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Approaching its 60th birthday: Lotus Type 14 Elite

Breaking the Mould

Pretty, isn't it? Still a vision of ageless beauty, it's hard to believe the Lotus Type 14 Elite is now approaching its 60th birthday. Technologically and stylistically apart from almost any of its peers, it looks like a product of the Swinging Sixties, not the drab mid-'50s.

History records that the shape was the work of Peter Kirwan-Taylor – not a stylist at all, but an accountant with an interest in cars. The great dilettante who arrived from nowhere, effortlessly produced – arguably – Lotus type_14_elitethe prettiest car of all time and then disappeared into obscurity once more. Of course, reality is less romantic. The Elite was the result of long, hard teamwork by a close-knit group that included Kirwan-Taylor (who drew the original outline) Frank Costin, Chris Frayling, Ron Hickman and others. The car was drawn, re-drawn, chopped and changed, the complex glassfibre monocoque was engineered and re-engineered until eventually everyone was happy. That it looks so effortless, so timeless, is something of a miracle given its difficult early life.

If you want to know what makes the Elite so special, you should ask someone who really knows their stuff. Peter Stevens, of McLaren F1 and Lotus Elan M100 fame, obviously does, and he has attempted to explain just why the Elite looks so good in the latest issue of The Automobile, which you can buy here.

Photographs by Stefan Marjoram 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

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Researching the ex-Dovaz 1952 Lancia Aurelia Vignale

Lancia B52_aurelia_unrestored_side-470
Arnoud and his father Ard op de Weegh, author of The Fate of the  Sleeping Beauties, are currently investigating the whole history behind the Lancia B52 Aurelia bodied by Vignale (#B52.1015)

This extraordinary car was once part of the famous Dovaz collection  (which was photographed and published in the eighties by Herbert W. Hesselmann) and we've also mentioned this car in our book "The Fate of the Sleeping Beauties".

Lancia B52_aurelia_unrestored_front-800We already know the history from the day that Dovaz bought the car in Switzerland. He drove it and kept it in his collection until the early nineties when the car was sold to G Schön (Milan, Italy). After that the very special Aurelia was bought by Paul Koot, who restored the car to Concours condition.

There are rumours that this car was once owned by moviestar Gina Lollobrigida, but we don't know that for sure...  The car is currently located in The Netherlands and its proud owner drives the car often.Lancia B52_aurelia_restored-800

We like to find more on the earlier history of this Lancia, from the time before it was owned by Michel Dovaz.  When you may have any information regarding this fabulous creation of Vignale then please leave a comment. Your help will be highly appreciated.

Monday, 27 June 2016

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1951 Veritas Nurburgring: let's paint it blue again

Veritas paint_on_car-800
Restoring cars is an art itself. Especialy if you want to bring the car to the condition it was when new. 
At the upcoming Concours d'Elegance Het Loo in the Netherlands, there will be a very special 1951 Veritas Nurnburgring Coupe that is recently restored. The car was a terrible basket case after spending many years in a breakers yard. The current owner bought it being red but it is the darkest midnight blue one can imagine. Most observers would say it is black.

How they came up with this particular colour? The restorers took the trouble to sand down one relatively good section very carefully to study the various paint layers. A wide palet of colours became visible before finding the correct one. As a reminder of the findings, the owner cut a part of bad material out to keep. We asked him to hold up the section exactly where it had come from. We are looking forward to see the car in the sun in the blue color it is now.

Let us know what you found out when researching the orignal colour of your classic.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

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About car puzzle #136: Reptune GT

About car puzzle #135: Reptune GT

We weren’t expecting too many answers on last week’s car puzzle, but still two of you got quite far. Alan Spencer knew that the car shown was a Reptune, and he knew this particular one was raced by Hugh MacGregor and John Kerbel in ’67 in Canada. He also said it was “largely copied from the Ogle SX1000, which (I assume from your clues!), MacGregor had previously imported from the UK.” but that’s not quite the case. Yes, it was inspired by the Ogle but the man behind the project was Dennis Prophet. And Gerd Klioba knew that. He wrote: “This is the Reptune GT, built by Reputation Tuning of Scarboro, Ontaria. That company was founded by Dennis Prophet. The car was influenced by the Broadspeed GT which Prophet imported into Canada.” Well, he is right as Prophet was indeed the Canadian Broadspeed agent, but also that of Ogle after having developed a soft spot for the Mini as the competition team manager for BMC of Canada. And it was the Ogle SX1000, which formed the inspiration for his own GT, launched in 1966. Gerd continues: “33 Of these Reptune Gullwing GTs were built. Later Reptune developed a gullwing body which could be dropped on the basic Mini body structure.” The very spritely Dennis Prophet, 88 years old now, confirmed there were even 35 GT bodies sold (with survivors very rare) when I approached him for more information for a new book - Maximum Mini 3, which describes both Reptune cars in more detail together with another 395 Mini derivatives. The book is available here. Congratulations Gerd, you win the famous PostWarClassic T-shirt for now.

(Words and pictures Jeroen Booij)

Saturday, 25 June 2016

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