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Dear Prewar Editor:
Remi Weber writes that he is quite happy about you - PWC visitors - identifying for him the Gregoire his grandmother was seated in. However he comes up with a new question. My grandmother is now seated in a...? At this point she is a married lady. The photo was shot in Damery, Champagne, France.
Editor: sometimes the surroundings may delure you. Especially a romantic place like the Champagne gives you the wrong mindset to ID a car like this which seems almost trivial in these surroundings. We agree it is not a Gregoire; more than that it looks like a 1922 Dodge Brothers... The only thing which seems wrong is the rather small headlights. Yet as the car has a well used appearance these lights may be a later addition.
When old car specialist Pierre Novikoff took a telephone call one day, little did he know what a discovery he was about to make. He took Matthieu Lamoure, Managing Director at Artcurial Motorcars, with him to a small village in western France . "It was a fairly indescribable feeling. On entering the gates of this property, we had no idea what we would find.” Their eyes fell upon different makeshift structures behind the gardens at the rear of the property. Corrugated iron roof panels were slowly collapsing on to dozens of exotic cars which had been stored here for fifty years.
'Probably much like Lord Carrington and Howard Carter, on being the first person for centuries to enter Tutankhamun's tomb, it really was a case of waking up sleeping beauty.'
Entrepreneur Roger Baillon ran a prosperous transport and truck-manufacturing business in the 1950s and amassed a large collection of cars which he dreamed of restoring for display in a museum. Part of the collection was sold in the 1970s and everyone thought all the cars had gone, but these 60 cars were hidden away on another part of the estate and have lain dormant ever since.
The list of cars includes mouth-watering rarities. A Talbot-Lago T 26 Cabrilolet once owned by ex- King Farouk of Egypt who led an extravagant lifestyle and owned a large collection of prestigious cars. Eight other Talbot-Lagos languish in these sheds, three with Saoutchik coachwork. The 1930 Hispano Suiza H6B Cabriolet with coachwork by Million-Guilet looks sound and will no doubt be good as new in years to come. There’s a Ballot Eight cylinder limousine tucked in there somewhere, an all-original Bugatti 57 Ventoux, a C 1925 Barré torpedo, a 1920s Citroën Trèflewith a little surface rust and a couple of Mathis cars.
A Delage D6 and a D8 are buried amongst these gems, three Lorraine Dietrich B3/6 models are lurking in the undergrowth, an early Renault AX torpedo and a cyclecar that sits on just 3 wheels – a 1920s Sanford looking complete and eager to run with a little oil and petrol. I hope we see it at Montlhéry next year. Indeed, it is fascinating to imagine all these cars finding new enthusiastic owners who will once again breathe life into them and raise a glass to Roger Baillon for doing his best to preserve them for us.
Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy Artcurial.com
Not all stories have a happy end. 2014 was a year full of World War I memories. Between all great events it was only recently that our attention was drawn to this booklet. Author Nello Cristiani took the trouble to collect all facts around the death of racing driver Lucy Christalnigg in the early days of war. After Lucy lost her only child a daughter she found peace of mind in car driving and racing. It did not take long or she was known for reckless driving and a long list of speeding penalties was added to her name. And many warned here that she would die at the wheel of a car one day.
Known as a professional and fast driver she was asked for a Red Cross mission. To deliver drugs, aid materials and an ambulance from Klagenfurt (Austria) to Gorizia(Italy). A drive of a bit over 100 miles. At a passage control near the village of Srpenica she did not stop and was shot by a guard along the road. The memorial cross is still there, the end came on August 10, 1914.
This is where you can order the book at less than a handfull of USDollars/Euros.
In Holland we're always somewhat early with Santa, that is to say with Saint Nicholas. Santa Claus will come later but has the same background. Saint Nicholas will celebrate his birthday December 5 while giving surprises, sweets and other gifts to all children. In the following weeks he usually will eat like hell in order to return again around Christmas with a fat belly and in slightly different guise, just like the Coca-Cola company had commissioned sometime in the twenties from Michigan illustrator Haddon Sundblom. His inspiration was the St. Nicholas character as known in western Europe. The poet Clement Clarke Moore already cobbled together Saint Nicholas and Christmas in 'A Visit from St. Nicholas'. More about the shift from early December to Christmas is to be found here. Having said all this we must say that Dutch kids just love the two festivals. And look at St. Nicholas and 'Christmas Man' (dutch for Santa...) as two totally different characters... No matter what we were proud to be invited by the staff of the old bishop to he bis chauffeur yesterday and drive him up to school.
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