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A mystery to drive away

Identification of the car
How many of us car nuts have enjoyed the many movies of the Frazer Nashes, GN-specials and other chain driven cars? When we received this photo from Peter Skofic, this was the first thing that came to our mind. A chain driven cyclecar. We would love to drive with this car over the banks of the Montlhery circuit. But what car is it?

The Bosnian oldtimer club "Oldtimer 1912" (1912 indicates the year of the foundation of the Bosnian automobile association) have commented the photo saying that this is a Bugatti. Spotted in Rogatica (i.e. a town in the southeastern region of Bosnia) in 1939. And that the young man with the characteristic Bosnian/Turkish "fes" on his head, sitting behind the driving wheel is Alija Aksamija. It is known that Alija became later, after the end of WW2, a famous photographer.

We don't think this car is a Bugatti but probably something else. Is there someone else that knows exactly what it is?

Monday, 08 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

The season starts in Maastricht

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A new year has begun and as usual, the Classic-Car-Year for me starts with the Interclassics/Topmobiel at the MECC in Maastricht. It´s always a pleasure to visit this event, as the exhibition shows the perfect balance of dealers, clubs, spare parts and automobilia.

From Thursday till Sunday, Interclassics celebrates its 25th anniversary and as an appropriate special, a highlight of every annual theme will be displayed. And those are really special vehicles.

We can for example eye the 1902 Renault Type 1. This car was driven at two races in 1902. It scored second at the “Concours á l’alcool”, a 922 km rally organized by the French Ministry of Agriculture, and one month later it participated at the “Paris-Vienna”-race, that sadly ended due to an accident during the final leg in leading position.

More than 25 years later, the famous Blower-Bentley was launched. Even if it is known as THE Le Mans-Bentley by the general public, it never won the famous 24-hours race. Furthermore, W.O. Bentley also didn´t like the roots-compressor version of his car: "His (Tim Birkin) gaily vivid, restless personality seemed to be always driving him on to something new and spectacular, and unfortunately our 4 1/2-liter car was one of his targets!" But Tim Birkin persisted on the car. Using the financial support of Dorothy Paget, he transformed his 4,5-liter car into a supercharged one. Building 50 more cars for the Le Mans formalities was a financial disaster for the marque. "Win on Sunday - Sell on Monday" is the wrong term, if you don´t win. So the prizes of the chassis built on stock were lowered and finally sold (plus one chassis built by Rolls-Royce in 1933). Even if the car was one of Bentleys many coffin nails, it became a legend. 54 Bentley Blowers were built and we have another 54 at the show: The spectacular Bugatti Type 54. Ettore Bugatti´s creation was mainly built for high-speed courses (especially Monza), using the largest engine, Bugatti ever constructed for racing cars: the 4.9 liter DOHC straight eight, of the 1931 Type 50. It is believed, that only nine examples were built of this powerful pur sang. In just 13 days, the 300 HP (450 HP on Methanol!) engine was fixed on a Type 45 chassis and exactly this No 1 car, made for Achille Varzi, is on display in Maastricht.

But of course, there aren´t only race-cars at the special show. What about an early grand tourer like the flamboyant Mercedes 500K? This iconic car was built by Mercedes-Benz between 1934 and 1936. We can have a closer look at one of only 29 Special Roadsters built for the rich and famous. Those rich and famous customers had the choice of many versions of the car. The engine always was the 5 liter supercharged straight eight, but many bodies (not to forget the option of buying a bare chassis and bring it to a specialized coachbuilder) were available and the chassis was offered in three versions: The standard long wheelbase chassis, the same chassis with a 19 cm more backwards engine position and additional this chassis with a shorter wheelbase. It is unusual, but the Special-Roadster body is always mounted on the long wheelbase chassis, but of course the one with the backwarded engine position.

When it is time for a little rest, search for the stand No. 746! You will easily identify it, as there will be a large “”(and "" of course) banner, a very original 1910 Oakland Model K 40 HP, a Riley Special and some friends, a (maybe a little tired) staff, always looking keen on a pre-war car enthusiast!

Text & Photos: Hubertus Hansmann

Editor: please come and visit our stand for a cup of coffee or another drink from Thursday the  11th of January till Sunday the 14th in Maastricht. The cars are polished, drinks are cold and talk is about cars!

Sunday, 07 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

PreWar Christmas Quiz 2017: the results!

Thank you very much for all the New Year wishes. Judging from your comments you had as much fun solving the quiz, as we had putting it together. It wasn’t too difficult, as we received many correct answers. We asked for only the names of the marques, but many also gave us the model names. For those few with incorrect answers this is what you should have found (the links refer to what our barnfinds could look today):
The rusty car we showed on day 1 was a 1939 BMW 327 fixed head coupe.
Day 2 was a 1937-1939 Panhard Dynamic saloon, which we photographed in 2015 at Rétromobile, where it was part of the famous Baillon auction.
Observant readers will have recognized the 1934 SS Jaguar four-seater tourer from an article that we published last year.
The automobile on day 4 was a 1922-1923 Packard Single Six, that was also featured on PreWarCar, but much earlier, in 2009.
The wreck from day 5 was a 1934 Tatra 75 that in 1985 suddenly went up in flames. It was too far gone to be restored, so these days it’s just an exhibition object.
Another barnfind that most probably will not be restored. It’s a 1935 Volvo PV 36, that in 2010 was exhibited by Volvo at the Techno Classica in Essen, Germany.
Okay, now for the winners… we threw all your answers in the proverbial hat and took them out one by one until we had four winners. They are: Daniel Reuben; Alexander Schallenberg; Otto Tenge and Jaco Batenburg.
Congratulations to all! Please send your address (and shirt size!) to info (at) to claim your PreWarCar T-shirt.
(Quiz idea & text Rutger Booy)

Saturday, 06 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

La Belle Otero, star of De Dion Bouton advertising!

La Belle Otero, star of De Dion Bouton advertising!
When this picture was found in a December 1902 magazine, a quick search showed that 'La Belle Otero' was one of the most famous 'artists' of the day, sometimes even called the most beautiful woman of her time.

Caroline Otero (full name Augustine Caroline Otero Iglesias) was a Spanish-born dancer, with a rather troubled youth and a turbulent love-life. However, with her shrewd mind, she battled her way to the top. She starred in films, and traveled the world with her dance partner Evariste, performing in New York, Moscow, St-Petersburg, Berlin, and Vienna. Having built up a career in Paris (she became a success at the Folies-Bergère), she also provided services as a courtesan, but only to the richest and most powerful men of Europe including Dukes and Kings. Expensive gifts from her lovers included houses and much jewelry, and she became one of the richest women in the world.

La Belle Otero was hired by the De Dion Bouton company for the advertising of the new 6 hp Populaire, and a few illustrations of La Belle Otero and a De Dion Bouton car exist, strangely always together with Zélélé, De Dion's valet. In good De Dion Bouton tradition, artwork enhanced the advertising of the company, like the one that Henry Thiriet did, with a fancier white cliff background. One of the photographs with La Belle Otero on the new De Dion Bouton is made part of a beautiful Art Nouveau work by Arsène Herbinier. The same illustration is used in a more plain advertisement in the women's magazine Femina, promoting the car for 3900 francs!
Marketing strategies were certainly already very clever then because including this most controversial top star was definitely a stunt! 
Words and pictures: Nick Jonckheere, with thanks to De Dion Bouton Club
Friday, 05 January 2018 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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