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Art-deco Ruxtons overwhelm at Pebble Beach

Colourful Ruxtons overwhelm at Pebble Beach
Right. Holiday is over and we’re going back to work. Well, okay – just one more look back at Pebble Beach before we do just that. Now, there was quite a lot that impressed. How about a Bentley Speed Six with drophead coupe body by Saoutchik. Yes – a Bentley! Or that gorgeous little 1913 Peugeot L45 racer in between all that big machinery and century-old BIS Mercedes racers.

But it’s this image of a string of 1929/1930 front wheel driven Ruxton Sedans at the prestigious concours that stays with us above all. To see one of those crazy multi-coloured creatures is something you won’t forget soon – but four of them! We learned that this unusual colour scheme was designed by art-deco architect Joseph Urban to lengthen the appearance of the car through broad bands of white intermixed with vivid colours. Certainly a most daring feature to put on the market in the middle of the big crisis…

(Picture courtesy Kimball Studios)
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Pebble Beach 2014: “The most interesting, breathtaking, swoopy cars ever built”

Pebble Beach 2014: “The most interesting, breathtaking, swoopy cars ever built”
Concourses d’elegance will never get rid of all their stigmas about piano-gloss paint jobs shining deeper than the Kaspian sea and waxed tyres on glass plates. But then you may like to know that Pebble Beach – the concours of concourses that took place yesterday – every year submits their participators and their vehicles to the ‘Pebble Beach Tour d’elegance’ – a 65 mile drive along the winding roads of Carmel-by-the-Sea, with bonus lap at Laguna Seca raceway. Entrants are not obliged to do the tour, but the organization of the concours states ‘If two vehicles tie in class competition at the concours, the vehicle that has successfully completed the Tour gets the nod."

And so a most extraordinary range of cars could be seen along the California coastal roads last weekend, ranging from early steam cars to bright coloured Ruxtons - both featured classes for this year. Or how about this 1934 Hispana-Suiza K6 Fernandez et Darrin Coupe? It’s one of two cars commissioned by Anthony Gustav de Rothschild, and this one actually was for his wife! Another 1934 Hispano-Suiza with Fernandez et Darrin Coupé de Ville body – this time a J12 – was for himself. In true American fashion co-owner Anne Brockinton Lee said: “This is the most interesting, breathtaking, swoopy pair of formal cars ever built. For anybody. By any coachbuilder.” We’re not too sure, but she has a point!

Interestingly, the 'Best of Show' award went to a not quite so swoopy post war car for the first time since 1968. The silver grey Ferrari 375 MM of former Microsoft-boss Jon Shirley was given top honours. See the footage and Shirley's reaction here.

(Picture courtesy Kimball Studios)
Monday, 18 August 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Monster - A different kind of hot rod

The Monster - A different kind of hot rod
After Tuesday's controversial Lakester, how about this for an altogether different type of hot rod? This Antipodean special started life as a 1920s Crossley 20/70 tourer, owned by Mrs Vida Jones of Sydney. Vida and her husband John were keen motor sport participants in races, trials and hill climbs in a variety of interesting cars – Vida even owned an Alfa Romeo 1750SS at one point. The Crossley was sold to Bob Pritchett in 1938, and after an accident left the engine and radiator unusable, he did what anyone would do, and fitted a supercharged Mercedes engine to the chassis...

Bob didn't complete the car until the 1950s, and quickly made a splash on the VSCCA scene with his thoroughly over-the-top creation. It soon earned the nickname that it still carries today – Monster. A most appropriate name for a true Australian hot rod, which is still causing a stir today. Current owner Tim Shellshear has recounted its history in the latest issue of The Automobile, which is out now.

Sunday, 17 August 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

About Quiz #376: 1914 Victor 8hp Cyclecar

About Quiz #376:  1914 Victor 8hp Cyclecar
Ariejan Bos is to be congratulated for sending in the right answer, but since he is a jury member he unfortunately does not qualify for a T-shirt prize. But he does give us another possible question. We were convinced our picture shows a 1914 Victor because it is the same as the picture from our Victor catalogue. But Ariejan points out the position of the petrol filler cap has moved. So perhaps the picture shows a late 1913 Dewcar – look at the advert in 1913 Grace’s Guide. The impressive editorial story about the new Victor Cyclecar works in the 15th June 1914 issue of The Light car & Cyclecar helps date the start of the Victor name, but we need more early issues to do more research.

But let’s share what we do know. The quiz picture clearly shows the starting handle shaft protruding from behind the offside front wheel, thus telling us it had the V-twin Precision motor rather than the 4 cylinder Nero unit fitted in 1915. Transmission was via chain to a 2-speed and reverse gearbox with belt drive to both wheels promoted to 3 speed with the 1915 Nero engine.

Direct action steering was described as “a constant pleasure even at the highest speeds”, helped by pivots giving a trailing action to the wheels. (Most cyclecars we’ve driven have a very lively behaviour with direct steering!). Rack and pinion was introduced in 1915. Footbrake was a metal-to-metal combination of large diameter acting on the countershaft and handbrake operated two large brake shoes acting on the belt-rims.

Ariejan asks if our photo was taken in Australia? The answer is yes, indicated by the registration 555, and we thank Richard Thompson for sending the picture which shows his (very young) father in the passenger seat. And it is from Australia that Warrick Hansted sent the only other reply and he deserves honourable mention for suggesting a very similar looking car - Newton Bennett.

One last detail worth sharing is the name of the agent supplying Victor cars, Tyler Apparatus Company Limited, and tucked inside our brochure is a well preserved letter from them dated November 1915 reminding us of the times in which they lived.

Saturday, 16 August 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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Post War Choice

1961 Volkswagen Micro Bus
Back then your editor owned a similar VW Camper with the xxs 1200 cc engine. That was no 'Porsche Fresser' .......  Go >>