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About What is it Quiz #450: SHW-Wagen

About What is it Quiz #450: SHW-Wagen
Well done, prewarcar.com-readers. Of the five answers, five answers had the correct solution. The car is of course the SHW-Wagen, built by the "Schwäbische Hüttenwerke GmbH", located in Baden-Württemberg.

It was presented to the public at the Automobilausstellung-Berlin in 1925. This company was founded just four years before, but the company proudly states, that its origins go back to the year 1365. Due to financial problems, caused by the effects of inflation, the company was in search for new business segments and after a lot of discussion, SHW decided to buy the Böblinger Werft A.G. and hired Wunibald Kamm, later one of the leading automotive aerodynamicists, as factory manager. And Kamm, a type of an all-around talent, created a truly advanced car for the "Volk", an early "Volkswagen". He started his project during his time at Mercedes and built the first prototype roadster in his spare time, before approaching SHW. The weight was just 880 pounds and the car was powerd by a 250cc two stroke engine. At SHW, the three prototypes, the "real" SHW-Wagen were built. And as Herman van Oldeneel knew, those were the closed car "IIIC-2201" (some sources tell us, that the car had a removable hardtop) and the two phaetons "IIIC-2200" and "IIIC-2203". And the cars were really as revolutionary, as John Krabbendam writes: " Aluminium monocoque bodies, frontwheel drive, independent wheel suspension, four wheel brakes, 4 gearbox from Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen , boxer side valve engine". And he adds: " The third car; open car without fabric hood was Kamm’s personal car with the original numberplate "III C 2003", but now carrying "III A 8836". Kamm used it a lot till 1932. Since 1937 it resides in the Deutsche Museum in Munich". But what about the engines? Two-stroke? Four-stroke? Air cooled? Water cooled? OK, we have a two cylinder-boxer and it´s said to have had about 1000cc. But the sole survivor has a bit more bore, but nearly twice the stroke, giving the engine 2096cc. We believe, that many different engines were tried. First air-cooled, but as Kamm also wanted to interest the Behr-radiator factory for production, the air-cooled version was banned. The riveted alloy-body was designed by Wunibalt Kamm and was built in Friedrichshafen at "Luftschiffbau Zeppelin".
Also mentioned two times is the comment of Ferdinand Porsche, regarding the little car: " Ferdinand Porsche recommended his employer Mercedes-Benz to buy SHW, if the car would be made ready for production", and that also BMW was interested. BMW preferred to buy DIXI and built a much more conventional and well known Austin Seven-licensed car. SHW sadly feared the immense investments and stopped the project. Kamm himself drove his personal SHW untill he donated it to the "Deutsches Museum" in Munich, where it was transformed to a cutaway. But in the early 1980s, the car was restored/recreated by BMW and since it was completed again, we can salute this fantastic little car in the "Deutsches Museum" again.
OK, but who is the winner of this weeks Quiz? The answers (all very good) were by Robbie Marenzi, LEY Fredy, Gerd Klioba, John Krabbendam and Herman van Oldeneel and I think, the other four participiants will agree, that Hermans answer included the best facts. Especially, as he was the only one, who mentioned the Rumpler-type fwd and Wunibald Kamms silver-medal at the 24h-Eifelrennen! Congratiulations Herman!
We invite you to send us a quiz for next time ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Words and pictures by Hubertus Hansmann

Saturday, 05 August 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

More Beauty!

More Beauty!
Which day is it today? FRIDAY! Most of you who regularly visit the website know what this means. Good looking ladies and beautiful cars! This week the ladies do not seem to be mechanics or part of the family portrait. On this photograph, we see two women in the back of a very fine-looking car. Which we think is a 1917 Studebaker. But who are they and what are they doing there? Quite noticeable is the fact that they sit in the back posing and that there is no one behind the steering wheel or in the passenger seat. It also seems like one of the women has a dog on her lap. The main question, how did they end up in the back of this Studebaker?

If we let go our imagination, this could be the case. The two women went to which we know is the Shorncliffe pub or bar. After they had a drink, maybe a few... they were about to set off and go home when they heard in the distance a police car coming from behind. As fast as they could they jumped over the seats and took place in the back of the car, and pretended they were waiting for their chauffeur to drive them home. JAMES! Hurry up! We are waiting for you! As soon as the police car arrived, the cops could not believe their eyes. Two charming ladies in this wonderful and very interesting car, a beautiful setting. This is worth a photograph! They asked the women if they could take a photograph, who of course said yes. CLICK! And the photograph was taken. The rest is history…

What do you think happened on the moment this photograph was taken? Who are these ladies, does anyone recognise the place the photograph is taken? What is in the wicker basket on the running board? Or maybe someone knows more about this specific type of Studebaker.

Use your imagination and please tell us what you think is the story behind the photograph. Or if you know more about the car. Leave a comment and share your thoughts with other pre-war enthusiasts.

If you have another pub related anecdote, which also involves your pre-war. Please shareit with us!

Photo by Reg Harris

Friday, 04 August 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Yes, the world’s most valuable car was indeed found in a junkyard….

Yes, the world’s most valuable car was indeed found in a junkyard….
Ettore Bugatti was a showman. He had the biggest luxury car, which he had designed at the end of the 1920s. The Type 41 was intended to be the most magnificent car ever created, a car for Kings.

Oh sure, royalty had Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Hispano-Suizas and Delahayes but park the Royale next to any of those and they looked small. Plus there were over 400 Duesenberg Model J’s so they were quite common by comparison. The popular rumor is that the car was created after Ettore took exception to the comments of an English lady who compared his cars unfavourably with those of Rolls-Royce. He would show them!

Adjusted for inflation, the Royale would have cost about $700,000 back then when a working man’s salary was $5,000 a year.

Accounts differ on if royalty ever partook of his car. One story is that he refused to sell one to poor King Zog of Albania stating, "The man's table manners are beyond belief!" Another Romanian Royal had one, King Carol II who had the second car rebodied to more closely resemble the Coupe Napoleon bodied by Parisian Henri Binder.

Let’s look at the size of the beast. The wheelbase was 169 inches. It tipped the scales at 7,500 lbs. The drum brakes are 18 inches in diameter and the cast wheels predicted the tall wheel craze by more than half a century by being 24". The engine was the biggest ever offered in any production car-- a 12,763cc straight-8 later used in some French train locomotives. Another rumor is that the engine was originally designed as an aircraft engine but when the French Air Ministry didn't want it, he decided to build a car around it.
It was a very modern engine in the details-- SOHC and 3-valves per cylinder and rated at 300 hp. almost twice that of the Cadillac V16’s 165 hp.

Ettore’s timing was terrible. He brought the car out just when Europe was going to hell. Only six Royales were built between 1929 and 1933, with Ettore only able to sell three to external customers,but incredibly, eight decades later, all six still exist.
Each has unique bodywork. The first Royale, in fact, was rebodied five different times.

This particular car is particularly interesting because it represents the Ultimate Barn Find. Chassis # 41 121, was ordered new in 1931 with a Weinberger body done in Munich by Dr. Josef Fuchs of Munich. an obstetrician, for the equivalent of what would have then been $43,000. But Dr. Fuchs became alarmed by the Nazi party and he and his family loaded up in the car and left, first for Italy and then, oddly, Shanghai (not a good idea considering the Japanese were coming there).
They ended up living in New York. The Doctor did not properly secure the car against the winter cold and the block cracked. This is not an engine you could just buy a new block for around the corner. So the car went to a junkyard. It is amazing it wasn’t cut up because by now it was WWII and there was a craze to melt down old cars for war material. (Another report says the junkyard sold it in 1946)
Fortunately in 1943 a man named Charles Chayne got a tip from a car loving buddy about a huge black car with yellow trim in a junkyard. Chayne got on the phone and bought #41 121 for $400 plus $12 tax. Now Mr. Chayne was not just an engineer but the head of Buick engineering at GM. He had thousands of engineers working for him so for them to cast a part from scratch, no problem. The biggest change he made was to have a new intake manifold made with four carburetors to make it more drivable.

He restored the car and eventually he and his wife Esther donated it to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, where it's been on display for half a century. Ironically Chayne was also involved with the Pebble Beach Concours and could have donated it to that event, but it is safe to say that Pebble Beach back then was just some small car show, not the grandiose enterprise it is today, so he thought the Ford Museum a good recipient.
He modified the car somewhat but not as badly as another Bugatti he owned that got a Buick aluminum block V6. He was a Purist, to be sure, but a practical man and the fact a car had an updated engine wasn’t as important to him as getting the car out and about.
The moral of the story is: when some buddy calls you and reports “a strange car in a junkyard” then pay attention. It could be another Royale-type car. Oh, and the value today? I’d say $20 million would be reasonable for an opening bid….

THE AUTHOR/ARTIST: Wallace Wyss is a fine artist. He did the painting of the Chayne car here and says prints are available. For information on how to order, write This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Thursday, 03 August 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Enemies of the road

Enemies of the road
In a recent post on early Wolseley racers a device was visible on one of the photos, which is nowadays generally known as a nail catcher.

Horseshoe nails, next to glass or pieces of barbed wire, were among the most important enemies of a pleasant road trip during the early years of automobilism. Horses were far more abundant than cars in that time and horses tended to lose these nails on a rather regular basis. And even the Michelin tires, which were advertised as 'ating the obstacles' could have problems with these little devils. Already in use on bicycles for a long time, Michelin therefore designed in 1901 especially for cars a device to remove these obstacles, before they could do any harm: it was called an 'arrache-clou' or nail extractor. A bracket was bolted to the chassis holding the device, which was held lightly against the tire by rubber bands, attached to either the mudguard or (if these were absent) another bracket. These devices would extract the nails before they would do any further harm. It was shown at the Paris Salon end of 1901 and came into general use for both private and racing cars. In the years to follow more simple devices were designed for cars, which used chains or a metal grid. These were mounted on the mudguards and were hanging down on the tires. Apparently they were effective enough, as they were offered more or less unchanged up to the First World War. After that the tires had become stronger and more resistant and besides automotive power was winning the battle against the horse, making these devices superfluous.

A special mention deserves the device, designed by a Mr. Hickley in 1903 to deal with the nail threat in an even more vigorous way. His device was connected to the electrical system of the car. A nail present in the tire would brake a thread, held closely to the tire, causing a short-circuit by which a fuse was blown, cutting off the current and bringing the car to an immediate standstill. Though very effective indeed, one can only hope that this would not happen too often: the continuous stopping as well as time consuming changing of fuses and threads could hardly be considered an improvement!

Words and pictures: Ariejan Bos

Wednesday, 02 August 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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