The Ellis Journey
1903 Photo from Southern Rhodesia




The Magazine

A Buick & Flapper Down Under

friday lady_buick_470
It is only on rare occasions that we see a RHD Buick. So when Reg Harris sent this snapshot of a smiling flapper with a - typical for the twenties - drop waist dress we were not only glad for that single reason. Yes the dress is a good pointer for the period in which the photo was shot (around 1925) but to look up the facts we still had to pick up our American Car Spotters Guide 1920-1939,  an indispensable tool for any serious car sleuth. We found this must be a model 1924 Buick  "4-35" Touring. First give-away is the upperlip  radiator design that was new for 1924 and which stayed with Buick until 1928.  The four cylinder models had a painted radiator and nickeled windscreen frame. The sixes however were finished the other way round, er... if we are correct (check - what's in a name -  Also a presumption is that like many other cars Down Under this tourer was imported in chassis form and was bodied by Holden Motor Body Works.  They may be responsible for sensible details that have to do with local climate conditions. Like the light coloured top and the sunvisor stylish positioned parallel with the top windshield frame. The oval rear window we didn't see earlier on Buick either. We're always surprised to see how even high-volume cars of the same year and model almost never are completely the same. This counts for flappers as well of course.

(txt. Joris Bergsma)

Friday, 22 September 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Ode to a special 14/60 Dolly


Among the offerings at Brightwell’s next up-coming classic auction is a pre-war car that, according to its review in the June 1937 edition of Motorsport Magazine, possesses ‘character that appeals particularly to those who have to motor far and fast’. I can’t help but find myself intrigued, not only by this eighty-year-old comment but also by the elegant waterfall radiator grille, beautifully sculpted aluminum bodywork and slightly tarnished dashboard gauges possessed by a 1937 Triumph Dolomite 14/60 Special on offer at an estimated £25,000-£30,000.

Upon launch, and continuing on today, Dolomites are frequently acknowledged as the best cars that Triumph produced in the pre-war era with the model proving itself as a credible rival to competition from Riley, SS and MG. This 14/60 possesses a cruciform-braced underside, similar to that of the Triumph Gloria, while the bodywork sits over a drilled chassis. Beneath a bonnet punctuated by numerous louvered side vents sits a 1,767cc overhead-camshaft engine that was designed by Donald Healey, that likely accounts for even a standard model being described in the 1937 Motorsport Magazine review as ‘a car of sporting tendencies’.

And ‘sporting tendencies’ is most definitely what this particular 14/60 Dolomite has in generous quantity, following on from a full re-build only a few years ago, that transformed this unique Dolly from a dilapidated state into a lively sprint and hill-climb competitor most usually the fastest in its class at the likes of Shelsley Walsh, Prescott and other famous motorsport venues.

The current vendor would like to see the car “go to someone with the driving skills to exploit it to its full potential” and coupled with some enthusiasm for the pre-war class, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be entirely possible. The engine can now boast of new pistons, a reground crank, fully rebuilt brakes and suspension as well as a completely overhauled 4-speed synchromesh gearbox and recorded radiator. Extra punch is added from a Wade supercharger fitted to a rare 2” SU carburetor. Meanwhile, the sporting package is made complete by twin fuel pumps, lightweight bucket seats, a foam-filled racing fuel tank and a custom-made stainless steel exhaust system that curves along the passenger side of this stunning Dolomite and according to the auction catalogue, gives out an addictive note “just within the decibel limit”. Spirited indeed!

Unusually for a sports car tweaked for maximum performance, this Dolomite 14/60 stills retains much of its vintage heritage. Alongside an uncovered metal floor and bright-red fire extinguisher within the passenger footwell are more traditional touches such as the delicately spoked steering wheel, smooth wooden gearknob, golden bonnet mascot, bullet rear-view mirrors as well as Pre-1940 Triumph Motor Club logos on two of the pull-out controls upon the dash and suitably aged gauges ready to clock your speed as you test what’s on offer. This 1937 Triumph Dolomite 14/60 Special is a fascinating blend of motoring efficiency paired with aged charm. Go see for yourself on Wednesday 27th September at Brightwells, Leominster!

Words by Gillian Carmoodie, images courtesy of Brightwells

Thursday, 21 September 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

A family Talbot

A family Talbot
We know roughly when this picture was taken because we know the two youngsters in it.  They are brother and sister, at the ages of about 3 and 7, in 1956, in front of their home in Liverpool.  What we don’t know exactly is the model of Talbot, but we’re almost sure it’s a 14/45 (otherwise known as a 65), made to the designs of Georges Roesch and bodied by the Darracq Motor Engineering Company Limited at their Fulham factory near London.  Only last week we asked the young lady from the picture (still young, of course) what she could remember.  She knew little about cylinder dimensions, gearboxes and the like, but knew that it was known in the family as ‘Agnes’ – after its registration letters AGN (we don’t know the numbers, but the internet tells us that this is a London number from 1933 onwards).
We did ask whether, as we have seen in other pictures of these early Roesch Talbots, it had front seats with handrails at the top – for rear-seat passengers to hold on to. “Yes,” was the reply, “just like the local buses.” She also remembered that, as the family arrived back in the cul-de-sac where they lived, father let them get out of the car and stand on the running boards, gripping onto the door pillars for the final few yards to the house.
Their father had very little money at the time, so almost certainly bought the car second-hand after the war for a few pounds, and did his own maintenance.  He was a GPO (General Post Office) engineer, installing and looking after Liverpool’s telephones.  But he had been a pilot during the war, flying all sorts of planes for the Fleet Air Arm, and thus continued to fly in the Auxiliary Air Force until he finally achieved his ambition to be an Air Traffic Controller, rising to a senior level in the years that followed.
Nevertheless, he always considered this car to be one of his favorites.  Not surprising – these small, six-cylinder Talbots were of the highest quality, the forerunners of the hugely successful Talbot 90 and 105 models that had so much racing success at Brooklands and in the TT, the Mille Miglia, Le Mans, the Irish GP and the Alpine Trials.
We apologize for the poor quality of the picture, which comes from a tiny print in the family album – but we hope the story makes up for it.

Words and picture by Peter Moss

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Bentley's 100mph aero coupé

Bentleys 100mph aero coupé

Bentley’s R-type Continental was seen as a major departure for the firm on its launch in 1949. Low, sporting, with streamlined coachwork and clearly designed for high-speed grand touring, it bucked the trend of increasingly heavy, upright saloons the firm had built since Rolls-Royce’s takeover in 1931.

But it had an antecedent. In 1933, Bentley began experimenting with the effects of close-coupled, heavily streamlined coachwork on the 3½ Litre chassis. The result, a Park Ward coupé on chassis B23AE, was unlike any Bentley that had come before. It was pared-down and stripped back to the absolute minimum, with cycle wings and a narrow, wind-cheating cabin with a sweeping fastback tail. Sadly, it remained unique and the public never got to benefit from Bentley’s brief change of direction. The car disappeared without a trace before the Second World War and was never heard of again.

That is, until 2013, when the coachwork was discovered – somewhat disguised, but complete and in excellent condition – on a decidedly unsporting Rolls-Royce 20hp chassis. It was decided to return the body to a Bentley chassis to as near as possible its original specification, a restoration that has only just been completed.

The finished car, painted in its striking original metallic color scheme, is back where it belongs, on the road and in regular use by its new owner. The Automobile magazine was lucky enough to secure an exclusive test of the car, and you can read the full story of its design, conception, rediscovery, and restoration in the October issue, which is in shops now.

Photographs by Stefan Marjoram

Tuesday, 19 September 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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