VERY SHOCKING and terrifying…!!! That’s what I promised in my last report, so sit back and enjoy my horror experience. It all started at 9 AM again as we took off to explore Lago Maggiore after we did some tinkering to make sure all engines were ready for conditions that were going to be quite challenging. Especially for us Dutch people who live in a totally flat country. My dad was joining me this day, but what he didn’t know was that his nerves were going to be tested to the extreme after he had taken his seat next/behind me. The first kilometers were a party, because Amillion was really feeling like an athlete. The RB magneto did the trick and we were enjoying the sun, the sound, the roads and the surroundings.
Our first stop was a cave, again… In Vaals, with the International Cercle Pegase Club rally we had been trapped in at least 3 caves, so Amilcarists seem to be real cavemen and to love caves, although I am a bit claustrophobic. It was a cultural thing with a museum attached to it, showing how the mountain people used to live a long time ago. I learned that… Continue reading
First of all my apologies for my radio silence, September is a busy month… You will get the Prescott report and all the other reports soon, but let’s first start with the latest rally I did in Italy and Switzerland.
Last Thursday we trailered Amillion for some 1000 km to the start of the Escapade Cyclecars et Grand Sport – Le Tessin et ses Vallées in Brig in the Rhone valley in Switzerland. After a glimpse of Molsheim and the famous Bugatti heritage, the first serious mountain pass that Amillion faced was the Grimsel Pass (2,164 m – 7,100 ft) and my reliable German Black Beauty did a great job pulling the red dandy across the pass. Of course there are many ways to Rome and we choose the Grimsel Pass to say hello to my dad’s fave Swiss Alps hotel, the idyllic hotel Baeren in Guttannen.
After a 10 hour drive it was time to meet new friends… This rally had been organized by the Swiss representation of the Cercle Pegase, the French Amilcar Club. A nice turnout of all kinds of cyclecars and light sports cars with around 40 equipes were ready to… Continue reading
Chapron at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance… During a car week obsessed with auctions and economics, Pebble Beach shared the grace and elegance of Carrossier Henri Chapron.
Located in Levallois-Paris, Chapron was part of the French Art Deco movement along with Figoni et Falaschi, Pourtout, Guilloré, Saoutchik and Franay. Eventually his firm was bought by Delahaye and reached a height of 350… Continue reading
Preservation of cars whenever possible is what AKVR is striving for, of course all in close consultation with the customer. It is wonderful to see so many cars being preserved and the extreme craftsmanship that goes into this ‘artwork’. I think the most surprising fact of the visit was to discover that the mechanics crew also includes a young female mechanic, about as young as I am. So a young female petrol head can also be a mechanic at Keith’s workshop… and why not?
There was one car which was for me the most striking, a Riley. Between all those great cars I pick this Riley because it looked so special and so eccentric. It is to Keith a very special car, which he has owned for a very long time. The body looks very unusual, all aluminum with a light ocean blue chassis. There are some notable parts made on the body that are very clever but that remains… Continue reading
Let’s finally start with the reports of some great visits my dad and I made in the UK. The main purpose of our trip was the Prescott hillclimb, and visiting our friends of the Bugatti Trust, but fortunately we had scheduled a number of other visits as well. However, before I report about all this, I like to briefly mention the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Best of Show winner. I was delighted to see a Lancia Astura Pininfarina cabriolet winning Best of Show this year, although I am a bit sad that neither a Delahaye or Chapron coachwork won the award, since it was the year of the Delahayes and Charpon bodied master pieces. The Lancia features that typical Pebble winner’s look, i.e. black all over with chrome wheels and chrome elements, just like last year’s winner and more than one of the years before.
Back to the UK… After a long drive, first to Calais and then via the Euro Tunnel train to Dover and then heading for Cheltenham, we had a very nice treat… Continue reading
This year was my first time at Classic Days in “Schloss Dyck” and it was overwhelming! We arrived on Friday and after wandering around and getting used to the area, we met some great racing legends, like Walter Röhrl and John Fitzpatrick amongst many others. The event at Schloss Dyck (Castle Dyck) is known to be one of the large vintage cars events, so you really need the complete weekend to have an opportunity to see everything.
The first cars that watered my mouth were the British racing green Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Supercharged from the end of the 1920s – better known as “Blower Bentley” – and the 8 Liter Bentleys and the famous silver colored “Mother Gun”. It’s incredible how much power these cars send out, even if they are not running. On the opposite side, there were their old rivals of the supercharged era: the Mercedes SS and SSK with their lovely exhaust manifolds. Soon their engines would burst to life and race against each other, just like in the old days. Until then we had a view at those good old Bristols with their very special… Continue reading
Finally the great day had arrived. On Sunday the endeavour began seriously, as my friend and I were cleaning his Hispano before the judges started their work. I was looking at these wonderful cars gathered in the yard of the Coppet Castle, one of the most significant Swiss castles. More than fifty automobiles were participating in this event, divided into twelve classes, defined by Chief Judge Adolfo Orsi and Honorary and Chief Judge Ed Gilbertson, the great Ferrari expert. Twelve prizes plus five special ones, such as Best Line Award, Miura’s 50th Anniversary prize, etc., were going to be… Continue reading
The sight of all these automotive jewels coming from the past, with the beautiful XVIIIth century castle as a backdrop, was incredible. I allowed myself to have a nice walk among all these beauties, admiring their wonderful shapes handcrafted by the best craftsmen from the 1930-1960 era. The Pourtout bodied Talbot Lago was so sporty and elegant and at the same time la crème de la crème of Pourtout styling, while the unusual Thrupp & Maberly bodied Hispano H6C was looking perfect in all aspects.
A bit further there was a Swiss UFO, a 1920 PIC PIC R2 which has retained its original Parisian torpedo body. This car is powered by a patented sleeve valve engine and fitted with a 14 disc clutch (yes 14!), anyway it’s exotic specifications is too complex to cite here. Next to the Pic Pic, Jaap Braam Ruben‘s early… Continue reading
A while ago the organizer of the Swiss Concours d’Elegance, Mathias Doutreleau, contacted me (thanks to Rosemarijn Atalante) to ask if I was interested to become part of the organizing staff of his new Concours, as a contributor as well as Master of Ceremony. What a great honor, being part of such an important event and furthermore being among so many famous connoisseurs. It was like a dream come true.
Mathias Doutreleau is really a very enthusiastic and dynamic organizer. Many people know him as member of staff of very important concours and race meetings, such as the Quail Lodge, Le Tour de France Automobile and many others. He immediately saw great potential for his Geneva event. With the help of many important sponsors, such as Zenith watches, Watchonista and Rolls-Royce, this first edition of the Swiss Concours d’Elegance was surely to become a success…. Continue reading
I have showed you the muddy part, so now we head over to the luxurious part of het Loo, the iconic palace were most jewels were parked. I think next time the awards ceremony should be here again instead of the stage on the muddy field. My walk around the Palace was at the end of the concours, so thats why is looks a bit abandoned with not all cars present anymore… Look at that De Tomaso, 2000GT, Regal Underslung Racer, Daytona prototype, Bentley 3 liter and Amilcar with a secret under the hood… It has… Continue reading
As promised a nice overview of all the award winning cars of this years Concours d’Elegance Palace het Loo. The Best of show winner together with the 2000GT were for me deserved winners, but obviously it is always hard to choose between so many great cars. Since the 2000GT did not win an award, today I give the 2000GT the award for best designed car!
Sadly there was not price for the most dirty car of the event, because that would have been my award… Continue reading
The latest report was all about Amillion and its cheeky performance at the Concours Palace Het Loo, but of course there was much more to admire! Sadly I have not had enough time to see much, but still enough highlights to mention. The gardens of Palace Het Loo are royal, so plenty of choice for everyone, from American bad boys to the most elegant and classy dandies. I guess the most brutal beasts were the RR Merlin V12 Spitfire 27 litre Bentley special, the blue Renault Nervasport des Records (record car) and the little robot car… Sadly I have not seen the little car, which was said to have more personality than Amillion. I heard it was flying and opening its doors and interacting with people, but… Continue reading
Two days before we were still busy testing and fixing Amillion, but just in time the job was done with the help of the magic hands of a Bugattist. Time to pack my CHAPAL helmet and goggles, because the Concours d’Elegance was waiting for a very cheeky and special little sportscar, which planned not to leave the concours before it had given its own show… Before arriving I drove the last 40 km in Amillion on wonderful country roads, after we had left the motorway and dropped her off the trailer. The horses underneath the bonnet of Amillion were excited and restless. The little race monster did it… As I was playing a bit with the throttle the tachometer did not stay at its usual maximum speed of 90 km/h (the Amilcar kind of 90 km/h is in reality not more than 75-80). Usually at a speed of ’90 km/h’ the engine starts to scream a bit and I calm her down, but this time that was not the case. From ’90’ the needle went up to ‘115 km/h’… Continue reading
Some of the pitstops were quite interesting. One of them was a visit into a now defunct Belgian mine, for the ones who dare to overcome their claustrophobia. When in the elevator to descend in this earth, you feel like a prisoner with a death sentence. When in the rusty, cold, wet, and creepy tunnels we heard the stories from an ex-mine worker. It was impressive to see, but most of all to imagine how bad the circumstances were when our spokesman was still a miner. Only imagine to be underground all day with a noise that makes you feel like a lunatic. Even horses were down there and once they were, they did not come to the surface anymore until they had died. Quite a sad situation. There was some equipment left in the mines, like a drill, producing a noise like hell. After this experience even the C6 racer… Continue reading
It was a close call, because two days before the rally started my Amilcar was not running so well. Luckily magic does exist. My CGS “Amillion” still needs to run-in as it never really had been driven after its restoration many years ago.
As we arrived in Vaals (NL) I saw next to me a fine CGSs arriving, that had just attended the Mille Miglia, so I felt like this was going to be a fantastic race as well. I parked Amillion in a field and one after the other arrived, in total 60 voiturettes from all over Europe! I am new to this cyclecar world and so is my dad and we were happily surprised with our first impressions. In the hotel we were welcomed by a fine Amilcar boat-tail model and of course by the organizers. After we all gathered there was a fine first event. Some of us, who were too lazy to… Continue reading
Camping is something Dutch people love to do. You create your house on wheels, just like you’re used to at home. The same foods, because hey, in a foreign country they don’t have peanut butter, chocolate sprinkles and several other typical Dutch goods. “What the farmer doesnt know, he doesn’t eat”. Some fun Dutch old-fashioned culture for you and to make it even better… I found a vid showing a Bugatti T57 Stelvio as towing car… Continue reading
We have already seen some wonderful pix of the 57S that once belonged to Charles Chayne. His daughter Nancy was so kind to send another great photo with her Dad behind the wheel of a Bugatti Type 23 Torpedo from 1921. This was chassis n°. 1253, originally with a 16-valve engine, n° 850, later on converted to a V8 engine, but this time from a Ford.
Sadly this is the only way we can admire this T23, because it is said that the car was scrapped during the WW2 scrap drives. Only the radiator and cambox survive.
Luckily Nancy can tell us a bit more about this great historic photo… Continue reading
The wonderful thing about sharing the history of special cars via CHB is that it might result in solving a mystery, or you get the exact answer you were looking for. It was a most pleasant surprise when I received a mail concerning the Buickatti and not just from someone… The daughter of Charles Chayne himself! Nancy Chayne was so kind to tell me more about the Buickatti since our story had ended with a mystery: “What remains a mystery to me is why Bunny didn’t convert…”
So let’s find out from Nancy’s letter why the Buickatti didn’t loose its special nickname… Continue reading
Yesterday I discovered more about the amazing life of Maria Teresa de Filippis. Someone told me that I reminded him of her, which is the most wonderful compliment possible. I learned soon, as I started looking up her name, what a legendary female race driver she was, always wearing her lovely helmet… Just like my CHAPAL helmet. The combination with Maserati is epic as I love Maseratis, including their new masterpieces.
Everyone is telling me that I drive too fast, that I take too many risks, but I love risks and driving the maximum speed possible. It is my true passion, although… Continue reading
The moment had finally come… A friend of mine (thanks Walter) told me some months ago that the International Bugatti meeting was scheduled to take place in Montreux (the Swiss Monte Carlo), where I happen to live. My Bugattist heart was beating like mad and I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas to come.
And last week Santa Claus indeed delivered my presents, many months before his anniversary: more than 40 Molsheim born jewels arrived in my hometown. What a beautiful uproar… Continue reading
Of the many stories my dad told me about his chases for collectible cars in the 70s and 80s of the last century, one stands out because I was never allowed to talk about it until now.
In the July 2016 issue of the magazine The Automobile (Volume 34, number 5) author Rutger Booy reveals the story of the ‘Secret SS1’, breaking decades of silence and telling the intriguing tale of an SS Jaguar that has been hidden in The Netherlands since the late 1950s.
This car will be one of the preservation treasures shown at the Concours Paleis Het Loo next weekend in Apeldoorn, so if you want to see this unique car in real, then come to Apeldoorn. Or buy yourself a copy of The Automobile.
It was in 1974, while renovating an old town house, that my dad, then still a student, invited a tiler for a beer after having completed his work. Getting to talk about cars, the man told him that he knew of a Jaguar SS100 somewhere… Continue reading
The upload issue is solved, so here are some more pix as I promised. Computers are a bit like cars, just never give up. There is always a solution if you are patient enough and think logically… Continue to see more pix
You may never have heard of this event before. The Hertzberger Trophy is a very discreet Dutch event for a specially selected group of owners of amazing prewar cars. This is a 2-day rally with tour and sports class. The participants are battling for the Hertzberger trophy, which is a brons sculpture. Another prize was a nice limited edition watch made by jewelers Schaap – Citroen from Amsterdam and designed by Van der Klaauw from Friesland. The rally goes from one historic estate to the other, while making sure the drivers and especially their navigators are put to the test to follow the rules, which is of course not made easy!
This year’s Hertzberger Trophy was the third edition and since this is a young event, the zest is increasing each year. A prestige event with 45 dream cars and many interesting participants. It all started with Eddie Hertzberger himself. Eddie was a Dutch race driver and the first and only GP winner until… Continue reading
This 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Gangloff Roadster with chassis number 57217 and engine number 122 is a very special car. It is a prototype and it looks quite outrageous with its burgundy and pearl colors and straight eight engine.
The Bugatti Type 57 is almost unequivocally one of the most revered models in the history of the automobile. The cutting edge engineering (for the time) in all aspects of its chassis, suspension, engine, and driveline, allowed for… Continue reading
When digging in their yard (back in 1978) the boys actually discovered a 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS buried just a few feet under the dirt in their yard. The family had just moved into the house and immediately called authorities who came and roped off the area. A team of investigators arrived and unearthed the rare car.
Farmers Insurance was contacted and because of the VIN number they traced the last owner. After the investigation, it turns out that the owner of the car had actually… Continue reading
Have you always been dreaming of a rolling automotive museum? Then pay attention, because Athlon (market leader in car leasing and mobility in The Netherlands, see athlon.com) is looking for striking cars to join, especially prewarcars! From September 16th to 18th Athlon will celebrate its 100th anniversary in the ‘Werkspoorkathedraal’ in Utrecht see werkspoorkathedraal.nl. The event will be quite unique as Athlon aims to show a car from each year between 1916 and 2016 and to show as many different marques as possible.
First the participating cars will be exhibited for the public and of course well guarded, knowing how valuable those prewar treasures are. The Athlon crew will also take good care of the participants who join in this event. Especially the last day will be a great party when … Continue reading
Anyway the Amilcar made it, though the magneto gave some trouble due to the rain. Luckily we had a technical team following us for such circumstances. Mike Kastrop and Frido Roetgerink were following us in the van of Lammertink, fully prepared for anything that might happen…
Next up Sander Drijber and Fons Aarents were ready to start with the Salmson 2300 sport. Comfortable and dry at least, and enough horse power to keep up the speed. Myself, I left the starting line with Djuri Jambor in the Alpine A106, which had done the race twice before and also… Continue reading
I admit… the last weeks of Februari were nerve-shattering. Would we be allowed to participate or not? Although I was fairly certain about my Alpine 106, which had already taken part in the Mille Miglia twice before, I had dared this time to enter two more cars of mine, which, admittedly, would be driven by friends. These were an Amilcar CGSS from 1927 and Salmson 2300 Sport from 1956. So, a French party. We were overwhelmed when we heard that all three cars had been accepted. But that’s where things really begin!
Everyone who thinks that the Mille Miglia is a luxury tour through Italy will be deceived. You really need to put your foot down those 4 days, from early in the morning until late at night. And all this… Continue reading
We all know how challenging trials are. The mud flying around your ears and the fabulous bouncers trying to prevent the car from getting stuck in the mud. Compared to the trials we used to see, I guess this one is a bit more extreme… The Dodge Brothers having a bumpy ride in the oilfields in the 1920s, I believe as a commercial. This is how it all started, and you mist admit that those guys are real professionals. It seems they know exactly what they do, especially when… Continue reading
As I told before, sadly I didn’t make it to follow the Mille Milgia this year, but some friends did! Here is a magnificent photo report made by Wim Haze. I am sure this slide show will tell you more then thousand words, though the follow up report of the Mille Miglia is really impressive too! One of the participants who brought 3 of his French bolides did owe me something, so he… Continue reading
Dear CHB readers, this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza had a participant I wished I had seen in real, the Bugatti 57 SC Atalante. For me the ultimate dream car! Of course next to several gorgeous other automobiles. Sadly I didn’t make it this year to Villa d’Este, but luckily one of my great readers did, and he captured his experiences for you. Enjoy! – RAV
Another big cars’ event has just finished. I’m talking about the famous Concorso d’Eleganza Villa D’Este. This famous event, launched in 1929, shows the best classic vehicles and prototypes from around the globe at one of the best locations in the world, Cernobbio, on the shores of Lake Como. On Sunday May 22 there was… Continue reading
First of all let me tell you that I had planned to follow the Mille Miglia. Sadly my BMW spent those wonderful days at the dealers because of a delay with the delivery of a new clutch/flywheel. Not surprising that after more than 350.000 km the flywheel needed a replacement. But soon I will post loads of wonderful photos and possibly even a nice report of the 2016 Mille Miglia, with the help of a friend who participated. I lend him a wheel-nut from my CGS, which allowed him to participate with his Amilcar CGSs plus a bit of extra luck, so he owes me something now…
But let’s get back to Amillion. After several months I get to know my CGS better bit by bit, and this is a nice adventure. Of course Amillion had by far not… Continue reading
As the development of the successful Hispano-Suiza automobile engines has a direct and strong link with the aircraft sector, it must be clear that Hispano car engines are not just some cute machines. As often as we speak about the master pieces of Ettore Bugatti, I don’t hear many people saying that they admire the master pieces of Marc Birkigt. By showing you plenty of his wonderful technical genius, I hope to gain more respect for his amazing automobiles with their beautifully designed engines. Where others developed their cars often thru trial and error, Birkigt was capable of developing successful products right on the drawing board.
The beauty of Hispano engines is that they are made with only what it really takes to build a great engine, although this is not making the restoration process easy at all. Every Hispano is unique, which means that you cannot… Continue reading
The world of vintage and classic cars is an impressive world to discover with so many great elements. One of them is the rally sport, or as some say the sport of reading maps. This is something that raised my interest after I met some very interesting rally drivers. At first I thought I would not really like to navigate, and still I prefer to drive myself, but actually navigating can give great satisfaction too when you are good at it (or becoming good at it). After my first adventures with rallies and navigating, I will share my adventures with you, but first something that is really great, the Tulpen Rallye or Tulip Rallye!
The Tulpen Rallye is the crème de la crème when speaking of Dutch rallies. For 63 years a huge number of participants (this time more then 200) start in Italy and drive to the finish in the coastal town of Noordwijk where the party takes part in Huis ter Duin. This year the start was at Saint-Vincent in northern Italy from where the participants covered some 2674 exciting and Spartan kilometers, with a number of them exposed to… Continue reading
As you know this is my ultimate place to spend hours and admire all things surrounding me. The place to be for a girl with a Hispano obsession. Just like in the past I used to drive 40 km to admire my horse, I now drive some 630 km to admire our Hispano and all its sisters of course. Great trips I do with my dad in one day (1260 km). Nothing better then driving all day and setting another record in traveling time and then ending up in a world that is like magic. I think I will just show you a nice slideshow again, since I am short of words to describe all there was to admire. When you look thru the slideshow you will even find two J12 engines, one is the more usual 9.4 liter and the other a 11.3 liter! This larger J12 engine is a very uncommon and rare one that was also used to drive trains.
Since the owner, and best Hisso mechanic in the world, is a great friend and also an addicted… Continue reading
Charles Chayne was one of the most famous early Bugatti collectors. He was a former chief engineer and VP at GM in the 50’s and 60’s, and was a true car afficionado. His first classic car was a Bugatti, and his last was the famous ex Dr Fuchs Royale by Weinberger.
But among Chayne’s Bugatti collection (Type 23, 41, 43 and 57S) there was a very special one, a 1937 Type 57S (57482) a Vanvooren bodied DHC that he bought in the late 50’s, originally built for a certain Mr Halphen. This 57S had been owned at some point by a Frenchman (the car was registered in the late 40’s with Parisian plates), and then was purchased by the legendary Jean de DeDobbeleer from Brussels, who… Continue reading
Hello, I am your host for today, and may I present you my next tour around Essen’s treasures. When I was walking between those irresistible automobiles, I found my next holiday location, Osnabrück! This might sound not so exotic, but I found out that it actually is… This is why: a Porsche 904 GTS, Maserati Mistral, Horch 853, Jaguar D-Type, the streamlined Fiat Abarth 1000 Pininfarina Record car and many more from tropical Osnabrück.
The great thing about exhibitions, concours and most of the auctions, especially if I go there with my dad, is that I learn so much. After such an event I realize that I have discovered so many new icons of automobiles and many other exciting cars. Perhaps you forgot, but it was only one year ago when… Continue reading
You probably already know that Techno Classica is in scale the largest exhibition in Europe when it comes to vintage and classic cars, so there is still a lot to share with you. Last report we were at the ‘card board’ replica palace. Around it several very special cars were exhibited that have been driven in the Mille Miglia. One of the most iconic superstars was the Mercedes 300 SLR. Juan Manuel Fangio was second on the stage of the 1955 Mille Miglia with this German marvel. More sporty icons were a Ferrari 750 Monza, a highly original Lancia Beta Montecarlo Turbo, Fiat 8V Zagato, Maserati 300 S, Maserati A6GCS, a Porsche 550 Spyder, etc.
Another part of the exhibition was the upstairs hall where a lot of clubs found their spot. By the way, I have not even seen the entire exhibition in one day, sadly. While making a short walk around the clubs, I was first not so impressed, but then… Continue reading
Jetzt gehts los! Let’s get back in the German mood, because we need to finish the Essen tour. In Paris I found my ugliest car, but at Essen I had a second encounter with this Mercedes-AMG CLK GTR. Now that I know that it is carrying a super serious engine I kind of love it, and I had heard of its performance and other stories…
I can imagine that most ladies don’t care much about car facts and stories, but luckily there were enough Louis Vuitton bags, and for the more openminded even exquisite lamps for decoration in your house. A large vintage headlamp on a tripod, how cool is that? To stay a bit closer to Paris, I encountered two other lovely automobiles that I had seen before. Mark Hyman displayed a couple of car striking like… (I am not allowed to say this word anymore), the Pininfarina aerodynamic X Concept, and guess what I found out… You can soon admire this unique car in The Hague… do I need to say more? One car I fell in love with the first time I saw it… Continue reading
In total more than 20 Ferrari 250 GTEs from 8 European countries shall be present 8, 9 and 10th of July for the Third International Ferrari 250 GTE meeting, during the fabulous Le Mans Classic 2016 event. Ferrari 250 GTE and 330 America owners are invited to join us, a few more entries are still possible…
David Wheeler from the USA, Editor for the 250 GTE Register & Newsletter, is coming over to Europe for the international event and shall join… Continue reading
Sadly the car was stolen sometime in the 1980’s. Peter Ustinov hired the best private detectives to trace his beloved car, which was a bit funny since he performed the famous detective Hercule Poirot so many times himself. Unfortunately all this was to no avail and it wasn’t until many years later that the car resurfaced. Ustinov hired a lawyer to get his car back from its new owner. Alas for him the court decided that the car had been bought in good faith. Demoralized the actor said: “The outcome was predictable. Napoleon rewrote a French law to justify his own thefts and the French don’t like anyone other than Frenchmen owning the best car they ever made.”
Maybe he found comfort in owning his equally good H6C Vanvooren «faux cabriolet », but Ustinov’s love affair with prewar rolling marvels didn‘t stop there… Continue reading
Everybody will very well remember Peter Ustinov, the unforgettable interpreter of Nero in “Quo Vadis”, the actor who performed so perfectly Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s legendary detective. But Peter Ustinov was much more than an actor; he was a great humorist, a novelist, and a true car enthusiast. A man who had been dreaming of cars all his life, and who spent so much time, as well as money, to satisfy his passion.
In his last interview Sir Peter (he had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990), said: “[…] there was no one yet qualified to exorcise an internal combustion engine from a small boy. I know to this day precisely what make of car I was, an Amilcar… Continue reading
As promised, I will reveal my ‘Best of Show’ of this year’s Techno Classica, Essen. I must say there were several cars that stole my heart, but only one could be the winner.
When I walked up to this incredible speed-machine, I was so impressed that I entered another world. Already from a distance I knew that this was for me THE highlight of the entire show. This 1925 short chassis Hispano-Suiza 8 liter, with factory Boulogne racing body, is just awesome, to paraphrase an American onlooker. Hispano’s are known for their super clean design and outstanding quality, thanks to Marc Birkigt, and like one of my ultimate idols said… Continue reading
The largest classic car exhibition as it is known, and I had never been there before!… shame on me. It was a perfect occasion to compare with Retromobile, which for me always has rated first class… It is hard to tell which is better, since Retromobile and Techno Classica are so different, and each has its own charm. The German show appears in many ways like more serious business, while the French has that typically jovial, cosy and charming Paris atmosphere, brightened up by the many evening parties. As I visited Essen only one day, I was not able to see everything (Paris is usually 3 days stay for me), but what I have seen was just great.
A rare Type 44 Bugatti coupe fiacre was spotted in front of Sardi’s Restaurant on West 44th Street in Manhattan on Saturday, April 2. We would have been quite prepared to disbelieve our eyes had it appeared a day earlier, but the apparition was in fact an actual car, reputed to be runner despite its essential, and quite amazing, originality… Continue for more pix
Walter Köng had a very interesting life. In fact he was more a designer than a coachbuilder. He began his career working for the famous Italian coachbuilders Cesare Sala in Milan. In 1927 he moved to Paris where he went to work for coachbuilder Louis Gallé. At the age of barely 20 he became their chief designer and was responsible for many of Gallé’s luxury bodies on expensive chassis. Among his designs was a wonderful Bugatti Type 38 Tourer, but sadly this one was never built. In the late 1920s Köng went to work for the Chrysler Corporation in the USA and later was employed by Packard as designer. He left Packard in 1935… Continue reading
It was 1987 when I came across the fabulous Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Pininfarina roadster seen in these photos. I had been given a lead that the car, which apparently belonged to a notary in Geraardsbergen in Belgium, was languishing in a garage and for sale at around 600,000 BF (just over 15,000 Euros!). However, when I finally got to see the car I was disappointed with its condition and I also didn’t quite like Pininfarina’s double headlamp design. So, I left the car where it was and forgot about it. Until many years later, when prices for the 6C 2500 SS with attractive coachwork soared. In 2011 I placed an enquiry on postwarclassic to see if anyone knew what had happened to the car subsequent to my visit in 1987. Strangely there was only one response, from a gentleman who said… Continue reading
Hermann Graber (1904-1970) is without doubt the most famous of all Swiss coachbuilders, and his personal style is easily recognizable in most of his designs. In 1924 he took over his father’s wheel making business, and quickly converted it for the production of car bodies. Graber creations soon became very sought after by clients who were fond of his style, mixing classical elegance with a sporty touch. He coachbuilt numerous great and prestigious chassis, such as Duesenbergs (he is one of the few who dared to cloth a roadster without the traditional Duesie‘s radiator shell), Packards, Hispano-Suizas, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Talbot-Lagos (sadly Graber rebodied a wonderful T150 SS „Teardrop“ by Figoni et Falaschi after the war as a roadster, and scrapped the magnificent original body) and Bugattis, of course. Graber Bugattis are in most cases… Continue reading
Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, seen here in a picture which is believed not ever having been published before, so this might be a scoop for CRANKHANDLEBLOG!
When we think of Switzerland, most will immediately think of chocolate, watches, precision and tax evasion. But did you know that during the golden era of the automobile numerous talented coachbuilders were active in this mountainous and austere country? Swiss coachbuilders are of course not as famous as their French, German or English colleagues, but you will see that some of their creations are really worth taking a closer look at. And then you will realize that you may have already seen Swiss coachbuilt cars before, without even having noticed. Many prestigious chassis such as Duesenberg, Isotta Fraschini, Bentley and Alfa Romeo have been clothed by Swiss craftsmen, but let’s focus on Bugatti in particular… Continue reading