The sole goal of my stories is to show that the vintage car hobby is very attractive, even if you already have another hobby. Many youngsters are crowding highways, speedways and London, to ‘spot’ supercars of today’s playboys. Both the spotters as well as the playboys in their supercars should read this story and should realize that their hobby is not new at all. Why would you crowd up around a Ferrari while you could have a Morgan for yourself? So become vintage supercar spotter or a playboy in a prewar (super)car!
As in many cases, the Americans were the first to do outrageous things, and it is thus not surprising that I found a set of American supercars of the past. Anglophiles and Vive-la-France addicts eat your hearts out!
1) 6 wheeled SUV’s
Last year Mercedes introduced the totally unnecessary 6 wheeled 6×6 AMG G63. Why? Because they can! These cars can be found in city centres and have probably never done a safari. But they weren’t the first. There are more examples, but a pretty bizarre one is the car made by the Reeves Company called the ‘Sextoauto’ from 1912. The company stated that the wear of the wheels would be considerably less and the ride was more comfortable. Interesting!
London is crowded with hybrid supercars. Last year the Porsche 918, Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1 were introduced. Branded as the newest of the newest. What a lie! A small company from San Francisco called ‘California Automobile Company’ would build you such a car more than 100 years ago.
3) Ultra-sleek cars
The Bugatti Veyron is known for its ultra-low roofline. But in 1905 a steamer record car was built with an underslung chassis (I will come back at this term in a later story) named ‘Whistling Billy’. It is a miracle they got this car this low when in England, they were still driving motorized carriages. What would impress more? This or the Veyron? You know my answer!
4) Car makers bragging with records
It is daily practice that supercar makers do everything for the records. Getting the Nordschleife-record is often more important than a fireproof engine bay. Car makers only leave their cars with journalists if the weather is good and the tires are slicks. Did this change? Of course not! In 1909 a company in the US was already bragging that their car could average a mile in 1 minute and 4 seconds. OK, you are right, a Koenigsegg is 50 seconds faster. But do you need that in Amsterdam traffic?
5) Customize your average car
You can see it everywhere: people who tune their daily cars to supercar looks or performance. Maybe you can’t afford the Mercedes SLS, but your daily Renault can at least outrun it at a traffic light when treated by the right tuner. Don Lee did just that in 1920! Roscoe Arbuckle sent him an ordinary Renault Chassis and Don Lee (California) built him this amazing roadster. I know which one I would choose.
So spotters and playboys, you are late at the party. Join us in the vintage hobby; we were there first, thanks to the Americans.
(Photo courtesy: Floyd Clymer)
Written by Dans Son Jus