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Dear Prewar Editor:
When Russian model Natasha Poly recently celebrated her 30th birthday, she invited her friends to Amsterdam where her bacchanalia's theme was The Great Gatsby - F. Scott-Fitzgerald's novel inspired by the parties he had attended while visiting Long Island's north shore.He began planning the novel in 1923, desiring to produce, in his words, "something new—something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned."
In chapter 3 we read ... "his Rolls Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains. It was a rich cream color, bright and there in it’s monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns.”
The centre-piece of Natasha's party was a Rolls Royce from the next decade and we started to look for details which might help us identify the year, model and coachmaker. Not easy as it was always hidden by the bright young things posing for pictures. The disc wheel covers, elegant shape of the front wings, windscreen shape and twin rear-hinged 'suicide doors' should help us - as well as the vertical hinged panels in the bonnet as opposed to louvres. We could suggest a mid-thirties 20/25 Sportsman's Saloon, but is the coachbuilder Hooper? Barker? Gurney Nutting? Mann Egerton? Park Ward? As always, we turn to our readers who will surely come to our rescue?
(Update : Thanks to Sven, we know the Rolls Royce is 1934 -6 Hooper-bodied Sports Saloon with Division late 20/25 or early 25/30. )
(Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy Vogue)
After the Tiangjin disaster in August the chinese custom regulations for all imported goods (including cars) became even more strict than usual. This lead to the 'second Tianjin disaster'. The majority of participating cars from outside China were kept at the customs and despite the energetic efforts of organisation, embassies and many others never made it to the 4C Rally. A fine Aston Martin LeMans and two Model A Fords being the only exceptions. Very sad, and it led to loads of stress for everybody involved. Nevertheless the 4C organisers showed to be very good hosts and succeeded in making available a number of classic cars to relieve some of the pain. The cars were borrowed from a local museum and several chinese collectors. (Semi) classic cars are incredibly rare in China. To relieve the tension we received a first lesson in fettling chinese style during the opening ceremony.
Decided was to share and exchange the available rolling material. The only pre-war car available was a 1929 Rolls Royce 20-25 Chauffeur Limousine by Thrupp & Maberley. Most were not interested at all in the superficially scruffy looking city roller, yet after a successful test drive by Lancia afficionado Robert Ely and your scribe the atmosphere changed and some even tried to claim the car for life... Anyway the image of Rolls Royce peaked to a non repeated all time high after our 400 km drive from the wonderful mountain area near Yesanpo to the quiet village of Shijiazhuang also depicted above. Chinese chauffeurs love their cars and hate standing still, so if you hesitate during a nano-second they will use all available tarmac left and right of you in order to get home in time for dinner or make a short stop for a roadside snack.
We never drove a 20/25 for more than two minutes and always took the cliche stories more or less for granted that cars like this drive like a truck. Huge mistake! The Best Car in the World may not be The Fastest Car in the World yet it stole my heart. This '29 chauffeur limousine is so much more car than the sluggish shape suggests. It will cruise at 55-60 mph effortless . The feel and perform as if it thye are seventies hydraulic stuffhad. Steering is light and precise as if it is a two seater and the short handled gearchange is a dream. Only setback is the somewhat bulky coachwork which in combination with poor maintained shockabsorbers gives a dancing-rattling ride on poor surfaces.
Anyway, no matter what you think of it, the appearance of the greek temple radiator always attracts crowds. Even this new generation boy of the 1,5 billion inhabitant nation loves it. And so do the girls. Ask all of the 4C drivers who 'owned' the Rolls for a day and they without exception they will brag about their China 20/25 experience. What a car, what a country!
For a great atmosphere sketch be sure to check Andy Bearsley's video report.
It is not our habit to show you just some nice pictures of pre war cars. But this time we could not resist. Greece has had too much bad press. So, time for a bit of sunny news, the kind of news has been famous for thousands of years. The twelve day longVia Hellenica was a more than pleasant trip. Those who did not sign up because of the “Greek Situation” can be sorry. The Greek showed a radiant hospitality as always, in many places we enjoyed a spontaneous welcome with local (alcoholic-) drinks and sweets (not a good combination). Most of us only know the Greek Islands. But the Peloponnesus and the mainland are just as beautiful. Superb roads for driving, great landscapes and sea views. And above all, friendly people and sun. Next year with pre-wars to Italy again. But first wear off that nasty Greek tan during The 100 Miles of Amsterdam. Find under 'Read More' the cars pictured.
(Text Bart Kleyn, photos Wico Mulder, see his Via Hellenica pictorial)
P.S. be sure to check Shahzeb 'Amilcar' Ul Haq Malik's report on the China 4C rally at PostWarClassic.
Klaus-Dieter Hein from Emmingen (Germany) writes: "We collect beautiful old cars and have built us a small hall and with a beautiful picture on the wall of the Grand Prize of Germany 1927 which we have acquired this image from Ullstein Verlag, which was sold as showing the 1928 Grand Prix. Now we like to know which vehicles appear on this picture. Though it was stated that this was the Grand Prize of 1928, the more we researched, we found out that it is (most probably) the race from July 17th, 1927.
Next what we found is a summary of drivers and starting positions on the internet. Unfortunately, only partially with vehicle types and starting numbers. Some of these we have already identified. Now we have probably discovered a Bugatti T32 tank on the screen... (in the background of trhe photo)?! However, we find nowhere a clue that this car did start. Maybe you can help us or your readers? Many many thanks!"
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