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Mercedes Mille Mystery (1952)

Mercedes Mille Mystery (1952)
With the 2017 Mille Miglia finishing today, these are some very appropriate photographs. At first, they might not be quite consistent with the definition of "mystery", clearly showing the three Mercedes 300 SL (W194) race cars that competed during the 1952 Mille Miglia - the first international race after the war in which Daimler-Benz participated, as far as we are aware.  

The first two photos show the car driven by Karl Kling (co-driver: Hans Klenk) immediately before the start in Brescia. They finished the race in second place behind the Ferrari 250 S driven by Giovanni Bracco. The third photo is a particularly nice one, in our opinion, showing the Mercedes drivers Rudolf Caracciola (winner of the 1931 MM), newcomer Karl Kling and prewar-ace Hermann Lang (from left to right) in a rather relaxed pose. Rudolf Caracciola came in fourth, by the way - a superb performance, given his age of 51 years! 1952 Was the last year of his brilliant career as a race driver. Hermann Lang had to abandon the race due to a damaged axle. He continued racing until 1954.

What we could not figure out is whether these three high quality photos have ever been published before. The original prints belong to a fellow enthusiast who received them as a gift many years ago.  It's likely that they were shot by a professional photographer but never made it into the public for some reason. If someone recognizes these beautiful shots, however, it would be nice to know where they have been published before. Any comment on the photos - and even on tiny details - are highly welcome. 

(Words and archive photographs: Michael Schlenger)

Sunday, 21 May 2017

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About tough to crack car puzzle #158: 1959 Asper 20TR3

About tough to crack car puzzle #158: 1959 Asper 20TR3
Despite several attempts, not one of you provided the right answer to last week’s mystery car question. Someone suggested a HWM, another few of you thought the body must have been a Microplas Mistral. This was our initial thought too. But there are some noticeable differences. Regular player Till Jauernig wrote: “First I thought it’s a Buckler DD2, but this is not Australian. Then came the Mistrals in mind (later ones where made in Australia). Have they something to do with each other? Well I think so, but don’t know. Then I found the Mistral Jaguar XK 120 - well, perhaps?!” The Mistral does link to New Zealand but not Australia as far as we know. But it’s not a Mistral body that was used to create this one. One more possibility came from Reg Harris, who was certain it was a Bolwell Mk4. Reg wrote: “Made in Melbourne, Australia by the Bolwell brothers, Campbell, Graeme and Winston. It was made in open roadster and coupe body styles with the majority of the 55 made being roadsters. It was based on 1500cc Cortina mechanicals. Later Marks were all coupes and buyers could be selective for the engine, many being Holden grey motors. The last, the Mk8 were mostly fitted with Ford V8 engines.” Good thinking, but it wasn’t that either.

This car, ladies and gentlemen, is the Asper 20TR3. It’s a one-off made by Geoff Taylor, who based his creation on a two-year old Triumph TR3 and used a KM300 body, made by Fibreglass Cars Australia Company of Concord, New South Wales (ad with picture of a KM200 here). A Judson compressor was added to the two-litre mechanicals and the car was campaigned heavily throughout the 1960s, mostly by racer Geoff Munyard. It was only in 1993 that the car was restored to its original condition by a man named Peter Kleineberg, also in Australia. How it ended up in Switzerland remains unknown to us.

(Words Jeroen Booij, pictures / Jeroen Booij)


Saturday, 20 May 2017

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Kremer vs Kremer

Kremer vs Kremer
We may be on to something here. Today’s Friday Lady shows the way. She’s wearing a sweater by Isabel Marant, boots by Vagabond etc. But it’s the backdrop that we find quite a lot more interesting here. But over to Bonhams first. They are selling an original 1976 Kremer Porsche  934/5 Group 4 car in Martini livery, which was laid up unused between 1977 and 2006, but had Nürburgring and Flugplatzrennen history prior to that. It’s lot number 49 on the sale of this very weekend.

Now, lot number 50 is a matching transporter in the shape of a 1977 VW T2 bus with similar Martini Racing livery. When you buy the Porsche, you may well be tempted to buy the VW too. However, it’s a replica. And we don’t think the Porsche will fit inside. We even do not know if Kremer Racing or Martini Racing used a VW Transporter at all.

But then these photographs, taken for a fashion shoot by Björn Lewe for Golden Cage, came in. We are no experts on the subject, but it seems to us that the long wheel base Mercedes 608 transporter seen here could well be the real deal. This may be it in an earlier guise? Certainly worth a try when you do become the Kremer Porsche's new owner and would like to take it to historical events, we'd say...

(Words Jeroen Booij, pictures Bonhams / Golden Cage)

Friday, 19 May 2017

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Odd one out

Odd one out

Classic car collectors are just like human beings. They collect cars of their liking, which can of course be anything. For some it’s the colour that counts. Oh – as long as it is sprayed on something expensive preferably. From red Ferraris, yellow Ferraris or white Ferraris to multi-coloured Rolls-Royces. The ultimate showdown of an acquired taste? But there’s always an exception. It struck us once again with a number of cars that Bonhams will be selling this very weekend at the Spa Francorchamps circuit.

Quite a few of them appear to be sourced from a Swiss collector with an appetite for Grand Tourers. Blue grand tourers to be more precise. There are Maseratis Quattroporte, Ghibli and Indy, two E-types, a Mercedes 500 SLC, an Aston V8 Volante and a Lambo Espada. Especially the Italians look gorgeous in this shade, we think. But then, at one point, our man (or woman?) wanted a 300 SL, too. Finding one in blue proved perhaps slightly harder then expected. And so a silver grey one was added to the stalls. Now, wouldn’t it have been more appropriate if he or she’d searched a little longer only to bump into this one? Or if it really had to be a Roadster… Or repainting, anyone? See Bonhams full sales list here

(Words editor, pictures courtesy Bonhams Auctions)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

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