My PreWarCar

Pre War Saloons

Pre War Saloons

Peter Ransom reports: Until a few months ago I was the Editor of the Vintage Car Club of Queensland's monthy newsletter, The Vintage Car.  For my editorial in November 2012 I took a tongue-in-cheek look at the subject of saloons - there are very few in our club.  I would have attached the whole newsletter but there's no way to do it, so here's what I wrote:


For many years saloon bodies on vintage cars were treated with disdain by the so-called purists who maintained that hood-down motoring was the only way to go.  This blithely ignores the reality that for the most part the tourers were the cheapest body style available and are totally useless in foul weather.  Yours truly became involved with vintage cars in Melbourne and quite a parade of open and closed vehicles passed through my hands in those years.  There’s no question that a closed car on a bitterly cold Melbourne day or night is a far better proposition than freezing to death in a ragtop!  And when you’re 19 or 20 a saloon affords a degree of privacy, too.  Putting a roof on a car immediately gives the coachbuilder the opportunity to create an atmosphere of comfort and luxury that simply won’t work in a sports or touring body, so the interiors of closed cars can be a whole world away from the spartan boarding-school style of the open car.  De Soto, Studebaker, Hudson, Packard, Sunbeam and Bentley are some of the closed cars I’ve enjoyed and I would cheerfully line up for more.


Saloons have their downsides, of course.  Once the timber framing starts to go and the doors are sagging there’s a monumental task ahead.  They are not sports cars: big bodies are mostly awfully heavy and if the car is underpowered and/or poorly geared there is no pleasure in driving in hilly or mountainous country.   Our Sunbeam 16.9 saloon was a testament to that.


But I’m actually interested in this topic because in recent years the old car world has begun to recognise that so many saloons have been lost that they’re now almost an endangered species.  The rhetoric in various magazines and on certain web sites is changing and in my view it won’t be long before saloon prices will move upwards.  While I doubt that they’ll ever approach the stratospheric figures commanded by the more exotic open cars, we may see a return to some sort of balance.  A case in point is the ex-3-litre Bentley saloon body by Martin & King which David Monckton advertised in these pages last month.  He could have sold it many times over, which suggests to me that the groundswell of saloon enthusiasm is building.


To ride this wave I plan to establish a group to be known as CADS (Chauffeurs And Drivers Society).  It will work to further global understanding of closed cars through two new initiatives: SLAP (Saloon & Limousine Appreciation Programme) and LEAPING (Landaulette Etiquette: A Proper Introduction for Nobility and Gentlepersons).  Our inaugural meeting will be held in the back seat of Rob Gabb's 20/25 Rolls-Royce Saloon.


I currently have a '35 Bentley Park Ward saloon, picture attached.  Maybe your readers would enjoy  this.

Cheers... Peter    



#4 2014-07-01 03:39
Over a year later things have changed and our Bentley has gone to a new home. But not to worry, we now have a 1929 Hudson Landau Sedan (to which a long story is attached) keeping the saloon story alive. Being American it has to be a sedan rather than a saloon, but the principle is the same - a roof and proper doors with glass windows!
#3 2013-03-14 22:29
Don't worry, Chris. The vast majority of surviving saloons will almost certainly be Model A Fords and they're neither rare nor particularly sporty. Perhaps more importantly, I'm pretty sure they didn't ever run at Le Mans...

PreWarCar and the rest of us are having a bit of fun with the whole saloon issue, but at the same time it's a great way to highlight the idea of preserving pre-war saloons. Cheers... Peter
#2 2013-03-13 08:40
I hope this item will not turn into " very rare and sporting saloon club". As an owner of a bread and butter "Ten" I could be interested too.
#1 2013-03-13 01:59
As a associate of Peter Ransom-----I also have stepped up to the ranks of saloons, even though I own a 1927 Lancia Lambda with a Ballon hardtop. We have travelled in sheer luxury for around 50,000 miles in this car-----BUT OH! the mechanical noise!! Typical Italian engineering letting you know EXACTLY what the mechanicals are doing!
So now I have become the owner of a 1929 Pierce Arrow Club Brougham in a bid for peace & quiet. Also here in Brisbane Australia we are the undisputed skin cancer of the WORLD!! Being undercover is a MUST. Being "sporty" while wearing skin cancer is NOT very attractive!
At 74 it is great to have survived long enough to see the renaissance of THE SALOON!!! Peter's LEAPING group can now shedule their next meeting in the rear of the Pierce Arrow. Here's to lack of sunburn---------Jak.

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