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The Magazine

Swaab Special is HWZ Hirondelle

Swaab Special is HWZ Hirondelle
We received a heartwarming number of messages after having published our Swaab Special article last week, which was the second time we wrote about this mysterious Dutch special. The first bit was a plea for more information dating back to 2014 (see here), while the second and more recent one was just that: more information, which learned us the car was modified and rebuilt and painstakingly road registered by Raymond van Bree in 1963 or ’64 (see here). Raymond provided us with a plethora of pictures and he is the man seen above in the car. 

Well. We now know quite a lot more. As suggested the car was based on an Ermini. This was a car that was raced in The Netherlands by Jaap Luyendijk, father of later Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendijk. When Luyendijk senior emigrated to South-Africa in 1958, his Ermini was taken over (picture 1 below is the advertisement for the car) by John Swaab and Dutch racer Henk van Zalinge, who started work took out the 1098cc four-cylinder engine with double overhead camshafts to use that for the spaceframed car of their own design (picture 2 below). The body was made in aluminium (picture 3) by a company named Rijnplaat. One report that was sent to us mentions the opening of a speed shop in downtown Amsterdam by the two men, and also the small scale production of sports racers. Now, the name HWZ Hirondelle is used for the car.

We also found that the car’s cylinder head was soon cracked so badly that repair seemed impossible. Swaab supposedly couldn’t get hold of a new Ermini head and so tried to cast one himself (picture 4). This must have been the dohc head that Van Bree found with the car and that was thrown into a ditch (and may well still be there). After the duo supposedly did not succeed in making the head, the car was modified to Porsche-power (in the front!) and was used in a record attempt called the Bleriot race from London to Paris. Rob Slotemaker, Hans Hugenholtz senior and Van Zalinge shared the car over three laps (picture 5, with the Arc de Triomphe in the background).

We found some more photos of the car in a pretty sorry state in what must be the 1980s or 1990s. Very nice, and thanks all for sending them over. Best, however, was a full 1950s photo comic strip of twelve pages, featuring the car, that was scanned and sent to us by mister Van Ingen Schenau of (a fragment in picture 6). It’s a lovely piece of automobilia about Dutch motoring history featuring - apart from the Hirondelle - several more locally built Specials. Thanks all!

(Words Jeroen Booij, pictures various sources)


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#2 Jeroen Booij 2018-04-09 13:08
Quoting Joop Terpstra:
I thought you responses are placed on a daily basis. So wrong of me.
Cheers, Joop

They were. But the person doing it now (not me) is a very busy person and doesn't give it priority.
#1 Jeroen Booij 2018-04-09 10:44
Quoting Joop Terpstra:
I already wrote a week ago that it could be a idea why you people don't print my answer :-( Joop

Sorry, we did read that Joop. But meanwhile things had been put in motion here as well.

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