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Mystery solved, really!? How?

Mystery solves, really!? How?

About a month ago, there was a feature about a mystery car on the platform of the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway. There were some suggestions made and Ariejan Bos was quite certain about the make. After that, the sender of the photo wasn't quite convinced he (and some others) were right so they emailed to each other to find out what it really was.

As we want to show you how Ariejan came to the conclusion, we will share you his thinking: 
"There are always many details, which can be used as identification features, but in the case of European cars normally only those parts which belong to chassis (American cars regularly have standard factory bodies, making these part of the id process). In this case we have: the bonnet, the number and pattern of the louvres, the dumb irons, wheel hubs, cooling package, front axle and steering system (here: steering head and tie rod), gear levers etc.. The steering wheel itself (including possible hand levers) is unfortunately not very well visible. Also, the presence of chain drive is unclear, is probably not present, but it cannot be ruled out. The angle of the picture prevents to observe this part. Details which can be found on both Georges Richard and Mors models of 1902-1903: this type of bonnet with louvre pattern and divided lid on top of the bonnet, the cooling tube package between the dumb irons, the transverse bar connecting the dumb irons and supporting the crank handle. The crank handle normally is positioned asymmetrical (on the left side for the Georges Richard; in the case of Mors normally on the left, but sometimes on the right): the transmission to the crankshaft is by two differently sized gear wheels. The relatively long wheel hubs can be found on both Georges Richard and Mors, as is the case with the steering gear and front axle shape. Distinguishing features like chain drive and hand levers below the steering wheel are not visible as mentioned.

So what is left: the side levers, three in total: the larger ones for forward gear shifting and braking, the small one for reverse gear. This type of outward curved braking gear I observed only on Georges Richard, as well as the grip of the small lever. See for this the photo of the smaller 12hp Georges Richard. Another detail is the shape of the dumb irons, strengthened in the shape of an inverse T. These seem to have been used only on the larger Georges Richard cars like the 24hp and 40hp (see pictures). The only Mors car which used them as far as I could find was their type Z 40hp racing car of 1902, but this car had a very differently shaped bonnet. The 40hp Georges Richard was very similar to this Mors, by the way, having chain drive too. The reason for the similarity of the Georges Richard and the Mors is of course very clear: Henry Brasier had worked for Mors before joining Georges Richard in 1901. He had worked especially on the racing cars and wanted to do the same in the Georges Richard factory. This was the main reason that Georges Richard, who lost interest in racing at all after a serious racing accident in 1903, left his own firm end of 1904 to establish the Unic factory. In 1903 already the cars were called (Georges) Richard-Brasier, but I believe that the cars were called only Georges Richard in England still for some time. 

So resuming, the car is, in my opinion, a Georges Richard (-Brasier) limousine of 1903, probably a 24hp model indicated by a large number of louvres (12). Maybe not 100% certain, but for me at least 95%!"

Photographs by Ariejan Bos.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Just a Sunday at the Bicester Heritage Scramble

Sunday at the Bicester Heritage Scramble

It was a cold and crispy Sunday at the Bicester Heritage Scramble. We were there on the invitation of some of the management members and participants to the upcoming Peaks of the Caucasus rally. We also brought our rally photographer and he had a field day.

In less than 5 years the former RAF airfield has become a major site for automotive technology and know-how. Several pre-war specialists, such as Blue Diamond Riley and Kingsbury Racing, have chosen this setting as their prime venue. The buildings from the airfield have all been tastefully restored creating, together with the tree-lined avenues, a very authentic impression. In addition to the historic buildings, Bicester Heritage will add some 60,000 square feet of modern, yet sympathetically constructed units, which will echo the well-known 1920s vernacular.

Some 4000 guests had taken the advantage of the splendid weather conditions and taken some 1000 classic cars to the event, cars ranging from a battered and race prepared Austin A30 to the fragile Lancia Lambda. The ambiance was cheerful with families strolling around, and the odd gathering of automobiles.

Words by Bart Kleyn and photographs by Wico Mulder.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Mysterious Lincoln in Germany on New Year’s Day

Mysterious Lincoln in Germany on New Year’s Day

Almost exactly 90 years ago – in winter 1927/28 – a gentleman from Berlin spent some vacation time in the “Riesengebirge” – a mountain area in the German province of Silesia (today a part of Poland).
On the occasion of New Year’s Day he sent a postcard showing him and his impressive car to a friend in the tiny village of Neustadt (Thuringia). I acquired the postcard recently having only a vague idea of the kind of automobile in the picture.

I was pretty sure that it was a US car from the mid/late 1920s – even if the manufacturers' name on the radiator badge seemed illegible in the beginning. In particular, the chunky front bumper made me initially believe it was just another of the many mass-produced American vehicles that had a huge market share in Germany back then.
Well - to cut a long story short - a certain resemblance of the radiator with that of Ford’s Model A (of all cars!) made me research in a different direction which eventually resulted in a match: Lincoln – a brand forming part of the Ford conglomerate since 1922.

Suddenly, the badge on the radiator with hardly a few legible letters made perfect sense, as did the awkward-looking front bumper, the distinctly shaped hub caps, and – most importantly – the greyhound mascot that became standard equipment on Lincolns starting in 1925.
The drum-shaped front lights – clearly outdated at that time, in my opinion – indicated a date of manufacture between 1924 and 1926, at least according to the Standard Catalogue of American Cars from 1805 until 1942 (by B.R.KIimes/H.A.Clark).

I was almost about to close this case as solved, as I noticed a detail which challenged my hypothesis – the brake drums at the front axle! They were introduced on publicly available Lincolns only in 1927, but then you would also have expected bowl-shaped front lights.
Of course, one might assume that Lincolns destined for overseas markets would have differed from cars for the domestic market in several ways. Perhaps the newly developed front lights of the 1927 Lincoln didn’t comply with some odd regulations in Europe, so Lincoln continued to mount the traditional ones on cars to be exported.

But: the story does not end here. Probably the most remarkable feature of the Lincoln with registration in the district of Berlin (“IA”) is the vertically split front window – which I was unable to find in any other picture showing a contemporary Lincoln.

What’s more, the entire body behind the engine compartment is hardly what you would expect on a luxury car. To me, this body – obviously of the sedan-convertible type – shows some similarities with crew carriers used by fire brigades or the police at that time. What also strikes me as odd is the fact that the running board is completely “occupied” by a large box – containing hunting gear, perhaps. How was the owner supposed to enter the car on this side without having to climb on the box first – a humiliating experience, wouldn’t you think?

Now it’s your turn, dear fellow enthusiasts. Can anyone shed some light on the identity and origin of this supposed 1927 Lincoln? Has a car with similar features appeared yet?

Many thanks in advance for any insights and let me use this opportunity to wish all of you a “Gutes Neues Jahr” from Germany!

Words and photographs by Michael Schlenger.

Monday, 15 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

An Overlooked Pre-War Gem - The BMW 328

An Overlooked Pre-War Gem -  The BMW 328

Race car or road car? You decide. The BMW 328 was a huge step forward back in the day, where its two-liter engine produced more than 80 horsepower. Yes, getting that much power from a two-liter was a significant development at the time. Having just celebrated its 80th birthday, we look at what it took to build this car, its remarkable history and what it's like to own one today.

Pre-War Significance

When World War II started, the efforts of BMW were fully directed towards supporting Germany. This led to an almost complete halt in car manufacturing, for nearly a decade. By the end of the 1940s, car production still hadn't begun. Only in 1951 was the first post-war BMW released: The BMW 501. The 328 was one of the last BMWs built before the war started when car development halted. The 328 was so good, that it was still winning some cars races years after World War II had ended.


A Masterpiece On Wheels

The BMW 328 is similar in appearance to the F1 cars of the fifties, such as the Mercedes W196 from Fangio and Moss times. Rarely these days do we see the eloquent curves used on vintage cars of the past. Now figures like fuel efficiency, and power to weight ratio have more say than charm. Something that's very present in the 328. The design wasn't just for the looks. The streamlined shape and closed wheels have an influence on reducing aerodynamic drag. You'll notice leather straps to buckle the hood. Plus, a spare wheel lying in clear sight on the roadster version. Something that is rarely seen on today's automobiles, except for the iconic BMW logo. Which is unchanged to this day.


A Dominating Race Car

Today, the Bavarian car manufacturer is involved in motorsports. The early dominance of BMW started with the 328. It achieved over 200 victories as a race car, including the Mille Miglia in 1940, a 1000-mile endurance race held in Italy. The car used in the race produced 130 bhp and was naturally aspirated. It was also a class winner in the 1939 Le Mans 24-hour race. Finishing 5th overall, only a few laps behind competitors with bigger and more powerful engines. It didn't stop there, with the 328 winning into the 1950s. In a sport like motor racing, where manufacturers have constantly innovated to perform, the BMW 328 proved it was a car ahead of its time. The 328's body was also very intelligently designed. An advanced chassis and suspension led to fine handling, and its lightweight construction made it weigh in at under 800kg. BMW recognized early that weight reduction was a priority. 


BMW 328 Performance

Performance wise, the 328 has no comparison with cars of today. However, the sound of the straight 6 engine is unmistakable. You can really hear the pistons of the engine working when it's running. The 328 uses the same engine from the BMW 326, but with some upgrades.


BMW developed new cylinder heads and opposed valves, which increased the power output by nearly 50%. This took the power it produced from 55 bhp to 80 bhp. With its lightweight body, it could reach a top speed of 150 kmh. Other than just top speed. The innovative tubular frame improved torsional rigidity, allowing it to be nimble in corners and have more responsive handling. All this along with an aerodynamically efficient design, helped the 328 become a winning race car from the start.


The Interior

At first glance, you may notice the BMW 328 has a massive steering wheel. This was common with cars of the era, to compensate for the lack of power steering. The finish is of very high-quality and has all the gauges you'd expect to find on any modern car. Other than that, it's quite tight inside for two people and doesn't come with a convertible roof.


The Driving Experience

This is a car that doesn't feel like a car of its age In a well maintained 328, the feeling is very close to driving any relatively modern stick shift car. There isn't a hint of wobble or shoddy construction. Overall, it's an efficient car, reaches a decent cruising speed, can take on hills, and do around 400+ km on a full tank. Munich to Brescia non-stop. The BMW 328 doesn't have an electronic control unit (ECU) to maintain optimum fuel mixture. That's mostly your job to monitor. For it to run well, the engine and carburetor need to be tuned properly.



A Collector's Car

Only 464 BMW 328's were produced. 70 years later, less than 200 remains. You'll probably find one lying in collector's garages, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, or in a historic car auction somewhere. The going price is around $700K - $900K. (Yes, it's close to impossible to buy this car today). The roadster, an open-top car with two seats, works better for summer weather, as the roof (if attached) isn't very thick. It still has enough power and can be comfortably driven, even though it's a race car from the thirties.


The Story Continues

The influence of the 328 has helped BMW establish itself as a leader post-war. All these decades later they're still a dominant manufacturer of luxury and sports cars worldwide. The more recent and successful 3-series are still sporty cars, with classic rear wheel drive and a lot quicker of course. You can still see a little of the 328 in today’s BMWs, with design elements such as the long bonnets, responsive handling, remarkable reliability and performance.

Sunday, 14 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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