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Dear Prewar Editor:
A nice couple posing with their automobile in front of the local café. The picture was taken in The Netherlands, in the province of Zeeland, just check the local costume. But as always the question is... what car is this? Several Dutch experts have already given their suggestions, mentioning the usual suspects like Adler, Brennabor and Bellanger. Our Jurymember Ariejan suggested a 1915 Simson Typ D, but even he isn't sure. Perhaps identification may be more difficult as the car seems to have two different front wings. Or is that just our imagination? Therefore we ask you for your opinion. Someone, somehow, surely must recognize this car? Tell us!
Last week, we showed you a rolling chassis in show condition and the car was an Albert. The model is a G1 which had quarter elliptic front springs and cantilever rear springs as seen in last week's photo, and a radiator copied from Rolls Royce.
The push-rod overhead valve engine featured a drilled crankshaft with pressure lubricated mains and big ends with the camshaft running in a trough of oil. Initial description included a foot- operated mechanical starting device, but - perhaps wisely - did not go into production.
The partners in the firm that promoted the car, Adam, Grimalde & Co. , had limited experience of motor design or manufacture. The initial design had been commissioned from A.O.Lord and within four months of its November 1919 launch, Gwynnes Engineering were manufacturing all the mechanical parts of the Albert and in 1920, Gwynnes took over the firm and made a further 1450 cars but by 1923 they renamed the cars Gwynn-Albert.
The pioneer aviator we mentioned was Harry Hawker and his sports Albert is pictured here and this rare survivor is a 1922 G3 with a body copied from Hawker's car.
We thank the three readers who responded - James thought it was a Varley Woods which does look very similar with Rolls Royce look-a-like radiator and same cantilver rear springs - Stuart Penketh was convinced it was a 1919 A6A Farman , but we congratulate Peter Ransom on guessing Albert correctly and since he is a jury member, we send a virtual cigar!
Today we would like to introduce you to Marion Davies. Born in 1897 in Brooklyn as Marion Cecilia Douras but changed her surname to Davies when her sister spotted the name on a real estate sign. Even at a time when New York was a melting pot for immigrants, having a British surname greatly helped one's prospects.
After making her screen debut in 1916 modelling dresses, she featured in her first film - The Runaway Romany - in 1917. She went on to make a small fortune as a film star, despite being nervous when sound was introduced because she had never overcome her childhood stutter. The car was made by Jack Landon who made 'midget' cars for films and feaures in a short chase scene in 1928 silent film romantic comedy 'The Cardboard Lover' in which she starred and was executive producer with her lover William Randolph Hearst. The colour scheme, shape and wheels remind us of an Auburn - she would look so much better in the real thing?
We found her climbing into a slightly smarter car when modelling hats for Hollywood's favourite hatter Lilly Daché (Davies was her first Hollywood celebrity customer). "Lilly had no idea who the pretty blonde was, nor the adoring older gentleman paying the bill, but Marion must have been pleased, for a steady stream of “name” customers soon found their way to Lilly’s shop. Delores Del Rio was another good customer (remember her?). We think this picture of her on a model A Ford is from the 1928 film. 'The Patsy' and in 1926, Davies played Beverly Calhoun in 'Beverly of Graustark' and poses here beside a shiny 1926 Cadillac 6400 Brougham. You can see her trying to make Clark Gable fall for her charms in this clip from 'Polly of the Circus'.
(Text Robin Batchelor, pictures from archive)
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