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Paris to London per Peardrop

We found another little moving image gem. It’s about a microcar named the Peardrop. And the car can be seen driving through London traffic in 1952, Piccadilly Circus and all. That gives a good view on the fascinating little three-wheeler, with its retractable bubble top and one-cylinder air-cooled – and no doubt two-stroke – engine. We couldn’t find much more about the Peardrop, though. Despite its British name we did note the French registration from the ‘75’ department: Paris. No too sure if we would dare to drive it through either London or Paris traffic, leave alone from Paris to London! The film footage does give a great little insight in the British capital, back in the days when men wore bowler hats and trains ran on steam, though. Now, where did the Peardrop go next? Berlin? Milan? New York?

Video Diagonalview

Monday, 24 July 2017

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The Last Hotchkiss

The Last Hotchkiss

What can you tell about the car in the photograph above? It’s a sober black saloon from the early 1950s. The styling is a little on the heavy side, and it all looks somehow unfamiliar. Students of motoring’s great failures will recognise it at once as the Hotchkiss-Grégoire, the last all-new car launched by the French company.
The car was the brainchild of front wheel-drive pioneer Jean-Albert Grégoire, and was a total break from the traditional Hotchkiss product. It featured a 2.2-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels, complicated suspension with horizontal coil springs in tension and a cast aluminium main structure to which aluminium panels were attached.
It was also difficult to build, vastly expensive to buy and unusual to look at. Fewer than 250 were sold and Hotchkiss stopped producing cars altogether shortly after production of the Grégoire ended. But was it actually any good? With only a handful of survivors still in use, few people have the opportunity to discover for themselves. In the latest issue of The Automobile, which is out now, the only roadworthy Hotchkiss-Grégoire in England is put through its paces – but you’ll have to read the full story to find out the verdict. 

(Photographs by Nick Clements)

  

Sunday, 23 July 2017

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Tough to crack car puzzle #163

Tough to crack car puzzle #163
This is not a car, but a detail of a car. And what a funky one! It is of course a steering wheel, but not completely as we know it. This steering wheel – or actually its boss – also houses gauges, metres, stalks and switches. Pretty clever isn’t it? But still, it didn’t catch on, and we have never seen any other car with this distinctive feature. That narrows the search down considerably, doesn’t it? We think you may well remember it if you ever came across it. Oh, and have a closer look at the script on these gauges: ‘Benzina’, ‘Press. Olio’, ‘Acqua’, ‘Temp Olio’… We’re not giving away more for now! Do indulge us with insider stories if you have them. We’re expecting plenty of answers from you. Please do click for the rules below first. And enjoy the weekend for now!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

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The Old Man And The Chrysler

The Old Man And The Chrysler
Today’s Friday Lady is Ada Rosa Alfonso. And the car behind her is not your average Chrysler New Yorker. This 1955 convertible was bought new by the late and great Ernest Hemingway but disappeared after his death. Hemingway's driver, Augustin Nuñez Gutiérrez, took it away said somebody, to hide it from the Cuban authorities who wanted it for the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, of which Alfonso happens to be the director. Or has been?

Anyway: many people, including herself, had been searching for the car, but it took until 2011 before it was found back. José Luis Herrera Sotalongo, Hemingway’s doctor, had it from 1961 to 1973 or so it turned out. Then it passed on to the doctor's son with many more owners to follow before it was found back. British travel writer Christopher P. Baker did some researches and confirmed the car’s authenticity after matching it’s serial number with the number on Hemingway’s insurance policy.

Next, Baker teamed up with American actor David Soul to get the car restored for the museum and turn the whole story into a film. A very promising promotional trailer was made in 2013 (click here). But there the trace ends, or so it seems. Baker said that ‘The convertible's bodywork will be repaired and repainted in the correct colours. Its leather upholstery will be renewed. Its 331-cubic-inch hemi V-8 will fire once more. And then it will go on display near the Pilar, where visitors can see the car and the boat and imagine a different end to the Hemingway story.” What happened? And what's more: does this car need restoration at all? What do you think?

PS: Hemingway would have been 118 years old today!

(Words editor, picture Christopher P Baker)

Friday, 21 July 2017

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