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For the first ten years of business, Aston Martin didn’t actually produce any road cars at all, they were all steely-eyed competition cars. This 1935 Aston Martin Ulster represents the early part of the company’s history. The Aston Martin Ulster was the essence of pre-war motorsport – cavalier, frivolous and fast. In the age before...
For the first ten years of business, Aston Martin didn’t actually produce any road cars at all, they were all steely-eyed competition cars. This 1935 Aston Martin Ulster represents the early part of the company’s history.
The Aston Martin Ulster was the essence of pre-war motorsport – cavalier, frivolous and fast. In the age before the introduction of roll-cages and fuel-cells the differences between competition cars and road cars was negligible.
Many Ulster owners were able to take their road cars out to the tracks in the weekends and compete. This “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” theory was crucial for Aston Martin’s formative years. A 1-2-3 class victory for the works team at the 1934 Ulster Tourist Trophy at Dundrod inspired the company to name their new high-performance model after the event; the Ulster was born.
The 1934 Ulster Team Cars boasted production-derived suspension with slightly stiffer springs to cope with the stresses of racing. Sizeable cable-operated drum brakes provided the compact racers with plenty of stopping power.
Also derived from the regular Aston Martin production models was the 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine. The sophisticated single-overhead camshaft unit had been used with great success for several years and by 1934 produced around 80 bhp. It was mated to a proprietary four-speed gearbox. The rolling chassis was clothed with a slippery aluminium body, which included a cowled radiator. The shapely tail of the car housed both the fuel tank and the spare wheel. Despite the sturdy chassis, the Ulster Aston Martin tipped the scales at just 940 kg.
Following the success in the Tourist Trophy, which saw the three Team Cars entered finished 3rd, 6th and 7th overall and 1-2-3 in class, Aston Martin set about producing a new series of competition cars for 1935 as well as a series of Ulster replicas for customers. Priced at a startling £750, the privilege of owning an Ulster did not come cheaply. Despite the relatively modest size of the engine, these Aston Martin racers proved very capable and could reach speeds of over 160 km/h.
It is believed that Aston Martin produced a total of 21 Ulsters and a further seven Team Cars, in 1934 and 1935. Remarkably all of these are understood to have survived and they rank among the most sought after of all pre-War Aston Martins. Noted British collector and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason likes them so much that he has three different examples in his collection.
Arguably the car that inspired all Aston Martin designs of the future, the DB2 is a real piece of Aston Martin history. One of the most famous Aston Martins still in existence today, this was the first Aston to be fitted with the now legendary 2.6-liter straight six-engine, when it ran at LeMans in 1949....
Arguably the car that inspired all Aston Martin designs of the future, the DB2 is a real piece of Aston Martin history. One of the most famous Aston Martins still in existence today, this was the first Aston to be fitted with the now legendary 2.6-liter straight six-engine, when it ran at LeMans in 1949. Built on a shortened DB1 chassis, with bodywork by Frank Feeley, this car marked the beginning of the fastback designs that continued right through to the end of the DB6 and early DBS.
Before the DB2 went into production, four prototypes were made and they laid the foundation for David Brown’s first successful sports car. David Brown purchased both Aston Martin and Lagonda after World War II, bringing together two great marques under his leadership. Both companies had great success in motorsport prior to World War II, particularly at the 24 Hours of LeMans.
After the successful debut of his Two-Litre competition car at the 24 Hours of Spa in 1948, Mr. Brown agreed to develop four new Aston Martins (Chassis LMA/49/1, LMA/49/2, LML/49/3 and LML/49/4) to contest the first postwar 24 Hours of Le Mans, held in June 1949. This is one of four DB2 prototypes designed by Frank Feeley and built by Aston Martin that laid the foundations for David Brown’s first successful sports car. These four prototypes were manufactured by Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd.
The new DB Mk II was based on the earlier DB1’s box-section, tube-frame chassis. However, it’s wheelbase was 9-inches shorter than its predecessor. Much of the independent front suspension arrangement still owed much to Claude Hill’s prewar Atom, with the rear featuring a new coil spring setup. The first two DB Mk II chassis were equipped with the old two-liter pushrod engine. The third and fourth chassis were given an all-new 2.6-liter twin-overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine.
The coachwork was penned by Frank Feeley, of prewar Lagonda fame, and constructed from aluminum panels. It was modern, purposeful, aggressive, and streamlined. The lightweight coachwork, aerodynamic design, and potent engine helped the cars achieve nearly 120 mph flat out in early testing.
All four of the DB Mk IIs were registered on April 26, 1949. The three Aston Martin works racing cars, registered UMC 64 through UMC 66, were finished in Almond Green paint with green canvas upholstery. Whereas the UMC 272 (LML/49/4) was painted maroon and trimmed with beige leather and was used by Aston Martin’s owner David Brown as his personal car.
The LML/49/4 has an extensive racing career, from Silverstone and Mille Miglia to the Coppa Inter-Europa at Monza, this beautiful piece of history has achieved numerous accolades over the years.
Of the many and varied associations pinin Farina has enjoyed over the decades, one the least well known must surely be that with Mercedes-Benz. But in the mid 1950s the famous Turin-based carrozzeria created two one-off four-seater coupes based on the underpinnings of the Mercedes- Benz 300 series. The first of the pair, the 300B,...
Of the many and varied associations pinin Farina has enjoyed over the decades, one the least well known must surely be that with Mercedes-Benz. But in the mid 1950s the famous Turin-based carrozzeria created two one-off four-seater coupes based on the underpinnings of the Mercedes- Benz 300 series. The first of the pair, the 300B, was unveiled in 1955 and succeeded in looking both Germanic and Italian.
The car was handsome and certainly wouldn’t have looked out of place as a production model, and yet clearly the team at Pinin Farina wasn’t completely satisfied: at the Turin Motor Show a year later the company revealed the 300SC, the car you see here, a clear evolution of its stablemate but with more of the little touches of design flair that we’ve come to expect from Pinin Farina.
In 1956 Batista ‘pinin’ Farina still ruled the company that bore his name, but his son, Sergio Pininfarina (the family surname and company name were legally changed in 1961), was deeply involved in both Mercedes-Benz projects. Sergio explains the desire to have a second try: ‘always my father and myself had great respect for the Mercedes-Benz tradition and for the Mercedes-Benz prestige. this was one of the rare occasions when you design an automobile to express your feelings. to pay a compliment. Mercedes- Benz was one of the most famous, most noticed European firms, so you can understand how important it was for us to make a special design on this famous chassis.’
The body design of the 300b Coupe was far more complicated than this second version, completed a year later. While the bodybuilder’s approach to both cars was very similar, the resulting designs are quite different. In August 2014, both Coupes were at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance—with Sergio Pininfarina on hand to describe these two significant Italian-bodied Mercedes-Benz models. Signore Pininfarina, who succeeded his father as head of the international design firm in 1966, worked on both the 300b and 300Sc. When they were penned, Batista “Pinin” Farina still headed the Turin design firm.
Interestingly, of the two cars, the first is Sergio’s favorite. “The headlights on the first coupe were more finely integrated than they were on the 1955 model. The second car was also much smaller [built on a 2,900-mm chassis]. The Sc demanded a shorter roofline and a different type of backlight [rear window] treatment. It did not have the long, flowing lines of the 1955.”
After being displayed at the Turin auto show, this 300Sc was ultimately bought by a collector in Switzerland, a special order for a transalpine personality, Dr. Pastora, who kept it until 1989.
Alfa Romeo is known for making stylish cars which are a joy to drive. However, this reputation comes from cars that were built a long time ago. Unfortunately, in recent years the company has struggled to get enthusiasts excited. They’ve given us some very memorable cars in 100 years of existence, making Alfa Romeo the...
Alfa Romeo is known for making stylish cars which are a joy to drive. However, this reputation comes from cars that were built a long time ago. Unfortunately, in recent years the company has struggled to get enthusiasts excited. They’ve given us some very memorable cars in 100 years of existence, making Alfa Romeo the car maker we all love.
The product of a request from the US for an Alfa barchetta sports racer, the Disco Volante was loosely based on the 2000 saloon’s humble underpinnings.
The design was very uncommon for the era, with its rounded fenders, low slung profile and convex tail. In many ways this aerodynamic shape predated the Jaguar D-Type which would shared many of the Disco Volante’s lines.
Powering all the Disco Volante variants was a revised version of the four-cylinder engine found in the Alfa Romeo 1900. It was light alloy rather than iron.
This Alfa may be one of the greatest. Automotive expert and enthusiast, Chris Harris have declared “I think I want one” which says a lot.
It has a very special 2.9-litre V6 with 503bhp and 443lb ft. The smooth V6 engine, sharp steering and balanced handling make this a very impressive return to form for Alfa.
Built on an all-new, rear-wheel drive platform with an emphasis on light weight and agility, the sporty underpinnings of the new Giulia define its shape and strongly influence its design with Alfa Romeo stylists wrapping the mechanical components in a taut, muscular package dominated by its long bonnet, short overhangs, muscular haunches and the longest wheelbase in its class. Simple, natural lines enhance its shape and proportions, while the surface is finished with elegance and restraint, exuding the purity and style one comes to expect of Italian design.
The Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 was a sports racing prototype raced by the Alfa Romeo factory-backed team between 1967 and 1977. These cars took part for Sport Cars World Championship, Nordic Challenge Cup, Interserie and CanAm series. A small number of road going cars were derived from it in 1967, called Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.
The 1967 33 Coupe Stradale used a version of the same V8 engine. This streamlined coupe, designed by Franco Scaglione, sits very low on the road, being less than a metre high. Only 18 examples were ever produced.
The Alfa Spider set the benchmark for Italian cars and driver cars alike, one of the most beautiful cars ever produced.
Although the Duetto was only manufactured for three years, its incredible styling remained in vogue for decades, and revised forms of the car were produced through the 1990s.
The sporty demeanor of the Duetto made it the chosen ride of Dustin Hoffman’s character Ben Braddock in the iconic 1967 movie The Graduate.
Alfa Romeo heavily revised the T33 with their first major revision. These new cars, called T33/2, Mk II or Series 2, had substantially different bodywork that was available in both short and long tail configurations. All the short tail cars were referred to as ‘Daytona’ in either coupe or spyder form.
For Le Mans, Alfa Romeo fitted new long-tail bodywork with small fins near the trailing edge. This was meant to increase overall top speed to 300 kph and gave Alfa Romeo a chance to beat much larger competition such as the GT40. The factory cars placed 4th, 5th and 6th overall and won the 2-liter class.
The Alfa Romeo 2000 Sportiva is a 2-litre sports car made by Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo in 1954. Although developed to be built in a small series, just four were made — two coupés and two spiders.
Designed by Scaglione for Bertone in the early 1950s, it featured a tubular space frame and a hot version of the DOHC engine sourced from Alfa’s immediate post-war family saloon, the 1900.
A winner at Le Mans in 1931 and 1934, a version of this Vittorio Jano-designed car was also successful in the 1931 Italian Grand Prix taking first and second places with the Nuvolari-Campari and Borzacchini-Minoia partnerships in the driving seat, and earning itself the nickname ‘Monza’ in the process.
The car notched up more than 50 victories in its time with the heroes of the era, Nuvolari, Campari, Borzacchini, Caracciola, Etancelin and Sommer.
The engine was a 2.5-litre supercharged, double overhead cam, inline 8-cylinder. Capable of producing 178bhp, and coupled with a very light body, the car was a force to be reckoned with in the 1930s. Those lucky enough to own an example still extol its handling and performance to this day.
Alfa Romeo created the first Italian sports car with the design and manufacture of the 6C 1500. At the base level was a smooth running six-cylinder engine that used a single cast-iron block with integrated cylinder heads. It displaced 1486.6 cc and initially offered 46 bhp @ 4000 rpm which was more than ample for the car’s lightweight design.
This model became Alfa Romeo’s most successful and underwent a stepwise evolution that eventually won all the great road races leading up to the immortal 2.9.
Unquestionably one of the most desirable Alfa Romeos ever made, the Giulietta Sprint Zagato. Because of its small size (it weighed just 770kg) and aluminum bodywork, the SZ was much faster than its steel-bodied production counterparts.
The 1.3-litre engine pushed the SZ to a top speed of 120mph. Pictured above is one of the last 30 Sprint Zagatos. It featured the ‘Coda Tronca’ bodywork. The entire body was much longer, and was designed to penetrate the air better. Detail changes included a cut-off Kamm tail, narrower front air intake, a lower roof and the use of disc brakes up front.
Built for road-going clientele, Alfa Romeo offered the Gran Turismo, a detuned version of their successful Gran Sport race car. These were sold for customers requesting saloon and cabriolet bodies.
Having the same DOHC engine, the Gran Turismo was a high specification road car that shadowed performance of the Mille Miglia-winning 1750. This model first appeared in 1929 as the 6C 1750 Sport and was renamed Gran Turismo for the 4th and 5th-series cars.
In period Alfa offered the Gran Turismo Tourer for 50,000 lire while a Saloon was 54,500 lire. The bare chassis was also available for 42,000 lire.
Hans Ledwinka, Austrian Automobile designer, was an artistic genius. After working at Nesseldorfer and Steyr, he joined Tatra in 1923 and began designing a series of revolutionary cars. In 1927, Automotive engineer, Paul Jaray founded the Stromlinien Karosserie Gesellschaft, where he applied aerodynamic principles learned during years of experience with airship design to the automobile. It...
Hans Ledwinka, Austrian Automobile designer, was an artistic genius. After working at Nesseldorfer and Steyr, he joined Tatra in 1923 and began designing a series of revolutionary cars.
In 1927, Automotive engineer, Paul Jaray founded the Stromlinien Karosserie Gesellschaft, where he applied aerodynamic principles learned during years of experience with airship design to the automobile. It was Pauls knowledge combined with Ledwinka’s vision that resulted in the world’s first mass produced fully aerodynamic automobile, the Tatra 77.
This is one of the first Tatra 77 streamlined cars ever produced, of 105 units in total built between 1934 and 1936. The Tatra was unusual in that it was designed with aerodynamics in mind from the very beginning, resulting in a drag coefficient of 0.36 – Mercedes’ latest AMG-GT sports car matches that.
First presented to the public on a Carlsbad road in Czechoslovakia on 5 March 1934, and again at the Berlin Motor Show on 8 March 1934, the Tatra 77 deservedly became a sensation. This particular version features a unique option, a large sliding roof manufactured by Webasto, specified by the car’s first owner Josef Wait.
This example has undergone extensive high-level restoration that has only recently been completed. The restoration process placed emphasis on the preservation of all of the vehicle’s details and use of original materials and technology. The dark blue exterior is identical to the original paint found on the vehicle during restoration. The leather interior used during restoration was custom-built to match a sample of the original material.
It’s a quirky addition to this year’s Concours of Elegance line-up, but one that fully deserves its place in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace among some of the rarest and most incredible cars in the world.
The design of the Tatra 77 was so successful that it is said to have heavily influenced Ferdinand Porsche in his plans for the Volkswagen Type I Beetle. After decades of legal battles about just how extensive that influence was, Volkswagen settled the case in 1961 for three million Marks.
Even though their cars were highly successful on the track, the three surviving Maserati brothers struggled financially, especially in the second half of the 1930s. Reluctantly, they were forced to sell their factory to Adolfo Orsi in 1937. One of the conditions of the sale’s agreement was that the brothers would continue to work for...
Even though their cars were highly successful on the track, the three surviving Maserati brothers struggled financially, especially in the second half of the 1930s.
Reluctantly, they were forced to sell their factory to Adolfo Orsi in 1937. One of the conditions of the sale’s agreement was that the brothers would continue to work for the company for a period of ten years. Orsi’s financial support allowed them to develop the two-time Indy winning 8CTF and the highly advanced 4CL.
Nevertheless they decided to leave the company when the ten year term was over. The brothers craved for independence and full control and found that by establishing a new company; l’Officine Specialzate Costruzione Automobili Fratelli Maserati, or OSCA for short.
The ‘MT4’ part of the name is the clue: it stands for ‘Maserati Tipo 4 Cilindri’. OSCA – Officine Specializzate Costruzione Automobili – was set up in 1947 by three of the Maserati brothers.
Their plan was to make small racing cars, using engines based on Fiat’s 1092cc block and topped with OSCA’s own aluminium cylinder head. A new twin-cam head for 1950 raised power to an impressive 100bhp, and the company began to broaden out from barchetta bodies to berlinettas by Frua and Vignale.
The latter carrozzeria was responsible for this intriguing Michelotti-styled machine with its cutaway flanks, zig-zag waistline, crisply-outined nose and minimal front overhang. It was commissioned as a one-off by Turin chemist Mario Damonte to contest the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans, in which Damonte, partnered by Fernand Lacour, retired after 19 hours with clutch trouble.
Damonte and his OSCA returned for 1953 and, with co-driver Pierre-Louis Dreyfus, scored a win in the 1100cc class. Ownership passed the following year to Maria Luisa Zamberini, a Turin resident like Damonte; from 1956 it disappeared into a private collection until moving to Japan in 1997. The present owner acquired the OSCA in 2015, and in 2016 he showed it at the Concours on the Avenue in California.
On paper the OSCA MT4 might not look very impressive, the superb design and exceptional build quality made it the car to beat in the sub-1500 cc class for almost a decade. With class wins in every major race, it is without a doubt the most successful racing car ever constructed by the Maserati brothers.
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