Tag Archives: Pre War Cars

Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance: 1937 Delahaye 135 M Competition

Delahaye 135 M Competition

It would be a great mistake to think this Delahaye is some ordinary combination of red and black. Look a little closer and you will see a brilliant duet of raspberry and grey, accented by chrome and some of the most finely crafted wood I have ever seen on a car. I had already been through most of the show at the 2013 Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance, but  this stunning Delahaye 135 M Competition left me speachless when I found it. I saw one unbelievable car after another that day, but this was definitely my own personal “best of show”.  I am a huge fan of French cars from the Art Deco era, but Delahayes hold a special place for me. The richness of flavor, the swoopy designs, it all embodies exactly what I want in a car like this, and this particular 135 M is one of the finest examples I’ve ever seen. Enjoy the photo gallery of this magnificent work of art.

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Mercedes-Benz Museum: Mercedes-Benz 710 SSK

Mercedes Benz SSK
Mercedes Benz SSK

Designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, the SSK was Mercedes’ racing powerhouse from 1928 to 1932, winning a long list of significant victories, including the 1931 Mille Miglia in the hands of legendary driver Rudolf Caracciola. It also broke the pace record for the Mille Miglia at the time with an average speed of 62mph(101km/h). The SSK was seriously fast, in fact it was the fastest car of its time. Its top speed was 120mph (~190km/h), and the performance from its 7.1L straight 6 engine is still decently impressive by today’s standards. The key was its supercharger, which engaged via a clutch when full throttle was used. This design gave the power when it was needed (especially at higher altitudes, where air is thinner), but also helped keep the car reliable by not having the blower stressing the engine all the time. From what I’ve read, around 170hp was available before the supercharger engaged, and 225hp hit when the boost came on. I have also seen some reports of SSKs making as much as 300hp, so maybe in different specifications were used for different races. The car also had a massive amount of torque, with as much as 500ft/lbs available on those highest spec’d cars. Keep in mind, all of this performance is in a car with 1920’s technology, so tires, brakes, suspension, etc were all nowhere near the level of a normal modern car, and the SSK weighed nearly two tons. Racing back then took some serious bravery.

The SSK you see here was on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, during my trip to Europe last year. Regrettably, I don’t have too many details on this specific SSK because I was so focused on taking photos that day that I didn’t bother reading the signs. I do know there were only 30-35 SSks built, so it is very rare, and definitely worth a few million dollars.

I love looking at early racing cars because there is so much crude genius.  All of the performance aspects of a modern car had to be developed, usually through trial and error, and driven by competitive spirit. The SSK was the pinnacle of automotive technology in the late 1920s, and it marks a significant moment in racing, as well as in the development of the automobile itself. Enjoy the pics.

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Lime Rock Historic Festival: Bugatti Type 57S and Type 57C

Two gorgeous pre-war Bugatti Type 57’s, one Type 57S and one Type 57C. It is very interesting to see both sides of Bugatti during this era. The Type 57S is very much a racing car, and the Type 57C is an elegant touring car. Back then there was a more obvious direct line between race cars and road cars than their is today. Enjoy the pics.

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Mercedes Benz Museum: The Beginning of the Automobile

I stopped at the Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart during my trip to Germany this year. It is a fascinating facility in every respect, but the display of early automobiles is truly something to savor. Daimler (Mercedes Benz today) invented the motor car, so the museum is able to show the progression of the automobile quite actually from Genesis. These cars set the stage for every car we know and love today. In this feature you will see Daimler and Benz cars, the Mercedes name was added later on for added appeal. You will see the development from the crude origins of the automobile to where Daimler-Benz cars began to resemble the luxury objects that they are today. Enjoy.  Continue reading Mercedes Benz Museum: The Beginning of the Automobile

2012 Lime Rock Historic Festival: 1936 Delahaye 135S

Delahaye sare true works of art, quintessential examples of French Art Deco era automobiles. This sinister black and red car was present for the Concours d’ Elegance  during the Lime Rock Historic Festival. I’m not sure how it did in judging, but it sure stole my eye. The owner had just restored it and had a sale pending for somewhere in the seven figure range. This car was absolutely stunning, enjoy the photos.

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Radnor Hunt CDE: 1931 Cadillac V16 452A All-Weather Phaeton by Fleetwood

This is the height of what made a Cadillac a Cadillac. These V16 powered land yachts were the epitome of style and status during Prohibition-Era America. Everyone’s favorite movie stars and gangsters had flashy cars like this, and this Caddy the 452A was the pinnacle of the Cadillac lineup. This specific car features a full sedan convertible design, something far too cool to be allowed today, and looks to have all the bells and whistles available at the time. The owner was very proud of the car and had restored it himself. He told me he had changed the color, and while that won’t help the car win at a Concours, I like the look of this dark blue a whole lot more than the car’s previous black. Even with all the curvy Italian cars just up the hill, this Caddy really caught my eye at the show. When I think of Cadillac, this is what I think of. I just wish the people actually running Cadillac even knew cars like this were once built under the Cadillac nameplate. This truly was “The Standard Of The World” at its time.   Continue reading Radnor Hunt CDE: 1931 Cadillac V16 452A All-Weather Phaeton by Fleetwood

The 2012 Radnor Hunt Concours d’ Elegance

Ferrari 250TR, 500TRC, 250LM, and others

This is the 3rd year in a row we have attended the Radnor Hunt Concours, and it continues to blow us away each time. For me this year was especially interesting because Ferraris and pre-war Cadillacs were being featured. What you see above was the view as we entered the show, a row of Ferraris worth tens of millions of dollars alone. Most of these cars will be getting their own specific features later on so just let this be a nice preview of things to come. Enjoy.   Continue reading The 2012 Radnor Hunt Concours d’ Elegance

1936 Auburn 852 Boattail Speedster at Concours

Auburn boat-tail speedsters like this one are among some of the world’s most collectible prewar American convertibles, owing to their extremely low production, high price tag, and (for the era) blistering performance.  This flawless black example showed up to the Pebble Beach Concours this summer, and I was fortunate enough to grab a few pictures of it.  This one in particular is a 1936 Model 852, the final year of production for not only this car, but the Auburn name as a whole.  It is a breathtaking car, and with only 1850 sold during 1936, this 100mph-plus roadster was a treat on the street in its day, and still is today. Continue reading 1936 Auburn 852 Boattail Speedster at Concours