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Stratoses victim for going stratospheric

Stratoses victim for going stratospheric
You may have heard the ‘news’ over those poor Lancia Stratoses involved in a family fight; a much debated court case. If you haven’t: it’s about a man who says his father gifted him no less then 4 Lancia Stratoses (from a collection of originally 9 of them), while the father in question is adamant he did not. Whoever of them is right and whatever the ruling – it’s once again a sad case making clear that love does not conquer all when money is involved.

So let’s get back to those carefree days when a Lancia Stratos was just another crazy concept that actually made it to production. We believe this to be the 1970 Turin Motor show prototype (it's not - see comment) at Bertone’s display with an unknown model in chequered skirt, underlining the Stratos' sporty purposes. And, boy, did that car age well. If it really is that tangerine baby, it’s actually one of the cars now wound up in the proceedings. Pity it went Stratospheric, moneywise.

(Words Jeroen Booij picture courtesy Bertone/Werner Eisele)

Friday, 29 May 2015

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The Mercedes that almost never was

The Mercedes that almost never was

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing is today one of the most easily recognisable and desirable post-war sports cars, but it very nearly didn't make it into production. Mercedes had no plans to sell replicas of its crude but successful 300SL sports-racing car at all, and most likely the productionised version would not have seen the light of day if it hadn't been for the efforts of car dealer extraordinaire Max Hoffman.

Hoffman's New York agency for imported sports and luxury cars, housed in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed showroom on Park Avenue, was the golden ticket to American sales for many of the smaller European manufacturers. Famously, he convinced Porsche to devise the Speedster – the first of many US-biased models from the firm and today perhaps the most desirable Porsche of all.

So important was his custom to the German firm, he easily twisted the arms of the Mercedes top brass and placed an order for 500 road-going 300SLs. It took another two years of development before the cars were ready for sale, but the result was a technical tour de force that became the perfect emblem for the company's engineering prowess. Being pitched at the very top end of the market didn't affect sales, and demand outstripped supply. It was a huge success for both manufacturer and importer alike. Anyone who has driven or even simply admired a Mercedes Gullwing owes Hoffman a debt of gratitude.

Karl Ludvigsen was one of the lucky few to own one – part-exchanging a Renault Dauphine to acquire it – and in the latest issue of The Automobile he tells the story of the car's development and explains what it is really like to live with one of these European exotics.

 

Thursday, 28 May 2015

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Oscar Mayer's Yellow Band Wieners Mystery (update: 1952 Dodge)

Oscar Mayer yellow band Wieners

Since 1936 Oscar Mayer is promoting his own brand of 'Wieners' (Watch for the yellow band!) with special vehicles. Check in at American Digest to see the very first one plus several of the next generations until today as Oscar Mayer isn't changing his advertising concept too often... In the meantime we found out that the car above is now in the Dearborn Ford Museum, so we presume that it's Ford underneath, but we like to hear your confirmation.  

(postcard Horwitz collection)

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

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The never finished Topolino

exhibition unfinished_father_fiat_topolino_pictures_by_erik_kessels-1_470
It happens so often. A man is working on a restoration project and is is overtaken by ill health or death. The project is abandonned or finished by somebody else and nobody will remember the man who started it. Not so with the father of artist Erik Kessels and the Topolino project form his father. 

Erik Kessels’ father suffered a stroke and can barely speak or move since. Prior to this, he was very active in the hobby. His projects included restoring examples of that Italian icon: the  “Topolino”.  In the past he completed four such restorations and was working on a fifth, the half-finished pictured car which was left abandoned at his home.

To Erik this project came to represent his unfinished father. And he decided to use the car as a basis of a new project, which appears as an exhibition in Reggio Emilia (Italy) as well as a book. Erik transported his dad’s last Topolino to Italy and presents it alongside intimately detailed images his father made to document its restoration. This work is about a man who — like his vehicle — was stopped in a proces and will never be complete again.  

(Photos courtesy Erik Kessels)

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

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