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Monster - A different kind of hot rod

The Monster - A different kind of hot rod
After Tuesday's controversial Lakester, how about this for an altogether different type of hot rod? This Antipodean special started life as a 1920s Crossley 20/70 tourer, owned by Mrs Vida Jones of Sydney. Vida and her husband John were keen motor sport participants in races, trials and hill climbs in a variety of interesting cars – Vida even owned an Alfa Romeo 1750SS at one point. The Crossley was sold to Bob Pritchett in 1938, and after an accident left the engine and radiator unusable, he did what anyone would do, and fitted a supercharged Mercedes engine to the chassis...

Bob didn't complete the car until the 1950s, and quickly made a splash on the VSCCA scene with his thoroughly over-the-top creation. It soon earned the nickname that it still carries today – Monster. A most appropriate name for a true Australian hot rod, which is still causing a stir today. Current owner Tim Shellshear has recounted its history in the latest issue of The Automobile, which is out now.

Sunday, 17 August 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

About Quiz #376: 1914 Victor 8hp Cyclecar

About Quiz #376:  1914 Victor 8hp Cyclecar
Ariejan Bos is to be congratulated for sending in the right answer, but since he is a jury member he unfortunately does not qualify for a T-shirt prize. But he does give us another possible question. We were convinced our picture shows a 1914 Victor because it is the same as the picture from our Victor catalogue. But Ariejan points out the position of the petrol filler cap has moved. So perhaps the picture shows a late 1913 Dewcar – look at the advert in 1913 Grace’s Guide. The impressive editorial story about the new Victor Cyclecar works in the 15th June 1914 issue of The Light car & Cyclecar helps date the start of the Victor name, but we need more early issues to do more research.

But let’s share what we do know. The quiz picture clearly shows the starting handle shaft protruding from behind the offside front wheel, thus telling us it had the V-twin Precision motor rather than the 4 cylinder Nero unit fitted in 1915. Transmission was via chain to a 2-speed and reverse gearbox with belt drive to both wheels promoted to 3 speed with the 1915 Nero engine.

Direct action steering was described as “a constant pleasure even at the highest speeds”, helped by pivots giving a trailing action to the wheels. (Most cyclecars we’ve driven have a very lively behaviour with direct steering!). Rack and pinion was introduced in 1915. Footbrake was a metal-to-metal combination of large diameter acting on the countershaft and handbrake operated two large brake shoes acting on the belt-rims.

Ariejan asks if our photo was taken in Australia? The answer is yes, indicated by the registration 555, and we thank Richard Thompson for sending the picture which shows his (very young) father in the passenger seat. And it is from Australia that Warrick Hansted sent the only other reply and he deserves honourable mention for suggesting a very similar looking car - Newton Bennett.

One last detail worth sharing is the name of the agent supplying Victor cars, Tyler Apparatus Company Limited, and tucked inside our brochure is a well preserved letter from them dated November 1915 reminding us of the times in which they lived.

Saturday, 16 August 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

The Fast Lady

The Fast Lady

When I saw this photograph, I have to confess the eyes were immediately drawn to my heart-throb from the ‘60s, Julie Christie. We see her here in 1962 posing with her co-star of the film ‘The Fast Lady’ – a 1927 Bentley  4.5 litre Red Label Speed short chassis speed model with Vanden Plas fabric body, painted of course in British Racing Green.

Julie Christie rose to fame with her performances in such films as Doctor Zhivago, Darling and Far from The Madding Crowd and the Bentley also enjoyed fame. The film company had bought the car for filming, and at the wrap party offered it to actor Leslie Philips for £500 – he said No !

The car was sold in 2010 for £550,000 amidst great fanfare. Who could resist it after seeing this marketing video? And who can resist Julie Christie after watching her in this sequence with Terence Stamp in Far from The Madding Crowd?

(Text Robin Batchelor, photo courtesy

Friday, 15 August 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Raceabout with a difference

Raceabout with a difference: Speedwell Speed Car

When you fall for the brawn of an American short chassis racer from the brass age, the Mercer Raceabout or Stutz Bearcat are the ones to go for, right? Not necessarily. There was the Speedwell Speed Car, too. Trouble is, only one of them is known to survive but it is offered in Bonhams’ Quail Lodge sale tomorrow.

Speedwell has of course nothing to do with these chaps here. The Speedwell Motor Company of Dayton, Ohio, built their own cars from 1907 to 1914 and their 1912 Speed Car was undoubtly the top-of-the-range model. It’s unsure how many they built and this example seems the only one with known history going back to the late 1930s. As a matter of fact it was considered as a collector’s car back at the time when acquired by opera singer and car aficionado James Melton who set up his own motor museum back in 1941. The Speed Car became one of its attractions. After Melton sold the car in the late 1950s it staid in the hands of a string of automobile collectors, including William Harrah. It was completely restored in 1999 and still looks ever so good. Tempting isn’t it? Remember you won’t find another…

(picture courtesy Bonhams Auctions)

Thursday, 14 August 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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Post War Choice

1950 Jaguar MKV Drophead Coupe
Pimp up your museum or car show: 1950 Jaguar MKV Drophead Coupe project...  Go >>