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The season starts in Maastricht

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A new year has begun and as usual, the Classic-Car-Year for me starts with the Interclassics/Topmobiel at the MECC in Maastricht. It´s always a pleasure to visit this event, as the exhibition shows the perfect balance of dealers, clubs, spare parts and automobilia.

From Thursday till Sunday, Interclassics celebrates its 25th anniversary and as an appropriate special, a highlight of every annual theme will be displayed. And those are really special vehicles.

We can for example eye the 1902 Renault Type 1. This car was driven at two races in 1902. It scored second at the “Concours á l’alcool”, a 922 km rally organized by the French Ministry of Agriculture, and one month later it participated at the “Paris-Vienna”-race, that sadly ended due to an accident during the final leg in leading position.

More than 25 years later, the famous Blower-Bentley was launched. Even if it is known as THE Le Mans-Bentley by the general public, it never won the famous 24-hours race. Furthermore, W.O. Bentley also didn´t like the roots-compressor version of his car: "His (Tim Birkin) gaily vivid, restless personality seemed to be always driving him on to something new and spectacular, and unfortunately our 4 1/2-liter car was one of his targets!" But Tim Birkin persisted on the car. Using the financial support of Dorothy Paget, he transformed his 4,5-liter car into a supercharged one. Building 50 more cars for the Le Mans formalities was a financial disaster for the marque. "Win on Sunday - Sell on Monday" is the wrong term, if you don´t win. So the prizes of the chassis built on stock were lowered and finally sold (plus one chassis built by Rolls-Royce in 1933). Even if the car was one of Bentleys many coffin nails, it became a legend. 54 Bentley Blowers were built and we have another 54 at the show: The spectacular Bugatti Type 54. Ettore Bugatti´s creation was mainly built for high-speed courses (especially Monza), using the largest engine, Bugatti ever constructed for racing cars: the 4.9 liter DOHC straight eight, of the 1931 Type 50. It is believed, that only nine examples were built of this powerful pur sang. In just 13 days, the 300 HP (450 HP on Methanol!) engine was fixed on a Type 45 chassis and exactly this No 1 car, made for Achille Varzi, is on display in Maastricht.

But of course, there aren´t only race-cars at the special show. What about an early grand tourer like the flamboyant Mercedes 500K? This iconic car was built by Mercedes-Benz between 1934 and 1936. We can have a closer look at one of only 29 Special Roadsters built for the rich and famous. Those rich and famous customers had the choice of many versions of the car. The engine always was the 5 liter supercharged straight eight, but many bodies (not to forget the option of buying a bare chassis and bring it to a specialized coachbuilder) were available and the chassis was offered in three versions: The standard long wheelbase chassis, the same chassis with a 19 cm more backwards engine position and additional this chassis with a shorter wheelbase. It is unusual, but the Special-Roadster body is always mounted on the long wheelbase chassis, but of course the one with the backwarded engine position.

When it is time for a little rest, search for the stand No. 746! You will easily identify it, as there will be a large “”(and "" of course) banner, a very original 1910 Oakland Model K 40 HP, a Riley Special and some friends, a (maybe a little tired) staff, always looking keen on a pre-war car enthusiast!

Text & Photos: Hubertus Hansmann

Editor: please come and visit our stand for a cup of coffee or another drink from Thursday the  11th of January till Sunday the 14th in Maastricht. The cars are polished, drinks are cold and talk is about cars!


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