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Dina plays for time

Dina plays for time.

The clocks ‘go back’ this weekend which marks the official end of British Summer Time. It was Germany that first introduced daylight saving in 1915 and Britain followed in 1916. It is New Zealand who can take credit for the idea thanks to George Vernon Hudson who proposed it in 1895, but his native country waited until 1927 before introducing it.

So with time being on my mind, I dug out my slowest car – a 1925 Trojan Utility with top speed of 35 mph – and went to visit Dina. Timing is very important in her job as a concert pianist – just listen to her playing Prokovief’s Sonata No. 2.(click), and you can watch her here. Or do you prefer a Scarlatti sonata? She started playing the piano age 5 in her home country of Kazakhstan and has won numerous awards whilst performing all over the world. Her next concert is at The Royal College of Music in London on November 13th in their Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall, named after the accomplished cellist who was author Ian Fleming’s half-sister and Augustus John’s illegitimate daughter.

As the setting sun heralded the end of another Autumn day, Dina decided to try out the hood in case it rained – she has spent enough time in England to understand our strange weather. And now she understands a bit more about our strange cars.

(Text & pictures Robin Batchelor)

Friday, 24 October 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

A low bonnet Mystery ( update: Crossley RAF staff car)

mystery car_470
Jaap 'Molsheim' Horst sends this fine photo which came to him from an enthusiast who was thinking (or hoping?) this could be a Bugatti. Well one thing is sure it's not a brainchild from Ettore Bugatti.  Maybe it is french...? Maybe we're looking at a fine set of Bleriot headlights. Maybe Dealunay Belleville, or even Turcat Mery? Yet it is hard to say, there's so little to see. We can only hope that the low bonnet line, the charcteristic louvres and the sheer size of the machine prompt an Aha!  with one or more of you. 

(picture courtesy Jaap Horst)

Thursday, 23 October 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Driving home the Model A

driving home_the_model_a_470

Gregory Wells recently decided to buy and left on Monday with his new purchase trying to drive it home on own wheels:
"Been wanting a driver quality antique car to tour with for a few years now and I finally found one at a price point I could afford. So I pulled the trigger on the purchase of this car about a week ago. The price was too good to pass up, barely into five figures in USD. As you may know, I'm in the Atlanta area and the Model A is in McMinnville, Oregon, a little bit southwest of Portland, so we're 2,700 miles apart. I'm going to attempt to drive the car back to Atlanta from Oregon.
(continued under Read More)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Barbara's Rolls-Royce links to all the cars that matter

Barbaras Rolls-Royce and all those other cars involved
You will know by now that we have a soft spot for cars with a bit of drama attached to them, and so when regular Uffe Mortensen sent in a picture of his 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II we nearly melted. Not just because of the car – a truly great design, oh yes, and in a marvellous shape and colour combination, no doubt. But it’s the history-bit that got us really enthusiastic here, as this car has been linked sometime, somehow, somewhere, to a multitude of car-crazy people and their vehicles. Take a deep breathe for a short overview.

When new, the drophead Phantom was commissioned by Georgian prince Alexis M’divani who had just taken delivery of a unique Duesenberg SJ Roadster. He bought the Rolls-Royce for his newly-wed Barbara Hutton, a then 21-year old heir to the Woolworth fortune who’d just inherited $50 million. It wouldn’t be Barbara’s only marriage. M’divani died not long later of a fall from a polo horse (although some sources say he crashed the Phantom) and Barbara started a whole string of weddings and divorces to the rich and famous. Amongst others to Cary Grant, who drove anything from Cord special to Isetta; Igor Troubetzkoy, who became the first driver ever to drive a Grand Prix for Ferrari in 1948 and who later won the Targa Florio for them. Also Porfirio Rubirosa, who owned a multitude of sports cars, also raced for Ferrari and was killed in one when he crashed it into a tree in Paris. A similar thing happened to her next husband, tennis player Baron Gottfried von Cramm, who blew out his mind in a car crash in Cairo, Egypt. Another marriage was to Count Court Haugwitz-Reventlow who gave Barbara her only child: Lawrence ‘Lance’ Reventlow who became racing driver for Cooper, Maserati and Mercedes and later set up his own racing car marque in the US: Scarab. Meanwhile, Barbara hadn’t enjoyed the Phantom for too long, and had also become attached to Ferraris later in her life. She had a silver grey 250 Pininfarina cabriolet and a 365 GTC in an unusual shade of pink!

That’s an incredible amount of exotic cars attached to one life. Barbara died, bankrupt according to some, in 1979 aged 66. After the supposed crash the Rolls-Royce is said to have been restored by Thrupp & Maberly in 1935 and was offered for sale not too long ago for over a million dollars. It didn’t sell, but now that it’s in Uffe’s hands it may be seen in public again. What a car, what a story!

(picture courtesy Uffe Mortensen)
Tuesday, 21 October 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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