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An English - French workhorse

ca 1929_leon_bollee_field
Our first thought, when we hear Leon Bollée;the famous three wheeled car (from around 1900), with its air-cooled vertical cylinder, mostly hot tube ignition; not the most reliable car but it is quite something to see. But this was of course not all that was ever produced under the name Leon Bollée.
Seeking through the catalogue of the upcoming Richard Edmonds auction, we found this fantastic Leon Bollee truck. It still requires some work, but it will be a lovely vehicle to drive in its original condition after only a mechanical restoration.

The Leon Bollée factory in 1929 was different than how it was in the early years; in 1925 Morris Motors ltd. took over the production name and the factory in Le Mans (where it also was based originally). They did so to improve their sales in France. It was hard for the English company to successfully introduce their cars to the French people. Using the old French name and the engine of a Hotchkiss, it was their hope to make this work. The body and chassis were French made, but all controlled by Englishman. Unfortunately, it still was not a great success. Which is also the reason why they stopped with the business in 1933.

Looking at the photo of the MLB12 truck, you can clearly see the typical French lines of that era. The story that it was preserved in the cave of a vineyard makes it even better. Let's hope it will be driving through the countryside as well in the short future.

The auction will be this weekend, June 17th in Allington, UK.
Tuesday, 13 June 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

The ill-fated 1902 Wolseley racers

The ill-fated 1902 Wolseley racers
  

Recently we received from one of our readers an interesting series of photos picturing two of the 1902 racing Wolseleys, including the underslung model. Particularly interesting are some photos of the underslung racer clearly having run into the wayside resulting into a displaced front wheel and a bent steering column. The surroundings suggest that the accident happened while testing the cars in England. It is unclear if all photos are directly related, as one photo shows Montague Graham-White at the wheel of the underslung racer in front of a city building whereas all other photos are situated in the countryside.

The story around the 1902 racers is not very clear, which is certainly partly caused by Herbert Austin's reluctance to comment on them: it looks as if he wanted to forget the whole story as soon as possible. The cars that were designed for the Paris-Vienna race did not perform very well indeed: the underslung racer reached Paris, but did not start; one of the two remaining cars made it only a few miles down the road to Belfort; and finally Austin himself made it just to the hills of Tyrol, but only after a new engine had been fitted during the first stage. When suggested by a journalist of The Motor-Car Journal that he better leave the horizontal engine concept behind him, he reacted as if stung by a wasp. In one of the letters he sent as a reaction to the editor of that journal he threatened to cancel all advertisements unless an apology would be published, as with his engines nothing was wrong ...

But coming back to the damaged underslung racer, as far as we know no record exists on this event: where did it happen, who was at the steering wheel, was anybody hurt in the incident etc.? So if anybody could bring to light any facts to solve this mystery, we would be most grateful!


Words and pictures: Ariejan Bos

Monday, 12 June 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

24th of August, 1901, the first race in Tuscany: Piombino - Livorno


Even the name sounds great: Piombino - Livorno. It was the first race in Tuscany, 24 august 1901. Felice Nazzaro won at the wheel of his FIAT12 HP Corsa on this 80km track. He did it in 1h 49m with an average speed of 43,66 kmh. In that time quite a spectacle. Second was Ernesto Wehreim, with a 12hp Darracq. Third and fourth were 2 Panhards (of Ugobaldo Tonietti and Serafini). Enjoy this little clip!
Sunday, 11 June 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

About what is it? Quiz #446: A 1905 Raleigh

Whatisit Quiz 446: A 1905 RaleighNo, not a Duerkopp as mentioned by George T. Cassidy, though the engine of this car indeed did come from Germany. The car is of English origin, as Kevin Atkinson describes very correctly: “The car is a 1905 Raleigh, designed by T. J. Biggs. It used a four cylinder 10hp Fafnir engine but didn't get past the prototype stage. It was the only car Raleigh produced until 1915 when they built a shaft driven 11hp cyclecar. Most modern references describe it as a 16hp, however Bigg’s own records, written in 1915 (which still exist) clearly call it a 10hp. It was driven in the 1905 Kettleby Hillclimb by G.P. Mills, again as a 10hp. Theodore James Biggs, of car producers Eastmead-Biggs, would later design the TT Humber, racers for Arrol-Johnston (including the first engine with an aluminium crankcase and water jacket) and the Beardmore Precision Motorcycle, before he joined Aster Engineering in 1922. He remained with the company through its merger with Arrol-Johnston Ltd in 1927 when it became Arrol-Aster. In 1939, at the age of 70, he joined the Austin Motor Company. He died in Birmingham in June 1959 at the age of 89.” I guess the 16hp was a printer's error already in the first edition of the Georgano. Interesting is also that the same George P. Mills would drive and win the Heavy Touring Car race of the 1907 TT in a Beeston-Humber! The most well-known product of the Raleigh motoring adventures however was yet to come: in 1929 a three-wheeled parcel van (the Karryall) would be produced, followed by a passenger tricar, the Safety Seven. When Raleigh turned again to cycles only in 1935, chief designer T.L. Williams of the Raleigh Motor Department decided to continue the production of the van under the name of Reliant. A passenger version was added in 1952. Which we all know of course ... So Kevin, congratulations with your win: you may call yourself the King of the PreWarCar Whatisit-Quiz for the next two weeks!
Saturday, 10 June 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

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