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Magnets, Hen Houses and an Emperor.

Magnets, Hen Houses and an Emporer.

RM Auctions are holding their next car auction at Hershey, that mecca for old car enthusiasts to mingle amongst thousands of stalls to buy and sell their autojumble stuff. There are 180 lots in their catalogue and many come from the collections of John Moir (1st session) and Jeffrey Day (2nd session). Lot 257 is a 1905 FIAT 60 HP Five-Passenger Tourer by Quinby & Co. and is a truly fabulous motor car. With its 4 cylinder T-head engine of 10.6 litres, 4-speed gearbox and twin chain drive it’s easy to understand why this car is considered to be the first true Italian supercar. When delivered to first owner Mr. Anheuser Busch Sr. it was the most expensive car in the world with aluminium bodywork, racing sprockets and recommendation from his close friend and fellow potentate, Kaiser Wilhelm II, the emperor of Germany, who had recently shelved his Mercedes for one of the Italian cars (in what proved to be somewhat of a public relations blunder!). The description even teaches us a new adjective ‘uber-premium’.

John Moir was a successful coffee importer in 1912 and on a trip to New York he bought his first car from Flandreau & Company, an importer of early French automobiles. It was a 1911 Brasier 11/15 HP Runabout, appealing to his ‘Yankee thrift’, but sold it after 10 years when his wife grew worried about driving her young children in a car with no doors. After WW2 he tracked the car down languishing unloved in a hen house, bought it back and had it restored. By 1978 he could no longer crank the engine and it went to a museum. Then in 1983, his daughter saw it for sale and it returned to the family for the third and final time. This collector’s raison d'être was to have a car with a name of every letter of the alphabet, so when it comes to ‘G’ what do you buy? A GN of course! Lot 113 is a 1914 GN Cyclecar – “wild, woolly, and wonderfully unconventional.” ‘S’ is a 1913 Spacke Cyclecar Prototype – “For sheer popularity and charm, this little gem is unbeatable”. If magnetism is your thing, then you’re in luck. The 1896 Armstrong Phaeton was discovered gathering dust in an old horse shoe nail plant in 1963. It bristles with features that would not be seen on other production vehicles for many years to come. These included a tubular chassis frame, electric lights, and electromagnetically controlled inlet valves. The electromagnetic starter within the flywheels is called “the commencer” and transmission is a 3-speed unit with additional variable magnetic drive.

A more conventional electric car is also offered – a 1908 Baker Electric Model V Victoria – much like the one driven by Mary McConnell Borah who you may remember from Independence Day? The unique 1899 Crouch Steam Runabout will certainly find a buyer amongst steam buffs and the previous owner has offered to travel to the new owner’s home (at their expense) and instruct them in the car’s operation. Money well spent I’d say! Why anyone would want to paint their car brown is beyond me, but in the case of this 1930 Cadillac V-16 Roadster there are plenty of other features to allow the well-heeled young man to get the most from his fleet two-passenger roadster known as the “gentleman’s open performance machine”. The rumble of the V-16 exhaust helped, I’m sure.

The 1928 Jowett 7/17 Sports Racer was described by John Moir as “one of the crown jewels in his collection”. The air-cooled horizontally opposed flat twin engine of just 907cc fascinated him. I approve of the pleasing eau-de-nil colour scheme and the inclusion of detailed starting instructions for the new owner. And for those who like wicker bodies, there’s THIS.

(Text by Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy RM Auctions)

Thursday, 25 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

The Cohender Mystery (update:1913 Cohendet)

the cohender_mystery-3-470

Recently we were lucky enough to be allowed to examine a very old family album. Obviously we were looking for photos with cars, and after a short 'yes!'. In many  photos the car pictured was a little "voiturette" which at a first glance seemed like an early Delage. The general size and lines, the shape of the radiator, and especially the two distinctive filler caps located behind the bonnet made us think in the french marque. Even the mono cylinder engine is in favour of this theory. We looked further and several pages later appeared the above picture. On the radiator you can clearly read "Cohender". By comparing from this angle with a Delage we can see some differences: the upper part of the radiator is straighter in the Cohender and both filler caps have the same "level" as the radiator filler cap, while in the Delages these two were always positioned somewhat higher.

We´ve tried to find something about this rare marque - if it is a marque..., but have not found anything. The photos were taken near Barcelona (registration: B-1052), but there is no info about any car factory with the name "Cohender". Here you can see the mystery Cohender located behind another bigger mystery car...

(Text Francisco Carrión)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Liberation Task Force

Liberation Tak Force

Karel Vermeer is travelling on a frequent basis from Holland to France. Last week he stumbled over the Liberation Task Force only miles accross the border between Belgium and Holland.  

"On our way back from France we thought, lets have dinner in  Valkenswaard. When we arrived at the village there was a parade of the Liberation Task Force - just like 70 years ago on 16 & 17 September. There were about 80 cars, lorries and tanks, amongst those a Hillman, Austin, Austin Bel car, plus of course the inevitable Willy Jeep in period 'decoration'. Yet what again is the name of the US built half track? 
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Charleston commuter


Chris Leigh-Jones reports from wonderful historic Charleston. Would you know of any better place in the US to use a french vintage car? Chris wrote: "In the past I did the 2 hour daily commute from Littlehampton into London. Luckily my wife convinced me to emigrate and now the commute takes only 22 minutes in the rush hour of Charleston, South Carolina. I drive the Bug perhaps 20 times a year. It has to be a time when it's not going to rain, rain here is torrential but failing that the weather is beautiful most of the year, the commute is 12 miles. If you have a truck behind you then bet to go faster, they can’t see you very well most times or just don’t look. My son gets taken to school in it at the same time." Chris is very modest and honest about the car, "'s made from Ebay in the main and has very many none standard parts on it. Like the steering box came from a Fiat, the chassis is a copy."

Editor: Well Chris, the number of Bugattis with a non-Molsheim frame probably would give a traffic jam longer than the French Quarter where you live is wide. So don't worry too much about that. The great thing with a car like yours is that you won't hesitate to take it out in US rush hour traffic!   

(Photos by Chris Leigh-Jones)

Monday, 22 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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