Gabriel Voisin is widely known for his extravagant pre-war automobile designs. After World War II conditions in war-torn Europe had dramatically changed and Voisin foresaw a market for small, economical automobiles. In 1945 he designed the Biscooter, which was just what the name implied; two scooters joined together, a small transversely mounted two-stroke engine, no doors and no side windows. Unfortunately no major manufacturer was interested in his minimalist design and finally he sold his ideas to a Spanish company. Called the Biscuter, approximately 18.000 of these uncomplicated cars were built and sold in Spain, although Voisin hardly received any money for the use of his idea. Some Biscooters were made in France and one of the earliest examples was auctioned by Artcurial in Paris on April 13. It came with a 250cc two-stroke Gnome et Rhône single cylinder engine. As it has been in one and the same family since 1956, it’s still very original, but will need some restoration work.
April 10, 2008
Recently we were sent these pictures of a Mercedes 220S Automatic. At first we thought it was just another one of those great sixties saloons, but then we noticed something particular about this Mercedes. Do you see what we mean? If not, click this picture of a standard 220 series and then “our” 220S. Now you see the difference, don’t you? It’s got several extra air ducts left and right of the grille! These were definitely not standard, but they could be an additional fitting for an air conditioner. Tell us what you think!
March 26, 2008
In June of last year Classic Car dealer Motorcar Portfolio in the USA was contacted by someone in Malaysia. He showed interest in the 1951 Nash Rambler Custom they had for sale and then said he was trying to find a ’51 Nash to help celebrate Malaysia’s upcoming fiftieth anniversary. When fifty years ago the first Prime Minister announced the independence of Malaysia, it was celebrated with a parade with him riding up front in a black 1951 Nash convertible. The parade was to be recreated on August 17, 2007 and thus a similar Nash was needed. As time was running out and before that date the white Nash also had to be painted black, the buyer asked Motorcar Portfolio to ship the car by air. By the time the Nash cleared customs there were only four days left to do the paintjob. It was ready in time and the parade turned out to be a huge success.
January 18, 2008
It was Leo Tolstoy who said: “History would be an excellent thing, if only it were true.” The same reasoning goes for the prancing horse, Ferrari’s famous emblem. Enzo Ferrari always said that he had been given the emblem in 1923, after winning a race in Ravenna. It was presented to him by the parents of Francesco Baracca, a WWI fighter pilot who had been shot down in 1918. On his SPAD had been the weapon shield of a black horse. Here the story gets a bit fuzzy, as there are several theories how he came by the emblem of the horse. The first is that Baracca loved horses; the second is that Baracca first served in a cavalry regiment, which had a horse as emblem and a third theory is that Baracca took the shield with the horse from a German plane, which was done quite often in the war. The horse was the emblem of Stuttgart, which is also the emblem of Porsche. However, no-one knows why the horse's tail is up on the emblems of Ferari and Porsche, and down on the emblem of Baracca. Nowadays most historians accept the theory that it was actually a medieval weapon shield from Ravenna. After World War II the prancing horse appeared on all Ferrari’s in a slightly modernised version. Sixty years of Ferrari production will be celebrated at the Interclassics and Topmobiel Car Show in Maastricht, The Netherlands, starting tomorrow until January 13. Sixty of the most famous Ferrari’s will be on show and you can find the PreWarCar stand amidst these mighty Ferrari’s.
January 10, 2008
Standing in front of this truckload of Pirelli tyres is Dougal Cawley of Longstone Tyres. When he mailed us this photo our first thought was he going to qualify for the next issue of the well-known Pirelli calendar. But no, he just wanted to tell us that the celebrated Pirelli Cinturato tyre for fifties and sixties cars is now available through Longstone tyres. Pirelli started producing tyres in the late nineteenth century and the Pirelli Cinturato, first introduced in the 1950's, was the first example of a textile cord braced radial tyre. This tyre not only combined unprecedented grip with high-speed capabilities, it also gave a supremely comfortable ride. Not surprisingly, the Pirelli Cinturato soon became standard equipment on many of the great Italian marques of the era, including Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini. But they are also very suitable for lots of other sports cars. For instance the Cinturato 185VR16 is the perfect radial alternative for any car fitted with 575X16 or 600X16 cross ply. It has the correct diameter but unlike other radial tyres doesn’t have a massively wide tread pattern making the steering unpleasantly heavy. The 165HR400 will fit Citroën Traction Avant, Lancia Aurelia, Flamina and 50's Alfa's; 155SR15 serves the MGA, TR2's and 3's and Peugeot 403/404. Why not check for yourself at Longstone Tyres. Oh, and by the way, Dougal, we hope you don’t mind us thinking you won’t qualify for the calendar?
January 2, 2008
Well, not really a far-away barn, more a storage place below an apartment blocks in the city of The Hague. This 1960 Aston Martin has been stored there for almost thirty years before it saw the light of the day again. In 1978 a Newcastle based company called Island Car sold the Aston to a Dutchman. After bringing the car to Holland he spend a lot of time reconditioning the mechanics of the DB4 and then had it repainted in its present colour. Sadly the owner was killed in a car accident in early 1979 just after the car had been returned from the paint shop. Since then it has remained in its storage place until Geert Hommes bought it from the widow only a few months ago. Although the DB4’s current mileage is just 7300, after thirty years of rest everything needs attention again. One nice detail: this DB4 is exactly one month older than its new owner who plans to have it back on the road next year. (photo Geert Hommes)
November 28, 2007
This Bronze sculpture is called ‘Quo Vadis’. It was made by David Černý from the Czeck Republick where he is known as a creative rebel. With his unusual sculptures he tries to provoke and critisize the art world and society. But of course we, as car nuts, immediately recognize this four legged creature as the illustrious Trabant that celebrated its fiftieth birthday last week. The little car with its two-stroke engine and Duroplast body became a symbol of the communist regime in the DDR (German Democratic Republic). The P50 and P60 were the first models, later followed by the 601. Several body versions were available, but citizens of the DDR had to wait for years before they were allocated one. Second-hand examples became more expensive than new ones, because they were readily available. From 1990 a 1.1 four-cylinder model was produced but after the unification nobody wanted a Trabant anymore and the factory in Zwickau had to close. Yet, today the Trabant has become more popular than ever and the little car has received cult-status.
photos Rutger Booy
November 22, 2007
Last October Bernard Marreyt went to Padova to visit the Auto Moto d’Epoca fair and fell in love with the show. Why? First of all it’s in Italy and the Italian fair-atmosphere is something you never see at other European venues dedicated to classic cars. Somehow chaotic from general presentation but overall very pleasing flavoured by a typically Italian permanent ‘brouhaha’, with all sorts of exhibitors mixed together in several halls. Bernard has been the organiser of the Brussels Retro Festival for ten years, so he would have thought that every show organiser tries to impress his visitors by showing the most glamorous stands immediately after the front entrance. Not so in Padova. The first exhibition hall is the spare-parts department! The atmosphere is immediately set with items for classic Lancia’s, wheels by Borrani and Cromodora, Veglia instruments and lots of other hard to find stuff. In the other halls you’ll find rally organisers and classic car clubs for mainly the Italian produced automobiles. Classic car dealers are also present, for instance Guidobruno Guidi di Bagno with the elegant 1947 Frua bodied Fiat 1100 pictured above. The different halls have outside terraces where you can enjoy a morning cappuccino and typical Italian snacks amidst amazing automobiles like this one-off 1959 ‘Loraymo’ Lancia Flaminia with coachwork by Raymond Loewy. (editor Rutger Booy first saw this car way back in 1968 parked along a Parisian boulevard. Note the New York licence plate and different bonnet).
November 14, 2007