman Aero Minx Streamline

Mechanically similar with the same 1185 c.c. 4-cylinder side-valve engine, it was given a new under-slung frame, a high compression cylinder head and a remote control gear-change. To give a more sporting appearance the radiator grille was swept forward at its base. The standard bodywork style was a 2+1 fastback coupé with the rear seat set crosswise. From late 1934 an all- synchromesh gearbox was fitted and the Streamline open two-seater body was available.

1934 Hillman Aero Minx Streamline

By 1936 Rootes badge-engineering had taken over and the car evolved into the new Talbot 10.

1938 Lancia Aprilia

Irresistible was this beautiful blue Lancia Aprilia, Vincenzo Lancia’s last masterpiece. Of monocoque pillarless construction it boasted all independent suspension

1938 Lancia Aprilia

and a little gem of an engine, the 1352 c.c. V4 .

1937 SS Jaguar 1.5-litre

This was the smallest car Jaguar ever produced. Like all the stunning SS Jaguars introduced in 1935, it relied on Standard mechanicals, in this case the 4-cylinder Standard Twelve 1608 c.c. side valve engine. In the picture below you can see the name Standard stamped on the cylinder block.

1937 SS Jaguar 1.5-litre

While by 1938 the bigger 2.5-litre and 3.5-litre models were using special Weslake-developed overhead valve heads, the 1.5-litre used the Standard Fourteen 1776 c.c. engine with Standard-produced o.h.v. – this engine went on to power the post-war Triumph Roadster and Renown models as well as the what-was-now the Jaguar 1.5-litre. The early small SS Jaguar can be recognised by the spare-wheel cover whose top is higher than the level of the bonnet.

1937 SS Jaguar 1.5-litre

This “baby” Jaguar easily outsold all the other models in the pre-war range.

1924 Peugeot Quadrilette Type 172 Grand Sport

In the last days of 1919 Peugeot revealed their successor to the Bugatti-designed Bébé: the Type 161 Quadrilette which had a 4-cylinder 667 c.c. engine and the two seats mounted in tandem; this successful little car was made in the factory at Beaulieu in eastern France. In 1922 it was re-designed as the Type 172 and it acquired staggered seats. By 1924 production was moved to Peugeot’s main plant at Sochaux and later the engine size was increased to 720 c.c.

It was joined in 1924 by the Grand Sport, a 5CV model of which only 100 were made. It was clearly a tough little car as one of them won its class in 1926 in the car-destroying Circuit des Routes Pavées, a demanding race around cobbled roads in the southern outskirts of Lille. The standard model evolved into the 5CV Type 172 which appeared at the 1924 Tour de France and examples of the car took the first three places in its class in the first Mille Miglia in 1927. Certainly a rugged little car!

Nanette – a Brooklands Special

Felix Scriven was well-known as a driver at Brooklands in the 1920s where he campaigned an unlikely Austin Twenty which he painted in a variety of colours according to his whims. Later he commissioned F.W.Bond to design a 2-seater special for road and track use. Bond is chiefly remembered for his low-slung 2-seater sports cars  which he built in 1926/28.

The car for Scriven had a low under-slung chassis built by Rubery Owen and the engine was initially a 6-cylinder Sage unit but as this soon proved very unreliable Scriven was able to persuade the great Parry Thomas to provide him with a 4-cylinder 1847 c.c. Hooker-Thomas engine. Named “Nanette”, the car brought Scriven a convincing win in the “90 Short” race at the Summer B.A.R.C. meeting held at Brooklands in 1926.


A Pair of Peels

As examples of the modern production of electric-powered Peels, they provide an excuse to say something briefly about the original little Peel cars which qualified as almost certainly the world’s smallest passenger cars.

Mention the Isle of  Man to a car enthusiast and you will probably conjure up thoughts about the early Tourist Trophy races run around the island up to 1922 or the British Empire Trophy sports car races held at Douglas from 1951-53. But the Isle of Man had its own little car “industry” when the Peel Engineering Company of the town of Peel on the west coast, as fibreglass pioneers, decided to manufacture these extraordinary tiny cars.

The first model, the P50 similar to the blue car in the above picture, had a D.K.W. 49 c.c. fan-cooled 2-stroke single –cylinder engine mounted under the single seat and drove the single rear wheel by chain via a 3-speed gearbox. The little fibreglass-bodied car was only 53 inches long and 39 inches wide! The P50, which appeared in 1962, was joined by the 2-seater Trident in 1965 and this was all of 72 inches long!

Of special interest is the fact that British Leyland commissioned the Peel company to produce some fibreglass-bodied examples of the original Mini. Apparently these prototypes stood up very well to the rigorous testing schedule to which they were subjected but the project seemed to fizzle out.

David Blumlein, February 2012