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Dear Prewar Editor:

Jag XK 120 yesterday @ Piet Heinstraat, Den Haag


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About quiz #395: 1913/14 Gobron (Brillie) 40/60 HP

About quiz #395: 1913/14 Gobron (Brillie) 40/60 HP

Last week´s quiz photo comes from an old Spanish magazine called "Stadium", which in those days was devoted to sports of all kinds. In one of the 1916 issues is an interesting article about the first "Vuelta a Cataluña" event, a 630 km endurance race which was held during 23, 24 and 25th July 1916, and by that gives a clue about the date of the car. Among many photos of other interesting entries, the great radiator of the quiz car caught our attention. The caption reads "The huge Gobron of Jose Andreu, winner of a gold medal". Back to the quiz, two competitors mentioned Lorraine-Dietrich, three said Isotta-Fraschini, specifically the KM model. And only two came up with the right marque, one of which is a jury member.

David Green(jury) and John Hughes from Australia spoke about the Gobron-Brillie cars, but it was John who was most accurate with all the details. "I believe this illustration shows a very large Gobron-Brillie, of about 1913 or 1914. Cars of this make were built in Boulogne-sur-Seine from 1898 until 1918. In 1919 the company was restructured and production was shifted to Levallois-Perret until they went out of business in 1930, by which time they were known simply as "Gobrons".

Eugene Brillie had severed his connection with the company as early as 1903. Their most notable feature was their engine which had two pistons per cylinder. Tubular connecting rods were used and both pistons moved in opposite directions. This (expensive) design was claimed to eliminate engine vibration. Interestingly, the earliest Gobron-Brillies had no carburettor. Instead, fuel was metred by an ingenious "rotating conical device". In their catalogue they claimed that cars with this feature would run equally well on gin, brandy, whisky, naphtha or petrol. The car in the illustration is probably a 7.6 litre 40/60 hp monster of about 1913 or 1914 which cost eleven-hundred pounds in London. The largest Gobron-Brillies were chain-driven until 1914".

Nothing to add, more if we think of the Gobron-Brillie photos usually seen in the internet, with very different appearance to our quiz car. So congratulations John! Please send us your mail address and T-shirt size so we can send you your well deserved prize!
(quiz idea and text by Francisco Carrión) 
Saturday, 30 May 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Krishna jumps from Napier to Lancia

napier railton krishnaThe staff at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire are to be congratulated on their imaginative idea to add to the usual activities for their annual speech day. They asked the Old Stoic Society to organise a display of classic cars which are mostly owned by ex-pupils ( ‘Old Stoics’).
One such car was the ‘Steady Special’ – a 1934 special built by the late Ronald ‘Steady’ Barker who harboured a life-long love of Lancias. The lady you see smiling in the cockpit is called Krishna and was there in her capacity as a volunteer at Brooklands museum which brought the ex-John Cobb record breaking 24 Litre Napier Railton.

Krishna is one of the few people at the museum privileged to sit in this unique car and even drive it - a job which she clearly enjoys.
We drove there in a 1953 Ford Vedette from the Automobile magazine's 'Oily Rag' collection and were pleased to hear one pupil declare it was her favourite car. Most pupils and parents, however, were to be seen gazing at such rare delights as the 1932 Bugatti 'La Petit Royal', a 1926 Aero Morgan 3-wheeler, a 1939 Hudson Victoria Coupe, or the 1902 Curved Dash Oldsmobile but all in all a very good opportunity for the younger generation to be inspired by old cars, and let's hope they enjoy them as much as Krishna.

(Text & pictures by Robin Batchelor)

Friday, 29 May 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Rewriting the history of desmodromic valves

A desmo discovery

The Beaulieu Autojumble has a reputation for being the best place in the world to discover rare prewar parts (although on the other 362 days of the year, our classifieds are worth a look, too). Collectors and restorers tell tall tales about days gone by at the famous English event – boasting about who found the rarest, most important part or car. The 2014 Autojumble shone a light on what might well be the most important object to be offered for sale in the event's 40-year history. On the stand of Dutch motorcycle dealers Yesterdays was a most unusual engine, a single-cylinder unit with single overhead camshaft and four valves. Yesterdays were offering a beer to anyone who could identify the motor, the origins of which were unknown.

Now the mystery has been solved by historians Henk Cloosterman and Sébastien Faurès Fustel de Coulanges. The engine is a 1908 Ariès racing unit, long thought lost. A thorough inspection reveals it to be the single most advanced racing engine of the period – in addition to the four valves and overhead camshaft, the engine is supercharged and has desmodromic valvegear – some six years before the previously recognised desmodromic pioneer, the 1914 Delage Type S.

It's not often a motoring discovery is made that re-writes the history books, but this is one of those rare occasions. Henk and Sébastien have presented the fruits of their research in the latest issue of The Automobile, which is out now. If you want to learn more about desmodromics, visit Henk's website at

Thursday, 28 May 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

A Fiat in the Fahrenheitstreet The Hague? (upd.: 1930/31 Plymouth)

fahrenheitstraat the_hague_470

A postcard found by Rick Nicolaas showing the Fahrenheitstraat in The Hague, not too far from where he lives. We were puzzled by the car in the foreground 'Ford' but finally decided probably it is better to decide naming it a 1929-30 Fiat 514. Still a Ford is much more likely in these surroundings. Check this fabulous 'Fahrenheitstreet' photo for instance.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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1979 Land Rover Series 3 SWB
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