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Silent movie star with a stutter

Silent movie star with a stutter

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)

Friday, 27 November 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

No turkey today, Happy Thanksgiving!

charlie the Big Boy

Who is that guy blocking the view on Charlie, the 'big boy'? We didn't want to serve you turkey with this year's Thanksgiving. Too obvious and not as nicely roasted as you will get it at home. And if you like you can find turkeys and cars in a thousand different poses on the web, so help yourself. No we decided to serve you something less obvious. An animal you won't find on your plate tonight. It's Charlie, who lived in the Zoo of Universal City in California 99 years ago. Now you may wonder what all this has to do with cars. Well if you look good enough you will think of a car. More precise you will think of millions and millions of cars. To help you with a small hint. Just like Thanksgiving it starts with T. Still don't know what we're talking about? Check read more.

Trivial fact: yesterday the best Dutch commercial of the last 50 years was elected. A sweet little story about an elephant with a rocksolid memory.

Thursday, 26 November 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

'Evergreens' at the Royal Horticultural Society

The Royal Horticultural Society welcomes True Greats.

The 1st of December is a Tuesday and it is the day COYS hold their 'True Greats' auction of 'Fine Historic Motor Cars' at the Royal Horticultural Halls in Westminster, London. After dreaming of buying the 1932 Bentley 4 litre saloon for every day transport, we felt a little smug when we read that Captain Woolf Barnato used one as his personal transport. Later in the description we learn that an owner in the 1960s drove this car single-handed from Land's End to John O'Groats in under 24 hours. The subsequent 12 year restoration effectively means this car is as good as new!

Add another half litre, a supercharger out the front and open sporting coachwork and you have an altogether different beast. Affectionately known as 'The Blower Bentley', this 1928 example is described as a 'Birkin Blower' reproduction and the catalogue carefully describes its history. The 1937 Delahaye 135 Le Mans has also been re-bodied with an authentic copy of the original and has since enjoyed much competition use. The car is said to run beautifully and the original Cotal gearbox is included in the lot. The bright red 1925 Bugatti Type 30 was once used to carry rocks in its early life, but after 30 years in a shed, it now carries its original body, engine, gearbox and rear axle and is described as 'fully operational'.

Last, but not least, please take time to gaze at the 1938 Lancia Aprilia Cabriolet with rare Worblaufen coachwork - perhaps unique in that respect. Vincenzo Lancia did not live to see his final creation enter production - the Aprilia was launched in 1937, two months after his death, and set new standards in production car design. A car which breaks away from tradtion with all-round independent suspension, hydraulic brakes, unitary construction bodyshell and overhead-camshaft narrow-angle V4 engine. Take your time as you stroll up to the door, settle into the driver's seat, grasp the wheel, start the engine  - and tell us you are not tempted.

(Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy COYS)

Wednesday, 25 November 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

The first Porsche sports car, and the race that never was

The first Porsche sports car, and the race that never was

Although you won't find the famous crest anywhere on the coachwork, this tiny streamlined coupé can lay claim to being the first Porsche sports car. Designed to compete in the 1939 Berlin to Rome race, Porsche's team built a trio of high-speed sports cars using modified Beetle running gear. The 985cc engine had a raised compression ratio, larger valves and twin carburetters and was said to propel the car up to 108mph at 4000rpm, helped by the slippery Reutter coachwork which included a full undertray and fully enclosed wheels.

The T64s, as the cars were known in Porsche's works, never had a chance to compete as the scheduled race in September, 1939, was cancelled as Germany entered a state of war. One of the cars was crashed and destroyed by a Volkswagen board member, a second was driven into the ground by American GIs after hostilities had ceased. Only one car survived untouched, owned and driven by the one-armed Austrian rally ace Otto Mathé, who converted it to right-hand drive to allow him to change gear...

After Mathé's death in 1995 a number of rare parts came to light among his collection of VW and Porsche competition cars. The eagle-eyed owners of Hamburg's Prototyp Automuseum realised the very early VW chassis and engine were, in fact, salvage from one of the wrecked T64s. The black car in these photos is the product of their painstaking 10-year effort to recreate the missing car using these original parts. Delwyn Mallett, a lifelong Porsche aficionado, was there when the car was unveiled, and tells the full fascinating history – and what it is like to drive – in the latest issue of The Automobile, which is out now.

(Photographs by Delwyn Mallett)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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1948 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
Pleasant looking Rolls-Royce project: 1948 Silver Wraith...  Go >>