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Harit Trivedi sends this stylish picture: "I am sending herewith a photo. Don't know what it is, Studebaker? Wheel nut looks like there is an "S". The registration is from Mumbai, around 1933. The gent appears to be Indian. What is your opinion?"
Well in our view is doubtlessly a 1928 Studebaker (you may fill in the details). If the photo was really taken in 1933 the car has had a tough life since 1928. Yet maybe these registrations stayed with the car for ever, so possibly the photos was taken many years later. Maybe we can learn more from the sticker appearing on the right in the windshield? And now that we have you looking properly for details, can you give us the background of the 'seagull' mascot with wings spread widely?
Miss Purdy sent a beautiful photo and a cry for help: "We have recently acquired a photograph of a car which once belonged to the family that used to own our house (circa 1910). The car is seen in the photo being driven by the families chauffeur named as Charles Lee. We would love to know the make and model of the car but we don't know where to start!!" after asking she added " it is taken at Hatton Court, Hanslope, Buckinghamshire. We believe the car belonged to the Borrett family and is seen driven here by their chauffeur.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a treat in store for you. We all love motoring with all the sights and sounds and smells and today we offer you the chance to taste sights and sounds of a unique car. (We are still working on the smells).
Our clever editor thought the radiator was almost egg-shaped so what better subject for Easter? But the photographer Stefan Marjoram went round the back, found the perfect egg shape and gave it some colourful wrapping. The car is a FIAT S76, one of only two ever built, and designed in 1910 to beat the record held by the Blitzen Benz. The design included overhead cams and 16 valves.
The man behind the recreation of this car is Duncan Pittaway and here’s how he describes this car…” Since the dawn of motoring, there’s been a ‘peeing-up-the-wall’ competition in the school yard between Benz and Fiat and all the big manufacturers. If you want to go fast, you put a big engine in. If you want to go faster, you put a bigger engine in...” Watch and listen to Pittaway’s interview at Goodwood last year HERE.
In the meantime, back in his workshop, he has got the engine running, and of course that was an occasion to be remembered! Stefan was there with his camera. ( See video and be ready for chills down your spine! ) This was the result of 12 years of hard work and he describes it thus…
"After restoring a Bugatti T35, I was looking for a new challenge and the S76, which is one of the more maligned cars of its generation, fitted the bill nicely. All of the original S76 components that have survived have been restored, from the chassis and engine down to the suspension, axles, pedals, steering box, with the gearbox, radiator and bodywork being created using the original Fiat drawings.
Only two S76s were produced by the Italian manufacturer, with the aim of snatching the records for the flying kilometre and flying mile from the 'Blitzen' Benzes. The S76 achieved the mile record with Pietro Bordino driving at Saltburn Sands in 1911 and was officially recorded at more than 135mph.”
And now for the chocolate. As mentioned at the end of the interview ( above) the day did indeed come when Pittaway took the S76 to Goodwood and, with Lord March hanging on for grim death, drove the 'Beast of Turin' for the first time in 100 years and thanks to Marjoram’s camera we can share with you the drama of that memorable occasion. See video.
When Arthur Duray drove this car in 1911, he remembers it like this…“My feelings? To engage first, second or third gear is relatively easy, but when it comes to engage fourth whilst travelling at 190 km/h, that is a different story. One has to hold the steering wheel firmly, push the gear lever forward and pay attention so as not to jump on the side-walk, because the moment the air enters the carburetter the bounce causes you to feel the seat hurting your back”.
and later said… “First and second gear were okay, third gear called upon all of his experience as a racing driver, and fourth gear needed the courage of a hundred men!”
This writer found a post card of the S76 many years ago and sent it to Graham Rankin (who was rebuilding a 1906 FIAT at the time) and we reproduce it here, showing Pietro Bordino outside the Zetland Hotel at Saltburn on the occasion of Bordino’s drives on the sands in 1911 ( having driven it from Brooklands, the intrepid passenger - Grand Prix driver Jack Scales- reporting that on the journey the speedo sometimes read over 120 mph. !)
History also records the driver of an Arrol-Johnston being asked by his passenger to put on a little more speed because a car was following them and she did not want their dust. Speed was increased but soon this huge Fiat “flashed past with a big Renault in procession”
We could go on and on about the history of this extraordinary fire-breathing monster but our thoughts turn to gentle bunny rabbits and the need to leave time for a traditional Easter Egg hunt, so we wish you all a Happy Easter.
Text Robin Batchelor, pictures Graham Rankin & Stefan Marjoram.
You knew about last week’s quiz car, or you did not. And in case of the latter it proved a hard nut to crack. Guesses included Rolls-Royces, Alvises, a Duesenberg and a Railton. But most of you had it right: this is a 3.5-Litre ‘Derby’ Bentley. R. Mawer wrote: “The item you removed from the photo being the ‘winged B’ emblem mounted on the radiator filler cap?’ Quite right so. And like several more readers Mawer also believed the body to be by Vanden Plas: “This Vanden Plas body style was also fitted, as a catalogued option, to the Alvis Speed 20 car about 1933-36 period.”
Bruce Earlin thought so, too, and described that car in more detail: “The car appears to be an Alvis Speed 20SB or SC with VandenPlas coachwork, possibly commissioned for Charles Follett, the London Alvis distributor. The car is nearly identical to the Ed Hermann Alvis just sold at the Amelia Island RM auction. Year of construction would be mid 1933-1935. This car must have a side-mount spare. Most had rear mount spares. There is a sunshine roof on this car, and body is probably aluminum.” That’s how we like them, Bruce, well done. He was completely wrong never the less. Vanden Plas is not the coachbuilder we are looking at here. Neither is it a Thrupp & Maberly Streamline (as Peter Stapleton thought); or a French body (Alan Spencer).
The only one who knew the coachbuilder was Herman van Oldeneel, who wrote: “Bentley 3.5 litre, bodied by William Arnold, Upper Brook Street Manchester, 13. Telegram address: 'Luxurious' Manchester. They also built 4-door saloons called ‘Slip Stream’.” He was right, although this particular one became known as ‘Airflow Saloon’ after being shown at Arnold’s display on the 1934 London Motor Show. The car spent much of its life in the US, hence the white walls and chromed wheels, but came to The Netherlands in 1999. Well done Herman!
(Words and pictures Jeroen Booij)
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