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Mystery Hanomag "Sturm" convertible
Today I'd like to share a photo from my collection of "Hanomag" pictures which shows a hitherto unknown 2-seater convertible based on the company's 6-cylinder "Sturm" model (built from 1934 onwards). The photo was taken in August 1936 at the Baltic sea where the car's owners - people from the Rhineland according to the number plate - must have spent their holidays. 

For those, who didn't associate the engineering company Hanomag (from Hannover in Lower Saxony) with motorcars: Actually, the company's car manufacturing activities ran alongside the core business, hence only approx. 95,000 cars were made between 1925 and 1941. While far from being innovative Hanomag cars had a good reputation for their sturdiness and the large number of survivors after the war stands testament to their sound construction and high build quality.  

The most impressive cars ever built by Hanomag were the huge "Sturm" sedans which were introduced in 1934 and featured 6-cylinder engines for the first time in the company's history. Usually, they were equipped with rather unspectacular, yet well-proportioned bodies supplied by Ambi-Budd in Berlin.

However, also elegant convertible versions of the Hanomag "Sturm" were available. The most extravagant one was probably the beautiful roadster built by Hebmüller in 1936/37 which is well-documented both in books and on the internet.

The car in my photo bears a certain resemblance to that roadster, in particular the front is very similar, even if the distinctive Hanomag badge is mounted right on top of the radiator cowling rather than at the front of the grille. The car in my photo lacks the "Sturm" lettering, but obviously not all Hanomag buyers opted for having mounted the respective name like "Rekord" or "Sturm" on the front of their cars.

What is strikingly different, though, are the proportions of the windshield, the window pillars and the lateral body lines. The car in the photo also lacks the cutout in the door that is typical for the roadster body. The gently swinging line of the waistline is emphasized by a decorative strip ending with a comet's tail - very nice!

Now, I'm eager to know, if anyone has ever seen this particular convertible body before. My gut-feeling tells me, it could also be manufactured by Hebmüller, but I couldn't find a perfect match to date... 

Photos and words by Michael Schlenger 
Friday, 24 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

2 Veteran Cars in Alsace around 1905

2 Veteran Cars in Alsace around 1905

The only thing I know about this picture is this: It's a postcard onto which a child once wrote "grandpa" in German and the registration number of the left car (starting with VI B) indicates the photo was taken in Alsace which belonged to Germany until 1918.
At least some of the gentlemen look, as if they have just finished a major trip on what appears to have been a rather chilly day. I have absolutely no idea, which cars can be seen on the picture, but I assume the photo was taken around 1905 or earlier.

Can anybody tell more about the two cars or even the location where this impressive photo was shot?

Words and photo: Michael Schlenger 
Thursday, 23 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

A Rolls-Royce Diesel engine????

Rolls-Royce Diesel

Now that Bentley, owned by VAG, famous for their Diesel emissions scandal engines, did come up with a SUV, the Bentayga, all we had to wait for was the availability of a Bentley Diesel. Believe it or not, but now there is a Bentley Bentayga Diesel. You wonder, can it get worse? A Rolls-Royce with a Diesel engine? Would that be the end of civilization? Well, have I got news for you: Rolls-Royce already produced Diesel engines. In 1930 and from 1951 until 1988!!

In 1930, one of the foremost engine designers and researchers in the early years of the development of the internal combustion engine, Sir Harry Ricardo, developped a Diesel variant of the Rolls Royce V12 Kestrel aero engine. This engine helped the land speed record breaking car ‘Flying Spray’ (f.k.a. Speed of the Wind) set a new diesel speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats, 159 mph, a record that would stand until 1950.

After the war, building luxury cars did not fit with the new mood of postwar retrenchment. After starting design and development of what became their C series diesel engine range in 1948, Rolls-Royce began to produce diesel engines in 1951.

Initially, these were intended for heavy tractors and bulldozers, but later they were installed in lorries, railcars and Sentinel industrial locomotives. The railcar engines were often used with Twin Disc torque converters which were built by Rolls-Royce under licence from the Twin Disc Clutch Company of the USA. In 1956, Rolls-Royce Limited took over Sentinel's Shrewsbury factory and moved the production of diesel engines to Shrewsbury.

The range of diesel engines included:
- C range: 4, 6 and 8 cylinder engines with power output from 100 to 450 bhp. Used in generating sets, compressors etc, construction equipment, railway and other industrial purposes and marine propulsion.
- Eagle: a modified version of the C range 6-cylinder engine named Eagle is used in heavy vehicles, their output 200 to 300 bhp.
- D range: V engines with outputs from 400 to 750 bhp for generating sets, marine and railway applications.

Users of Rolls Royce Engines were Alvis (military vehicles), Foden (trucks & busses), International Harvester (trucks), Scammell (lorries), Sentinel and Vickers.

In 1998 Perkins took over Rolls Royce Engines, to form Perkins engines (Shrewsbury) Ltd., which is now a subsidiary of Caterpillar.

May be it is a comforting thought, that if in a year or two there will be a Rolls-Royce available with a Diesel engine, it still will be part of their Heritage.


Text: Marius Hille Ris Lambers (Onestop Photo)
Photo courtesy: Grace's Guide to British Industrial History (
Picture of the 1930 Rolls-Royce Ricardo engine: sv1ambo (CC 2.0 Generic license)

Wednesday, 22 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Mass, the forgotten make

Mass, the mystery make

Now more or less forgotten but before the Great War the Mass was a well-known make in the UK. Despite its name and reputation the Mass car was probably never sold in very large quantities, though. From 1903 the Mass was produced for a Mr. Masser-Horniman, who had the Lancaster Motor Garage in London as his basis, the name of the car being an abbreviation of his own name. They were produced in the factory of J.R. Richardson in Saxilby (Lincolnshire). Between 1903 and 1907 Richardson also built cars bearing his own name, but these can't have been much different because initially both makes were largely based on Lacoste & Battmann parts. Around 1907, when Lacoste & Battmann were losing popularity, Richardson became the director of “L'Usine Automobiles Pierron” in Courbevoie, France, where the french engineer Pierron produced cars of his own design. Also these cars were marketed by his agent Masser-Horniman in the UK under the name Mass. Initially these cars were not available in France itself, but at least from 1910 the cars were also sold there under the name Pierron, though with slightly different specifications.

The Mass was a conventional, but solid car and regularly successful in competition. Engines from several sources were used from small to large size, but in the years before the war Ballot became the sole supplier. Shortly before the Great War the Mass car was in decline and agencies for the american makes R.C.H. and Paige (the latter sold as Mass-Paige) were added to the repertoire. After the war the Mass had a very short revival.

That most people don't recognize a Mass anymore is confirmed by the fact that two PreWarCar-mysteries in the past remained unsolved: the Lady Redcote- as well as the Brooklands Macclesfield-mystery. Both cars are early 1910's Masses.

While France is still counting several Pierron survivors, I know of only one Mass survivor: a 1905 model, which is well before the Pierron era. It would be nice to hear if anybody knows about any Masses from after 1907 still being around ...

Tuesday, 21 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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