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A confident young chauffeur

A confident young chauffeur
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this photograph from 1905 is the relaxed attitude of the chauffeur of this enormous Panhard-Levassor, clearly holding forth on some subject or other to the assembled gentry.  The distinguished passenger in the car seems to be very patient – and perfectly happy to allow his driver to take centre stage.
The passenger is M. Émile Loubet, the President of France from 1899 to 1906, photographed during his official visit to Spain and Portugal between October 22 and 29 1905.  We are certain that this picture was taken in Spain, because the confident chauffeur is also known to us: he is the Spanish King Alfonso XIII, a noted motoring enthusiast who at the date of this photograph would have been only 19 years old.
The king was one of Hispano-Suiza's first customers, purchasing three examples at the Madrid Show in 1907 and owning round 30 of the marque’s products during his reign.  In 1912 he drove one of the company’s new cars and was so impressed that he not only bought one – he gave his permission for the model to be named after him.  The Alfonso XIII is considered to be one of the world’s first sports cars.
We’re not sure whether the car in our picture belonged to the president or the king – but in either case we can understand why the young chauffeur feels so confident at the wheel.
What we also don’t know is the model of Panhard.  Can anyone help us?
Words by Peter Moss
Photograph courtesy of Richard Roberts
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

The good old days…

Egypt -_Maadi_1914_mystery-800
Mr Ezzeldin sent us this photograph from back in the days. We think the car on the photograph is a 15 ph. Crossley. Better known as the ``Shelsley`` model. This sporting version was introduced in 1913, with the well-known peaked / V shaped radiator. Many of the Crossley cars were delivered in chassis only form. Then either Crossley themselves or independent coach builders built several two and four-seater bodies on the customer’s request.

This specific photograph is taken in front of Villa Austria at Road 12 Maadi, Cairo in Egypt. Which was probably around 1914. Back then, the car was owned by (we think) the man sitting behind the steering wheel. We think so, because we do know for sure, the car was later owned by Annie Gismann (the little baby in the photograph). Which we assume is his daughter (or other relative), she owned the car until her death in 1969.

After her death, it is a mystery what happened with the car. Is there anyone who knows this story, knows more about this specific car, or maybe more about these makes? Please let us know, and comment below!

Do you also have a photograph with such a wonderful story you would like to share? Or a photograph you would like to know more about? Send it to us, and maybe we or other car fanatics can help you complete your story.

Source: Monarchy and Dynasty
Sent in by Mahmoud Ezzeldin

Monday, 10 July 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

A most trilling demonstration of Bugatti power

Last weekend the Goodwood Festival of Speed was held at the famous track. Unfortunately, not everybody was able to attend. But luckily enough a lot was recorded and so we spent days behind our screen, drooling. One of the clips we like most was a demonstration of the power of this fantastic Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix owned by Julian, who we also know from his company Blockley Tyres. He drives the car like it is 1927 and he is trying to win a race. Fantastic!

Sunday, 09 July 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

About What is it Quiz #448: Stapp Jupiter

About What is it Quiz #448: Stapp Jupiter
Well done participants! The "car" we have been looking for is the Stapp Jupiter, also called "Stapp-Rocket" or "Mademoiselle France", built on a Voisin-Chassis around 1930...1932, to bring the speed record, held by Sir Malcom Campbell to France.

We know, that your long-term-memory is very good, so we also wanted to know, if your short-term-memory is also distinctive, as this Rocket already appeared at PWC as a mystery-car three and a half years ago. And I hoped to get some additional information about the car.

So what do we know about it? Documented is the Voisin-Chassis, but which series? JP Becret supposes, it is a 2.3L or 3L Chassis, while most sources tell about an earlier 4 Litre one. Nicolas Brondel even tells us the chassis-number and so it has to be a C5-Chassis, called "Chassasse". We also know, that two (or three?) aero engines were fitted while the original engine was used for slow cruising and also as a starter for the other engines. The type of the aero engines is mostly claimed as Bristol Jupiter, but I agree, that very likely, the engines were Bristol licensed Gnome-Rhone ones. The technical data also differs in various sources: On the backside of my photo is written: "...Er hat drei Motoren zu je 800 Pferdestärken und ist 10 Meter lang..." (it has three engines of 800HP each and is 10 meters long). Other sources talk about two engines and/or 600HP, but I´m quite sure, we will never find out, as there are no pictures of the car, that show an open hood. But we agree, that the engines were of radial-type with nine cylinders each. And now something strange: Stapp claims, that he transformed the engines into "internal combustion turbines" by "removing the pistons". I think today we would call this statement "Fake News", or is there anybody, who can tell me, how he could have done this?

The look of the car was dramatic, too. Including its big fin (that, as Brian Walker knows "...was configured as a rudder connected by cables to the steering") it was about ten meters long and painted light blue. Stapp had to stand like a railway driver while driving his creation and I assume, that the manhole was totally covered for high speed drives. Stapp then used a modified submarine-periscope for forward view. The car apparently boasted four wheel drive and electric transmission and weighed 5,000lb.

Kevin Atkinson wrote, that "some claim it did actually run at Daytona (speed unknown) but most agree it never left France". I believe, the mysterious picture of the car at Daytona Beach was a picture, taken in France, but sent to Daytona in advace, for the announcement of his record-try. Stapp himself told the newspapers ""I built the car myself. Theoretically, it is capable of 312 to 370 miles an hour but i must make more tests on the La Baule sands before going to Daytona in May to attempt the world's record". 
And so he did at about 4pm on April 26th in 1932. The car was slowly driven onto the sands at LaBaule for a pre-Daytona testrun. But after about 200 meters, smoke came out from the car and Stapp ordered his mechanic, Mr Cherrière, to jump out of the car, just before he tried to do this himself too. A newspaper article says, that the Jupiter had run over the mechanics foot and the unconscious Mr. Stapp was extracted from the car with leg injuries. But what happened to the car? Did it really burn down? Nicolas Brondel writes, that it was NOT completely destroyed and Stapp claimed, he would make another attempt. But with the Jupiter again? Stapp told about another chassis and the destroyed car is referred to as "Number 2", with the hope expressed that he'd be back with an improved "Number 3". So I really believe, that the car WAS destroyed. But what about Fred Stoles answer? He writes "At a second test on the Saint Germaine-to-Paris highway, the beast caught fire." And there really are hints, that a record-breaking car with Rene Stapp on the wheel was destroyed on the Highway and not on the sands of La Baule. But this seems to have been the precursor of the Jupiter. The car "Number 1".

What a story, but for myself, the most bizzare fact is, that the car was road-registered (!) and there is at least one movie of the car "wobbling" through the streets of Paris. And I think that might be the reason for the spare wheel, that was an inevitable part for the registration. So let´s finish this story with the words of a reporter, who saw the beast in action: "I have not heard such noise since the Great War! The sight of the car on the road, trailing long streamers of orange-colored flame from the holes in the tail, and making a noise like an artillery barrage, was distinctly impressive."
But who is the winner of the quiz? Many good and correct answers again this time! Winner of Quiz #448 is Chris Mooney as his answer includes most correct fundamental information. Well done and congratulations Chris!

Saturday, 08 July 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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