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7 Stunning Pre-War Motorcars to be Auctioned in RM Sotheby’s Retromobile Sale

7 Stunning Pre-War Motorcars to be Auctioned in RM Sotheby’s Retromobile Sale

Seven stunning pre-war motorcars are due to feature in RM Sotheby’s first auction of 2018 that will be hosted in the historic Place Vauban in Paris as part of the city’s Retromobile event on Wednesday 7th February. 


In the auction’s pre-war assortment, the earliest and most valuable offering is a nimble 1925 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix, finished in the French national racing colour of blue.  Comprehensively restored after being found in a UK scrapyard in the late 1980’s, this Type 35 possesses a great deal of patina which is evident within the engine bay, across the metal dashboard and upon exterior features such as the leather straps that hold the spare wheel in place.  This Type 35’s wooden steering wheel has passed through a few famous hands including those of its first owner Lord Cholmondeley as well as Lady Dorothy Campbell, wife of speed legend Sir Malcolm Campbell, who placed the fourth with the Bugatti in the Junior Short Handicap at a Brooklands meeting in April 1927.


Eye-catching colour and superior comfort comes courtesy of a 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom Tourer that boasts coachwork by Barker of London in addition to an original engine and chassis, a polished aluminium bonnet and apple green leather upholstery.  Originally used as a Rolls-Royce factory test car up until 1930, this striking Phantom travelled to Kenya where it is said to have chauffeured Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh during a visit to the city of Mombasa.  After several decades of residence in San Francisco, the Phantom was then painstakingly restored to original specification which soon resulted in the vehicle being awarded the Lucuis Beebe Trophy at the 1999 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Unusually the Rolls-Royce won this award despite two blanked-out holes in the radiator shutters. These had previously allowed a padlock to be fitted, which connected the two centre louvers covering the radiator and effectively acted as a ‘Mombasa anti-theft device’, for the Phantom would overheat within a mile or two if it were stolen!


Meanwhile, priced at a fraction of the estimates given for the Type 35 and Rolls-Royce Phantom, but not to be over-looked thanks to its bespoke body, is a 1937 Chevrolet Master Cabriolet.  This pre-war Chevrolet may have an American badge upon its bonnet but the styling is very much biased to Continental taste.  The one-off body, complete with a luggage compartment attached to the rear and side lamps on the front wings, was fashioned by Carrosserie Charles Duval who was well known for producing bodies for the Amilcar chassis. 



Finally, four pre-war cars from Mercedes-Benz combine to make an impressive portfolio of 1930s motoring style.  These include a long wheelbase 1936 290 Carbriolet B with its large ‘suicide doors’ and a bright red interior, a 1938 320 Cabriolet D also with a long wheelbase and a steeply angled windshield, a rare 1933 200 Lang Cabriolet B which has benefitted from a comprehensive restoration in Germany while a 1937 290 Cabriolet A, rebodied by Jahn Bahr Karosserie in 2004 and finished in a bold black and red paint, completes the collection.

Words by Gillian Carmoodie. Photographs courtesy of RM Sotheby`s.

Thursday, 01 February 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Calling all Drivers!

Calling all Drivers !Transappenninica is an international gathering of historic cars listed in the ASI and FIVA calendar organised by C.R.A.M.E. and Scuderia Romagna since 1985.

The route for the XXXII year will take place in the second week of May starting and finishing in Cervia – Milano Marittima on the Adriatic coast.

The itinerary will run across Veneto, famous Italian region rich in tradition, history art and amazing landscapes and starts at 4pm on Sunday May 6 at the Palace Hotel di Milano Marittima with registration and reception. Limited to a maximum of 40 cars so the organisers can ensure entrants can enjoy the best hospitality, restaurants and resorts.

TrAp15 1077-CopiaUp early on Monday morning to glorious Italian sunshine and a route chart takes you north up the Adriatic coast to Comaccio, then the fishing village of Chioggia and on to Mestre with its history and character dating back to medieval times… and of course Venice !

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Next day you drive inland in a big loop finishing at Albano Terme, a Spa town west of Venice located on a plain close to a range of low green hills with a sign at the entrance to greets visitors: 'Welcome. Please avoid disturbing noises'. This sums up the atmosphere of the leafy town. Abano is dedicated to rest and relaxation, and does its best to avoid anything which might disturb the languid pottering of its visitors. So any running repairs need to be done quietly please.

If your car behaves itself and your navigator slept well, you will arrive at Lake Garda on Wednesday evening and this writer recommends you get a puncture, (like he did in a 1927 Humber driving back to UK from Istanbul) on the shores of the lake because you will be surrounded by beautiful Italians offering food, drink and hospitality and assistance.

TrAp15 0495Each day will be filled with amazing landscapes, history, tastes and emotions and if you are lucky you may follow a vintage Bentley running on Castrol ‘R’.

Friday will be interesting because you spend Thursday night in Ferrara where you find Palazzo Schifanoia , a Renaissance Palace built for the Este family. The name "Schifanoia" is thought to originate from "schivar la noia" meaning literally to "escape from boredom". So pedal to the metal all the way as you drive south east back to the Palace Hotel di Milano Marittima and a well-earned drink before the survivors’ dinner.

TrAp15 1973TrAp15 0641TrAp15 2417
MG 5602TrAp15 1659-CopiaTrAp15 0956

2018 online entry HERE.
More pictures from previous events can be found HERE.

Text Robin Batchelor,  pictures courtesy Transappenninica.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Mystery in Perth Western Australia

Mystery in Perth Western Australia

Dear Car Detectives,

It is time to solve a new Monday mystery. First of all, the case: Alex Selley has been handed this photo to try and identify this car. He is not able to identify the car himself, that is why he called in our help. 

What are the facts we already know? ''The photo was taken about 1915 and the driver is a Mr. L. Gillespie who lived in Claremont, Western Australia. The car was registered just as a "Car" no name, with license plate C3. The "Car" was registered to him up till 1918 when it disappeared from our records. In 1916 Mr. Gillespie had become a Doctor. We also know that from 1920 his address was in the city of Perth and he was running Hudson motor cars.'' Alex already did some research himself and told us that he thinks that the name "Leslie" under the mystery car is incorrect (hence the request for identification). ''I have searched, but only came up with an American car called "Leslie" but that is about 1916, which the car in the photo I do not think is an American vehicle. So, I think the cation is wrong in the photo.'' 

We don't know, is he right? Now, all grab your magnifying glass and your notebook. Does anyone see any logical connections between Mr. L. Gillespie and the "Car" on the photograph? We don't think there is anyone guilty in this case, but there is something missing in this story... 

Please leave your comment below if you can help us with the missing information about the "Car", Mr. L. Gillespie or the photograph itself. Your help would be very much appreciated.

Words by the editor. Photograph by Alex Selley.
Monday, 29 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

A tasty menue, to be served in Paris

A tasty menue, to be served in Paris

Paris, "the city of love"! For us, especially in February, it is "the city we love". The reason, why we all love this wonderful city especially during some cold winter days, is, of course, the yearly Retromobile; since 1975 the most impressing vintage car show in France, if not worldwide. I don´t think, that I have to explain the magic of the Retromobile in common, so let´s concentrate on a selection of the special delicacies we will enjoy this year.

Of course, the famous French brands are always on the menu in Paris and so our starter will be the special exhibits regarding the history of Renault, Peugeot, and Citroen.

Renault will tell us about the brands 120 years of history. Starting in 1898, Renault is one of the oldest marques still on the market. At the Retromobile, you will learn more about the three important periods of the factory located at Boulogne-Billancourt, where Louis Renault built his first wooden car, taking it for a primal ride on Christmas eve 1898, returning home with a dozen requests for his vehicle, the later "Type A".

Peugeot will celebrate the two models 203 and 504. The 203 was Peugeots first postwar design and with many different variations the only Peugeot model from 1949 until 1954. The Type 504 with its elegant Pininfarina dress was introduced 50 years ago. The modern, but sturdy car, featuring four independent wheels with assisted disc brakes was a great success and production ended not until 2005, when the last Pick-Up models were built in Africa.

70 years ago, the "Umbrella on four wheels", the Citroen 2CV was introduced. The first “TPV” (très petite voiture > very small car) prototypes already hit the road in 1938, but wartime intermitted the development and the "lelijke eend", "Ente", "Ugly duckling" or "el coche rana" was finally presented in 1949. 20 years later, the 2CV-based "Mehari" was introduced, featuring a flexible plastic body-tinted thermoformed and very open bodywork.

But now to our prewar main courses: Next to a modern type Veyron, Bugatti will show a wonderful Type 57 "Atalante", one of the last classic pour sangs built in Molsheim. The history of the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhery will be celebrated with about 20 cars and motorcycles, including the recreations of the 1927 Voisin record breaker and the 1933 Citroën “Rosalie des records”. The National Motor Museum of Beaulieu will bring four cars to the show: The GN Martyr Instone special - Origins lead back to a crashed GN Cyclecar, bought by Rupert Instone in 1930, to convert it into a small and light hill climb-racer with a diversified live afterwards. Second car is the 1933 "Atomic Orange" Morgan three-wheeler, we will see in action in front of hall 1. I don´t think, that I have to lose many words on the 1930 4,5L Blower Bentley, that we will see in action, too. Not only for the lovers of haggis, bagpipes, whiskey, and kilts, the fourth car is one of the few cars made in Scotland: a fantastic 1913 Argyll sedan, fitted with a 4.1 L valve-free engine. And regular PreWarCar readers will know my most preferred dessert, and have already guessed, that the valveless engine will lead us to my personal highlight of this year´s Retromobile...

Shortly after the Interclassics, Laurens told me about a very special Voisin, that is now located in Maastricht and that will be displayed in Paris. He told about "very original", "low mileage", "original cloth" and so on. My ears grew and some days later, I was invited to have a look at the car at "Fine Automobiles" right in the middle of Maastricht. And there it stood in front of me: a Voisin C14, built in 1930 and still in a fantastic, untouched original (and drivable) condition. I´ve never seen a time capsule like this Voisin before and thinking about it, I still get the same goosebumps, I had as I inspected the car some days ago. The interior is not in the dizzying stile, Voisin is known for and today often replaces the original pattern at restauration upholsteries, but it features a wonderful floral style. You may have seen this pattern at the C23 model at the fabulous Louwman-Museum in The Hague. The condition of the interior is just incredible. Everything is at its place, including the "hat-holder" along the roofline, the famous "foot-baths" and even the little light at the c-pillar, that is of the same puristic design, as the little side-lamps mounted on the rear wings. The odometer shows just km and regarding to the history and the condition of the car, we strongly believe, it is credible. The car features some unique details, like for example the front wings and the panel sheet between them in front of the gothic-style radiator grille. One of the first things I realized was of course, that the famous art deco mascot bird, the "Cocotte" was missing, but it was just dismounted for the transport of the car from Italy to Maastricht. Before we try to examine the Italian history of this special car, let me tell you about the model in common: The C14 was introduced in 1928 as successor of the famous C11. The C11 was a successful model and so only minor changes led to the C14. In the beginning, the factory bodies could still be ordered in a large number of the same different styles as they were mounted to the C11-chassis. Today, the "Lumineuse" (or better "Charteorum", as Lumineuse has never been an official term used by the factory), the round angle berline "Chartreuse" and the razor-edge demi-berline "Chartre" are the most known of the 16(!) factory bodies, Voisin offered for the C14. The engine still was the inline sleeve-valve six with a capacity of 2326 cc and an output of 66 HP. In 1930, the 3-speed gearbox got a two-speed electromagnetic relay developed in conjunction with Cotal, resulting in six forward and two reverse gears and allowing easy gear changes to be made from the steering wheel. A feature, introduced shortly after the production of "our" C14. The production ended in 1932, but the model was still listed in the factory catalogues until 1935, when the last stock chassis found their way into the pricelist. Overall, about 1800 Voisin C14 were produced. And one of the cars was once bought by Conte Giovanni Lurani, the well-known Italian automobile engineer, racing car driver and journalist. The body is one of the famous "Chartreuse" berlines, but with the already mentioned unique differences. And most important, it is completely original in all details. Even the original triangular dealer´s plate on the rear wing is present. The wooden drawers, integrated to the front wing extensions, usually rotten because of immersive moisture, are completely solid and to top it, you can still read the carpenters notes on the bottom. Did I use the term "unbelievable" yet? The 2,3L engine is running and because of another unique feature, two cozette carburetors instead of the usual single zenith unit, it will produce some extra horses. On the pictures, you may have spotted the "modern" ignition coil, but don´t worry, the original one will be at its place until the Retromobile. We are not yet sure, if Count Lurani was the first owner, but we know, that this Chartreuse was part of his collection for many years. In 1972 the car was auctioned in Monza, titled as “C15 – berlina sports”. The car became a member of the Righini-collection and in the early 21st century, the C14 got a new home, after it was acquired by a young doctor, living in the Tuscany region. This year, Jack Braam Ruben and Philippe Mulders took the chance to acquire this unique piece of art and for the first time after many years, it left sunny Italy, heading to their workshop in Maastricht, from where it will travel back to Paris in a few days. At the Retromobile, you will be able to see this car, not a single mile away from its birthplace in Voisin´s factory in Issy-Les-Moulineaux.

With many thanks (for letting me crawl through the car) to “Fine Automobiles!"

Words by Hubertus Hansmann. Photographs by Hubertus Hansmann and Fine Automobiles.

Sunday, 28 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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