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Gustave Hamel and his racing Mercedes

Gustave Hamel and his racing Mercedes
    

The lead photo showing Gustave Hamel in a racing car at Hendon was the subject of a discussion about the make of the car in 2014. With evidence I recently found in contemporary magazines it appears to be the Mercedes Hamel had owned for several years and which was rebuilt early 1914. 

In The Car Illustrated of March 13, 1912 his Mercedes can be seen on a photo with Hamel congratulating Salmet, who had just before reached Paris from London in a Blériot in just over 3 hours, a new record. In The Autocar of April 4th, 1914 a journalist W. reports to have been taken on a ride with Hamel's Mercedes 'which had recently been fitted with more commodious coachwork than that shown in the photograph'. Without the enormous light projector and with the 'minute and uncomfortable seats' replaced by more comfortable ones, the experience of driving this car was nevertheless still impressive, as stated by the reporter: “ … the clean damp air rushed in our faces with a velocity above that of an express train.” We must remember that the car was a 6 cylinder racer dating from 1909 and still capable of doing 100 miles an hour! 

Comparing the 'old' version of the Mercedes with the car on the lead photo, it seems likely that this is a rare photo of the rebuilt car and thus the dating of the photo must be 1914 rather than 1913. Within 2 months after the report in The Autocar Hamel would disappear above the Channel during one of his many routine flights to France. A farewell was written in La Vie au Grand Air of June 6th, 1914 by his friend and famous sportsman Roland Garros.

Words and pictures: Ariejan Bos

The lead photo showing Gustave Hamel in a racing car at Hendon was the subject of a discussion about the make of the car in 2014. With evidence I recently found in contemporary magazines it appears to be the Mercedes Hamel had owned for several years and which was rebuilt early 1914. 

In The Car Illustrated of March 13, 1912 his Mercedes can be seen on a photo with Hamel congratulating Salmet, who had just before reached Paris from London in a Blériot in just over 3 hours, a new record. In The Autocar of April 4th, 1914 a journalist W. reports to have been taken on a ride with Hamel's Mercedes 'which had recently been fitted with more commodious coachwork than that shown in the photograph'. Without the enormous light projector and with the 'minute and uncomfortable seats' replaced by more comfortable ones, the experience of driving this car was nevertheless still impressive, as stated by the reporter: “ … the clean damp air rushed in our faces with a velocity above that of an express train.” We must remember that the car was a 6 cylinder racer dating from 1909 and still capable of doing 100 miles an hour! 

Comparing the 'old' version of the Mercedes with the car on the lead photo, it seems likely that this is a rare photo of the rebuilt car and thus the dating of the photo must be 1914 rather than 1913. Within 2 months after the report in The Autocar Hamel would disappear above the Channel during one of his many routine flights to France. A farewell was written in La Vie au Grand Air of June 6th, 1914 by his friend and famous sportsman Roland Garros.

Words and pictures: Ariejan Bos

Sunday, 26 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

About What is it #439 40 Hp Lanchester

Lanchester-Quiz-Answer
Many correct answers this time! Maybe some readers got a little help, by the unscheduled hint, we gave by the subtitle of the enlarged picture, which said "Prewar-Quiz-Lanchester"...
Most answers were correct and indeed, the picture shows the 40HP-Lanchester built for Lionel Rapson. The price of £3000, Parry Thomas and Arthur Bird, the "Puncture-Proof-Tyres" and the sad fate of the car were also mentioned in many of your answers. Nice details about the car and its owner are told by Rob Geelen, who wrote "...very standard chassis, except for having two Zenith carburettors and a slightly raised compression ratio.Total cost was 3,000 pounds.
(...) Rapson was an inventor and marketeer that for a brief period had quite a following in London society circles and the Prince of Wales and his brothers ran their private Rolls-Royce Motor Cars on his tyres and had his patented jack system fitted. He was very much a marketeer, but his promises didn't always turned out to be true, and his empire floundered...".
Even more details about Lionel Rapson came from Michael Costigan: "...Frederick Lionel Rapson was born in 1887, the son of an Isle of Wight blacksmith. He became Head Chauffeur to HRH Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll until 1914, when he joined the Army Service Corps. He served in France as sergeant-driver to The King's Messenger, later serving in the Union Defence Force in South Africa, before being invalided out of service. Susan Schintz set up an Auxiliary Military Hospital in Liverpool, where Rapson was a patient; Miss Schintz befriended Rapson, employing him as personal secretary responsible for a fleet of cars including Lanchesters. She financed many of his inventions and business enterprises, including the Rapson Tyre Company, so in all probability the Lanchester 40 was actually bought by her. Lionel Rapson died of epilepsy in 1933...".

But who is going to win quiz this week? One good answer was too late, some had a lot more than the  predetrmined maximum of 100 words and so we can congratulate Doug Yates as the winner of quiz #439!

Words and photos: Hubertus Hansmann
 
 
Saturday, 25 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

A beach mystery

Mystery Hanomag "Sturm" convertible
Today I'd like to share a photo from my collection of "Hanomag" pictures which shows a hitherto unknown 2-seater convertible based on the company's 6-cylinder "Sturm" model (built from 1934 onwards). The photo was taken in August 1936 at the Baltic sea where the car's owners - people from the Rhineland according to the number plate - must have spent their holidays. 

For those, who didn't associate the engineering company Hanomag (from Hannover in Lower Saxony) with motorcars: Actually, the company's car manufacturing activities ran alongside the core business, hence only approx. 95,000 cars were made between 1925 and 1941. While far from being innovative Hanomag cars had a good reputation for their sturdiness and the large number of survivors after the war stands testament to their sound construction and high build quality.  

The most impressive cars ever built by Hanomag were the huge "Sturm" sedans which were introduced in 1934 and featured 6-cylinder engines for the first time in the company's history. Usually, they were equipped with rather unspectacular, yet well-proportioned bodies supplied by Ambi-Budd in Berlin.

However, also elegant convertible versions of the Hanomag "Sturm" were available. The most extravagant one was probably the beautiful roadster built by Hebmüller in 1936/37 which is well-documented both in books and on the internet.

The car in my photo bears a certain resemblance to that roadster, in particular the front is very similar, even if the distinctive Hanomag badge is mounted right on top of the radiator cowling rather than at the front of the grille. The car in my photo lacks the "Sturm" lettering, but obviously not all Hanomag buyers opted for having mounted the respective name like "Rekord" or "Sturm" on the front of their cars.

What is strikingly different, though, are the proportions of the windshield, the window pillars and the lateral body lines. The car in the photo also lacks the cutout in the door that is typical for the roadster body. The gently swinging line of the waistline is emphasized by a decorative strip ending with a comet's tail - very nice!

Now, I'm eager to know, if anyone has ever seen this particular convertible body before. My gut-feeling tells me, it could also be manufactured by Hebmüller, but I couldn't find a perfect match to date... 


Photos and words by Michael Schlenger 
  
Friday, 24 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

2 Veteran Cars in Alsace around 1905

2 Veteran Cars in Alsace around 1905


The only thing I know about this picture is this: It's a postcard onto which a child once wrote "grandpa" in German and the registration number of the left car (starting with VI B) indicates the photo was taken in Alsace which belonged to Germany until 1918.
At least some of the gentlemen look, as if they have just finished a major trip on what appears to have been a rather chilly day. I have absolutely no idea, which cars can be seen on the picture, but I assume the photo was taken around 1905 or earlier.

Can anybody tell more about the two cars or even the location where this impressive photo was shot?

Words and photo: Michael Schlenger 
Thursday, 23 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

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