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The Best-Looking Cars of the 1930s


Bugatti Type 57 S/SC Atlantic Coupé

Bugatti Type 57 S/SC Atlantic Coupé

The legendary French brand Bugatti became famous, first of all, thanks to its exclusive sports and luxury models. The "golden" era for the company from Alsace was the 20-30s of the twentieth century, when the classic models appeared. One of the most famous creations of those years was Bugatti Type 57. Now it belongs to the cohort of the most expensive and luxurious cars in the world.

In the early 30s, the Bugatti model range was very rich. It included the ultra-expensive Type 41 Royale, the Type 41 Royale, the powerful Type 50 touring coupe, the compact and lightweight Ture 55 sports cabriolet, and the initial affordable Ture 49 model. This variety of cars, which cannot be called mass-produced, was very costly in terms of production. Therefore, Ettore Bugatti decided to unify the brand's line-up and create a single basic model. Depending on the engine power and body type, it could be both sporty and luxurious. In fact, it was necessary to design a universal chassis, on which would be installed a variety of bodies. This is what Ettore's son, Jean Bugatti, took on.

It was based on the lightweight Bugatti Type 49 frame with a wheelbase of 3.3 metres. In-line eight-cylinder engine with a capacity of 3.3 litres was seriously modified and equipped with a cylinder head with two camshafts (and three valves per cylinder) from the racing car Ture 59. Power was 135 hp, which was enough to accelerate the light (about a tonne) car to 153 km/h. Bugatti also developed a completely new 4-speed manual gearbox. Jean Bugatti had originally also developed an independent front suspension, but Ettore abandoned this design.

The novelty was ready by 1934 and received the designation Type 57. At the Paris Motor Show, the bare chassis and engine were shown separately, as well as the low and swift Grand Raid convertible with a body from the Gangloff atelier. The public was delighted. Later, during test drives, the model demonstrated a high level of comfort and good handling on the winding roads of southern France.

At first, Bugatti offered four standard bodies: Stelvio convertible, Ventoux sports coupe, tourist coupes and Galibier sedan. However, the buyer, of course, could order for his car an exclusive "dress" in any body shop. Especially famous were cars with design from Figoni & Falaschi, Vanvooren, Vanden Plas and Corsica. Designer from Ukraine Yakov Savchik created bodies for the 57th. Leather and expensive wood were traditionally used in the interior decoration.

The Туре 57 was constantly modernized and its lineup expanded. The design of standard bodies was changed almost every year. And already in 1935 there was a version 57 C with a mechanical supercharger, which raised the power up to 160 hp, and the maximum speed - up to 180 km/h. The company's staff prepared just such a car for Ettore Bugatti as a birthday present, and his son Jean designed the elegant body.

This was followed by the Type 57 S with a racing 175 hp version of the dry sump engine and a lowered and lightened chassis. It weighed only 950 kg and reached 190 km/h. The top of the "family" was the compressor version 57 SC with an output of 210 hp. Such Bugatti reached 210 km/h and accelerated to 100 km/h in 10 seconds, that is, it was considered at that time one of the fastest production cars in the world. But it was not cheap, so only 42 Type 57 S and 57 SC were produced. Over time, a brake booster was installed and the shock absorbers of the car were improved.

Jean Bugatti continued his design work and presented the streamlined 57 C Aerolithe prototype at the 1935 Paris Motor Show. A year later it turned into a serial coupe Bugatti 57 SC Atlantic. Perhaps, this is the most famous model of the French brand. Its low body made of aluminum and magnesium alloys was striking with aerodynamic shapes, plenty of rivets and original "fin" on the roof. Atlantic almost immediately entered the textbooks on automobile design, as one of the masterpieces of style. Only four such coupes were made, and three of them have survived to this day. An important detail: in 2011, one of 57 SC Atlantic sold at auction for an incredible 30 million dollars. That is, it is the most expensive passenger car of all times and peoples!

Actually, in the 30's Atlantic also cost a lot and was very difficult to produce, so Jean Bugatti prepared a more affordable version of Atalante. It became another factory version, but found only 17 buyers, as it was still not cheap.

The design of the Bugatti Type 57 was so successful that it helped to achieve good success in competitions. Especially for this purpose the sports prototype 57 G was developed. For its characteristic massive design it was called Tank. The car showed itself perfectly: in 1937 and 1939, Jean-Pierre Vimil and Pierre Veyron won the legendary 24-hour race in Le Mans. However, it became the cause of tragedy: during the tests, one of the 57 G's was involved in an accident, and Jean Bugatti, who was driving it, was killed.

The death of his son was a heavy blow for Ettore Bugatti. Jean had high hopes, because a successful manager, talented designer and stylist could take the family business to new heights. From that time Bugatti began to decline. And then the war interfered and did not allow to start production of the improved 57th - Type 64 with 4.4-liter "eight". The matter did not go further than prototypes. In 1951, the Type 57 chassis was used to create a new model Ture 101. Engine power was 135 hp in the standard version and 190 hp in the compressor version. But because of the high cost the demand was low and only 8 cars were produced.

Bugatti Type 57 turned out to be very successful. In total, about 710 cars were collected, which is very good by the standards of the French brand. Now they have become an object of hunting of automobile collectors. Of course, not all these cars are fabulously expensive, like 57 SC Atlantic, but nevertheless now it is quite difficult to find a copy cheaper than 500 thousand euros.


Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider

Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider

This car is Alfa Romeo's biggest and fastest pre-war creation. Model 8C 2900B embodied all the best developments of that time, making the car a dream for any connoisseur of rarities. After all, in Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B designers managed to find a balance between mass, speed and elegance, which for that period of automobile history with its hard uncompromising motorsport was close to ideal. That is why the 8C 2900B is absolutely deservedly called by many the most perfect and beautiful sports car in the world.

In the 1920s, after the decline caused by the First World War, motorsport begins to revive. Alfa Romeo switches to building cars primarily for racing. Promising huge opportunities for advertising activities sports events forced the company's management to lure the designer Vittorio Jano from Fiat. Together with the racing driver Enzo Ferrari, who represented Alfa Romeo in competitions, they set themselves the task of building a car that would be unbeatable in races.

Vittorio Giano fulfills the expectations of Alfa Romeo's management to the full. In the mid-1920s, he manages to create the first 8-cylinder engine with two rows of P2 valves. They were characterized by good performance and incredible reliability. A little later, the designer applied an interesting solution - divided the in-line 8-cylinder power unit into two blocks of four cylinders each. Thus, a twin-engine automobile was obtained.  Until the mid-1930s, no one could compete with Alfa Romeo cars on the race track - they won all possible sporting events.

However, by that time, Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union, whose cars had 4-liter engines, independent suspension and improved aerodynamics, were beginning to squeeze the leader from the prizes. The defeats of the national manufacturer was very dissatisfied with the head of the Italian government Benito Mussolini. You bet, because sport has always been used for political purposes. Especially at a time when automobile competitions overshadowed all other sports. Losing in this area could not be the best way to reflect on the image of the state. So thought Mussolini and Hitler, who organized competitions actually between themselves. That is why German automakers received generous sponsorship from the state, which allowed them to eclipse the Italians for a while. In turn, Mussolini, who had fewer resources, personally arranged a demolition and made it clear that Italy must necessarily be ahead. There are changes in the company. Alfa Romeo leaves Vittorio Giano, as well as Enzo Ferrari, who had become the manager of the company's racing team.

However, despite the fact that the pre-war years were very difficult for Alfa Romeo, the company still managed to create some miracles. In 1936, the light saw one of the rarest and most expensive cars, which became the ancestor of postwar coupes of GT class - Alfa Romeo 8C 2900. As a power unit was used eight-cylinder engine developed by Vittorio Jano, which was equipped with two compressors Roots. Its volume was 2.9 liters, and it could develop 220 hp. The characteristics of the engine were reflected in the name of the model: "8C" means the number of cylinders, and "2900" - its volume. Aggregated with a 4-speed gearbox it allowed to accelerate the car up to 230 km/h. The first three cars 8C 2900 in the same year took part in the famous Italian race "Mille Miglia", taking three prizes. Another car took part in the 24-hour race at the Belgian circuit in Spa, where it also won.

The following year, Alfa Romeo announced the production of a limited edition "civilian" version with a de-fortified to 180 hp. eight-cylinder engine. Despite the reduction of power, 8C 2900, which received an "addition" to the name of the model in the form of the letter "B", could accelerate to 185 km/h, which was an exorbitant speed for that time. However, this unit consumed a lot of fuel - 25 liters/100 km. The use of such an advanced engine could not but affect the design of the body, which had to be optimized for the engine and fuel tanks.

The 8C 2900B was offered in two body styles: Corto and Lungo. The short-wheelbase version Corto (Corto translates as "short") was 50 mm longer than the racing 8C 2900, had predominantly open bodies and was intended for fans of sporty driving - race cars were created on their base. The variant with a long base (another 300 mm was added) was called Lungo, which means "long". The bodies of these cars were closed, because they were intended not for racing, but for the most comfortable driving.

The Touring and Pininfarina ateliers worked on the bodies, so none of them was an exact copy of the other. There was a choice of roadster, coupe and convertible bodies. Each example was distinguished by the shape and arrangement of the headlights, the shape of the rear fender flaps, side moldings and dashboards. The 8C 2900B was indeed a "limited edition" - only 20 examples of the Corto and 10 of the Lungo were produced. The cost of production of this car was very expensive for that time. Therefore, the price also corresponded to the exclusivity of Alfa Romeo: the sum of 10 thousand dollars in pre-war Europe is comparable to the possibility of buying a private airplane nowadays.

Version 8C 2900B Corto was made by patented technology Superleggera, which implied the use of light tubular frame and aluminum panels. And while this allowed the car to be "lightened" to one ton, it was still heavier than its competitors.  But the most interesting thing is that this did not prevent it from leaving its rivals far behind on the track.

Short base allowed to improve maneuverability - the car practically did not skid in corners. The suspension was also changed. Now it became fully independent, because due to the use of the old leaf spring suspension on the predecessors of 8C 2900 it was impossible to achieve the use of the engine at full power.

Now Alfa Romeo was back in the lead, and its cars were once again dominating the motor competitions of the second half of the 1930s. The 8C 2900B held up particularly well during the intense long races. They held the honors of the most prestigious auto competitions - the Italian Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Spa. The greatest popularity Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B won on one of the most difficult and longest routes - the race "Mille Miglia" in 1938.

An incredible story happened during the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. One of the two cars modified specially for this race after 18 hours of competition was ahead of the following car at 180 km, but an unforeseen thing happened - a tire went flat, as a result of which the leadership was lost. The second car had a broken valve, which forced the pilot to withdraw from the race. Nevertheless, despite such troubles, it was clear that this model has a great potential and there are no equals to it.

By the way, after the Second World War, the 8C 2900B participating in this race was in England, where it was restored, and in the 1980s, the priceless exhibit settled in the museum of Alfa Romeo company. It is also notable for the fact that for participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the designers did a good job on the body, which turned out to be incredibly streamlined. In the late 1980s, it was tested in a wind tunnel. The result was astonishing - the drag coefficient was 0.38, which was a very good result for race cars of the time.

Meanwhile, the situation in Europe was becoming less and less calm - the world was on the brink of World War II. The economies of many countries were being put on war footing, and Italy was no exception. Cars and races became less and less relevant, and the Italian government demanded from Alfa Romeo company to transfer production capacity to the production of military trucks and aircraft engines.

Model 8C 2900B became the brightest phenomenon of the pre-war era of racing, speed and big engines, leaving an unforgettable trace in automotive history. The fact that the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B took seventh place in the list of the most expensive cars ever offered at auction speaks of its uniqueness.  In 1999 at Christie's auction was sold model 8C 2900B, which won in 1938 in one of the races, for more than 4 million dollars!


Alfa 8C 2900 Mille Miglia

Alfa 8C 2900 Mille Miglia

This allowed to reach a maximum speed of 235 km/h. Other changes included lengthening the wheelbase to improve handling, which can be called decent even by modern standards. In 1971, a variant of the 246 GTS with a targa body was introduced. By 1974, 3761 copies of this car with both body types were produced.


Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster

In 1934, Daimler-Benz replaced the Mercedes-Benz 380 sports model, which occupied an intermediate position between the six-cylinder 290 and the flagship 770 "Grosser", with the more powerful 500K. The new car's five-liter engine, already equipped with a compressor as standard, developed 100 horsepower, which could be briefly increased to 160 when the compressor was activated by fully depressing the accelerator pedal. The cast-iron eight-cylinder engine of the Mercedes-Benz 500K was paired with a four- or five-speed transmission and mounted on a massive box-section frame. Front and rear suspensions were independent, and drum brakes had hydraulic drive.

Acceleration of the heavy car, which weighed more than two tons, up to one hundred kilometers per hour took more than 20 seconds and, two years after the beginning of production, the concern management decided to replace the engine with a 5.4-liter engine with a maximum power of 160 hp when the compressor was on. The increase in power did not affect the maximum speed of the car (160 km/h), but allowed to install on the chassis armored bodies, very relevant in the conditions of the approaching World War II.

Unlike most luxury car manufacturers, Daimler-Benz produced almost no bare chassis to fit custom bodies. Most of the production was equipped with factory bodies built at the factory in Sindelfingen (Sindelfingen). Of the 419 Mercedes-Benz 540Ks built in 1936-39, only 29 were customized by body shops. This high proportion of factory-built bodies can be explained by the very wide product range. Mercedes-Benz 540Ks were produced with the following standard body types: Cabriolet A, B, C, Normal-Roadster, Spezial-Roadster, Limousine ( 2 and 4 door), Tourenwagen, Coupe and Autobahn-Kurier. The least produced were elegant streamlined coupes Autobahn Kurier. Only two copies were built on the 540K chassis, and only one has stood the test of time.

The coupe's design emphasizes flowing lines that gradually converge behind the body, much like earlier French designs. In fact, the Autobahn Kurier is the first Mercedes-Benz car to have curved rear windows. Chrome stripes soften the surfaces and create a sense of depth, while the rest of the car has an all-black paint scheme.

According to rumors, the Autobahn Kurier was a gift from Hitler to an eye surgeon who saved the eyesight of one of the Fuhrer's commanders. In reality, the coupe was ordered by Spanish ophthalmologist Ignacio Barraquer after he saw a similar car in 1938 at the Paris Motor Show.

Barraquer used the car frequently and took it on many long trips, one of which was to Africa. After World War II, he bought a more modern means of transportation and leased his former coupe to the Antique Automobile Club of Catalina, which exhibited the piece in Barcelona. The car was eventually sold by the family in 2004, but before appearing at Pebble Beach 2006, was fully restored by its current owner Paul Russell.


Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet Xenia

Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet Xenia

In 1914, the French production of Hispano-Suiza moved to spacious workshops in Bois-Colomb, where in 1919 the most famous model of the company was created - H6. This car for many years became a classic example of a luxury car of the highest class. The car was equipped with a 6-cylinder in-line engine with an overhead camshaft with a volume of 6597 cm3 and an output of 125 horsepower. The high horsepower and high-speed performance required the installation of servo-actuated brakes on all wheels, which were engaged from the transmission. The outstanding characteristics of the car made the attention of sportsmen, who took part in numerous races of those years. One of the drivers was the young André Dubonnet, whose family made a good fortune from the cognac and aperitif trade.

Experienced pilot and racer André Dubonnet, at the age of 23, won the 1921 Boileau Cup in Boulogne on the Hispano-Suiza, and in 1924 bought the first chassis of the H6C model built. The engine of this model was enlarged to 7982 cc. Power was increased to 200 horsepower at 3050 rpm. For a real racing car a light, streamlined body was needed and Dubonnet turned to the famous aircraft construction company Nieuport with an unusual request for an automobile body. On April 19, 1924, the car was ready.

Built on aviation technology, cigar-shaped body of the car, known now all over the world under the name "Hispano-Suiza H6C Tulipwood", was as follows - 20 mm (in cross-section) ribs of the body frame were covered with 3 mm aviation plywood, over which, with the help of through copper rivets, The ribs of the body frame were glued with 3 mm aviation plywood, over which, by means of through copper rivets, were fastened laths of different lengths and widths, made of mahogoni, but not of tulipwood, because tulipwood (Brazilian red tropical wood) is too dense, poorly bendable and prone to splitting and, therefore, inadmissible for use in the construction of automobile bodies.

The body was polished and varnished. In order to improve aerodynamic qualities and to protect from mechanical damage when driving on bad roads, the entire lower part of the car from the radiator to the tail end was completely covered with a streamlined aluminum cover. A 175-liter fuel tank was placed in the rear for long-distance travel. After completion of the build, the car was immediately taken to Sicily to compete in one of Europe's most grueling races, the Targa Florio.

 By the end of the first lap, Dubonnet was running second, but then fell behind due to tire damage. Seven hours after the start of the race, Andre Dubonnet finished seventh, not bad at all considering more than half of the 37 starters didn't make it to the finish line at all. Immediately after the race, Dubonnet continued to test the car's durability by driving on bad Italian roads from Naples to Rome, which he reached in just over five hours.

Originally, the car looked different from what Pierre DuMont had depicted it to be and what we have become accustomed to seeing in recent years. The car had lightweight aluminum "Skiff" style fenders that were removed during the race. The wooden fenders were not made and installed until the mid-sixties by a boat building company, in full compliance with the Skiff manufacturing techniques and in accordance with the sketch that formed the basis of this unique car.


Mercedes 710 SSK Trossi Roadster

Mercedes 710 SSK Trossi Roadster

In the 30s of the last century, Germany was actively building autobahns, because they were not intended for racing, although sports competitions were also held on them, but for comfortable and, most importantly, fast movement from point A to point B. The cars for the powers that be were needed accordingly. Cars for the powerful needed appropriate.

And so, by 1927 at the newly created Mercedes-Benz association (Daimler-Benz companies were united a year earlier) the works on creation of a certain sports line of cars with the index S (sport) began. The work was led by a young engineer Ferdinand Porsche - yes, yes, it was him, he would later create his own company and leave Mercedes, and while he was working here as a chief engineer.

The car turned out to be quite fast: by the way, the Mercedes 680 taken as a basis remained in the name, only the S letter was added. The first appearance on race tracks - and the first victory. Nobody could compete with "white elephants" (yes, the name "silver arrows" appeared much later, when the paint was simply peeled off for the sake of relief), and while the cars were painted in corporate white color. It was impossible to call them comfortable: they had no trunk, and often the luggage was attached directly on the footrests, but they were bought not because of this, but for their high speed and high power.

Later, the model got a lot of indices: SS (super sport with 200 horsepower), SSK (super-sport kurz - short - 250 horses) and, finally, by 1930 there was a modification SSKL (super-sport kurz leicht - light - its power was brought to 300 horsepower). The most important thing was that anyone could buy any of these monsters, if, of course, anyone had enough money. Just such anyone was an Italian count, a car racer: he traditionally defended the colors of Mercedes and Alfa Romeo and won two Grand Prix of Italy and Switzerland - Carlo Felice Trossi.

The young and quite wealthy count did not want to have a car like everyone else's and, having bought SSK, planned to completely remake it. He started, as usual, with the most important thing - the heart of the car. In-line six was modernized: now it began to produce absolutely fantastic 300 horsepower and just crazy 680 Newton-meters of torque. But even this was not enough for Trossi. He independently developed and ordered in Great Britain a unique body of the car. The cigar-shaped body of the car was painted in black, the wheels were covered with elongated aerodynamic drop-shaped wings.

But most importantly, it was a natural roadster - it had no doors, only small notches on the sides, completely lacked even a hint of a roof, even a light awning was not provided. In order to give a lower silhouette, the car was put on wheels under the eighteenth landing diameter (the standard wheels were installed under the 21st inch). In general, it was really a rare example of work on improvement of almost perfect car. By the way, the Count kept the car even after the war: he died in 1949.

It was then that the Trossy Roadster began its journey around the world, though as a collector's item, until it settled in the USA. Today it is owned by designer Ralph Lauren.

The collector value of any Mercedes from this series is huge, as well as the auction value. How much this specimen might be worth, I can't even guess. But when you consider that a less powerful Mercedes 680 S went under the hammer for nearly $9 million, the Trossy Roadster would be much more expensive. Save up! Maybe Loren will get sick of it someday and you can buy it.


Talbot-Lago T150 CSS

Talbot-Lago T150 CSS

The stories of some car brands are like love novels, they have an intriguing beginning, a stormy continuation and a very sad end. Today I offer my readers to get acquainted with the history of Talbot brand, which produced stunningly stylish models, but at the end of its history slipped to the production of mediocre low-grade cars. Nevertheless, at auctions, cars produced in their golden years are valued unusually high among true connoisseurs of automotive antiques.

The Talbot brand originated in 1902, when an enterprising Frenchman Adolphe Clement became interested in the British market, where he was going to supply rear-engined four-wheeled cars of his own production. His ambitious plans would not have come to fruition if he had not been noticed by the English Earl of Shrewsberry & Talbot, who decided to finance his enterprise.

As a result of their cooperation, the Clement-Talbot company was born. But already in 1904 the count decides to establish his own production of cars with a similar layout of the power unit. Initially, all cars were equipped with two-cylinder engines, four-cylinder engines would appear a little later.

In 1906, the design department of the company was headed by an Englishman K. Gerard. Under his leadership in 1908 the Talbot 25H/P model with a 25-horsepower, four-cylinder engine with a capacity of 4.2 liters came off the assembly line.

The real success of the brand came in 1911, when its chief designer became George Brown, who had previously worked at Austin. The first thing he does is to modernize the 25H/P model, increasing the engine volume to 4.6 liters and replacing the side valves with upper ones, which allows to increase the engine power 2 times up to 50 hp.

The resulting car is called 25/50H/P, on the basis of which a racing car is created, which sets a number of records. So under the control of the driver Percy Lambert in Brooklands set speed records at distances of half a mile (182 km/h) and one mile (180 km/h). And then, for the first time in history, covers a distance of 100 miles (160 km) in an hour.

During the First World War the company stays afloat, but after the death of the son of the Earl of Shrewsberry & Talbot, he loses his interest in it and sells it. The company is acquired by a French firm - Darracq and a year later merges with the British company Sunbeam. As a result, the automobile concern is named STD (Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq).

The 20's were successful for the company, it literally reigned on both sides of the Channel and its factories were based in Wolverhampton, England, and Suresnes, France. At this time on the company's products is working designer George Riosch, who is engaged in modernization of the existing model Clement-Talbot 8/18HP, as well as the development of trucks.

Fame comes to Riosch with his Talbot 14/45 HP, which gets a six-cylinder engine. The car makes a sensation in 1926 at the motor show in London, after which it becomes a bestseller for the next 9 years, enjoying success among motorists.

At the same time at the factory in France, a talented designer Louis Cotalen prepares his own team Talbot Darracq Grand Prix to participate in the races. Although the Talbot Darracq Grand Prix team fails in its first race due to engine problems, it nevertheless becomes a success and takes prizes in the Coupe du Salon at Montlhery.

As a result, a whole range of cars was born, the designation of which was based on their top speed. Particular success is achieved by the Talbot 105, a 140 hp model, which in 1934 wins the Alpine Rally, the Irish Grand Prix and then the Le Mans and Tourist Trophy. The last model of this period is the 1934 Talbot 110, which is capable of accelerating to 209 km/hour, making it the champion of the touring class.

Despite its incredible success, the company goes bankrupt as early as 1935, due to the bankruptcy of the main STD alliance. As a result, the company goes under the control of the British automobile concern Rootes, which decides to close the French branch, which is bought by an enterprising businessman of Italian origin Antonio Lago. It is under his leadership that the company flourishes and in the shortest period of time (18 months) becomes a symbol of speed and luxury.

Lago together with engineer Walter Becchia create a new model T150, which turns out to be shorter than its predecessors. The car is equipped with a six-cylinder engine with an output of 110 hp and in 1934 the car debuted at the Paris Motor Show. In 1936, an improved model called T150S with a 175 hp engine appears, which successfully performs at the races in 1936 and 1937. Also appear sporty modifications T150S and T150SS, which stands for sport and supersport.

The chassis turned out to be so successful that it was supplied to French bodybuilding workshops, which created real masterpieces on their basis. So the design bureau Figoni&Falaschi, created a stunning beauty and aerodynamics of the car T150C SS Teardrop, which today causes a real stir at auctions.

At the upcoming auction at the end of May, this car is going to be sold between €3,200,000 and €3,800,000, which is quite an impressive sum. But due to its uniqueness and incredible rarity, the car could go for a much more impressive sum.

Returning to the history of the brand it is worth saying that the French branch was very successful and production stopped only during the Second World War, which was restored in 1946 with the appearance of a new model T26. Nevertheless, the company faced the first serious difficulties in 1951, when the tax policy of the country changed and draconian taxes were introduced. The company continues to struggle, but sales are steadily declining and in 1958 the company was taken over by SIMCA.

The British did not do well and during the whole period of its existence the company produced only two production models designed for the middle class. As a result, the company was sold in 1958 to the French, who in turn sold it in 1966 to the American corporation Chrysler, where it was buried. Interestingly, Chrysler would eventually absorb SIMCA as well, reuniting the French and British divisions under its own brand.


Bugatti Type 55 Roadster

Bugatti Type 55 Roadster

The 1930s were unique in the history of motorsport in that Grand Prix racing cars were not too far removed from production models, and some manufacturers even produced small quantities of road-going versions. One of such manufacturers was Bugatti, which in 1931 at the Paris Motor Show presented a real pre-war supercar - Bugatti Type 55 Super Sport. This car with racing characteristics was intended for everyday driving and was sold only to the richest clients of the company. It was exclusively a two-seater, so Jean Bugatti specially designed two sporty bodies with elegant two-color paintwork: a closed coupe and an open roadster without doors.

The Bugatti Type 55 was based on an enlarged and strengthened chassis of the Type 54 racing model with a wheelbase of 2750 mm. Under the hood was a new inline 8-cylinder engine with a displacement of 2262 cm3 with two overhead camshafts, already proven in the successful Type 51. With a Roots supercharger, it delivered a very high output for those years: 135 hp of power and a top speed of 180 km/h. The cast 8-spoke aluminum wheels with integrated brake drums were identical to those used on the Grand Prix cars. Unlike its predecessor Type 43, which was produced in 160 copies, Bugatti Type 55 was initially developed as an exclusive sports car, so from 1932 to 1935 only 38 units were built at the factory in Mollsheim, 15 of which received bodies from third-party ateliers.


Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Super Sport

Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Super Sport


Auburn Boattail Speedster 851

Auburn Boattail Speedster 851

One of the ways Errett Lobban Cord chose to overcome the low demand for automobiles during the depression of the 1930s was to sell a twelve-cylinder speedster, model "12-160," at the very low price of $975. Unfortunately many customers were put off by this. They believed that a sports car with a powerful engine could not cost as much as a banal eight-cylinder Dodge. Sales were very poor.

In 1935 Cord entered the market with an evolutionary model Auburn 851, the number of changes in which, in comparison with the previous model, was so great that it could well be considered a new car. Cord dropped the expensive 12-cylinder engine, reverting to a Lycoming inline eight, now equipped with a Schwitzer Cummings supercharger. The 4585 cc engine produced 150 horsepower.

The Auburn 851 was equipped with a three-speed transmission and two-speed main gear. The main gear shift lever was located in the center of the steering wheel and had two positions: "Low" for fast acceleration and "High" for high speed at medium engine speed.

The new body for the 851 was designed by Gordon Buehrig. It was a very elegant car by the standards of those years: extravagant grille, long and low hood, swift tail-end and a small two-seater saloon. Additional attractiveness was given by the fluted exhaust pipes on the left side, showing the kinship of the Auburn 851 with the luxurious Duesenberg SJ. To eliminate doubts about whether a particular car was equipped with a supercharger, the inscription "supercharged" was placed on both sides of the hood.

Each car with a compressor had a plate signed by the famous racer Ab Jenkins, confirming the ability of a particular copy to reach a speed of at least 100 mph (160.93 km/h). In the first year of production, 4,830 Model "851" cars were produced at a price of $2,245. The following year, production of a slightly modified car labeled "852" totaled only 1,850 units. The decline of the Errett Lobban Korda Empire was not far off.


Alfa Romeo 1750 Zagato

Alfa Romeo 1750 Zagato

Granturismo in Italian is spelled in one word, which is probably why the recipe for the new product was not as complicated as the current one. The fundamental "ingredient" was reliability. One part of the design talent of Vittorio Jano and one part of the bodywork talent of Ugo Zagato should have been added to it. The rest should have been entrusted to the "commandant" - Enzo Ferrari.

Night pit stop of an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 at the 1932 Mille Miglia race. The crew Bordzaquinni/Bignami is working. They don't know about their victory yet. After that, all that was left was to spice things up with the skills of riders like Campari, Vardzi and Nuvolari. This delicacy was to be served in Italy, at the starting line of the city of Brescia, famous for its motor tradition. From here, in 1928, the Campari/Ramponi crew brought the first victory for Alfa Romeo in the race, which was called Mille Miglia ("1000 miles") because of its length.

More precisely, the distance was 1600 kilometers and, passing in one breath through almost the entire Apennine Peninsula, it excitably connected Brescia, Verona, Padua, Ferrara, Rovenna, Ancona, Pescara, Rome, Siena, Florence, Bologna, Piacenza and ended in Brescia. Note that all these cities are historical centers of Italy. True, there were and are no others in this country and, therefore, the race would be more accurately called "All Italy". However, in those years they did not think about the tourist industry, but about something else.

Map of the Mille Miglia 1951/1952. By agreement with the mayors of the cities, who dreamed that it was through their streets that the cars raced, the route could change slightly. The distance was 1600 kilometers and passed in one breath through almost the entire Apennine Peninsula.

Vittorio Jano created the 1750 6C series car based on the chassis of the previous and very successful 1500 SS model, which had already won the Mille Miglia Cup in 1928. Adding the Roots supercharger to the engine, the designer received a 30 hp increase in power and a very good dynamics for those years. The bodywork had to be matched. Open and very light, type "spider", without racks for unnecessary roof and full-size doors. But it was not possible to avoid weight gain.

This road sign for the Mille Miglia helped to keep the race on track. Today, it is the official emblem of the historic race and, at the same time, of the Chopard Mille Miglia watch. For example, because of the gravel coverings of the route, the "motorcycle" type fenders were not suitable, as they poorly protected the mechanic and driver from the firing of stones flying from under the wheels. So in the arsenal of design tools of the 30s appeared wings with a developed inner part and wide footrests, without which, frankly speaking, in any other race it would be possible to do without.

Even on an extreme journey, one could not refuse a folding cloth awning (weather permitting), a pair of headlamps-"seekers" to read in the night the names of village trattorias and red route arrows pasted on poles. Add three powerful headlights, whose glass windows were protected during the day by red plexiglass guards, and a pair of spare tires in the back. Weight saving has put an end to all other road luggage. But why would a couple of real male athletes need luggage? A narrow pocket behind the back of the seats, where you can throw a flask with sugar-sweetened water to restore your strength, is enough.

Fame came quickly, followed by fashion for everything associated with the Alfa Romeo, Mille Miglia and Zagato brands. As it should, over the years fashion turned into style, the signs of which have lasted until the present day. But how beautiful was the image of a 2-seater car floating over the road in those years! How spectacular was the main body mass, dashingly shifted backward relative to the wheels. As if the strong iron gave in to the oncoming air pressure. Daytime pit stop of the Alfa Romeo crew at one of the stages of the Mille Miglia 1931. Everyone is advising something. But the race will be won by Rudolf Caracciola on the Mercedes Benz SSK.

The silhouette was formed by the long hood, the spectacular cutout for the driver's elbow in the upper part of the door and the characteristic shape of the rear part of the body, made in this case in the "beetleback" style. From it, however, a pair of spare tires looked out, but they, thanks to the skill of bodybuilders atelier Zagato, did not look an unnecessary detail. On the contrary, this touch served as a natural completion of the composition of the whole car.

Alfa Romeo's sporting successes attracted many customers, for whom the Touring and Pininfarina ateliers worked tirelessly, but Zagato's work remains fundamental to history. Ugo Zagato masterfully managed the success and used the 1750 6C theme three more times and in several series that differed in the treatment of the rear end - the "tail".


Cord 812

Cord 812

Automotive brand Cord is familiar to many people these days, even though it disappeared 90 years ago. However, such popularity is quite understandable, because in its best times this American company built perhaps the most perfect and progressive cars in the world - the last Cord 810 (812) is just from such cars.

Cord brand appeared in the late 1920s. Its creator Errett Lobban Cord was among the most talented organizers of automobile production in the United States. Contemporaries believed: "If Henry Ford put America on the automobile, then Erret Cord gave American cars beauty and grace". At first, he traded cars of various brands, until at one point he decided that he was capable of becoming an automaker himself and creating cars no worse than those he sold.

Having secured the support of investors in 1924, he purchased the unprofitable firm Auburn Motor Cars and radically overhauled its production program, making it profitable again. After looking around, Cord decided he could challenge the entire automobile empire that was burgeoning around Detroit. He began to buy up all the surrounding companies, after which in the orbit of his activities fell as small, and quite large and reputable enterprises: motor plant Lycoming and the prestigious brand Duesenberg. The new industrial giant was growing and forming right in front of the eyes, but there was still no own brand worthy to carry the name of the creator. It was founded in 1929, and with the expectation that the main profile of the company would be the production of high quality and the most technically advanced machines.

Cord 810

The first L-29 automobile under the Cord brand saw the light in 1929. It was the first ever American prestige car with a 125-horsepower Lycoming engine and front wheel drive. The first Cord underwent a complete commercial failure. The conservative American public was endlessly surprised by the revolutionary front-wheel drive layout, squat stance and unusual shapes, but did not buy the car. Actually on it all and has come to the end. In addition, a serious economic crisis broke out in the country and all luxury cars were relegated not even to the second, but to the third plan.

As Cord's industrial empire began to recover from the crisis, he commissioned a young and talented engineer, Gordon Bjurig, to design a new front-wheel drive car. In 1933, the project was completed, but mass production could be mastered only two years later. The new car indexed as Cord 810 turned out to be no less egregious than the previous L-29. It was equipped with an 8-cylinder V-shaped bottom-valve aluminum Lycoming engine with a capacity of 4.7 liters and an output of 125 hp. At the front of the engine was attached a semi-automatic 4-speed gearbox assembled in a single unit with a main gear and differential. Cord 810 was the first American front-wheel drive car with front independent suspension. In addition, unlike most competitors, the 810 received all-metal load-bearing body on a reinforced steel platform.

In general, as for the body, Bjurig surprised everyone without exception. He created a unique and easily recognizable body with a blunt-nosed front end and streamlined fenders. On the front facade there were numerous parallel chrome ribs, and headlights were hidden in the front fenders for aesthetic and functional reasons. Other interesting features of the Cord 810 include hidden door hinges and gas tank lid, speed-adjustable windshield wipers, standard tachometer and radio.

The car debuted in two wheelbase sizes and four body variants: two- and four-door sedan, two-door cabriolet and phaeton. Despite the solid appearance and good equipment, the Cord 810 cost relatively cheap - about 2 thousand dollars. Nevertheless, too avant-garde appearance and untested front-wheel drive design, again became an obstacle on the way to commercial success. In the first year sold unexpectedly little - only 1174 units, leaving almost 600 more cars to dust in the warehouse.

Cord 812

In 1936, Cord decided to change tactics and presented an improved Cord 812 equipped with a centrifugal supercharged engine (Supercharged) and increased to 190 hp. The new model was easy to identify by the spectacular nickel-plated air ducts through the sides of the hood. In addition, the car received a 180 mm longer wheelbase, reinforced body and improved interior trim. In this version Cord 812 could accelerate up to 177 km/h, which made it one of the fastest production cars of that time. Later the car set several national speed records.

According to the improved characteristics, the price has also increased. The cheapest sedan in Westchester version cost 2.5 thousand dollars, and the most expensive Convertible Phaeton Sedan cost 3 thousand dollars. The price is quite acceptable for such a complex and high-speed car. But only the demand was again much less than estimated - only 1146 cars were sold by the end of the year. And all would be nothing, because at the disposal of Korda had other, quite successful companies. However, in the late 1930s, Errett Kord was suspected of stock exchange fraud and fled to Great Britain. He was found guilty and fined a huge sum, to pay for which he had to sell off his small automobile empire. Thus ended the glorious but short history of Cord Automobile.


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