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A village called Amelia

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People say that the Amelia Island Concours is the friendly 'little village' version of Pebble Beach. Hard to say if they are right as we have never seen Pebble Beach so far. And after the four day experience of hundreds and hundreds of top level cars and the Sunday crowds even more. But at least the friendly part is true, the venue is perfectly organised by Bill Warner and crew members like Ellen Thorne to name just one. And yes Amelia Island Concours is accessible just like as a village. If you're early you can park your car 5 minutes walk from the showfield and when you're late there are very frequent shuttles that will drop you within minutes at the showfield. We visited the auctions of Bonhams (see Thursday results), Gooding (see Friday results), and RM/Sotheby's (see Saturday results) prior to the concours. And Oh My!! None of those were boring experiences! At Gooding's - sorry for a small post-war detour - among nearly $30 million of sales it should be noted that the '56 Maserati 200SI stayed with the owner who wasn't satisfied with the offered US$ 4,700,000! Bonhams showed that unrestored goodies are doing better and better with a neat $ 1,600,000 sale of a very attractive 1930 Cord L29 Town Car. The long nose, slanted window, low roof  and superior unmolested condition did it. At RM-Sotheby's we felt very much attracted to the Sherman tank like 1932 Marmon HCM V-12 Prototype, by far the most attractive 2 door Sedan of the weekend, but at $ 429,000 just a notch above our budget.  

After all this the Concours yet had to start... There is no way to describe the abundancy of toplevel motorcars to be admired and savoured and we will serve you just some tidbits to have an idea. The showfield is a pleasant golf range very near the Atlantic with the Ritz Carlton hotel to welcome the tired traveller, golfer or car collector. One of the best places to see the cars entering the showfield is the narrow shaded down drive from the hotel to the greens. One of the first truly american cars we snapped was this unrestored Model A 'straigh eight' Duesenberg, and with unrestored we mean unrestored. Slightly less scruffy this superior Stutz low roof Coupe (note the steering aid lights). Also on Stutz  were Corky Coker and wife. Another great man - Jim Grundy - is admiring a rewarding potential insurance object: the fabulous Duesenberg drophead by Graber as presented by multiple Pebble winner Sam Mann. Next surprises entering the showfield, the most interesting and daring reconstruction of the Dymaxion and the reconstructed Stutz Land Speed Record car that killed its driver Frank Lockhart on Daytona Beach in 1928. Believe us we could go on for another two pages. And promise, we will return with more plus of course our post-war observations.  

Still, amid all concours cars, unrestored HPOF cars, town cars, specials, hot rods, replicas, recontructions, sports cars, racing cars and more there was one that we missed out at the show fields: a most intriguing 1912 Racing Special, a 10 litre 4 cylinder chaindrive of uncomparable beauty, balance and perfection which remained only visible to the visitors of the 'duPont Registry Live' show at Friday night. Tomorrow presented in detail.

(All photos PreWarCar)
Thursday, 19 March 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Last of the Wiltons comes home

Keeping it in the family

How many people can claim to drive a car built by one of their antecedents? Roy Halsall is one of this tiny minority of old-car enthusiasts, owning a rare Wilton 10/20 tourer that was built by the company founded by his grandfather, Charles Frederick Halsall, in 1914.

Charles started out making bicycles back in 1896, aged 14. By 1912 he was offering cycles powered by small engines, and that same year experimented with his first four-wheeled vehicle. It was a cyclecar powered by a JAP engine, very much in the spirit of the times, but when full production commenced in 1913 it had metamorphosed into a 'proper' light car, with a water-cooled 1095cc Ballot engine mounted behind a curved brass radiator. Charles's 'factory' was a tiny building behind his cycle shop in Wilton Road, Victoria, London, the location providing a name for the cars.

Production was slow, given the constraints of space and labour, and only a few Wiltons were built. It was thought that none survived until Roy Halsall located this car, the fourth made, in Australia. He has painstakingly restored the car over the last seven years and it is now in as-new condition. In the first photograph you can see the very same car as it was in 1914, with a second Wilton behind. The second photograph shows the newly completed car.

The full story of Roy Halsall's restoration of his grandfather's car is reported in the April issue of The Automobile, which is out now.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

It's all in the family (2)

Its all in the family (2)

Don't think Hugo Modderman was quite finished with his Lancia Artena tale, here is his follow up on yesterday's story. Hugo wrote: "In 2012 my friend and car historian Hans Veenenbos had found a website where people post automobile photographs that they find in family albums. He saw a strange looking Lancia, sent me the link and asked me if I knew what type it was. It turned out to be my car! Through the website I got in touch with the little girl, now not so little anymore and living in Curaçao, sitting in the car in Bennekom at around 1946. She told me her grandfather H.M.B. Jantzen had bought the car new while living in Meran. The car then had numberplate 3023 BZ (for Bolzano). He used the car frequently for travelling to the Netherlands, mostly via France. His nephew Jorn Jantzen must have owned the car in the 1950s and sold it in 1956 via a garage in the Balistraat in The Hague to mister Kengen from whom we bought it in 1959." "What's more: When I took it apart many years this sign (picture 2) was hidden behind the number plate. So far no one has been able to tell me who made it and why. Mister Jantzen drove the Artena on Italian plates and when he took it to The Netherlands he avoided Germany. Perhaps he wanted to show the French he was no mere fan of Mussolini and Co? Remarkably, it’s been cast in aluminium, which may indicate that more than just the one were made. So far I haven’t been able to find out more. Perhaps readers here will be able to share their knowledge?" Come in, readers!
Tuesday, 17 March 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

It's all in the family: Lancia Artena

Its all in the family: Lancia Artena

Regular contributor Hugo Modderman came up with another of his entertaining tales last week. It’s a story of a Lancia Artena that has been in the family for quite a while. Hugo wrote: “It was around 7 pm on a summer evening in 1959 that we were having dinner in the kitchen when we saw a military police officer walking up the drive. We joked: Dad, they are coming to arrest you (my father was a reserve in the army). The man politely asked my father whether he wanted an old Lancia. “No thank you very much, I already have an old Lancia”, he said. The officer replied: “What a shame, the garage told me you were a Lancia aficionado. It is too old for me to use for border controls. If you don’t want it, it will be scrapped. My father then walked down to the street and came to an agreement with the officer, swapping the car against an old VW Beetle."

(Click 'Read More...')

Monday, 16 March 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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1955 Siata
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