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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."
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"All petrol stations look alike," seems a statement that we use today. But also in the early days of the petrol pump, say the 1920s, many looked the same. Yet there was one pump that stood out from the crowd. Just look at the neat design of the French lily that crowns the pump on this photo. It was designed by Gispen, an industrial designer fascinated by modern technology, but also interested in Gothic architecture. Today Gispen is mostly remembered for his unique furniture, but in his design for a petrol pump he managed to bring both styles together. A pump over two meters high, with an octagonal cast iron column and an ornament on top: a French lily with an ovoid, opal glass. A true work of art, compared with its mundane brethren. Presumably the elegance of the design was also its weak point, because not many were made. We think they were too expensive for a large production. As far as we know not one has survived, as many were demolished during world War II. (Read More)
This week’s mystery motor of pre war days is so extraordinary that we believe many of you will be able to answer the question above. Fact is that once you’ve seen it, you won’t forget about it! Still, we can give you a few hints (in case you do not know it). The base vehicle is impressive on its own with straight-six of 2260cc capacity. It was only produced for two years in a country that is not particularly known for motor manufacture – although the company exists to this very day.
The car in question proudly wears its streamlined body, made by an unknown coachbuilder. The man who commissioned them to do so is however known as an artist. Do note the unusual greenhouse with no less then 15 windows, the huge sun roof and the faired in door handles. What a car!
But before rushing out to type your enthusiastic comment in the box below (please do not e-mail), be sure to read The Rules under Read More. This may be your chance to win the infamous PreWarCar T-shirt and wear with with pride at this season’s events! Results and photo source will be published next Saturday, March 21.
Today is Friday 13th, considered by many to be unlucky in Western superstition, and because we are firm believers in making your own luck, we share with you a story to remind us how lucky we are to enjoy our cars the way we do.
The picture shows a lovely occasion when a 1926 Austin 7 Chummy found a new owner. Her name is Millie and the L plates tell us she is still gaining experience before taking her driving test. She will have no trouble because Millie drove the Chummy home from the previous owner’s house – a distance of 100 miles - having never before driven a car of this sort. Especially an Austin 7 with in-or-out clutch and crash gearbox!
The deal was more than fair. If the car got her home with no need of a breakdown service, the owner would charge the full price. If it let them down, there would be a substantial discount. You begin to see how good fun always accompanies their vintage car activities and to ensure there was fun and fair play, the owner sat in the back with Millie driving and her father beside her. ( Is she adjusting the rear view mirror, or taking a 'selfie' ?)
Off they go in the early morning and, to avoid motorways, they chose a route straight through central London. The owner is a keen horologist so he insisted they drive to The Great Clock in Westminster where he would climb out and catch a train home but London traffic dictated a slow average speed which meant a lack of cooling air through the radiator and as the temperature rose, water found a way out of a hole. Millie found a place to park where they offered bacon sandwiches and coffee and the owner , being a clever ingenious fellow, went off in search of araldite. A straightforward repair and a valuable lesson for young Millie in using whatever can be found nearby to get you going again. The hot engine ensured the araldite cured whilst our intrepid trio enjoyed breakfast. The little Austin 7 gave them a trouble-free run the rest of the way home and I feel it will bring her luck if she uses it on her driving test. One day, I shall enjoy introducing her to ‘The Chummy Ladies’.
(Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy Mollie's Dad and previous owner.)
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