1957 Lancia Aurelia B20S, Ser.VI

Another 1958 Lancia Aurelia B20 Series VI, painted in AZZURRO AGNANO-CELESTE AURELIA color. This is how our project car will look like when finished. Perfectly matching with the clear sunny sky of Greece!

Another 1958 Lancia Aurelia B20 Series VI, painted in AZZURRO AGNANO-CELESTE AURELIA color. This is how our project car will look like when finished. Perfectly matching with the clear sunny sky of Greece!

A new Project for Athanase & Byron

You can quote us: The Lancia Aurelia is one of the ten most significant automobiles of the twentieth century, and therefore of all time.

Pete Vack, Veloce Today

Getting Acquainted

Lancia emblem ca. 1957

Lancia emblem ca. 1957. The Marque motto is: ELEGANZA IN MOVIMENTO Dal 1906!

Lancia may be a little-known Italian automaker in the United States, but it is one of the oldest and most innovative in existence. This firm, founded in 1906 by F.I.A.T. race driver Vincenzo Lancia, quickly earned a reputation for brilliant and unorthodox engineering, jewel-like build quality and athletic handling. In addition to these virtues, the Turin, Italy-based automaker created the car considered the first modern GT, the 1951 Aurelia Gran Turismo.

That car, built for eight years in six generations (series), embodied all of the characteristics that GT enthusiasts have come to love, including a beautiful body, powerful engine, accommodating interior and sophisticated road manners. Indeed, the fastback Aurelia racked up numerous racing wins, including the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, the Liège-Rome-Liège Rally, and a first in class at Le Mans. The final Series VI cars, built from 1956 through 1958, are the most refined, and carry values that have risen dramatically in recent years, highlighting their rarity and desirability.

The Aurelia GT–commonly called B20 after its factory code–was designed by Gianpaolo Boano at Carrozzeria Ghia, with styling refinement and body production by Pinin Farina. Following Lancia tradition, the monocoque Gran Turismo was more than simply a pretty face: it was powered by the first production V-6 engine, an aluminum OHV design with hemispherical combustion chambers, single or dual carburetors and a 1,991-2,451cc displacement. This engine was mated to a rear-mounted transaxle that combined the gearbox, clutch, differential and inboard-mounted drum brakes; a sliding pillar/coil spring suspension supported the front, while a coil-sprung semi-trailing arm independent–later a De Dion/semi-elliptic leaf spring setup–supported the back of the car.

The B20S6 cutout drawing reveals many of the technical innovations introduced by the Lancia marque at the early 1950's

The B20S6 cutout drawing reveals many of the technical innovations introduced by the Lancia marque at the early 1950’s

The Aurelia GT's interior featured a split front and one-piece rear bench seat, and the four-speed manual gearbox was shifted on the column; a popular and valuable option was the Nardi floor-shift conversion.

The Aurelia GT’s interior featured a split front and one-piece rear bench seat, and the four-speed manual gearbox was shifted on the column; a popular and valuable option was the Nardi floor-shift conversion.

As built, the Aurelia GT’s interior featured a split front and one-piece rear bench seat, and the four-speed manual gearbox was shifted on the column; a popular and valuable option was the Nardi floor-shift conversion. The Series V B20 of 1956, which made 110hp and 124-lbs.ft. of torque, gained a sturdier front axle, a stronger transaxle and a standard Nardi wood rim steering wheel, while 1957-’58 Series VI coupes, making 112hp and 127-lbs.ft. of torque, received vent windows and chrome hood trim; different final drive ratios were fitted each year to offset feature-driven weight gains. It’s believed that 300 Series V Aurelia GTs were built, with 620 Series VIs following in 1957 and 1958: 3,871 units encompassed the entire production run.

Lancias may be low-key, but the groundbreaking Aurelia Gran Turismo has experienced a steep rise in value in the last 40 years. Steve Peterson, president of the American Lancia Club, says, “Aurelias have particularly gone up in value, and their values vary with the Series.” He notes that earlier Series B20s are more highly valued than later examples like our Series V and VI, but even still, “I can’t imagine a good driver going for less than $80,000(*). They’re now attracting a different sort of customer than originally; I think there is a point in value, and Aurelias have reached that point, where cars become investment commodities, and they start to get churned.”

This article originally appeared in the February, 2012 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

(*)Prices of B20 & B24 Aurelias have risen significantly over the last two years. In fact the Sports Car Market SCM 2014 Price Guide on p. 36 lists B20’s at a low $97,500 & high $165,000 with a % Change Note of 30+!

Lancia Aurelia B20 drawing by Athanase!

Lancia Aurelia B20 drawing by Athanase!

A B20 silhouette drawing by Athanase!

A B20 silhouette drawing by Athanase

Our newly acquired B20S #1548 project 

During one of our recent private Garage Nights in mid Feb. 2014 at Alex V.’s place, Athanase and myself had just returned from our RETROMOBILE 2014 Paris, France visit, with the intent to show about 800+ photographs to the guys via a projector on a 2x2m. white screen. Over pizzas and vino rosso, the talk circled about a certain Italian project car which a mutual friend was considering of selling. It was a late Series VI Lancia Aurelia GT, carrying the factory code name B20S (S=sinistra, i.e. equipped with LHD), bearing a VIN 1548, denoting a car assembled on Friday 3rd May of 1957 and finished on Wednesday 5th June, coincidentally just one day before my birthday! See the ‘Registro Aurelia’ report: Dati Aurelia B20s 1548

The Lancia Aurelia B20S as we first saw her (end Feb. 2014)

The Lancia Aurelia B20S as we first saw her (end Feb. 2014)

The Pininfarina made Scocca (body) bears Serial No. 0552

The Pininfarina made Scocca (body) bears Serial No. 0552

Only 420 B20 examples were made during that year, before production ended next year with an additional 312 units. In total, from the introduction of the Coupé in 1951 up to 1958 only 2.640 units were made, hence a rare car indeed. This Aurelia was imported to Greece by our friend John K. few years ago from England, as it’s previous owner was an elderly British gent who walked out of the project, but quite luckily, had also acquired a second ‘basket case’ B20 as a parts donor platform. After clearing Greek customs and filling a room with her generous dowry of parts, John ventured into a slow paced restoration process entrusting the V6 engined car to an out of Athens body shop. The half started project by the Brit had progressed somewhat under John’s stewardship by rectifying usual rot areas for the model, such as door sills, treating wheel arches etc., etc. Needless to say, the original floorboards were in solid condition and required little attention!

A view of the many unopened parts which accompany the B20S.

A view of the many unopened parts which accompany the B20S.

Immediately a rendezvous to inspect the car was arranged and one sunny morning in late Feb. my childhood friend Athanase and my self drove the 200km distance to Argos, all along discussing the pros and cons of a 50/50 restoration venture together. John met us at the town’s entry bridge and we immediately went to the body shop to see and photograph the B20. After that session we went to downtown Argos to see the room full of spare parts, featuring among the various double items, two engine blocks and countless of unopened packages. A trove yes, but what a challenging task it would be to open them all up, sort, photograph each item, identify their part numbers, catalogue them, and most importantly determine which parts are missing and would need to be sourced. A Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson affair.

Two engine blocks

Among the many parts, there are two engine blocks

Over lunch at the nearby historic town of Nafplion, the car’s dossier was reviewed, establishing that her factory color was the mellow Azzurro (light sky blue) Lechler code: NF 8012, Name: AZZURRO AGNANO-CELESTE AURELIA, while over Espresso coffees a win-win deal was outlined. Armed with over 80 photos in the can, we drove back to Athens and slept on the whole project idea. Upon downloading the photos and viewing them on my iMac’s big screen, a lot of details pertaining to the car’s condition, usually not so obvious to the naked eye, were revealed. Such will be quite useful to us during the restoration process and will also serve us in building up the car’s dossier with ‘before & afterdocumentation. The steering column and box, front and rear suspension components including the drive shaft, transaxle cum inner drum brakes, all need to be removed, repaired and restored. Then the naked body would need to be rotisseried and treated accordingly. Considering all these factors, we made our detailed offer which through the good and friendly mediation services of Alex V., was finally accepted by John. Ipso facto, we are now taking possession of this handsome GT aiming to do an appropriate restoration.

The original trunk floor & floorboards attest to the car’s overall solid condition

The original trunk floor & floorboards attest to the car’s overall solid condition

6th March 2014: the B20S arrived in Athens!

The B20-1548 Italian Registration Log! We are grateful to Corrado Bellabarbas for his excellent research services! :)

The B20-1548 Italian Registration Log! We are grateful to Corrado Bellabarbas for his excellent research services! :)

On the evening of 6th March 2014, the B20 arrived in Athens on a transporter truck, while another closed van in escort carried all her dowry of parts. John K. who oversaw in person the transport, also handed us three thick dossiers which contain the car’s history as recorded by its meticulous previous British owner, Peter W. Hudson of Leeds, Yorks. For example we now know that the B20 was imported to the UK from Italy on 1st August 1966 assigned the registration KUC91D, while her last Italian license plate No. was Roma 377510.  Previous registrations include Roma 301413 while the initial registration was 23328 AP. We also now know that the first owner of B20S-1548 was Silvano Bernabei from Rome (from November 25, 1957 to January 13, 1958). We are still checking if Silvano was related (son) to Inico Bernabei of Cisitalia 202 Cassone fame. Fast forward to today, her Greek Historic Vehicle plates now are I.O. 5875.

The British MOT Registration card.

The British MOT Registration card.

The plan was to position the car and parts into my Garage for inspection, parts sorting, cataloging etc, before assigning her to the body shop of choice for continuing the restoration under our custody. Few pictures and a video clip from that milestone day follow:

The B20S arrived in Athens

The B20S arrived in Athens under light drizzle

Being guided down the ramp

Being guided down the ramp

Positioned in my Garage

Parked in my Garage with the radiator grill positioned. The new exhaust pipes and the bumpers are stored under the car. The B20 was easily maneuvered by placing the rear wheels on two hydraulic transport rollers (dollys).

The B20 engine block sans cylinder heads

The B20 V-6 2.5 Liter engine block sans cylinder heads

More updates will be posted as the restoration work progresses.

More updates will be posted as the restoration work progresses.

Another dream may come true

In the 1951 Mille Miglia, Giovanni Bracco and Umberto Maglioli, driving the B20 GT Series I (1991cc, 91bhp) with No. 332 finishing second behind the Scuderia Ferrari 340 America! It was the first appearance of the Aurelia Series I.

In the 1951 Mille Miglia, Giovanni Bracco and Umberto Maglioli, driving the B20 GT Series I (1991cc, 91bhp) with No. 332 finishing second behind the Scuderia Ferrari 340 America! It was the first appearance of the Aurelia Series I.

For some time in the past I was dreaming about what a ‘once in life-time’ experience it would be for motor heads like us to be in a position to enter into the Historic Mille Miglia. This notion was reinforced in October of 2013 when we had the pleasure of meeting in Athens with Stefano Pasini, a well known and respected ophthalmologist, writer-journalist, a car and audio enthusiast and also involved in the Organizing Committee of the MM! It suddenly clicked that owning a true MM eligible GT, this dream is a lot closer to becoming real… It is befitting to mention of the B20’s racing achievements, even briefly: These cars proved to be highly successful in competition, with perhaps the Aurelia’s most shocking achievement occurring at the 1951 Mille Miglia. The factory entered four Aurelias, and the B20 GT Mark 1 of Giovanni Bracco and Umberto Maglioli soon left the 2-liter competitors behind and began closing on the overall leaders, who were piloting cars with 50% to 100% more displacement. In the torrential rain, the 2.0 liter 80hp Aurelia closed five minutes on the leading 4.1 liter Ferrari 340 in the second to last leg alone, and was still closing at the end of the event, placing second overall! The Aurelia lost by 20 minutes in a 13 hour race, amply demonstrating the capability of both drivers and car. The Aurelia met with countless other competition successes, including another class win on the Mille Miglia plus further class victories at the Le Mans 24-hours, Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti, Pescara 6-hours, Carrera Panamericana and Targa Florio, among others.

The future will reveal if this dream will one day become a reality…

Some specifics

 Given that Athanase has recently restored few classics (among them a Fiat 500, a Jaguar Mk II etc.), plus has recommissioned a Viotti and an Alfa Romeo Junior ‘Scalino’, likewise I have completed two ground-up projects, involving a 1967 Mercedes-Benz 250SE Coupé (W111) and a 1962 VW Käfer 1200 (Beetle Typ 113), we have set up the following ‘works to be done’ outline pertaining to our restoration procedure:

  • Engineering and Mechanicals (mainly completing the body works)
  • Engine reassembly
  • Transmission
  • Suspension and Brakes
  • Electrical (including a new wiring loom)
  • Paintwork and Exterior
  • Interior
  • Reassembly, testing and running in.

Our primary goals for this project are:

  • Finish with as an original B20S example as possible, but improve the cooling
  • Complete the project by December of 2014 and have it FIVA registered as an A/3 class
  • In time for filing an application to participate in the MM 2015

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Specs

Engine

  • Configuration: 60º V6
  • Location: Front, longitudinally mounted
  • Construction: alloy block and head
  • Displacement: 2.451 liter / 149.6 cu in
  • Bore / Stroke: 78.0 mm (3.1 in) / 85.5 mm (3.4 in)
  • Compression: 8.0:1
  • Valvetrain: 2 valves / cylinder, OHV
  • Fuel feed: Weber 40 Carburettor
  • Aspiration: Naturally Aspirated
  • Power: 118 bhp / 88 KW @ 5000 rpm
  • Torque: 172 Nm / 127 ft lbs @ 3500 rpm
  • BHP/Liter: 48 bhp / liter

Drivetrain

  • Chassis: unitary steel
  • Front suspension: Lancia sliding pillar, semi-elliptic leaf spring
  • Rear suspension: DeDion axle, semi-elliptic leaf spring
  • Steering: worm and sector
  • Brakes: drums, all-round
  • Gearbox: 4 speed Manual
  • Drive: Rear wheel drive

Dimensions

  • Weight: 1050 kilo / 2314.9 lbs
  • Length / Width / Height: 4370 mm (172 in) / 1550 mm (61 in) / 1400 mm (55.1 in)
  • Wheelbase / Track (fr/r): 2660 mm (104.7 in) / 1280 mm (50.4 in) / 1300 mm (51.2 in)

Performance figures

  • Power to weight: 0.11 bhp / kg
  • Top Speed: 180 km/h (112 mph)
  • 0-60 mph: 12.3 s

Auctions

Past sales:

Resources

Useful links:

A list of Aurelia owners past and present:

  • Fangio
  • Mike Hawthorne
  • Leslie Hawthorn
  • The Earl of March [see his video below]
  • Jay Leno
  • Riccardo Patrese’s father.
  • Anthony Pritchard (Writer and Historian)
  • Mike Wilson
  • Francois Chevalier (Owner of Paul Ricard Circuit)
  • Boncompagni (Ferrari Racing Driver)
  • Jean Behra
  • John Savage (President of the Lancia Motor Club)

Racing career:

General figures:
Data covers years: 1951-1959
Number of events: 59 (including 1 race where did not start)
Total entries: 251 (contains 167 finishes and 70 retirements, finishing ratio: 70%)
Photos in Gallery: 2 (0% of all entries)
Achievements:
Wins: 4 Additional class wins 20
Second place finishes: 7 Top 3 finishes 1
Third place finishes: 10 Races finished on podium 15
Best result (count): 1st (4x) Pole positions 0
Notes of interest:

Most frequent drivers: Enrico Anselmi (12), “Ippocampo” (9), Gino Valenzano (9), Felice Bonetto (9), Salvatore Ammendola (9), Antonio Pozzato (8), Giovanni Bracco (6), Ugo Piperno (6), Roberto Piodi (5), Ferdinando Gatta (5), Mario Giobellina (5), Luigi Fagioli (4)
Most frequent chassis: B20-1508 (9), B20-1010 (6), B20-1510 (4), B20-1506 (3), B20-1511 (2), B20S-1228 (2), B20-2254 (1), B20-1505 (1), B20-1005 (1)
Most frequent tracks: Mille Miglia (99), Coppa delle Dolomiti (48), Giro di Sicilia (26), Targa Florio (15), Monza (10), Coppa della Toscana (6), Carrera Panamericana (6), Giro dell’Umbria (5), Giro delle Calabria (5), Monaco (4), Pescara (4), Trofeo Sardo (3)
Most frequent countries: I (225), MEX (6), F (5), MC (4), A (4), P (2), CH (2), BS (2), YU (1)

Source: www.racingsportscars.com. For the extended Race Results of the Aurelias click HERE!

The B20GT Series II in the 1952 Mille Miglia of Luigi Fagioli & Vincenzo Borghi

The B20GT Series II in the 1952 Mille Miglia of Luigi Fagioli & Vincenzo Borghi

The B20GT Series III in the 1953 Mille Miglia of Luigi Anselmi & Luigi Maggio

The B20GT Series III in the 1953 Mille Miglia of Luigi Anselmi & Luigi Maggio

The B20GT of Antonio Pucci placing 10th in the 1953 Targa Florio

The B20GT of Antonio Pucci placing 10th in the 1953 Targa Florio

The Bracco D20GT in the 1951 Carrera Panamericana race

The Bracco D20GT in the 1951 Carrera Panamericana race

The D20GT with the mighty Mercedes-Benz 300 at the 1952 Carrera Panamericana in Mexico.

The D20GT with the mighty Mercedes-Benz 300 at the 1952 Carrera Panamericana in Mexico.

To Be Continued sign © Byron E. Riginos, Kifissia, Greece, 2014. (ver. 1.3)

A long time dream comes true! My ‘new’ 82 years old Ford Model A

Ford Mod. A w. ATWATER KENT logo

Emmanuel Riginos’ Ford Model A Tudor bearing the Atwater Kent radios logo. On the fender posing, his brother Alecos

Readers of my Blog may have seen a previous post titled: My next classic/veteran car investment? dating 11th May 2011. In that post I was sharing my desire to acquire one day a prewar classic and more specifically a Ford Model A, similar to a car that my father Emmanuel Riginos owned in the 1930’s in Athens, Greece.

Hence the famous line of Dr. Martin Luther King I have a dream seems befitting. This dream started many years ago when upon shuffling through old family photographs, I discovered few pictures of my Father’s car in the 1930’s. It was a Ford Model A Tudor.

I was looking at these pictures and was wondering about what kind of driving experiences, sounds, smells etc such a car would offer. Slowly the idea to obtain one day such a car settled in my mind. To boot, one evening at the PHILPA Club, Dimitri Vernardakis, our President, told me this: ‘Byron you ought to get yourself a prewar car’, an advise that was never forgotten.

The Car at the Classic Car Auctions premises in Canton Ohio awaiting shipment

The Car at the Classic Motorcar Auctions premises in Canton Ohio awaiting shipment

Recently (Spring 2013) that dream became a reality. After an extended search in Europe and in the USA markets, with the help of few good friends, this particular example was found in Canton, Ohio, inspected, serviced and a deal to buy was concluded in mid April 2013. Soon after the car was loaded on a closed transport heading to New Jersey Container Terminal Port from where it was placed in a 20 Foot container and shipped to Piraeus. Of course I was in great anticipation to see and drive the old lady, as this acquisition marked the first time of buying a car from far away without having seen it up close myself…

Special thanks go to my good friends Alex Vazeos, an Etceterini cars collector and Myron Vernis of Glenmoor Gathering Concours d’Elegance who have been instrumental for my ‘Dream to Come True'; plus to my new friend Bob Lichty of Classic Motorcar Auctions who ‘pro-bono’ looked after all the details of the deal, the US title change, fund transfers, getting the car serviced and arranging shipment from Canton, Ohio to New Jersey!

The Model A is being loaded onto an enclosed car transport for the journey from Canton, Ohio to New Jersey Port

The Model A is being loaded onto an enclosed car transport for the journey from Canton, Ohio to New Jersey Port

Loaded in the 20' container and secured for the transatlantic crossing

Loaded in the 20′ container and secured for the transatlantic crossing

24th April update: The car was booked on the vessel ZIM Rio Grande 46E sailing on 10th May 13 and arrived in Piraeus on Saturday 1st June 2013; provided it would clear Greek customs in time, what a nice June 6th birthday present that would be!

The ZIM Rio Grande Contaner Vessel brought the car to me :)

The ZIM Rio Grande Container Vessel brought the car to me! :)

June 7th update: finally chasing the delayed arrival or the US Title within the Kifissia Postal Sortation Office, on Friday June 7th the car, via the adept services of the PHILPA Customs Clearing Agent, namely Elias Athanasoulas [many thanks Elias, well done!], cleared the bureaucracy and the 20” Container was loaded on a trailer truck bed. Then it was taken to a nearby container depot, for placing the box on the ground, thus making the unloading procedure quite easy. The photos and the video clip capture these memorable moments and trace the car resting in company with other cars of my collection safely in my Garage.

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Unloading the Container from the semi-trailer

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The moment of truth! First glimpse of my much awaited ‘new’ car! Upon opening the container doors a distinctive ‘old American car’ smell oozed out. Immediately, the unfastening and chock removal procedure commenced.

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Behind the wheel for the first time: rolling the car out of the container

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Next task, loaded the car onto a transporter for taking her to my trusted mechanic John ‘Motorman’ Palmos for the first inspection and start-up

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On its way from Piraeus to the North of Athens; many hoots and thumbs up on the way :)

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My friend Robert Smith behind the wheel, taking her out for a first test drive after adjusting the advance timing

June 16th update: the FMA underwent a ‘crash detailing’ service undertaken by Mike Tsaltas of www.swell.gr in an effort to be ready for its first public appearance in Greece, participating in the Parade of the ‘2nd PHILPA TATOI CIRCUIT 2013” event. In between my good friend Robert Smith offered his knowledgeable services for adjusting the timing and expediting the car’s technical inspection for obtaining its ‘historic car’ FIVA card certification and license plates.

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Changing gears on a fully unsynchronized 82 year old gearbox requires ‘old car drivemanship’, a talent Robert has in abundance (owner of a 1918 Ford Model T among other prewar and classics).

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Mike ‘Swell’ Tsaltas doing his magic on the soiled rag-top

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At the same time a horde of accessories and spare parts sourced from Mac’s Antique Ford Parts are gradually being fitted, improving the car’s appearance and operation

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Part of the fun for many car collectors is the ‘deepening knowledge’ for the newly acquired model. Manuals, schematics, reference books, memorabilia etc help to enhance the experience…

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Mike’s assistant George ‘swelling’ the running boards

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Among the accessories, the Ford logoed headlight protective covers go well with the radiator stone guard option, to be proved useful when rallying ;)

Front radiator view with the stone guard, 'my b-d' bespoke license plate, and the Quail Motometer radiator cap

Front radiator view with the stone guard, ‘my b-d’ bespoke license plate, and the PHILPA-Antique Car Club of Greece badge

Detail of the Quail Motometer radiator cap

Detail of the Flying Quail with Motometer radiator cap

The RH engine bay after having been detailed

The RH engine bay after having been detailed

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View of the LH engine bay after having been detailed

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The Data Patent and Body Number templates on the firewall indicating S/N 4558478, which means that this car was produced during May 1931

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The cabin of the Roadster after being swelled. The seat belts are a modern accessory but allowed by the Judging standards for safety reasons

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The pedal area after being swelled

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The dashboard after being swelled

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The frugal instrument panel of the Model A

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The dual side mounted spare wheels along with the cowl lights where part of the standard accessories for the Deluxe model B-40 version

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Side mounted spare wheel detail

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The RH license plate indicates the car model year

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The wire spoke wheels are fitted with a set of white wall tires

Detail of the side windwing mounts and top release butterfly

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Side view of the car after being swelled

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Front view of the car after being swelled

Side view of the car after being swelled

Rear view of the car after being swelled

We made the race against the clock and the car did motor proudly and took its place among other historic vehicles, parading in front of thousand car loving spectators :)

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In good company with a 1934 MG PA at the ‘2nd PHILPA TATOI CIRCUIT 2013′ Parade

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In good company with a 1934 MG PA and a 1926 Chevrolet SK Tourer at the ‘2nd PHILPA TATOI CIRCUIT 2013′ Parade

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Parading at the track of the ‘2nd PHILPA TATOI CIRCUIT 2013′

Next event: the ’42nd PHILPA International Rally’ in the Peloponnese during Sept. 2013.

About Ford Model A’s

The History of the Model A 1928-31

1929 Ford Mod. A Roadster

1929 Ford Mod. A Roadster

Introduced to the public in late 1927 as a “New Ford Car,” the Ford Model A could trace its roots all the way back to the establishment of the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Actually, the first car produced by the developing auto manufacturer was labeled the Model A. Henry Ford would work his way through a series of letter designations for his automotive creations before settling on the successful formula that would become the Model T. In the years that followed, as America’s roads and driveways filled with Model T’s, Henry Ford would remain reluctant to significantly tamper with his beloved car’s design.

Henry Ford portrait

Henry Ford portrait

It was only in the face of plummeting sales by the mid 1920’s, the result of a buying public that sought the modern upgrades offered by Ford’s competitors, that Ford finally relented. In an unusual business move, Ford halted production of the Model T in May of 1927, shutting down the entire production operation for 6 months to allow for retooling and final development of the new Model A Ford.

1928-29 Standard Coupe

1928-29 Standard Coupe

A Ford Mod. A Coupe being assembled.

A Ford Mod. A Coupe being assembled.

Working under an impossible deadline, Ford managed to get the design and production requirements in place for the release of the “New Ford Car” by November of 1927. Henry’s son, Edsel Ford, had unsuccessfully tried to convince his father to abandon the Model T years earlier. Unbeknown to his father, Edsel had been secretly working on the development of a new car and would ultimately play a significant role in the design of what would become the Ford Model A.

A Ford Model A Roadster body ready to be mounted on its chassis.

A Ford Model A Roadster body ready to be mounted on its chassis.

Ford Mod. A's being assembled at the Rouge line.

Ford Mod. A’s being assembled at the
Rouge line.

Unlike its predecessor, the Model T, which was the result of an evolving process of design, the Model A was designed, complete, from the ground up. The Model A was truly a “New Ford Car.” Mechanical upgrades for the Model A Ford included a new 3-speed transmission, hydraulic shock absorbers, and four-wheel mechanical brakes. Other significant improvements were an electric starter, water pump, speedometer and gas gauge, and the introduction of Triplex safety glass. The styling of the Ford Model A, elegant and integrated compared to the Model T, brought Ford into the modern era with a vehicle that looked more like a car and less like a horseless carriage.

A period Ford Salesroom featuring Ford Model A's.

A period Ford Salesroom featuring Ford Model A’s.

The first Mod. A was delivered on Jan. 26, 1928.

The first Mod. A was delivered on Jan. 26, 1928.

Henry Ford created a sense of hype and mystery surrounding the release of the Model A Ford, relying on the media to reach the buying public and generate interest in the “New Ford Car.” Shortly after the Ford Model A was made available to the public on December 2, 1927, orders for the new car far exceeded supply. Ford scrambled to increase production and by mid 1928, producing up to 4,000 cars per day, was still not meeting the buying publics demand. In an effort to meet demand, Ford steadily boosted production, peaking at around 9,200 cars per day by June of 1930.

During its four-year production run, the Model A Ford would be offered in a wide variety of car and truck body styles. For 1928, Ford offered several different style passenger car bodies:

Early Ford Mod A. Fordoor

Early Ford Mod A. Fordor

Standard Phaeton, Standard Roadster, Standard Coupe, Special Coupe, Sport Coupe, Business Coupe, Tudor Sedan, Town Car, and Leatherback Fordor Sedan. Truck bodies included: Open Cab Pickup, Closed Cab Pickup, Pickup (box), “A” Panel Delivery, “AA” Panel Delivery, and Deluxe Delivery.

In 1929, Ford expanded the options for passenger car body styles by adding the Steelback Fordor, Cabriolet, Station Wagon, both Murray and Briggs versions of the Town Sedan, as well as Murray and Briggs versions of the Standard Fordor. The Standard Fordor (2 window) was also introduced. Options for truck bodies remained the same from the previous year.

For 1930, the Leatherback and Steelback Fordors, as well as the Special and Business Coupes, would be dropped from the lineup. New passenger car bodies included the Deluxe Phaeton, Deluxe Roadster, Deluxe Coupe, Deluxe Fordor (2 window) and Victoria. Truck body options included the addition of the Deluxe Delivery and Panel Delivery (drop floor), Special Delivery, Town Car Delivery, “AA” Panel Delivery and the “AA” Deluxe Delivery.

Introductory Period Brochure

Introductory Period Brochure

The Story of the New Ford Car poster.

The Story of the New Ford Car poster.

The year 1931, was the final of Ford Model A production, would mark the most extensive offering of passenger car and truck body styles in the vehicle’s brief history. New passenger cars for 1931 were the Deluxe Tudor, Slant Window Cabriolet, Slant Window Standard Fordor, Slant Window Town Sedan, Slant Window Deluxe Fordor (Blindback) and Convertible Sedan. The Standard Fordor (2 window) and Town Car were no longer offered. For truck bodies, a Deluxe Pickup and a wide bed Pickup (box) were introduced.

Like the rest of the nation, the Ford Motor Company would endure the effects of the economic Depression that began with the stock market crash in October of 1929. Despite reducing prices for 1931, Ford continued to see a steady decline of new car sales.

Perhaps learning from his mistake of sticking with the Model T long after the public regarded it as outdated, Henry Ford had been actively working on a new design for 1932. The successful development of the new V8 Ford for 1932 would ultimately put an end to the short but successful run for “Henry’s Lady,” the Model A Ford.

A FMA Coupe in the snow!

A FMA Coupe in the snow!

President Franklin Roosevelt in a Ford Mod. A Roadster.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a Ford Mod. A Roadster.

Summary of models produced: Ford Model A Standard Phaeton, Standard Roadster, Standard Coupe, Special Coupe, Sport Coupe, Business Coupe, Tudor Sedan, Town Car, Leatherback Fordor Sedan, Open Cab Pickup, Closed Cab Pickup, Pickup (box), “A” Panel Delivery, “AA” Panel Delivery, Deluxe Delivery, Steelback Fordor, Cabriolet, Station Wagon, both Murray and Briggs versions of the Town Sedan, as well as Murray and Briggs versions of the Standard Fordor, Standard Fordor (2 window), Deluxe Phaeton, Deluxe Roadster, Deluxe Coupe, Deluxe Fordor (2 window), Victoria, Panel Delivery (drop floor), Special Delivery, Town Car Delivery, “AA” Deluxe Delivery, Deluxe Tudor, Slant Window Cabriolet, Slant Window Standard Fordor, Slant Window Town Sedan, Slant Window Deluxe Fordor (Blindback), Convertible Sedan, Deluxe Pickup and Wide Bed Pickup (box).

Almost every Ford Mod. A car body will be found in this gathering!

Almost every Ford Mod. A car body will be found in this gathering!

From the same FMA gathering.

From the same FMA gathering.

Fun Facts:

  • Riding the roads and the airwaves. The Ford Model A was the subject of the 1928 song, “Henry’s Made a Lady Out of Lizzie,” which sang the praises of Ford’s new addition to the road.
  • The first Model A Ford engine, stamped “A1” by Henry Ford himself on October 20, 1927, was put in a Tudor Sedan that Ford personally drove and tested before giving final approval to begin production of the car. At Henry Ford’s request, the engine was eventually placed in a 1928 Phaeton that was reserved in Dearborn for the use of his friend and fellow innovator, Thomas Edison.

    Henry Ford punches the engine number on the first Ford Model A off the assembly line.

    Henry Ford punches the engine number on the first Ford Model A off the assembly line.

  • The 20 Millionth Ford was a 1931 Ford Model A 160-B Slant Windshield Town Sedan. Accompanied off the assembly line by Henry and Edsel Ford, the black car was lettered on the sides and, so it could be seen from the air, the roof, with “The Twenty Millionth Ford.” The Sedan would be taken on a tour of the U.S., stopping at nearly every Ford territory and dealer along the way. Rumored to be lost in a fire sometime after the publicity tour, the car was discovered in Michigan in 1999. After Ford determined it was indeed “The Twenty Millionth Ford,” the company agreed to lease the car from its current owner. Ford then devoted their resources to a complete restoration of the car in preparation for their 2003 Centennial celebration. As part of the lease agreement, the Town Sedan will be displayed at Ford World Headquarters for the following 10 years.
The Twenty Millionth Ford Model A was a Fordor!

The Twenty Millionth Ford Model A was an 8 window 1931 Ford Model A 160-B Slant Windshield Town Sedan!

Henry Ford and his son Edsel in front od a Mod. A Fordor.

Henry Ford and his son Edsel in front od a Mod. A Fordor.

Text Sourced from: www.macsautoparts.com

Greece in the 1930’s

A period advertisement from the first Ford distributor in Greece, J. Kontellis & Co.

A period advertisement from the first Ford distributor in Greece, J. Kontellis & Co.

Finally, few pictures of our Father’s (Emmanuel V. Riginos) 1929 Ford Mod. A Tudor which he brought to Greece upon his return from an extended 15 year period of immigration to the USA. Upon his return to his homeland, he also brought (importing & distributing) the Atwater Kent radios to Greece in the late 20’s – early 30’s.
He used a 1930 Ford Model A Tudor as his car and on the door panels the round “Atwater Kent Radios” logo was affixed.

Ford Mod. A & KENT RADIO

Here Emmanuel and his brother Alekos Riginos admire a newly erected street side advertisement of the ‘Kent Radio’.

Ford Mod. A w. ATWATER KENT logo


He used a 1930 Ford Model A Tudor as his car and on the door panels the round “Atwater Kent Radios” logo was affixed.

Riginos Bros&Atwater car breakdown-ca.1939

The Ford Model A has broken down! The agony of the moment is captured on the faces of Emmanuel and his other brother George Riginos’s faces.

Manolis Riginos Ford Model A Tudor, bearing Greek License Plate No. 30914.

External links:

Model A Ford Reference Sheet, Owners Manual, and Help

Model A Ford Club of America

Model A Restorers Club

The Model A Barnyard

Ford Model A Assembly Plant in Edgewater NJ

www.fordbarn.com

My YouTube Ford Model A Playlist

Model A/AA Ford Websites

Internal Link:

My Next Classic/Veteran Car Investment?

The VW Käfer is back on the streets!

The finished 1962 VW Beetle made its first 'after the restoration' appearance during the '9th Concours d'Elegance PHILPA 2012'.

The finished 1962 VW Beetle made its first ‘after the restoration’ appearance during the ‘9th Concours d’Elegance PHILPA 2012′.

I am pleased to report that at long last my 1962 VW Käfer restoration project has been completed successfully! And just in time to enter the car in the “9th Concours d’Elegance PHILPA 2012“. The ‘spare no expense’ restoration project lasted about nine months and by all accounts the result is quite stunning.

Picking up the thread of the story since the previous post detailing the process, I add few words before completing the project; the car was loaded on a transporter from the body shop heading to the upholsterer, Christos Tsadilas. There, the TMI upholstery kits were fitted to the car, the front windshield was replaced along with new rubber seals, the carpet kit was improved and fitted.

Here is a short video clip from the unloading sequence:

Afterwards the car was taken to the electrician Stefanos Tokatlian (who had fitted the new wiring loom and had done all the connections), for fitting the new Blaupunkt Frankfurt radio sourced from Koenigs Klassik Radios, plus few other details.

Several last minute missing items were sourced from Oval Dean who carry BBT stock items in Athens, before the car was declared ready. On the first drive home along the highway, the speedo climbed to 110 kph without any hesitation or drama.

The renovated little car with matching numbers is intended to be driven regularly, has normal licenese plates and is pledged to my wife Ivi as a birthday present :-)

Enjoy the photo album here below.

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The body shell (and all parts) has been surfaced immediately after the sandblasting.

The Restoration Project of the 1962 VW Käfer continues

Several friends who know about my venture into the deep waters of yet another ‘ground-up restoration’ project have been asking about its progress. Well here is an update.

After having separated the body from the rolling chassis (see previous post by clicking here), two main tasks have been taken care of:

  • Sandblasting the body shell and it’s already removed parts (bonnet, deck lid, doors, fenders etc.),
  • determining the actual condition of the car and drawing up a ‘parts required’ list

The verdict (and the lesson learned) is that if one plunges into a restoration project, ‘you either do it right or do not do it at all’. What I mean is that only after one skins the shell (in this case by sandblasting), can truly assess the actual condition of the metal, which more often than not, in old cars has been surfaced by several coats of body filler and paint, effectively hiding its true condition. Nasty surprises uncovered? Oh! yes. The bonnet (or front trunk hood) has been badly treated apparently after a front end collision. Ditto for the apron. The spare wheel well bottom looked like a strainer with several pit holes. The door bottom part has been treated badly from a rust attack. The rear deck lid (engine hood) as well as the lower heater channel areas had its own rust malaise’s. All these parts are characterized as ‘B.L.R.’ (i.e. Beyond Local Repair) and need to be replaced.

Back to the drawing board. That is the list of spare parts required grew longer than initially anticipated. While sourcing parts on the Internet is a great boon for any restorer, believe me the task of searching, identifying parts, comparing prices, determining delivery availability and summing up the costs from many vendors is a very time-consuming job! I ended up breaking the purchase orders from three sources: VW Heritage in England, Custom Speed Parts in Germany and BBT4VW.com in Belgium via its local new agent and friend Oval Dean Parts. Orders were placed, screened, verified, negotiated and awaited for taking delivery. Overall about 200 items were included in the lists. Few days ago I took partial deliveries from the three suppliers while back orders are still outstanding and will be forthcoming in the near future.

Blaupunkt Frankfurt radio for VW Beetles

And what about a period correct sound system? To my rescue comes a great German classic car radios provider (who supplied the Becker radio for my Mercedes-Benz 250SE Coupé), the firm www.koenigs-klassik-radios.de. The proper radio model, the Blaupunkt Frankfurt special car radio for VW beetle and speaker plus antenna and iPod/iPhone/iPad cable have also been selected. What about the cost of all these parts? Way out of my initial budget calculations. But as I said, you either do it or you don’t! No regrets as the end result will be such a good one which will certainly make me feel proud! :-)

So here is a brief slide-show of the tasks at hand so far. We now have plenty of spare parts to go on with the Käfer restoration.

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June Update:

The rolling chassis has been treated and repainted.

The restoration works are progressing at a slower pace than I would have liked but as the proverbial saying “it takes some time to cook a good meal”, I have now complaints. The gear box has been entrusted to Labros Dimitriou in Melissia, the half axles and rear drums have been removed and now repainted while the sourcing of parts is underway to replace the faulty synchronizer rings before the box is reassembled and complete.

Similarly the floor pan has been scraped and repainted by my guys at A & B For Cars. More rusty spots have been treated and some hand-made metal parts have been skillfully fabricated. My new friend Tassos Baxevanakis has been most helpful in sourcing used but in excellent condition major body parts as front hood, rear deck lid and both doors. The hard to find correct 1926 rear engine lid was found and shipped from Sweden! Both front and rear aprons have been replaced by new parts and the front hood has been fitted.

The TMI Co. interior upholstery kit has arrived!

Just a week ago three parcels arrived from England, shipped by VW Heritage, containing all the important TMI Co. upholstery kits. Boy do their quality and perfection will make my “De Luxe” Beetle looking so good when finished. ;-)

This question jumps-up. WHEN? To be frank I have no idea. There is so much more ground to cover. With almost all the required parts now gathered, on that department we look good. But the summer months are already upon us. That translates to more delays as shops will close for summer vacations and so on. Mentally I will set a target for the Bug to be back in the streets of Athens in her reincarnated form by the middle of September. As it was similar in the case of my Mercedes-Benz 250SE Coupe project, I would like to have the car ready to participate in the PHILPA 41st International Rally 2012, a major Regularity event this year taking the streets of Pelion (see here: 41st In’t Rally 2102 English).

July-August Update:

The rear apron had to be aligned and made to fit properly…

During July and most of August the progress of the restoration was slow due to a number of problems which had to be resolved. First the LH door that was sourced proved to be of a slightly later model year and had to be modified around the hinge areas to make it fit. The engine lid which was sourced from Sweden also required some metal work to treat some rust and fit the handle cylinder lock to an oversized hole.The rear apron which was sourced as a new replacement part from CSP Germany was way out of spec in terms of size and form. Plenty of hours were spent to make it true. The RH side windshield post was damaged to the extent that a replacement was sought. This proved to be difficult, so my body shop guys had to also spend extra time to heat it up, reform it and bring it back to spec, ensuring a good fit for the windshield glass without water ingress from the rubber seal.

Having overcome these challenges successfully, the body became ready for its final treatment and preparations before entering the paint oven. As planned, the color had to be the same as per the original specs of the factory, as attested in the ‘Zertifikat”, i.e. the L 469 Anthracite.  In early August of 2012, the color recipe was cooked by Master Painter Costa Vitaliotis  and the Käfer shell was carefully and lovingly resprayed.

Milestone moment: the Bug has be repainted to its original factory Anthracite L469 color!

At the same time, two other tasks were taken care of. First the old, original gear box was rebuilt as the synchro mesh of the

The gear box is refitted to the rolling chassis and mated with the engine.

2nd gear had weakened. Upon inspection, the 1st gear mesh was also replaced as did all the seals and axle boots. Prior to reassembly, the half axles were repainted black as well as the drum assemblies. The completed g-box looked nice while the first test drive will prove if the ‘surgery’ was successful.

Second, the old seat covers were removed from the seat frames and the frames were scrubbed and painted in light ivory as per their original color. Next, a friendly upholsterer was recommended by a friend who was doing up the interior of his newly acquired 1962 Jaguar Mk II and was quite happy with the quality of his workmanship. One hot afternoon I loaded up all the seat frames along with the TMI Inc. upholstery kits and ventured to west side Athens to meet my new collaborator, Christos Tsadilas.  After inspecting his work on my friend’s Jag, touching bases and helping him to file an application for a FIVA card on his Dodge Charger classic, a deal was struck ‘on the interior job’ and we agreed to bring the car to him prior to fitting the front and rear windshields so that he could also fit the new headliner.

The engine-trans-axle-gear box assembly has been refitted to the rolling chassis.

Finally back at the A & B For Cars body shop, the guys started to reassemble the trans-axle and engine onto the reconditioned chassis. All the engine tinware and fan doghouse were repainted flat black and the new screws were fitted from the appropriate kit provided by VW Heritage.

Next task: re-mating the body to the rolling chassis!

More updates will be forthcoming…

The Restoration Project of the Käfer has started

In my other post of mid December 2011 titled A 1962 VW Beetle joins the ‘family’, I had outlined the new acquisition and mentioned about the plan to proceed with a sympathetic restoration of this fun car to which I have become emotionally attached.

Not without some delays, the resto project has commenced as of Monday 5th March. I have entrusted the work to my competent body shop friends of A & B For Cars who had done such a good job couple of years ago on my other car, the Mercedes-Benz 250SE Coupé.

Since the VW Beetle is a much simpler and smaller vehicle compared to the Mercedes, but also having gone through the previous Mercedes project experience, I am now more knowledgeable, hence confident that we will proceed with a relatively quick pace. An important factor pertains to human relationships. Through the years, I have built trusting and friendly relationships with the owners Gregory and Costa, as well as with their staff and Manos, the shop’s foreman who is looking after my Käfer! The target is to have the car ready for Easter. Sort of like a little ‘half egg shaped’ present. In addition, I have done some preparatory research on parts availability; as expected for such a popular car which had endured a long life with 18+ million examples produced, the issue of sourcing spare parts is de facto solved. There are many specialists involved with the VW brand both in Europe, the USA, South America and Asia of course.

We are currently verifying the “parts needed list” in order to proceed with placing purchase orders. The guys at A & B suggest that we take off the body, have it sand blasted and thus allowing for working on the floor pan with much ease and thoroughness. Budgetary estimates are being prepared for this (and only) scenario. So far the verdict is that we have a rather sound body with very little rust spots and an even better looking floor pan. Not so many worries (or additional expenses). :-)

So here is what I saw yesterday after the initial stripping:

The restoration was started on 5 March 2012

Wheel arches show no rust

The rear LH valance from the inside: few issues here

The LH inner fender rust spot: not so difficult to fix

Inner door condition is good with some rust in the bottom area.

The view from the rear, prior to engine removal

Wed. 7th March 2012 update: ‘Houston we have Lift-Off’, the body was separated from the chassis

The body shell hovers over the chassis! Perhaps this temporary separation has occurred for the first time after a tight, faithful marriage of over 50 years!

Today as I visited the body shop, the Käfer was just being readied for lift-off! That is all the bolts holding the body shell firmly mated to the rolling chassis had been removed, ditto for the wiring. Manos, the shop’s Foreman was making sure that nothing was forgotten, the last item to be disconnected was the speedo cable. The body was manually cracked open and the lifter arms were adjusted so that by pressing the Up button it would be raised evenly and without much effort. Carefully coordinating the intermittent pressings of the button by an assistant, the body was lifted-off without any mishap.

Rear quarter panel is rusted nicely and will be replaced.

Upon closer examination of both body and floor-pan, the verdict revealed few more rust spots, mainly in the body undersides, in the area of the heater tubes which run alongside the door sills. A known source of pain for VW Beetles. In addition, few more rust spots became evident on the rear quarter panels onto which the bumper brackets are being mounted. Luckily such panels are readily available from a number of sources, among which the VWHERITAGE guys in the UK.

Other than these pains in the aforementioned areas, there were no further nasty surprises upon the separation of the body from the chassis, such having occurred for the first time after a tight and faithful German marriage, residing in sunny dry Greece, for over 50 years!

Watch the ‘separation’ video clip here below:

Here are few more impressive pictures from the operation:

I love this particular picture which captures almost an unreal sight ;-)

The rolling chassis

Attention Low Riders: you cannot go any lower than this! ;-)

A 1962 VW Beetle joins the ‘family’

Preface

The story of the Volkswagen Beetle is well known; it was designed by Ferdinand Porsche to provide cheap transport for the hard working German masses, hence the name, the “People’s Car”. For the myriad other names given to this popular car click here! Initially they were built in very small numbers before and during World War II; later the Beetle literally rose from the ashes of Volkswagen’s bombed-out Wolfsburg factory to become an instant success across Europe, Britain, America and virtually every other country in the world.
The model evolved through various facelifts and numerous mechanical changes – there were more than 70,000 identifiable modifications – while it also provided a platform for other models, including military (such as the Kübelwagen and the remarkable Schwimmwagen), commercial vehicles (such as the Type 2 Bus) and sporting derivatives such as those by Karmann-Ghia. It was this constant development and attention to detail which allowed the Beetle to maintain its remarkable sales success , and as production raced past the 15,000,000 mark, the Beetle went on to be known as ‘The Best Selling’ car of all time. But this record was eventually superseded by the VW Golf.

My story

My old VW Beetle named Marlen, during College years (ca. 1972), here in Aspen, Colorado.

Readers of my Cars & More pages in this Blog may have noticed that while I was in Lake Forest College (during the early 70’s), I had obtained an old 1962 VW Beetle, into which later on had thrusted a rebuilt by-my-own-hands Porsche 356 engine in the back bay, turning the little car into a nondescript hot-rod; eventually converting the Bug into a wicked Autodynamics Deserter GT beach-buggy that accompanied me back home to Greece after graduation on board the super-liner SS Michelangelo.

The 1962 Beetle as I first encountered her in the Corinth storage of the ‘Smile of a Child’ Org.

I guess that the notion of re-living those long gone days of innocence and thirst for an adrenaline fueled life, was in the back of my head for some time. And out of the blue, the opportunity to acquire another 1962 Beetle came sometime in the spring of 2011. In April a bunch of car aficionados  had successfully formed the “Car Friends Close Group“, a small private Face Book Group of friends who share their passion and love about anything on wheels. We then organized an event with our cars showing in a private collector’s garage aiming to raise funds for ‘a good cause’ in support of the Smile of Child, a well known Greek NGO (http://www.hamogelo.gr). Since the President of the NGO is an ex colleague from the IT Business, he asked me to help him in selling some old cars that were donated few years ago to the organization. Arrangements were  made for me to visit the storage area in Corinth in order to take pictures and evaluate the cars on his behalf. Lo and behold, when the gates were opened I first encountered a 1973 R107 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL and right behind a 1962 Type 113 VW Beetle (aka Käfer) in anthracite color. Having myself bought just few months ago an immaculate R107 (see The Day I met “Princes Grace” post) I had no interest for yet another one in need of restoration. But the Beetle touched my soft spot; I had to rescue this neglected but quite original and in sound condition example. I must confess that among all my classic or modern cars, the Beetle, named Marlen II, currently commands the highest emotional charge! ;-)

The “just arrived” Porsche 356 engine in a box!

Rewinding on the story a parenthesis is due; the idea of re-living my College year’s of owning an early 60’s  VW Beetle powered by a 356 Porsche engine, included a quest to source an appropriate unit for rebuilding and then fitting (a straight bolt on job) it to the newly acquired Beetle. Seeking such in Greece was unsuccessful; Enter in the picture a generous and noted Porsche cars collector, a Greek-American friend, Myron Vernis, who upon learning via e-mail exchanges of my quest, graciously offered to provide such a unit as a present to me! Ain’t that nice? Hence, after many arrangements done by my other close Greek car collector friend, Alex Vazeos, one September morning the 356 engine arrived at my garage in a crate, directly from Ohio, USA! I am most grateful about getting “a little help from my friends!” :-)

Just about ready to unload the Bug on “Terra Attica” after its journey from Corinth.

Closing the parenthesis, back to present, making a longish story short, after negotiating with my ex colleague for a two car deal, I was able to get yet another Greek car collector friend of mine interested in the Merc R107; hence we concluded the purchase of both cars in late October 2011. I made arrangements for both to be loaded on a car transport truck and delivered to our respective workshops in Athens. I took delivery of Marlen II on Friday afternoon 18th of November at the premises of my trusted body shop, the A & B FOR CARS in Geraka (the friendly guys who did such a nice job on the “ground-up” restoration project of 2010 for my 1967 Mercedes-Benz W111 250 SE Coupé. Click here for the related stories). The drums of anticipation jumped gear thumping faster as I heard the truck’s diesel engine maneuvering outside the body shop’s gate. I had not inspected the car carefully while in its Corinthian storage, as there was not enough room nor had I the possibility to raise the car and examine at the undercarriage for rust spots. It was sort of a “blind date” purchase and now after several months of dreaming about the little car, I was going to face the truth, good or bad…

The relevant ‘Apocalypse Now!’ video clip is here-below; Manos’ expert eye confirms that the undercarriage is original, rust-free and unmolested. “Poly Kalo!” (Very Good! was his verdict). The car has not suffered any injuries from any serious crash accident and there would be little intervention to be done in her underbelly aside from a thorough steam cleaning and wax-oiling! A pleasant surprise :-)

Engine Number: it turned out that this is indeed the original engine!

After some more documenting pictures were taken, I left the car there and headed for home (on the way I decided to offer Marlen II as a birthday present to my beloved wife Ivi, her anniversary being on Sunday 20th November)! Full of excitement about all that was eager and thirsty to hit the web and start researching about her birth date and many other Käfer related details.  Her chassis No. 4 725 111 revealed that the official model is “113, VW De Luxe Sedan”, manufactured in May 1962; in addition, the engine No. 6 766 861 means that it pumps out 34 DIN PS with a displacement of 1.2 Liter. For more details I would have to await the receipt of the official ‘Zertifikat’ applied for from the Stifung AutoMuseum Volkswagen, Schatzkammer der Marke.

On the following Saturday morning the primary task was to start the engine! Of course the 6 Volt battery was dead so I had to ‘borrow’ the one from our 1956 Citroen Traction Avant! Armed with a ‘light’ toolbox and the extracted battery plus a spray can of ether engine starter, I proceeded to A & B FOR CARS to do the honors.

VW engine key (aka key to happiness)!

The VW speedometer indicates some 80’s kilometrage…

After cleaning the battery terminals and positioning the fresh power source in its tray under the rear seat bench-(also not rusted), I removed the carb air cleaner and was ready to turn the ignition key. I asked one of the guys to assist by only squirting ether twice inside the carb barrel. Ready? Ignition: on the second cranking the air-cooled motor without much ado, spurted to life! I could not believe my eyes, ears and nose. All three senses acted in unison as a total recall to long forgotten but familiar VW Beetle sounds and smells. My new ’49-years old’ VW was purring, revving at higher idle as a cold engine should. No excessive smoke nor valve train clutter was noticed. The red indicator charging/oil pressure ‘idiot light’ on the speedometer instrument going out as it was supposed to. Good omens for an unusually warm and sunny late November Saturday morning. I was very happy indeed! :-) A time capsule? Who knows how long ago it was when the engine was last used? How many previous owners? Are the 81310 kilometers indicated in the odometer true and correct? Further inspection and getting to know my Marlen II would sooner or later piece together some of the puzzle pieces of her past life.

The first steam cleaning attempt of Marlen II was half done: the machine broke down! :-(

Next stop was at the cleaners! Unluckily my friendly Pakistani hot pressure water equipped car washer was not available, so I had to hunt in the neighborhood for an alternate. After several gas station stops, one had the right equipment and was willing to undertake the job. A lot of old grease and caked oil had accumulated in the rear engine and gear box area as well as in the front torsion bar suspension. While at it, his Karcher machine broke down… :-( The job was half done and the bill was reduced. Oh well, Kumar will do it properly for me come Monday.

A more detailed picture album of the car can be viewed by clicking HERE!

Overhauling the brakes at Cabilis Performance ‘clean’ shop.

Next task was to change the vital juices: engine oil, gearbox oil, brake fluid. In addition to check on the road safety of the car in areas of steering, suspension, brakes, electrics (lights, turning indicators, horn, windshield wipers etc). These items were taken care of (the juices by Christos Economou VW Service) and the rest by Cabilis Performance, a VW specialist conveniently located only one block away from my garage! In between five new tires were fitted and the wheels dynamically balanced.

The mechanical repairs effected so far (Dec 2011) include:

  • Brakes overhaul (new master cylinder, wheel cylinders, linings, hoses, bleeders)
  • Front end (new steering damper, tie rod ends, wheel bearings cleaned & greased, new shock absorbers, travel end ‘stop’ rubbers)
  • Rear end (re-tuned torsion bars as the car was sitting too high, new shock absorbers, travel end ‘stop’ rubbers)
  • Engine (new distributor assembly, spark plugs and HT wires, valves adjusted, carb cleaned, fuel filter fitted in non-conspicuous spot, replaced gear shift lever with original one)
  • Electrics (headlights replaced, light bulbs checked, horn, dome light, windshield wiper motor, wiper arms, windshield washer line replaced, generator coils re-winded and new bearing fitted).

The engine bay is quite original. In this pic after replacing the distributor and overhauling the generator.

What is interesting to note is that the Cabilis people (father and two sons) report that the engine has not been opened and its compression test was good and even! Aside from establishing that the engine is a “matching numbers” case, this good news supports the possibility that the indicated 80k kilometers might also be true. In the mean time, the “Zertifikat” along with the confirming letter stating that “that the above engine number is that of the original engine”, came via post just the other day. Considering all the above, I am now in a dilemma about replacing the original-in good condition-engine with the more powerful Porsche 356 unit as originally planned. That issue will be resolved in the near future as the restoration project progresses during 2012…

Marlen’s II birth “Zertificat” as issued by the VW AutoMuseum

The VW Museum Letter confirming engine “matching numbers” dated 30.11.2011.

Next phase of repairs to commence in January 2012 will cover the following areas:

  • Body shop work (addressing the few rot spots, stripping and sanding and respraying to the original color “L 469 Anthracite”, replacing front and rear bumpers, sand blasting and respraying the wheels to the original color “L 471 Stone Beige”, replacing front & rear windshield seals, all other rubbers and seals etc).
  • Upholstery work (replacing seat upholstery according to the factory fitted “M 079 Upholstery leatherette” and the head liner of the original 1960-62 style in light gray nap cloth perforated type, fitting the proper carpet set as the original tan colored German square weave material, plus anything else required so that the car will be in an as much original condition as possible).

Hopefully we will not get as analytic during the preservation phase!

Preparing for implementing that exciting phase of the restoration, I have delved in appropriate VW parts sources and related info which I list below as a reference for other interested Beetle loving friends and readers:

To be continued as the restoration progresses!

The day I met “Lillibet” a.k.a. Daimler Double Six Series 3

As some readers of my web-log may recall, I was lusting during this spring/summer period after the acquisition of a Ford Model ‘A’ ca. 1930. For several reasons beyond my control, this quest did not materialize. Circumstances or fate had it that a much younger siren would whisper songs of lust into my ears and cast her beautiful lines and soft leathery souled interior cum primordial smells upon me. Her uplifted condition and metallic blue color with sliding roof to gaze upon the stars while parked along a Greek coastal twisty road, was also cool. Cooler even was the output of her primitive but efficient climate control, a parameter important to me as I sweat easily.

A good car collector friend had similarly fallen for this 1991 Daimler Double Six Series 3, an up-market Jaguar XJ12 model, just few months earlier. “I simply had to buy her, cars like that in such a good condition are rarely to be found in Greece”, he once told me. When the time came for him to update and focus his unique car collection an offer to buy was placed upon me. We took the car out for a spin on a mid-July evening which ended with a pleasant dinner on a coastal, chic Vouliagmeni Italian restaurant. The ride was excellent, while the amount of smoothness ensured by the V12 legendary Jaguar engine, simply had not been experienced by me before. I said to my friend that “I will sleep on the idea” and headed for home in my sweet GLK.

The car as I first saw her. Her beautiful lines and shape, penned by none other than Pininfarina during the Series 3 upgrade, did not go unnoticed...

Next morning there was a lot of Googling and researching on the Double Six story and checking of International market values and offers. Negotiating softly on the asking price, soon a deal was struck on a Friday morning. During that week-end many deeper Internet searches revealed several aspects of the car, familiarized with the XJ6 and XJ12 stories and so on. Photographs taken during the test drive session kept the new infatuation alive and well. Hence arrangements were made to drive by my friends garage on Monday evening on our way back from an extended w-e in Kea island, to take delivery of the car.

Queen Elizabeth II driving her Daimler Double Six

Breaking the news to spouse of a new big saloon, large engined, powerful young classic was an issue. Did that ala Walt Disney with fast moving photos sliding along the iPad screen while on the ferry. The myth added (a fact) was that Queen Elizabeth II had owned exactly the same model and blue colored luxury car. See here this story: Queen Elizabeth II’s 1984 Daimler Double Six LWB up for auction — Autoblog. Took delivery of the car in Glyfada and drove off north to lock her up in the garage without much fuss so as to avoid any unnecessary feminine nagging. Besides, my entire next day would be devoted to “Lillibet“. First driving impressions: big car, torquey, excellent brakes, lovely feeling on the palms of that polished wooden rimmed steering wheel. Studied the “Owners Manual” on the couch before falling asleep. It had been a full and eventful day.

The OEM FM radio-cassette unit bearing the Jaguar logo.

Given that we had to drive my mother-in-law and her “au pair” lady to central Greece on Thursday for her summer vacation stint, we set for a round trip same day 700 km dash; I thought that this presented a lovely opportunity for an extended test drive of the new acquisition. Although the car was recently serviced by my previous owner friend and reported as being “in excellent condition”, few items required attention. One head light bulb was off, so while at it, Panayotis (my auto electrician at Gerakas) replaced both by fitting HID lamps all around. My friend had also sourced an original Jaguar stereo cassette sound system from the USA. Alas such radio sets do not tune in to odd numbered FM frequencies which are common in Europe. The idea of traveling for eight plus hours without a proper sound system was impossible to bear.

Cockpit view with the new Sony radio installed. Note the USB white wire and the convenient remote-control.

Hence I bought a modern Sony MEX-BT3900U with Bluetooth, player of MP3/CD’s, including USB, front AUX input and remote-control. Not a period unit (the OEM unit was packaged away with cherish), but impressively high-tech; Panos had to carefully remove the central console veneers and arm rest storage bin in order to extract the old unit and wire in the modern device. Ipso facto, upon completion, I easily connected my iPhone, received and made hands free calls, played selections from iTunes either via BT or via USB while also recharging. The car’s electric rear antenna functioned well with the unit and although has a 4 X 52 Watt rating, pumps out enough power to deliver undistorted all around sounds via the built in six speakers of the Double Six. “Now you are cooking with gas!” I muttered to myself upon driving away from my faithful electrician who had professionally done all the electrics during last year’s restoration project of the M-B 250 SE Coupe. Almost ready to depart? Not just quite. The passenger front door lock cylinder had lost its internal retaining forked clip, thus loosened and popping out suspiciously. Fiddling with it, the door locked permanently :-(  Ouch! How could spouse get in and out of the car with her door being shut tight? To the rescue came my expert body-shop guys of A+B For Cars. They managed to get the lock loose, open-up the entire RH indoor facing, fish out the dropped clip, grease the undone linkages and reassemble properly the whole lot within two hours. Now we were ready for tomorrows hot weather, 700 km test drive.

The Beginnings of Daimler

The British based automobile producer, Daimler Motor Car Company, was based in Coventry and has origins dating back to 1896. In 1893, Frederick Simms purchased the patent rights to the Gottlieb Daimler’s engine, and formed a company named the ‘Daimler Motor Syndicate.’ Daimler, a German engineer, had patented an engine design and worked closely with Wilhelm Maybach to create the first motorcycle in 1885. Their first four-wheeled car was created a few years later, in 1889. They later formed the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, also known as DMG or Daimler Motor Company.

1932 Radiator Mascot of Daimler Double Six. Source: http://www.conceptcarz.com

The Daimler Motor Company, based in Cannstatt, would continue in business until 1926. The company relocated to Stuttgart-Untertürkheim in 1903; Daimler had passed away in 1900 and a fire had destroyed the original factory a short time later. During the early years of the company, they produced petrol engines and sold the rights and patents for use of these engines. They dabbled in the creation of racing cars and enjoyed much success. This lead to the production of the Mercedes model in 1902. From this point, automobile production became their main business and they offered a variety of models over the years. In 1926, DMG merged with Benz & Cie, and formed Daimler-Benz and used Mercedes-Benz as its trademark automobile. In 1998, a merger with Chrysler created the DaimlerChrysler Corporation.

The early years of automobile production was very uncertain. Public opinion about motorized vehicles were mixed, with many fearing the contraptions. They were loud, noise, dirty, smoky, and at times, unpredictable. They often spooked the live-stock and sent horse-drawn carriages into chaos. In Britain, they solved this problem by requiring each motorized vehicle to be escorted by a person on foot, who would wave a bright red flag and warn all those in its path of its arrival. This would give ample time to prepare for the noisy contraptions and to secure their livestock. This did little to promote the use of motorized car.

Mr. Simms held onto his patent rights for only a short while, before selling in 1896 to Harry Lawson, who formed the ‘Daimler Motor Company’ in the city of Coventry. This, of course, causes confusion as there were two companies with the name, Daimler. The license to use the name ‘Daimler’ was sold to a number of countries, which adds another degree of confusion. To help alleviate this confusion, the name ‘Mercedes’ was used by Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft for the cars that they produced after 1902. 1908 was the final year that the name ‘Daimler’ was used on a German built car.

British based Daimler
The British based Daimler Company is Britain’s oldest marque. The cars they built were powered by German engines with chassis designs very similar to those of Panhard & Lavasseur. The Daimler cars immediately appealed to the wealthy, Royalty, and the socially elite. Their chassis platforms were appropriate for the finest of coachwork and capable of satisfying the demands of their elite group of clientele. They would continue this stately business for many years, with little competition from other British marques, until Rolls-Royce came onto the scene.

In 1908, Daimler acquired a license for the Knight engine which featured sleeve valves and allowed the engine to operate in a much quieter fashion. This technology was in use by several United States automobile makers, though the high-cost of production limited it to mainly high-end automobile production. The quiet operation was made possible by using a sliding valve to operate the intake and exhaust ports. The valves required lots of lubrication which often resulted in smoke. The popular alternative to the sleeve valve was a camshaft actuated valve which rattled and created noise.

Daimler’s line-up of vehicles consisted of six-cylinder engines until the mid-1920s, when the Double Six came onto the scene. It was designed by their chief engineer, Laurence H. Pomeroy. It used a similar design to the six-cylinder engine, which consisted of two-sets of three cylinders. The Double Six engine was basically two six-cylinder engines in vee-configuration with each bank having their own intake, exhaust and ignition system. Pomeroy used a new aluminum crankcase and modified the sleeve-valve design. The oil consumption of the sleeve-valve was reduced by replacing the cast-iron valves with steel, and forming them to have a better fit. The result was a twelve-cylinder engine capable of producing an impressive 150 horsepower.

1932 Daimler Double Six. Source: http://www.conceptcarz.com

In 1926, Daimler introduced their Double Six which remained in production until the mid-1930s. During that time, only a limited number of examples were created. At most, there were seventy-five created, with as few as a one-third of that estimate. All were unique and tailed to the customer’s requests, including the displacement size of the engine. Some were two-doors, others had four. They were very popular with royalty, including King George of Britain who ordered two limousine examples, both had seating for seven.

The elegant bodies rode atop of a steel ladder frame chassis which varied in length depending on the customers requests. The body configurations favored luxury, but some were sporty including a number of drop-top models. One unique example, designed by Reid Railton and built by Thompson and Taylor, had a low, underslung rear end.

The early models were known as the 50 and 30, which was in reference to their displacement size. The 50 had a 7136cc displacement size while the 30 feature a 3477cc size. These were replaced in the early 1930s by the 30/40 and the 40/50. The 30/40 had a 5.3-liter engine and the 40/50 displaced 6.5 liters. Improvements continued throughout the years, including to the lubrication system and a new gearbox, a preselector unit.

Production continued until 1935, though a final example was created in 1937 to use up surplus supplies.
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2007. Source: conceptcarz.com

More on the Daimler marque history can be found here: http://www.thoroughbred-cars.com/cars/UK/Daimler/history.htm

Fast forward to more recent times:

The company was purchased by Jaguar Cars in 1960. After the introduction of the Daimler DR450 new models used Jaguar bodies with Daimler grilles and badging. Daimler remains in the ownership of Jaguar Cars which now belongs to Tata Group of India.

In 1979 Jaguar unveiled the Series 3 which remained in production until 1992. The famous design studio, Pininfarina, had been tasked with incorporating design enhancements for the long-wheelbase version. The results were stunning. The Series III were powered by six- and 12-cylinder engines. In six-cylinder form, the owner could select either the 3.4-liter or 4.2-liter unit. The V12 unit had 5.3-liters in displacement size. The larger six-cylinder engine and the 12-cylinder unit both utilized Bosch fuel injection. The smaller six used carburetors and now offered for sale in the US.

Daimler Double Six

1986–1988 Daimler Double Six (XJ Series III)

From 1972 Jaguar’s 5.3 litre V12 engine was available in the XJ range, and for the Daimler version a name used by the company from 1926 to 1938 was revived. Sir William Lyons had retired from Jaguar in 1972 and the new chairman was FRW (Lofty) England. Lofty England had been a Daimler apprentice from 1927 to 1932 and taken second place in the first ever RAC rally driving a 30/40 hp Daimler double-six. Lofty England decreed that the new V12 Daimler would be known as Double Six.

Unlike the Jaguar, the twelve-cylinder Daimler had the same radiator grille as its six-cylinder sibling, and externally only the badges distinguished them. Although the Sovereign name was transferred to Jaguar, the Double Six name remained with Daimler throughout Series III production, which continued until 1992.

In total, there were 132,952 examples of the Series III produced. A small percentage of those, 10,500, were equipped with the 12-cylinder engine. In 1987 Jaguar ceased production of the Series III XJ with the six-cylinder engines. The Series III with the 12-cylinder power-plant continued until 1992.

The Series III brought with it cruise control and a sunroof as optional equipment. The Vanden Plas option was introduced in 1982 and intended for the US market. This designation indicated the top-of-the-line offering for the Jaguar XJ which included the twelve-cylinder engine and many luxury items as standard equipment.

Byron’s 1991 Daimler Double Six

Here are some pictures of my Double Six, affectionately named “Lillibet” after Queen Elizabeth II’s nickname, who owned exactly the same car. ;-)

Daimler Double Six side view

Daimler Double Six rear view at Lake Plastira area

Daimler Double Six radiator grille detail

Automobile Club de Monaco emblem

Automobile Club de Monaco emblem. The S.P.M. initials at the base of the crown stands for "Sovereign Prince of Monaco" (click on the picture to enlarge).

The Daimler monogram on the radiator fluted ornamentation.

Daimler Double Six rear end with insignia and dual exhaust pipes.

An additional photo album of the car can be viewed by clicking here!

My next classic/veteran car investment?

My father's Ford Model A Tudor ca. 1936 in Athens

Readers of my blog may have seen the page Cars & More where there is a mention of one of my father’s early cars of the mid thirties, namely a Ford Model A Tudor. I have this very photograph in a frame in our living room. Stricken with the flu these last few days, I was expelled from the master bedroom and spent several nights on the couch. My eyes kept looking at this picture and after a while the idea just clicked: wouldn’t be nice if I managed to get my hands on a Model A? Not only it would be the first pre-war car in the collection but I would sense and feel how my dad went about his daily business in the streets of Athens during the mid thirties! The more I pondered on the idea the more sense it made. A search on E-Bay and Hemmings revealed an adequate supply of these models in the vast American market. Dwelling deeper into Henry’s creations, soon enough I was convinced that a Roadster Model A would be more fun and appropriate for the dry, sunny weather of my Mediterranean country.  All these inputs being quite encouraging and inspiring, but was I really ready to shop from far away? Without seeing and test driving the prospective wheels? And then agonizing about shipment in a container by sea, plus going through the chores of clearing Greek customs upon landing and so on?

The answer to all these questions and concerns was a loud NO. But as it happens often in life, good fortune (or bad being just as easily present) came my way. By coincidence and circumstance I learned about a car collection being liquidated in Northern Greece. Soon enough a list of cars for sale appeared, among them one being a “1931 Ford”. Just that, no further details or even a picture was provided. With two other “gear-head” friends we flew bright and early to Thessaloniki on a Thursday of May 2011 aiming to examine several interesting examples. The suspense was mounting. Would that Ford be a Model A? And if so, which body type? The list of models good old Henry produced was endless:
Convertible Sedan (A-400)

My Dad's Ford Model A facing technical problems!

Business Coupe  or plain Coupe
Deluxe Coupe or Sport Coupe
Standard Coupe
Standard Fordor Sedan – Murray
Standard Fordor Sedan – Briggs
Deluxe Fordor Sedan – Murray
Deluxe Fordor Sedan – Briggs
Leatherback Fordor Sedan
Standard Fordor Sedan – Slant windshield
Mail Truck
Panel Truck
Phaeton 2-door
Phaeton 4-door
Deluxe Service Pickup
Roadster Pickup
Pickup
Deluxe Pickup
Standard Roadster
Deluxe Roadster
Sport Roadster
Station Wagon
Taxi Cab
Town Car
Town Car Delivery
Standard Tudor Sedan
Deluxe Tudor Sedan
Victoria
Wood Panel Delivery… Amen!

I controlled my curiosity, in a way similar to a kid who savors his sweet candy; after evaluating thoroughly two Mercedes cars (a 300d Cabriolet and a 220 SE Cabriolet, both of 1960 vintage), and not as yet having spotted any pre-war cars in the storage hall, I inquired about the old Ford’s whereabouts. ‘Aha! We have to go to the other hall in the back”, came the answer from the collector’s son who was escorting us that fine morning.

First glimpse of the 1931 Ford Mod A Roadster!

Lo and behold! A nice looking 1931 Ford Model A Roadster was positioned and resting on quatropod car stands. Exactly the body version I was thinking about including that fun adding rear rumble seat!  :-) Controlling myself for yet another time, with my Mag-Lite in one hand and digital camera strapped on the neck, I started scrutinizing the veteran old lady quite thoroughly. An older restoration but a decent one. All parts there. Dual spare wheels with chained mirrors on them. Wind wing deflecting glass. Single Trico windshield wiper of the vacuum type. Vinyl brown color upholstery. Tidy engine bay. No radiator ornament but fitted with a stone guard, no trunk box in the back, no air filter in the Zenith carb. Clean undercarriage, some oil marks on the cement floor. Not the greatest color combination, but…

Could this be my next investment in fun and a ticket to ride on the Emmanuel Riginos family car sentiments lane? Possibly so; the coming days will reveal what the fate of this 80 year old Model A will be. Will she find a new home with abundant tender loving care? A new pampered life with many happy outings and several old car rallies?

These cars are simple and durable. All parts can be sourced.

P.S. in my recent College reunion trip to the USA, as I was driving through East Dennis in Cape Cod, I saw a beautiful Model A Tudor. Made a U-turn and snapped few pictures of this smartly restored car, exactly the model my Dad owned in the mid thirties!

The smartly restored Ford Mod. A Tudor encountered in Cape Cod-June 2011

1929 Ford Mod. A rear view, East Dennis, Cape Cod-June 2011

Nice front end look of the 1929 Ford Model A Tudor :-)

The Day I met “Princess Grace” a.k.a. 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SL

A new member completes the three pronged Mercedes-Benz Star collection in Byron’s Classic Car Garage!

1987 Mercedes-Benz 560 SL (R107.048/M.117.967)

Chassis R107 E 56, Engine M117 E 56

Technology & Luxury Made In Germany!

My newest acquisition, the 560 SL, tenderly nicknamed "Grace"

I start the new year 2011 with a nice addition in my classic car collection, in such a way that the three points of the Mercedes-Benz Star have now become balanced and complete; in other words I now have three M-B models: the modern 2009 GLK 300 (X204) Compact SUV with all-wheel drive (4-Matic) and the advanced G7 automatic gear-box, the elegant 1967 250 SL Coupé Automatic and now the 1987 560 SL (R107), a late model exported only to the US market, fitted with a powerful and torquey V-8 of 5.6 Liters. I named her “Grace” or “Princess Grace” or “Amazing Grace” for a number of reasons. First is about her color, the DB 441, “Desert Taupe” or “Impala Brown” or “hellbeige” in German, supplemented by impeccable creamy leather interior. There is no doubt about her being a blond! Second reason, pertains to her timeless, quite graceful design cues of the R107 body (a replacement of the 230/250/280 SL’s a.k.a “Pagode” or W113); a long lived elegant “Sport Leicht” model produced from 1971 up to 1989, being the second longest single series ever produced by Daimler-Benz A.G., after the G-Class.

Grace Kelly driving a cabriolet in the movie "To Catch a Thief" ca. 1955

Although a “muscle car” of 5,549 c.c. pumping out 227 hp SAE (169 kW) @ 5,200 rpm’s and with a massive torque of 287 lb·ft (389 N·m) @ 3,500 rpm’s, all mated to a smooth 4-speed automatic gearbox, this car is very easy and comfortable to drive. Some of the most famous celebrities, iconic symbols of the American dream, could be seen in films or TV series sitting behind the wheel of an R107 SL: Bobby Ewing in Dallas, Richard Gere in American Gigolo, Jonathan Hart in Hart to Hart and even Eddie Murphy, in the first Beverly Hills Cop. A real star on four wheels that fully lives up to the Mercedes-Benz name, a fact well appreciated by many Hollywood stars, men and ladies alike. I am pretty sure that had Her Serene Highness The Princess Grace of Monaco been alive through the 1980’s, (she died on September 14, 1982, two months before her 53rd birthday, when she lost control of her automobile and crashed after suffering a stroke in the mountainous roads of the Riviera), she would drive an R107!

This particular example was a Southern California car since new, had only 35,000 miles on the clock and came with a full service history; she is 100%

560SL engine bay: 5.6 Liters ready to unleash the cavalry at the press of the accelerator pedal!

original and unmolested. The previous owner had the car inspected and fully refurbished by the Southern Ca. M-B specialist Brian Peters of Motoring Investments who replaced the ugly US spec bumpers and headlights, by fitting new and expensive EU spec ones. While at it, the air con compressor, receiver dryer and Behr radiator were replaced with OEM items, plus a set of four new Bilstein’s along with a steering damper were fitted. All drive belts, liquids, cosmetics and detailing were taken care of regardless of cost, which came to over US$ 20,000.00. The car comes with “as new” hardtop cum its stand on casters, and a perfect condition soft-top; prerequisites to enjoy driving comfortably this smooth beauty all year round. But the sheer joy I am looking forward to is springtime in sunny Greece. I will take  my wife Ivi and “Grace” for a long trek in mountainous roads either in northern Greece or the Peloponnese.

Here is a video presentation of the R107 class from the “Mercedes-Benz Fascination” series:

Having taken delivery of the car on a rainy evening of 3rd January 2011, I did not have as yet the opportunity to road test her sufficiently. Hence we plan to go on a short excursion this coming week-end to mountainous Lakonia on the Peloponnese. Hope that the weather will be kind and spare us from heavy rains or snow.

560SL in Vouliagmeni with the top down

560SL: interior as seen with the top down

560SL: interior detail

560SL: the view from the driver's seat

My R107 in mountainous Lakonia-Jan 2011, here with the hardtop fitted.

When two ladies meet: my wife tames "Grace" for the first time :-)

Digging Deeper…on the 560SL Options codes I managed to decode the various factory options from the metal plate as follows:

  • 441 – Impala metallic color

The Options Code metal plate

  • 442 – airbag in steering wheel (from 01.02.1980 up to 31.10.1993)
  • 494 – California version
  • 506 – outside rear view mirror, left and right, heated (electrically adjustable on the right) (l.h.d.) (from 01.10.1983 up to 31.03.1989)
  • 519 – Becker radio Grand Prix electronic cassette – USA (from 01.08.1980 up to 30.11.1990)
  • 531 – automatic antenna (from 01.01.1963)
  • 551 – anti-theft warning system (from 01.11.1978 up to 31.03.1998)
  • 581 – automatic climate control (from 01.01.1977)
  • 262 – elimination of rear end spoiler (from 01.01.1978 up to 31.10.1989)
  • 807 – Change of year of model, last figure shows new model year

General specifications
Country of origin: Germany
Numbers built: 49347
Produced from: 1985 – 1989

Engine
Configuration: M 117 E 56 90º V8
Location: Front, longitudinally mounted
Construction: light alloy block and head
Displacement: 5.547 liter / 338.5 cu in
Bore / Stroke: 96.5 mm (3.8 in) / 85.0 mm (3.3 in)
Compression: 9.0:1
Valvetrain: 2 valves / cylinder, SOHC
Fuel feed: Bosch KE-Jetronic Fuel Injection
Aspiration: Naturally Aspirated
Power: 230 bhp / 172 KW @ 4750 rpm
Torque: 373 Nm / 275 ft lbs @ 3250 rpm
BHP/Liter: 41 bhp / liter

Drivetrain
Chassis: unitary steel
Front suspension: double wishbone, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, supplementary rubber suspension, torsion bar stabilizer
Rear suspension: twist-beam axle, telescopic shock absorbers, coil springs, supplementary rubber suspension, torsion bar stabilizer
Steering: recirculating ball, power assisted
Brakes: ventilated discs front, solids rear
Gearbox : 4 speed Automatic
Drive: Rear wheel drive

Dimensions
Weight: 1715 kilo / 3780.9 lbs
Length / Width / Height: 4580 mm (180.3 in) / 1790 mm (70.5 in) / 1300 mm (51.2 in)
Wheelbase / Track (fr/r):  2455 mm (96.7 in) / 1465 mm (57.7 in) / 1466 mm (57.7 in)

Performance figures
Power to weight: 0.13 bhp / kg
Top Speed: 223 km/h (139 mph)
0-60 mph: 6.8 s
0-100 mph: 19.6 s