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Dear Prewar Editor:
Last week, we showed you a rolling chassis in show condition and the car was an Albert. The model is a G1 which had quarter elliptic front springs and cantilever rear springs as seen in last week's photo, and a radiator copied from Rolls Royce.
The push-rod overhead valve engine featured a drilled crankshaft with pressure lubricated mains and big ends with the camshaft running in a trough of oil. Initial description included a foot- operated mechanical starting device, but - perhaps wisely - did not go into production.
The partners in the firm that promoted the car, Adam, Grimalde & Co. , had limited experience of motor design or manufacture. The initial design had been commissioned from A.O.Lord and within four months of its November 1919 launch, Gwynnes Engineering were manufacturing all the mechanical parts of the Albert and in 1920, Gwynnes took over the firm and made a further 1450 cars but by 1923 they renamed the cars Gwynn-Albert.
The pioneer aviator we mentioned was Harry Hawker and his sports Albert is pictured here and this rare survivor is a 1922 G3 with a body copied from Hawker's car.
We thank the three readers who responded - James thought it was a Varley Woods which does look very similar with Rolls Royce look-a-like radiator and same cantilver rear springs - Stuart Penketh was convinced it was a 1919 A6A Farman , but we congratulate Peter Ransom on guessing Albert correctly and since he is a jury member, we send a virtual cigar!
Today we would like to introduce you to Marion Davies. Born in 1897 in Brooklyn as Marion Cecilia Douras but changed her surname to Davies when her sister spotted the name on a real estate sign. Even at a time when New York was a melting pot for immigrants, having a British surname greatly helped one's prospects.
After making her screen debut in 1916 modelling dresses, she featured in her first film - The Runaway Romany - in 1917. She went on to make a small fortune as a film star, despite being nervous when sound was introduced because she had never overcome her childhood stutter. The car was made by Jack Landon who made 'midget' cars for films and feaures in a short chase scene in 1928 silent film romantic comedy 'The Cardboard Lover' in which she starred and was executive producer with her lover William Randolph Hearst. The colour scheme, shape and wheels remind us of an Auburn - she would look so much better in the real thing?
We found her climbing into a slightly smarter car when modelling hats for Hollywood's favourite hatter Lilly Daché (Davies was her first Hollywood celebrity customer). "Lilly had no idea who the pretty blonde was, nor the adoring older gentleman paying the bill, but Marion must have been pleased, for a steady stream of “name” customers soon found their way to Lilly’s shop. Delores Del Rio was another good customer (remember her?). We think this picture of her on a model A Ford is from the 1928 film. 'The Patsy' and in 1926, Davies played Beverly Calhoun in 'Beverly of Graustark' and poses here beside a shiny 1926 Cadillac 6400 Brougham. You can see her trying to make Clark Gable fall for her charms in this clip from 'Polly of the Circus'.
(Text Robin Batchelor, pictures from archive)
Who is that guy blocking the view on Charlie, the 'big boy'? We didn't want to serve you turkey with this year's Thanksgiving. Too obvious and not as nicely roasted as you will get it at home. And if you like you can find turkeys and cars in a thousand different poses on the web, so help yourself. No we decided to serve you something less obvious. An animal you won't find on your plate tonight. It's Charlie, who lived in the Zoo of Universal City in California 99 years ago. Now you may wonder what all this has to do with cars. Well if you look good enough you will think of a car. More precise you will think of millions and millions of cars. To help you with a small hint. Just like Thanksgiving it starts with T. Still don't know what we're talking about? Check read more.
Trivial fact: yesterday the best Dutch commercial of the last 50 years was elected. A sweet little story about an elephant with a rocksolid memory.
The 1st of December is a Tuesday and it is the day COYS hold their 'True Greats' auction of 'Fine Historic Motor Cars' at the Royal Horticultural Halls in Westminster, London. After dreaming of buying the 1932 Bentley 4 litre saloon for every day transport, we felt a little smug when we read that Captain Woolf Barnato used one as his personal transport. Later in the description we learn that an owner in the 1960s drove this car single-handed from Land's End to John O'Groats in under 24 hours. The subsequent 12 year restoration effectively means this car is as good as new!
Add another half litre, a supercharger out the front and open sporting coachwork and you have an altogether different beast. Affectionately known as 'The Blower Bentley', this 1928 example is described as a 'Birkin Blower' reproduction and the catalogue carefully describes its history. The 1937 Delahaye 135 Le Mans has also been re-bodied with an authentic copy of the original and has since enjoyed much competition use. The car is said to run beautifully and the original Cotal gearbox is included in the lot. The bright red 1925 Bugatti Type 30 was once used to carry rocks in its early life, but after 30 years in a shed, it now carries its original body, engine, gearbox and rear axle and is described as 'fully operational'.
Last, but not least, please take time to gaze at the 1938 Lancia Aprilia Cabriolet with rare Worblaufen coachwork - perhaps unique in that respect. Vincenzo Lancia did not live to see his final creation enter production - the Aprilia was launched in 1937, two months after his death, and set new standards in production car design. A car which breaks away from tradtion with all-round independent suspension, hydraulic brakes, unitary construction bodyshell and overhead-camshaft narrow-angle V4 engine. Take your time as you stroll up to the door, settle into the driver's seat, grasp the wheel, start the engine - and tell us you are not tempted.
(Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy COYS)
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