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Preserving the Automobile on your way to Hershey

Preserving the Automobile.

On 6th October - just perfect when you're heading for Hershey - Bonhams are holding an auction in Philadelphia at the Simeone Automotive Museum entitled ‘Preserving the Automobile’.

The first 253 lots offer hundreds of books and brochures,  then lamps galore, some carbs, magnetos, instruments, horns and mascots – the rare 1928 Lalique ’Victoire’ being indicative of the quality of so many lots and estimated to be worth more than some cars! There’s always ‘Mr. Toad’ for those of more modest means.

Artwork will satisfy a wide range of tastes. I like lots 115 & 116 which are ceramic tile murals and there are photographs from 1938 Indianapolis 500 amongst photos of other events and cars. From an earlier time, Pater Helck was an American illustrator, born in 1893 and was strongly influenced by his visit to the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup race on Long Island. His subsequent success allowed him to buy the Locomobile ‘OLD 16’ which won the race in 1908 and to his great credit preserved the original drab grey paint on this fabulous car. Lot 39 includes a lovely picture of Peter Helck cranking ‘OLD 16’.

The auction offers 60 lots of cars including some fine examples of how well cars can survive in original condition if stored properly and not spoiled by unnecessary restoration. This "time warp" 1929 La Salle Series 328 Convertible Coupe   recently emerged from storage since WWll and took very little work to return it to running/driving order, its big V8 giving it ‘exceptional performance.’

The 1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline was originally owned by Commodore Jonathan Moore who dominated Lake George speedboat racing in the 1920s.  His detailed list of requirements from coachbuilders Brewster’s archives survives…” to be painted in 'gray oil finish', 'with silver lines', but none on the wheels. A simple 'Monogram JM in plain block letters' was to be present…. interior was to be upholstered in grey leather in the front and 'number 24 cloth' in the rear.” This remarkable automobile gives us a glimpse of luxury in its day and the solid engineering talent of Henry Middlebrook Crane.

The description of the 1921 Mercer Series 5 Sporting is worth reading – certainly for its opening sentence . This car proudly maintains the breed from the Mercer Raceabout’s early beginnings and will reward the person who finishes the necessary work to get her roadworthy.  The 1926 Ford Rajo Special however is raring to go and we are assured gives potent performance and huge amount of ‘bang for your buck’. The adjective ‘ potent’ is used twice to describe the 1925 Cunningham Series V-6 Phaeton and I would dearly love to taste the ‘crisp and potent’ feel of the 7 litre V8  -“ its torque was prodigious”

Ponder over the pictures of the 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Dinsdale 'Special' Limousine and we understand why Mrs Anheuser  Busch chose  this car as an understated way of owning the finest in engineering quality and reliability without the ostentatious appearance of one of Brewster's more sporting designs. ( They offered 28 body styles for the Phantom l chassis.)  

The 1925 Stanley Steam Model SV 252A Touring Car on offer is thought to be a prototype and has benefitted from 60 years careful storage, and after some recent work by steam experts is now ready to grace the garage of its next custodian and give sterling service for generations to come.

(Text Robin Batchelor pictures courtesy Bonhams.)

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Add your name to the make

lancia 1906_470

It is a sad story. One of the most illustrious names on the road and on the track is fading and will vanish altogether. The FIAT group has lost faith in the brand of Lancia. Since 1906 the name gathered fame with great innovations and inventions. Later this fame was followed by fabulous rallying and racing results. 

Over the past 108 years the development of the motorcar owes much to the technical genius at Lancia. Innovations have been its trademark ever since Vincenzo Lancia founded the company in 1906. Engineers were always ahead of the market and made up for the lack of marketing talent in Torino. Recently however it is the bookkeepers under the leadership of Sergio Marchionne who take over. Lancia is left to die slowly, retreating to its home market in order to disappear without a cry. In 1955 the Automobile Club of Italy proposed to Lancia to help Ferrari by selling them their Lancia F1 cars. Would it not be time for the ACI to propose Fiat to help Lancia by selling off Chrysler? We need your support to save history from disappearing. Take one minute to fill out the petition.  

(Photo Lancia ) 

Monday, 29 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

A love story Mystery

A car to identify
Wendy Warren is seeking help with her family history research: "If you could identify this car....." and adds: "I wish I knew more. The photo was taken in Leire, Leicestershire. The man was a wealthy Leeds businessman who met a Leire shop-girl in Leeds – and please don’t ask me or the family how she got to Leeds because they have no idea. He was widowed, fell in love with her, married her and gave her anything she wanted for the rest of his life. He adored her – and she him. She wanted to come back to live in her home village of Leire, so they came and were the bountiful Aunt and Uncle to a large group of nieces and nephews, her brothers and sisters, mother and father. None of that will help you in the slightest, but I think it’s a lovely story. (Editor: and we can only agree to that) 

I know a  little about early cars – my father was Jim Batten of the Beckenham Motor Company and the Batten Specials. In the original I wondered if I could discern an ‘R’ and a pair of wings on the chrome over the radiator, but where was the winged lady? Or could it be an early Delage? It is probably pre-WW1 or just post- or thereabouts. Many thanks!"

Sunday, 28 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

About Quiz #379: No winner: 1919/20 Dobi

about quiz_379_1919_dobi_470

Yes we knew that this car is very difficult to guess, but we never know what will happen. This time only two courageous readers dared to send in an answer, and one of them came quite close. Roger  told:  "This is à Cyclecar (Autociclo) David manufactured by Jose Maria Armangue in Barcelona"; almost but not completely correct. The car pictured is a very rare Dobi, a cyclecar marque based in Madrid which produced cars in little quantities only between 1919 and 1922. In this page of Autopassion you can find the only information known till recent days, when the above postcard was discovered... in the archives of the David company of Barcelona!

Without doubt the Dobi was a "copy" of the David cyclecar, with the same semi-automatic gearbox and chassis design but with an strange front axle formed by many thin tubes(can anyone explain the priciple here?)  and a single leaf spring. Written on the postcard is "Tipo Sport";  based on that we suppose that the car pictured should has one of the "big" four cylinder engines, possibly the french made Ballot, which was used in the last Dobi produced. Also is unknown the concrete number of cars assembled by this little factory, and of course there are no survivors known. That is to say until somebody comes forward...
Saturday, 27 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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