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Mystery hubcap – but on which Bugatti? UPDATE: Type 46!

Mystery hubcap – but on which Bugatti?
French auctioneer Stanislas Machoïr is selling off a collection of automobilia and parts (plus some cars) which used to belong to the ‘grand garage’ de Alexis Dreye in Cambrai. “A garage frozen in time”, writes the auctioneer. Until the late 1970s Alfa-Romeos, Mercedeses and DKWs were sold and maintained here, but the garage now only offers place to a coachbuilder plus an antique shop. Mister Dreye appears to have been hoarding anything motoring related in the last five decades or so, with a clear soft spot for French stuff. That does indeed produce an extraordinary sale. The majority of the lots date back to before the War, but there are some exceptions. You can find the full lot list here.

How about an aluminium Bugatti hubcap of unknown origins and date? That has to be post-War? But then, on which model did Bugatti ever use it? Or intend to do so? The Type 73A perhaps? Or that funny little Type 68? We searched for more pictures of Bugattis wearing hubcaps and found a few, although none of them came even close to the one found in monsieur Dreye’s collection. Interestingly, we did find another two similar caps, sold earlier in other auctions. This is the first, this is the second (and it’s back). Now, we know we have some Bugatti people among our readers – please let us know what this hubcap was used for.

UPDATE: And we have an answer. This hubcap was used in the center of the Type 46 cast alloy wheels plus presumably also on the Type 49. That does make it pre-War after all. Thanks Francis Rapailde, Bruce Woolley, John Barton, Wouter Molenaar. 
(Words editor, pictures Stanislas Machoïr / Artcurial)

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

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Back to back: Big Bristol vs baby-saloons

Back to back: Bristol vs baby-saloons
Who doesn’t like a two for the price of one offer? In this case it is even perhaps two for the price of a half one, as the Bristol seen above is incomplete but still estimated to make more than the two small four-door saloons together… All three of them will be sold at Brightwells Bicester sale this Saturday.

The Bristol is a 401 of 1951 with its signature Superleggera bodywork. Perfectly understated as the car itself, The Motor magazine wrote at the time of its launch: “It will comfortably carry four people and all their luggage. It will sustain 80-90mph from dawn until the cows come home, and it is built with all the painstaking care and thoroughness which have made the products of the City of Bristol famous throughout the world.” This example, however, misses its two-litre straight-six engine. Well, one such engine is in the sale but not in the car to be more precise. And it will need a bit more than just its engine too. Still, it’s estimated to make £28,500 - £32,500.

Compare that to the 1942 (or 1948 – Brightwells isn’t too sure) Lancia Ardea, all complete including its original 903cc V4 engine and beautiful baby-Aprillia-looks, which was imported from Italy not so long ago. An engine rebuild followed, the wiring and suspension were sorted and the car is now said to perform ever so reliably. Estimated at £10- to £12,000 it seems not expensive to us. Perhaps that leaves room for another baby-saloon? Enter the 1959 Austin A35 with its 948 engine and adorable looks. This one had just two Birmingham owners between the day it was new and 2011. Now with just 66,000 miles on its clock, it comes with MOT certificates that go back to 1981 (by which time it had driven 62,867 miles). It seems like a time-warp car to us. And estimated to make £3,500 - £4,500 it’s yet another steal? You might even pick out a third car from Brightwells catalogue..?

(Words Jeroen Booij, pictures courtesy Brightwells)

Monday, 19 June 2017

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Who knows more about Heisig’s microcar?

Who knows more about Heisig’s microcar?
He may not have won our last car puzzle due to a slight information overload, but at least Ace Zenek’s researches led to something else interesting. He wrote: “While researching the Glasspar, I came across this photo of Alfred Heisig and his car. The photograph is from the Middletown Journal of May 1952. I know nothing else about it, but I thought it might possibly make for a good PreWarClassic Quiz? I hope you have a great week!” Well, a quiz is possible, but we don’t think we’ll get many answers.

So how about a plea for more information? All that's known now is, indeed, pretty much limited. Heisig was 21 at the time (and thus could be 86 by now) and was stated to believe he’d built the smallest gasoline-powered car in Berlin, Germany. “It will do 35 miles an hour and travel 70 miles on one gallon of gas.” The two-passenger midget car is 26 inches high and weighs 420 pounds.” That’s all. What strikes us is that a Berlin-built microcar makes it to a local newspaper in Ohio, US. There could be a link there? Someone here may know...

(Picture the Middletown Journal)

Sunday, 18 June 2017

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About tough to crack puzzle #160: Glasspar G2 Roadster

About tough to crack puzzle #160: Glasspar G2 Roadster
Apart from three of you, trying to crack last week’s car puzzle, you had it right. It was not a TVR, not an early Nash Healy and also not the 1953 Bohman Special, although that last car did make it to the movie we were referring to: Johnny Dark. Ace Zenek perhaps gave the best answer, identifying the original builder of this specific car (Mike Ricker), the radiator grille he’d sourced (Nash) and the illustrious record a sister car made (driving 20,000 miles through 30 states and stopping in 40 major U.S. cities in Spring ’52). Oh, and of course the lady in question: actress Ruth Hampton, who appeared in the movie. That would have made him a winner, was it not that another 250 words followed on production figures, the number of Glasspar employees and a wide number of magazine sources. That’s too much Ace, kill your darlings!

Bernard Corrège, for example just mentioned that the G2 was Jeep-based (we’re not sure-ed.), while its shell was made from one piece and had just one door at the passenger side. We did not know that. We also liked Allan Spencer’s comment on Mike Ricker, writing: “He was a Nash dealer, hence the 1951 Nash grille, and various other Nash parts.” No mentions of it being a fibreglass pioneer though (the advantages of the wonder material were demonstrated on the publicity picture seen above).

Anyhow, over to the winner: John Elema once again. While also slightly too long, he wrote: “In front of this Ricker Glasspar G-2 from around 1954, is actress Ruth Hampton. Seen here on a publicity shot by Dean Moon in Motor Life Magazine of August 1954 to promote the 'Johnny Dark' movie where she was part of the cast. Glasspar of Costa Mesa Ca. USA, delivered the fiberglass body of this G-2 to Mike Ricker, owner of a Nash Agency after he made sure a 1951 Nash grill could be fitted to it. Some more Glasspars had Nash grills fitted as well. Ricker built his own chassis, probably from Nash components and had a Mercury V8 installed. The whereabouts of this particular car seems to be unknown.” Well done John, that was just fine. 

(Words editor, picture courtesy Life magazine)

Saturday, 17 June 2017

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1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Berline by Murphy
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