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Dear Prewar Editor:
If you live in USA you may well have heard of the Keno brothers, but some of us this side of the pond have not, and are opening our eyes wide at the cars they are offering in their 'Rolling Sculptures' live auction in New York on Thursday November 19 at 5pm sharp. Let's start with the 1932 Stutz DV32 with aluminium custom sport sedan coachwork by LeBaron which attracted its first owner, Alex R. Stockenberg, and being a mechanical engineer he would have been tempted by its twin-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and hemispherical combustion chambers and this in the contemporary press... “The car is exceptionally fast in view of the great comfort provided… fully capable of 90 mph... The charm of the big engine propelling the car effortlessly at 60 or even 70 m.p.h. has to be experienced to be believed. ”Lack of tyres in wartime meant the car was put on blocks for 73 years - feast your eyes on the excellent pictures of this stunning unrestored car.
From America to Europe, and the Keno brothers have unearthed a Bugatti, a BMW and a Bentley - all with fascinating history and all rare survivors in original condition. '40810' is a 1929 Type 40 famous for its trip across the Sahara desert in 1930 in convoy with three other Type 40 Bugattis as documented in the history file included. The description of the 1939 BMW Sport Cabriolet includes a video of the previous owner sharing his memories and passion for this car and the pictures show that the new owner will have multiple important decisions to make about the care and feeding of this automobile. As a discriminating and informed collector, he/she will want to think about the intended use for this beauty.
The 1931 4 litre Bentley is said to be one of just 12 remaining of the 50 originally built and the delightful original Vanden Plas tourer coachwork has mercifully escaped the 'body snatchers' who love to convert the 4 litre chassis to 6½ or 8 litre spec. with Le Mans replica coachwork. We sense each of the 40 cars offered demonstrates the passion, good taste and experience of these twin brothers; we applaud their efforts in finding these Pre War 'time warps' and bringing them out of long term storage ready for new owners.
(Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy Leslie & Leigh Keno)
London to Brighton is a mere 63 mile run which was not enough for some of us! Upon arriving at the seafront in Brighton most people turn left into Madeira drive. In the company of a friend who drove his 1904 Simplex Mercedes on the run we elected to turn right and set our sights for the night sailing to Bilbao from Portsmouth. I jumped out of my 1903 De Dion which completed the run with aplomb and climbed into a waiting 1912 Silver Ghost, along with my riding mechanic, the very able John Taylor and off we went in convoy to the ferry.
After a leisurely two nights the ferry duly disgorged us out onto the hard standing at Bilbao much to the amusement of the local customs officers. We quickly donned waterproofs as the weather appeared threatening to say the least and set off in convoy into the hills. The Mercedes ran at about 45 MPH hour after hour taking the hills in its stride and never faltering during some serious rain storms which we passed through which is more than may be said of its driver and passenger; the car lacking any windscreen whatsoever. The Ghost ran seemingly at barely more than ticker keeping easy pace with the Mercedes.
Coming down a long dead straight stretch at full pelt, we had the misfortune to encounter the Guardia Civil who do not condone speeding no matter the age of the car. They also complained regarding the lack of lighting not the Mercedes, but were somewhat bemused when we asked to borrow a cigarette lighter to fire them up. After some huffing and puffing, we were released ticketless upon our way, the paperwork involved in fining foreign veteran car being apparently more than a Guardia civils' salary is worth.
480 or so KMS later we pulled into Ciudad Rodrigo on the Spanish Portuguese border for a well-earned Lomo de Cerdo washed down with far too much Ribera Del Duero. The following morning left us a mere 380kms to run to Lisbon. More torrential rain was endured; so hard indeed that I elected to raise the roof on the Ghost as did Albert on the Mercedes, albeit with no windscreen. By sunset we scythed through Lisbon rush hour traffic like homing pigeons. An epic journey for the two cars.
(Photos & text Richard Biddulph)
It's early November and with near to tropical temperatures our team is doing a recce for the toughest event of the year: The 100 Miles of Amsterdam. Should you bring bathing suits and sunblock on this 6th edition? Well, experience has learned to be very careful when the preplay is soft and warm.
Mind you, the Dutch winters can be unforgiving to those who start ill prepared. Something which cannot be said of the crowd of participating members of Benjafields (check our updated list of participants) nor this team of Rover first timers (car nr. 11, a 1938 Rover 14HP speed special) who were spotted on one of our foreseen roads last Saturday which was the warmest November day since more than a century!
Yet if you don't have the chance to do an early reconnaissance it may be helpful to study the smaller roads between Haarlem and Amsterdam on printed material. Or more modern means which are only allowed prior to the event. So indulge in all that before Sunday December 20 when the Going gets Tough.
Colin Dennis writes: "I purchased this chassis recently at a rural clearing sale and would like to know what sort of vehicle it is from. To me it looked veteran as it is flat topped (no rise over the rear wheels) and the rails are parallel. From the holes on the drivers side rail, it appears to have had an external gear change mechanism. The only remaining mechanicals are the brake cross shaft which would have operated via a continuous cable for the rear wheels only. Judging by the wear on the front spring dumb irons this chassis has spent a long time in its second role as a farm gate. It still carried a length of barbed wire when purchased."
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