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What exactly is this mystery Bentley?

What exactly is this mystery Bentley?
We came across this photograph and wondered what it was all about. A fashion shoot? A film promo? We did not have the slightest clue. The upright radiator grille of the car oozes Bentley and the DVLA database confirms it’s just that: a 1953 Bentley, or so they say. The year points towards an R-type, but we wouldn’t be surprised to learn it to be an earlier model either – a Mk6 for example. The Mk6 Derby model spawned an awful lot of Specials, many of them built in the 1960s and 1970s. Some good, some bad, some basic, some frivoulous, some unusual, some plain weird and some resembling something else.

But how about this car? The body seems part aluminium and part copper? It’s hard to imagine what the back end looks like, but it may well have a boat tail. Somehow it reminds us of the cars that Maharajas or Officers of the British Empire used as hunting cars in India, but that may also be the ladies’ turban? Oh – ‘NXM 91’ is still on the road, too. Have you spotted it or know more about it? Let us know. 

(Words and archive picture Jeroen Booij)

Friday, 31 March 2017

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Back to back: Indra Spider or Ghibli Spyder?

Back to back: Indra Spider or Ghibli Spyder?
With Easter not far away now, we simply had to pick out this flashy duo in Giallo Fly from Coys’ Essen sale, held on the 8th of April at the German classic car show. The auctioneers have a massive amount of cars for sale, of which two Allards may be our own favourites, but we’re not going for these here and now. Over to the Intermeccanica Indra. It is in fact a car we drove a couple of years ago and although it needed a little bit of tlc then, it was a car to fall in love with easily. A 1972 example and one of just 60 Spiders built, this one comes with the GM six-in-line, good for 190 bhp. Estimate €75- to €85,000. Find more about it here.

The Ghibli Spyder, also in the same hue, making it even more ideal for everyone who wishes to remain anything but anonymous, definitely has much of its looks in common with the Indra. Most people will find it at least as intriguing. Prettier? Perhaps. Or perhaps not? Maserati produced 125 Ghibli Spyders, of which this is not one. It was a coupe that received a top-chop and comes with Austrian plates. Oh and matching numbers and panel gaps that have to be seen to be believed, according to the auctioneers. It’s not a steal, though. What’s more: the estimated price is almost four times that of the Indra: €280- to €320,000 See more about it here. We wouldn’t have to wait long to make a decision between the two, but what do you think?

(Words Jeroen Booij, pictures courtesy Coys of Kensington)

Thursday, 30 March 2017

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Contradictions in Essen

Contradictions in Essen
It’s a good question: When will the electrification of our motoring world reach the classic car scene? It is of course just a matter of time for Teslas to become classics, but you will also know that electric cars have never been away. For the organization of Techno Classica Essen - the Titanic of classic car shows held yearly in Germany - it was reason to have a look at electric cars throughout motoring’s past. Wait for it - this is what they say about it themselves: In an special exhibition the classic world fair recalls an most extensive forgotten fact: Already in the years 1900 up to 1920 there was an astonishing great portion of cars with electric motors – just as from the year 1912 the petrol engine began to carry through finally in the car manufacturing after the invention of the electric starter. Previously the petrol cars had to be winded up by hand with great exertion.

We really do not know which German light was given the task to translate this piece into English, but at least he was incredibly un-Germanly unpunctuate in his job of translating. We also think we know what he or she means: Electric cars have been there for a long time and we will show you a display of them as they form one of this year’s themes. We hope to spot our favourite electric: the Zagato Zele, as shamelessly photoshopped over Jack Brabham’s Cooper-Climax of the official poster by Alfredo de la Maria above. ‘Grand Prix Monaco’ is, by the way, another Essen theme, perhaps to compensate for the petrol heads. Or to quote their own press release once again: In the centre of the classic world fair, in hall 6, the S.I.H.A. 2017 presents under the topic ‘Grand Prix Monaco 1957’ selected racing cars which have one common feature: They all started in the year 1957 at the Grand Prix of Monaco. Did you get it?

(Words Jeroen Booij) 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

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Dutch Special resurfaces: the Larkens

Larkens
    

In 1949, the brothers Larkens from Bierum in The Netherlands built this monoposto with the hope that there might be enough interest to make a series. Unfortunately, there wasn't, and so we are left with this one-off special. The Larkens Special has a fair amount of Fiat Topolino parts (wheels, uprights, front brakes, leaf springs, wishbones, steering wheel and more) but also has some things unique to the car, such as the steering rack. The car doesn't appear to have raced officially, but had at least one outing at Zandvoort for test or development purposes. It started life with a 500cc aircooled sidevalve DKW engine. This was replaced by a watercooled 2-stroke 500cc DKW unit when also the chasis was lengthened by 20cm to accomodate a battery and radiator. This engine remains with the car, although a JAP 4B has recently been fitted, as the brothers originally intended to do so. When they moved on to other projects, the Larkens brothers donated the car to a technical school where it helped teach students about automotive design. It eventually made it's way into a field with a 'For Sale' sign on it. In 1983 The former owner acquired the car and kept it until Christmas 2016 when it was purchased by me. The car was hidden in a barn and difficult to see, at first. But, once outside, the car was easier to inspect... and it turned out to be almost completely intact. We are now busy to get the Larkens back on track in 2017 and compete with the 500 Owners Association. It's about time that a driver from The Netherlands will campaign this orange halflitre racing cigar.... again!

(Words and pictures Mike Doodeman)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

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