Cars & Culture

“…cars and culture have nothing in common”
quote from: ‘Drive on’, by L.J.K. Setright, Palawan press 2002

I like to write. And especially about cars. Most of the stories on these pages have been previously published on PreWarCar, an internet magazine that has a daily item about an antique motor car. In November 2004 I started writing for PreWarCar as an editor. Although most items in this magazine deal with the cars themselves, in these stories I try to create a link with some form of culture or art.

These articles and images are protected by copyright. They may not be reproduced without prior permission from the author. Permitted of course (and even encouraged) is a link to this page.

Rutger Booy

Laatst aangepast (vrijdag 17 augustus 2012 18:50)


More MG for D-Day ?

an MG for D-DayTwo years ago on D-day I argued that the first to arrive in occupied France was an MG-made nosepiece of an Albemarle Bomber plane. However, according to MG-historian Wiard Krook, things could have been different if MG was allowed to proceed with this Military MG.
Sometime in the 1930s Cecil Cousins, who was the foreman of the MG experimental department, worked on the project of this Light Armoured Vehicle. Its body was made of plywood and rested on the chassis of an early MG J2 Midget, judging by the Rotax headlights dating from 1932. On the other hand it could also have been the chassis of a six-cylinder F-type Magna. Anyhow, this project never went beyond the early development stages.

(photos collection Wiard Krook)

June 6, 2010


The Day The Sky Fell Down

Bombardement RotterdamSeventy years ago, during the first days of WO II, the city of Rotterdam in The Netherlands was heavily bombed and the devastating result led to the surrender of the Dutch army. Many people died in the resulting fires. After the war the old centre of the city has been rebuilt into a bustling modern city, but still every year on May 14th the bombardment is remembered. The past few years the outline of the fires was illuminated by large spotlights, a very impressive sight!

(photo by J.A. Kok, courtesy mrs. Schouwenaar-Kok and the City Archive of Rotterdam)

May 14, 2010

A Spyker Unveiled

Spyker C4 by Araun GordijnLast Thursday, before the start of the Spyker board-meeting, chairman Victor Muller unvealed a painting of the 1922 Spyker record-car. The painting was made by a Dutch artist whose work we have featured before on PreWarCar. With this Spyker C4 the Australian racing driver S.F. Edge set a 24-hour record in July 1922 at Brooklands. Edge wanted to show that he could improve his own record from 1907, but not with a specially prepared racing car, but with a stand production car, which this Spyker in fact was. Edge drove a total of 2.867,2 kilometers in two times twelve hours -The Double Twelve- with an average speed of 119,5 km/u.

April 25, 2010

Ready for Villa d ‘Este?

Alfa Romeo 2900 8C Touring by Jorge SordelliIf you're preparing your car for a Concours d'Elegance, you can stop now. When this Alfa is entered, all competition will be wiped away! Feast your eyes on the perfect detailing and the immaculate paintwork. Also the interior is out-of-sight and the engine looks really great! A true work of art. No Concours judge in his right mind would deny the trophy to this Alfa Romeo 2900 8C Touring. Would you like your concours car to look like this one?

But hold on, something's just not right here... Look closely and you'll see why. It's not the real deal, but close, very close. It's a 1:5 scale model (36" or 91.5 centimeters long) of a 1938 Alfa Romeo 2900 8C Touring created by Jorge Sordelli from California. Jorge designed the Alfa in computer CAD 3D (Catia V5) and constructed it using bronze and other materials.

April 11, 2010

How to spend a rainy day

MG VAA slightly rainy day, a meeting of the MG SVW register and two VA's willing to pose. Voila, the recipe for a truly smart picture.

(The red one is the prototype MG VA Saloon, the other a 1938 MG VA Tickford DHC)

Photos Rutger Booy

March 24,  2010


Is it Art?

Pedal Cars KunsthalWhat is art? That question came up last week when the sunken Bugatti was sold for an enormous sum to be displayed in a museum. We asked ourselves the same question when we visited an exposition of original pedal cars from the 1930s, forties and fifties. It is the collection of Rop Ranzijn, a designer by profession. But as a hobby he collects and restores pedal cars in which originality is his main focus. That's why he left the original tires on this 1930s car made the French manufacturer l'Etoile, just to highlight its age. To get back to the original question: are pedal cars art? Certainly not in the time they were made, as they were only children's toys. But today, just like the submerged Bugatti, yes, I certainly appreciate them as works of art!

The exposition can seen at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, The Netherlands until March 7th, 2010

photos Rutger Booy

January 28, 2010

Man’s Best Friend

Man's best friendI once heard the definition of a sociologist as someone who investigates what everybody else already knows. And I immediately had to think of this description when I read about a recent survey that concluded: 'one in three men looks upon his automobile as his best friend. Men are very much attached to their car and share with it all their thoughts, secrets and frustrations. Sixty percent likes to talk to his car.' As if I didn't know that already. "Now please start, you lovely @#$!"

(image: Object of desire, 1921 advert for Benz & Cie. Courtesy Daimler AG)

January 22, 2010


1,00 : 1

prise-direct-500rbMany expressions used in automotive speech are borrowed from the French language. Prise-direct is one of them and is -simply put- used when there’s a direct drive between the crankshaft and the propshaft, without a reduction from the gearbox. I have no clue as to why this house in a Rotterdam suburb is called 'prise-direct', but was immediately intrigued when I saw it. Does your house have an ‘automotive’ name too?

photo Rutger Booy

November 25, 2009


Take a look at me now

Takealook_500RBBeing a lover of old-time music I stumbled upon this marvelous old piece of sheet music dating from the Tin Pan Alley era. Composed in 1911, it tells the story of a poor young girl who comes to New York trying to find her luck. She arrived with only one gown, but “Take a look at her now”. She has certainly learned her way around with “Every night an auto ride.” And by the way, isn’t that a Baker Electric she’s stepping in to? Hard to tell.

Permission to publish the picture of the sheet music was given by the Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music , The Sheridan Libraries, The Johns Hopkins University.

October 16, 2009


No Monkey Business Today!

Steiff_chimp_500RBToday, October 4, is World Animal Day. A day to be nice to animals of all kinds. And the perfect day to show you this cuddly chimpanzee. Many of the early motorists joined an automobile club and as a token of their membership they wore a chauffeur’s cap. The German toy-company Steiff took up the idea and from 1911 until 1931 they produced the Car Chimpanzee. It was 22 cm high and made of brown mohair. Because of it’s chauffeurs cap the chimpanzee soon became some sort of car mascot. This one is a reproduction also made by Steiff. It was a limited production instigated by Mercedes-Benz Classic Collection and if you like it, they still may have just a few in stock.

October 4, 2009


The Pacemaker

Pacemaker_500RBThis lovely print is titled “The Pacemaker”. Is it because she’s ‘fast’? Mwwah, I don’t think so. Is it because she keeps us alive? No, not that either. Maybe because she’s on the fast track to wherever. But then I should call her a pacesetter, not pacemaker. I give up.

drawing by cover girl artist John Bradshaw Crandell, collection Rutger Booy

August 21, 2009


Live dangerously

Modern_woman_501RBIt’s great to be a woman and it’s great to live in the exiting 1930s! At least that’s what novelist and scenario writer May Edgington wrote in her short story for the magazine “Modern Woman”. In the story she tries to find out who these “dangerously living” women are. Although both accompanying pictures and frontpage of the magazine show adventurous women like Amy Johnson and Elsie Wisdom, May Edginton arrives at another conclusion: she is not “…the beautiful, not the rich or the exceptionally talented woman. It is the quiet woman with the very female smile and the understanding eye… She is a woman who has the rare temperament to be herself.”

May 6, 2009


Art Deco in Automotive Advertising

Reuters_opel_500RBDuring the 1930s the German artist Bernd Reuters produced a lot of impressive advertising for Opel. Like many of his contemporaries influenced by Art Deco, Reuters developed a distinctive graphic style. His brochure for the 1938 Opel Admiral can be considered one of the classics in the history of automotive advertising. Some of Reuters most impressive artwork will be exhibited at the Opel-Forum in Rüsselsheimer Bahnhofplatz. For instance the 1.2 four cylinder and of course the later Kadett. The exhibition can be seen in Rüsselsheim until July after which it will be moved to Bochum and finally Berlin.

artwork courtesy Opel AG

April 6, 2009


A Grand Old Iron Lady

Eiffeltower_2009_500RBToday it’s exactly 120 years ago that the world-famous Eiffel Tower was inaugurated. Erected in honour of the World Exhibition in Paris, it took two years to built, from 1887 to 1889. Made to last only twenty years, it was soon discovered that the Tower was too valuable as a tourist attraction and as a means of communication. André Citroën also realised this and had his name put up on the Eiffel Tower in large illuminated letters. These could be seen from far away, much to the chagrin of Renault in nearby Billancourt who could read them only too well from his office.

To the
Tower I would like to say: Congratulations on your birthday and may you last forever!

The photo -courtesy Citroën- shows a 1939 Traction Avant 11B Cabriolet

March 31, 2009