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Not every MarneTaxi was a Renault

1911 unic_8hp_type_g_470

by Fons Alkemade: The other day I acquired a nice copy of the 1911 catalogue of the Société Anonyme des Automobiles “Unic”. Unic cars were well-known in the 1910s and 1920s and the catalogue shows a surprisingly large range of cars, from the cheapest model G2 with twin cylinder engine to the expensive model F1 with six cylinder engine. Besides, Unic was offering several commercial vehicles at the time: ambulances, vans, trucks, taxis. The Unic fiacres were already well-known by 1911, not only in France. My 1911 catalogue shows three cab models and to my surprise one of these does not have the usual Unic radiator (which is shown on the front cover of the catalogue) but resembles very much that other well-known French cab of the 1910s: the Renault AG1, the car which in 1914 would become known as the Taxi of the Marne.

In 1914 Paris counted already around 10 000 taxis and on the 6th of september 1914 a significant part of them were ordered by general Gallieni to transport soldiers to the front near the river Ourcq, close to the Marne , about 50 kilometers north-east of the capital. One of the surviving Renault cabs has been given a prominent place in the Army Museum in Paris.

I wonder why the G1 fiacre was offered by Unic in the same configuration as the Renault AG1. Was it because the Compagnie Française des Automobiles de Place, owner of the largest fleet of cabs in Paris, had decided that all their cars should have the same appearance? Maybe the answer can be found in the archives of the G7 company, as the Compagnie is known today (all Parisian cabs had G7 on their licence plate for some time). 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Brooklands revisited after 90 years

Aston A3 returns to Brooklands

It's always a special event when a historic car is taken back to a circuit on which it competed in period, but the tortuous journey this Aston Martin has taken to get here makes it even more interesting. The fourth Aston Martin prototype built (and designated A3), had, even in the first few years of its life, been altered several times in appearance and drivetrain. The car was used as both a development hack and a racer, with appearances in its various guises at hill climb and sprint events throughout the country, including, of course, at Brooklands in 1922 where it was driven by Count Zborowski in the JCC 200 Mile Race.

The car was rediscovered in 2002 and has subsequently been the subject of an in-depth restoration by Ecurie Bertelli to return it, as close as possible, to original specification. Still fresh from this rebuild, Paul Chudecki – a long-time Aston fanatic – recently had the opportunity to drive the car at Brooklands, the first time the car had been back there for more than 90 years. Read more about this historically important motor car in the April issue of The Automobile, which is out now.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Mystery Block or Coffee Table? (update: postwar Standard)

Mystery Block

Matthew Blake recently bought a load of 4 cylinder Amilcar parts from the US and amongst them was this 4 cylinder block having a bore of 58mm. It so far has been to two autojumbles and no one seems to recognise it, although in Reims at the weekend someone thought it may be from a Renault. Can anyone help identify it? It would be a shame to scrap it if it was of some value to someone, but it is costing more in petrol than it is potentially worth!

Editor: well Matthew, no need to scrap it. If not identified it will make a great conversation piece and coffee table in one go. Just take out the head studs and and glue a glass plate on top.
Monday, 17 March 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

A B or B or B Mystery?

photo 1920_granddad_acquaintance_kees_van_stokkum__470

Most of the times we present you an unidentified car without doing lots of research ourselves. Many times we see in a glance what it is and decide to, often we have a gutfeel in which direction to look. An example of the last category is the photo that came in from Kees van Stokkum, a semi-retired Alfa-Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati engineer with a fabulous knowledge in his field and the history of those cars. No wonder he didn't recognise this german tourer at first sight: "An acquaintance of mine found in the family archives a picture of a car from his grandfather, and would like to know what brand of car it is. He'd then like to start a search to find out where the car was bought, and who maintained it. I myself have done some research relying on the B that I see in the logo. Others have suggested it could be a Bentley (with special bodywork), a Brennabor or a Belsize. "

Editor: judging the radiator and the shape of logo, the headlight style with the extra 'city lights' we felt we had no choice than looking for Brennabor. A very similar car was found under P-Type at the german Brennabor pages. It's interesting to see that when you look for Brennabor cars of the period you will find both flat radiator cars (see period advert) and V-shaped radiator cars. As the V-shape rad was fashionable in that time, we think the it may have been a factory option; correct us when we're wrong.
Sunday, 16 March 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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