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Grand Hotel Trento mystery

Grand Hotel Trento mystery

Among the many unidentified prewar cars in my photo collection is this huge phaeton parking in front of a certain "Grand Hotel Trento". Most likely it was located in the Italian city of Trento that belonged to Bavaria and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire for more than 800 years, before it was attributed to Italy after WW1.

I am sure that this photo was taken before the Great War, hence it's quite possible that the car was made by a German or Austrian manufacturer.

Bearing in mind that this photo is more than 100 years old, it's still impressive in my opinion. This is not a snapshot, but the result of a capable photographer's effort.

It appears, as if one of the two gentlemen wearing bright coats was just checking his emails - but probably he is rather holding the envelope with a written letter from his fiancee in his hand...
Anyone who can shed some light on the situation and the car on this beautiful shot?

Words and picture: Michael Schlenger

Thursday, 08 December 2016 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

The Saint Louis boy & dog Mystery (update: 1903 Thomas model 18)

The boy_the_dog_the_gun_mystery-800
When visiting Saint Louis, there are two addresses at least that you should visit if you have an interest in great cars. Have coffee with Mark Hyman at Hyman Ltd. And after that go a few miles downtown to see St. Louis Car Museum. Not a big chance that you find there the car depicted above, but hey you never know what they may have waiting in their 'reserve collection'.
 This typical early 1900 studio shot was picked up by us just because we liked the two friends in the driver seat. It was only upon closer inspection that we saw the (toy?) gun in the boy's hand.  Unlike last Friday's studio set-up this seems more like a full car. Let's see what you come up with.

(collection editor)

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

No, no, not a Mercedes!

No, no, not a Mercedes!

No, please don't call this car a Mercedes! A mistake often made also in connection with the French trucks and buses with this characterictic front in pre-WW1 years. So what is it then? For the trucks and buses it is obvious what it is: several makes like Brillié-Schneider and De Dion-Bouton used this Goudard et Mennesson radiator for extra cooling purposes. The engine under the driver's seat, low speeds and hot city summers all were of course reasons to replace the traditional radiator for this device. The only patent on the subject I could find showed an application of the ventilator in an engine with thermosyphon cooling, in the case that the reservoir was placed behind the bonnet (like Renault). Quite different from the lead photo, where the car unmistakably is equipped with the Goudard and Mennesson cooling device. The car itself appears to be a Lion-Peugeot, dating from around 1908 as indicated by the license number 408-HH, and could have very well been a testing car. Striking are the sporty holes in the gear change and brake levers! Unclear is why the car was immatriculated in Chambéry (near Lyon), as Goudard and Mennesson were both Paris-based. And for the people who have the impression that they heard these names before, but in a slightly different context: they are right! The Goudard brothers Maurice and Félix, and Marcel Mennesson were the inventors and producers of another famous French product: the Solex carburetor …

text Ariejan Bos, photos from his collection 

Tuesday, 06 December 2016 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

The bricklayer's Fortune (update: Crossley, Waverley, Daracq ?)

1913-mystery picture
Jesse Walker sent an old family photo showing the family - named Harper -  of his 2nd great grandfather in Nottingham in 1913 (when cars were very rare..! ) with his wife in the background and his four children in the car. His great grandfather probably took the picture himself.

We think the low radiator and the sharp edged bonnetare are most probably the best details to work with. But Jesse is not only curious what make of motorcar this can be.  "Any info at all on the car would be appreciated, such as how would someone buy a car like this? Where was it made, purchased, shipped? I've had a look at other cars from 1913 or before and they look absolutely nothing like this one."

We asked Jesse to give some more background to the photo. To our experience this always adds a lot to the story.

" It's my great grandmother's family, with surname Harper. She's the one on the far right (back left seat of the car). The family had built up quite some money from a simple background.  The father started as a bricklayer around 1880 when he was in his very early teens and steadily built up a construction empire doing all sorts of work (as can be seen on his sign in the background - "Builder & Contractor"). The son (the very dapper gent in the driving seat) had been to Nottingham Boys High School. He died in Belgium in 1918 aged 27, so the family money went to the three daughters.
The daughters lived long lives into the 1970s/1980s and never had to work a day in their lives. The story goes that they owned about 400-600 houses between themselves (a very conservative estimate in today's money would be about £100M if each house was worth £200K).. but there's nothing to show for it these days. All disappeared through mismanagement I'm told.
The father died in 1950 with an estate worth £58000, when the average UK annual salary was just over £100.. so yes, quite some means.

Well, we agree it is a high quality car. The details are to be produced by our knowlegeable audience.

Monday, 05 December 2016 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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