Thursday, June 07, 2007

Next to last...

...photos from the car show I was involved with last weekend.

This time, I want to focus (so to speak) on a few unusual and wonderful machines. Again, there was plenty of strangeness to savor; I had to choose a very few to share.

First, another one of my favorites, and the car I'd most like to park next to my 3-liter Bentley in my dream garage.

It's a 1948 Tatra 87, that wonderful Czech masterpiece that combined compact size with a huge interior, driven by an air-cooled V8 engine hung out behind the rear wheels, old-VW-Beetle style. This is the best restoration of a T87 I've ever seen...



At the other end of the size scale (from almost any car) is this tiny Isetta 250 from 1956. Note the unique front door through which one enters and exits the little bubble-car, which provides seating for two very close friends. At one time, European cities were full of Isettas, some built in Italy and the rest produced by BMW...



Most of the dozens of motorcycles on display were finely restored jewels, spanning the years from 1912 to the 1960s. But this one caught my eye: it's a 1917 Harley-Davidson Model J, owned by the same collector who brought several shiny examples of early H-Ds. As it happens, this completely original (and thus grubby) bike is the one he rides regularly...



And then there's this strange device, a 1923 NER-A-CAR, which was billed as not just a motorcycle but near(ly) a car. Hence the name. Again totally unrestored, its owner putted around the show on it. Motorcycle fans will notice the unusual steering mechanism, which is remarkably like the setup used on some modern high-performance bikes...



Finally, a major automotive auction was held in conjunction with the show, in which some interesting cars were passed along at hefty prices. The star was a sight one seldom sees these days: a 1938 Bugatti Type 57 "Atalante" coupe. These are rare enough as it is, but this one was a true "barn find" in totally original condition, locked away in a garage where it was recently discovered after a 45-year slumber. Filthy, worn and with an engine covered with mouse droppings and similar detritus, it still commanded a $775,000 winning bid. Sadly, the new owner will probably restore it completely; my inclination would be to clean it thoroughly, get it in good mechanical order and drive it while savoring its originality, but that's just not done with such pricey and rare machines...



One more picture show to come....

6 comments:

lowandslow said...

Incredible machines. I've only heard of some of these, but never seen any except an Isetta once when I was a kid. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Story told of parking lot attendant who pulled an isetta flush up to a brick wall and then could not find reverse.

Needless to say, that is just where the owners of the vehicle found him when they returned some hours later.

Fin

DAL said...

I think you may have missed a photo I took of a Jaguar Type E 4.2 that I saw downtown. It's all there, but a tad rough, with some body fill here and there.

I saw an Isetta once, too, when I was a lad.

MrScribbler said...

dal -- I think I remember it, along with great shots of other old iron and neat toy car you posted. Don't remember if it was a 2+2 or not, but a rotted-out 4.2 2+2 was sold at the auction (for parts) for $2K.

When I was an extremely wee lad, I got a ride in an Isetta. I've never recovered.

joan said...

That little Isetta is a cutie!

MrScribbler said...

Joan -- it's the perfect car for your photo expeditions! If you can't get the door open in time to grab a shot, just poke your head up through the sunroof!