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The Magazine

Tough to crack car puzzle #173

Tough to crack car puzzle #173
Ha! We quite like the car seen here. Was it ever serious? Perhaps not, but fact is that it was its time ahead. Really far ahead we dare to believe, combining two concepts into one that we would now call a niche. Or perhaps not even a niche anymore. In fact the actual concept of this car was very much into the news this week. We’re not telling you how and why, as we’re sure you’ll be able to find out for yourself.

So… what have we got here being fabricated? And if you are able to answer that question, you will also know the man who was responsible for it and – looking back – who would probably never have believed his idea would actually be picked up decades later. There is a lot more to tell, but we leave it all to you. Come up with some dramatic stories just as we like them. Send your answer to the box below, first do read our rules by clicking on the ‘Read more’ line below. Have a good weekend for now, and don’t take any bribes today!

Saturday, 09 December 2017

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Was Fiat’s Samantha named after the Samantha of Ford fame?

Was Fiat’s Samantha named after the Samantha of Ford fame?
Cars named after girls are nothing new. Apart from marque names such as Monica and Lola, there have been plenty of model names too. Alfa Giulietta, Reliant Robin, Citroen Dyane, Lotus Elise, Lancia Aurelia, Skoda Felicia, Borgward Isabella, Morris Marina, Mazda Carol and no doubt many, many more (feel free to add to the list). Of some we know the actual lady who they are named after. Mercedes Jellinek of the Mercedes marque in the first place, but also Elise Artioli of Lotus fame, Monique Tastevin of Monica and Tina Marshall as in the TVR Tina spring to mind.

But how about the Fiat Samantha? We thought of it as one of these pretty 2+2 coupes came by on offer by MossGreen in Australia. The car was based on the boxy 125 but looked anything but dull after Vignale had put its hands on it. We would not be surprised if the Samantha was named after an existing lady, too. Was there ever a girl named Samantha Vignale? Or did the builders get the name from other inspirational sources? Back in 1967 one model was on every international fashion magazine’s cover: Samantha Jones.

Could she have been the inspiration? Fact is that a year later Jones was signed by the Ford Motor Company to even record a song for them with the Larry Page orchestra! This was used for promotion (as above) and published as a now rare single given to new Ford Capri owners. We quite like it! 

(Words editor, pictures Ford PR / MossGreen)


Friday, 08 December 2017

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Whatever happened to this Allard?

Whatever happened to this Allard P1?
Last week, we had a discussion about scrapyards. Old fashioned scrappies, like you don’t find much anymore nowadays. And then suddenly we recalled that great old yard in Lincolnshire that we passed by coincidentally one dark and cold winter day back in the mid-1990s. Did the beams of our headlights really strike over a rusty old A35 there? They did. We slammed the brakes and chose reverse. That’s about when a dog started barking and the owner of the place came out. “Sorry, we’re closed mate”, were his words. “I’ll come back later”, said I.

And although it took me over a year, I did. And then it was a sunny day in spring, so much more comfortable, and things were a lot better visible. The man recognised us, even if it was only for two minutes that we'd spoken through the fence. He even remembered the car we’d been driving, and yes he’d had a few of those, too. There was no way not to take his word for it, as his yard turned out to contain hundreds and hundreds of vehicles dating back to the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s mostly. We saw many, many Jaguars. Plus Austins and Morrisses, Wolseleys and Rileys, Hillmans and Reliants, Triumphs, Singers and Rovers, a sole Humber Imperial Estate and a massive Austin ambulance.

But the one that stuck most was this rhinoceros of an Allard. A P1 model, once cream. It had a Mercury V8 under its bonnet and certainly seemed salvagable. What happened to the car? I found back the photographs I took on that fine day back in the mid-1990s and there it was. ‘MFJ 604’ was last taxed in 1984, the DVLA tells us now. I’d love to learn that it survives.

(Words and picture Jeroen Booij)

Thursday, 07 December 2017

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The million dollar car that gave us the Karmann-Ghia

The million dollar car that gave us the Karmann-Ghia
A year ago the Chrysler Museum in Michigan closed its doors. And so we now wonder: perhaps this car might be of interest to the Volkswagen museum in Wolfsburg instead. Yes, it famously was this car, which gave them the idea of the 1955 Karmann-Ghia. Meet the 1952 Chrysler D'elegance by Ghia. The VW may be a scaled down version, but you'll see that the similarities are striking.

To quote the current seller of the car: “It all began over dinner, a meal shared in 1949 between C.B. Thomas, head of Chrysler’s export division, and ‘Pinin’ Farina. The two decided to collaborate on a custom 1950 Plymouth for the show circuit. No doubt to Farina’s consternation, however, Chrysler elected to hedge its bets by shipping to Europe two chassis: one to Pinin Farina, and the second to its competitor Ghia. Even more frustrating, it was Ghia that won the day with unmistakable European flair added by Mario Boano to Chrysler’s own design suggestions. From that point on, as far as Chrysler prototypes were concerned, the decade belonged to Ghia working in conjunction with Chrysler’s revolutionary chief of design Virgil Exner.”

Built on a shortened Chrysler New Yorker chassis this Chrysler ‘Dream Car’ was not just swooping lines and tons of chrome, but also boasted two armchairs and a unique instrument panel inside with six large gauges, power steering and windows, as well as Ausco-Lambert self-energizing disc brakes. Eventually just the ‘egg-crate’ grille made it to Chrysler’s production models, but as we now know it was the scaled-down version made for Volkswagen by Karmann of Osnabruck that became the real production version of this Chrysler. Estimateted at around a million dollar today, this Chrysler had six owners until recently, with a seventh on its way today. 

(Words editor, pictures courtesy RM Sothebys)


Wednesday, 06 December 2017

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