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Last of the Wiltons comes home

Keeping it in the family

How many people can claim to drive a car built by one of their antecedents? Roy Halsall is one of this tiny minority of old-car enthusiasts, owning a rare Wilton 10/20 tourer that was built by the company founded by his grandfather, Charles Frederick Halsall, in 1914.

Charles started out making bicycles back in 1896, aged 14. By 1912 he was offering cycles powered by small engines, and that same year experimented with his first four-wheeled vehicle. It was a cyclecar powered by a JAP engine, very much in the spirit of the times, but when full production commenced in 1913 it had metamorphosed into a 'proper' light car, with a water-cooled 1095cc Ballot engine mounted behind a curved brass radiator. Charles's 'factory' was a tiny building behind his cycle shop in Wilton Road, Victoria, London, the location providing a name for the cars.

Production was slow, given the constraints of space and labour, and only a few Wiltons were built. It was thought that none survived until Roy Halsall located this car, the fourth made, in Australia. He has painstakingly restored the car over the last seven years and it is now in as-new condition. In the first photograph you can see the very same car as it was in 1914, with a second Wilton behind. The second photograph shows the newly completed car.

The full story of Roy Halsall's restoration of his grandfather's car is reported in the April issue of The Automobile, which is out now.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

It's all in the family (2)

Its all in the family (2)

Don't think Hugo Modderman was quite finished with his Lancia Artena tale, here is his follow up on yesterday's story. Hugo wrote: "In 2012 my friend and car historian Hans Veenenbos had found a website where people post automobile photographs that they find in family albums. He saw a strange looking Lancia, sent me the link and asked me if I knew what type it was. It turned out to be my car! Through the website I got in touch with the little girl, now not so little anymore and living in Curaçao, sitting in the car in Bennekom at around 1946. She told me her grandfather H.M.B. Jantzen had bought the car new while living in Meran. The car then had numberplate 3023 BZ (for Bolzano). He used the car frequently for travelling to the Netherlands, mostly via France. His nephew Jorn Jantzen must have owned the car in the 1950s and sold it in 1956 via a garage in the Balistraat in The Hague to mister Kengen from whom we bought it in 1959." "What's more: When I took it apart many years this sign (picture 2) was hidden behind the number plate. So far no one has been able to tell me who made it and why. Mister Jantzen drove the Artena on Italian plates and when he took it to The Netherlands he avoided Germany. Perhaps he wanted to show the French he was no mere fan of Mussolini and Co? Remarkably, it’s been cast in aluminium, which may indicate that more than just the one were made. So far I haven’t been able to find out more. Perhaps readers here will be able to share their knowledge?" Come in, readers!
Tuesday, 17 March 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

It's all in the family: Lancia Artena

Its all in the family: Lancia Artena

Regular contributor Hugo Modderman came up with another of his entertaining tales last week. It’s a story of a Lancia Artena that has been in the family for quite a while. Hugo wrote: “It was around 7 pm on a summer evening in 1959 that we were having dinner in the kitchen when we saw a military police officer walking up the drive. We joked: Dad, they are coming to arrest you (my father was a reserve in the army). The man politely asked my father whether he wanted an old Lancia. “No thank you very much, I already have an old Lancia”, he said. The officer replied: “What a shame, the garage told me you were a Lancia aficionado. It is too old for me to use for border controls. If you don’t want it, it will be scrapped. My father then walked down to the street and came to an agreement with the officer, swapping the car against an old VW Beetle."

(Click 'Read More...')

Monday, 16 March 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Can a petrol pump be a work of art?


"All petrol stations look alike," seems a statement that we use today. But also in the early days of the petrol pump, say the 1920s, many looked the same. Yet there was one pump that stood out from the crowd. Just look at the neat design of the French lily that crowns the pump on this photo. It was designed by Gispen, an industrial designer fascinated by modern technology, but also interested in Gothic architecture. Today Gispen is mostly remembered for his unique furniture, but in his design for a petrol pump he managed to bring both styles together. A pump over two meters high, with an octagonal cast iron column and an ornament on top: a French lily with an ovoid, opal glass. A true work of art, compared with its mundane brethren. Presumably the elegance of the design was also its weak point, because not many were made. We think they were too expensive for a large production. As far as we know not one has survived, as many were demolished during world War II. (Read More)

Sunday, 15 March 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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Post War Choice

1966 Volvo BV202 Amphicar Army car
This will not make friends at the golf club: 1966 Volvo BV202 Amphicar Army car...  Go >>