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Few close friends cum classic car aficionados, often meet at a very special Garage in Glyfada, a southern suburb of Athens, Greece. Among drinks and pizza slices we discuss matters pertaining to our hobby, review our host Alex V.’s new acquisitions and occasionally negotiate a friendly deal.
It was during such an evening in late September of 2015 that I became interested in the 1950 Simca 8 Sport Coupé, a fully restored example which Alex had imported from Holland few months ago, previously owned and lovingly restored by Gerard et Jeanethe Meckelenkamp.
Excitement mounted when few days later I drove down in the GLK to Glyfada accompanied by my friend-mechanic Makis (who undertook the mechanical restoration project of our 1957 Lancia Aurelia GT B20S), to take delivery and assume the new ownership! I saw again the Simca (Société Industrielle de Mécanique et Carrosserie Automobile) but this time from a different perspective. I was wondering if she was an easy starter or not. If she had any mechanical issues which would unexpectedly surface during my inaugural 20 plus kilometers drive from Alex’s home to my Garage. If she was a smoker, if she suffered from excessive brake fade, and other such concerns which accompany a new classic car acquisition of some 65 years of age…
Alex started the little Coupé on the button (a good omen), drove out of the Garage and parked her on the street for further scrutiny. The initiation procedure included an explanation of the switches, handing over of the thick Dossiers and paperwork which accompany this elegantly sculpted classc by Battista Pininfarina and coach-built by Facel-Vega. An interesting trivia pertaining to Facel (Forges et Ateliers des Constructions d’Eure-et-Loir) is that its founder Jean Daninos was a Greek-French individual. The drive back north was uneventful besides a refueling stop on the way.
According to many collectors opinion, a significant historic vehicle must encompass these attributes: elegance, important design, sporting performance, rarity, interesting provenance/story line and finally to be nicely presented in as authentic condition as possible. In a nutshell to have Desirability. I do believe that this example of a 1950 Simca 8 Sport Coupé, ticks all the boxes :)
Here is the history of the Simca 8 Sport Coupé:
First presented at the 1948 Auto Show, was a convertible which created a sensation. Henri Pigozzi wanted to offer its customers a sporty version of the Simca 8, valued for its performance, durability and economy. The convertible has its genesis in the Cisitalia 202 designed by Pinin Farina in 1947 and adapted by Giovanni Michelotti on the chassis of the Fiat 1100 S. In Paris, it charms the audience with the elegance of its bodywork.
The based in France Simca was originally a subsidiary of Fiat, created on 2 November 1934 to build its models under license in France in order to avoid paying import taxes and customs duties. Its founder was, Turin born Enrico Teodoro Pigozzi, who later changed his name to Henry Theodore. In 1926 he was given the task of organizing a sales network for SAFAF (Société Anonyme Française des Automobiles Fiat) that had come into being. The problem with this entity was protectionism which affected every nation, caused by the global economic crisis of 1929. This withdrawal resulted in tariffs increasingly greater that prevented the Fiat cars to be competitive with the French productions.
In 1935 Simca settles after redemption in the modern Donnet factory in Nanterre. Production starts on July 1st and the very first Simca-Fiat (name to be given in 1938) came out of the chain. Very quickly Simca becomes the fourth French manufacturer and it’s vehicles feature a new crest with a swallow symbolizing the brand’s slogan: a bird’s appetite. This approach allowed to delete the affiliation of the brand to its Italian parent company while xenophobia was growing in France, especially towards the Fascist Italy.
Presented on the French market in 1938, the Simca 8 is derived from the Fiat 1100 “Nuova Balilla 508C” manufactured in the Simca-Fiat factories of Nanterre under license. As a middle class car, it competes with Peugeot 202 and Renault Juvaquatre. Like Fiat, it has a front face with an egg-shaped grille and round headlights salient and prominent. The body is much more aerodynamic than the old Simca-Fiat/CV SAFAF 6 it replaces. The engine is a 4-cylinder 1.089 cc developing 32 hp at 4200 RPM. Distribution, as on many Fiat engines with overhead valves. Suspensions are independent wheels at the front and the rear solid axle. Drum brakes on all 4 wheels with hydraulic circuit. With a 4-speed box, it reaches 110 km / h.
When the Second World War breaks out, the automobile business in France stops. Well, not quite for Simca. The Germans want all companies involved in the war effort, especially to produce vehicles for the Russian front. Each plant is assigned a director appointed by the occupier. But the Fiat company whose country, Italy, is an ally of Germany was awarded a Simca administrator or a director of Fiat-Germany. In fact, the plant would continue to produce in Nanterre autos for another three years, unlike the Citroën plants, Peugeot and Renault, constrained to produce military hardware for the German Army. In 1943, the setbacks of the German Army lead to the termination of the preferential treatment enjoyed by Simca. The plant was assigned for the maintenance of military vehicles and various fabrications for the occupying Germany, including mechanical elements for NSU Motorenwerke.
After World War II, Paul-Marie Pons was appointed Deputy Director of the Mechanical and Electrical Industries Division (DIME) of the Department of Industrial Production and launches the “Plan Pons” with the objective of streamlining automotive manufacturing. Simca is integrated within the G.F.A. (Générale Française de l’Automobile) with Panhard, Delahaye, Delage, Unic, Laffly and Bernard. The President of the Employers’ Federation of Automobile Manufacturers, Charles Petiet, presents Simca on track thanks to the support of the Minister of Industrial Production then but in exchange following the guidelines of the Plan Pons, the company is committed to make the AFG (French Aluminium Gregory) developed by the engineer Jean-Albert Grégoire, now technical director general of Simca since October 1944.
The particular French car market was then theoretically divided into three main sectors. Citroen, with the Traction Avant, must occupy the high-end, Renault and Peugeot the middle, Panhard and Simca the low end, with the industrialization of the AFG. A first prototype of the Simca Gregory was made in 1945, then a second in 1946. Unfortunately for Grégoire, Henri Pigozzi, who had been quietly following his contacts with the German occupiers, managed to derail this project and resumed the management of the company. Simca escapes the nationalization and constraints of the government, leaving Panhard to fend for itself. For its part, Renault’s 4 CV imposes its Peugeot and maintains its presence on the average niche or middle sector.
Production starts with the Simca 5 and then the 8. While in Italy, Fiat had already replaced this model by Fiat 1100 B, and the Simca 8 gets a restyling with changes of the front bumper, grille, the hood and trunk. It receives on this occasion a larger engine of 1.221 c.c.’s developing 41 BHP.
At the 1948 Paris Motor Show it is presented alongside the sedan, plus a convertible that causes a sensation. Henri Pigozzi wanted to offer its customers a sporty version of the Simca 8, which was valued for its performance, durability and economy. The convertible had its genesis in the Cisitalia 202 designed by Pinin Farina in 1947. He built a few copies before delegating production to his elder brother Giovanni, founder of the Stabilimenti Farina, and Vignale as well. The Stabilimenti Farina, founded in 1906 by Giovanni Farina in Turin, had employed the very talented Mario Boano, Giovanni Michelotti and Battista “Pinin” Farina, the latter departing in 1930. Giovanni Michelotti was entrusted with the adaptation of lines of the Cisitalia to the proportions of the frame of the Fiat 1100 S. This car caught the attention of Henry Theodore Pigozzi during a visit to Turin. He immediately ordered a second copy so as to display it at the Paris Salon where the car charmed the audience with the elegance of its bodywork.
The design of the Cisitalia marked history again when it was picked for the Ferrari 166 Inter, the first convertible model of the Prancing Horse, which would be presented at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show. The warm welcome of the Simca 8 Sport encouraged Henri Theodore Pigozzi to start making the car very quickly. However, the amount of production of Stabilimenti Farina was very limited and to export the convertible, it was necessary to overcome high taxes. Pigozzi also used Jean Daninos, founder Facel Metallon, with which it had good relations, which already had the opportunity to work with Pinin Farina for Bentley coach-building and had appropriate industrial facilities for the establishment of a production line dedicated to the Simca 8 Sport Cabriolet and its Coupe version in the study phase.
The actual production of the Simca 8 Sport began in March 1950, in both Coupé and Cabriolet. The body parts were produced in Amboise, the assembly line was installed in Colombes and the finish was ensured by the factory in Dreux, justifying the high price of the car, twice that of the sedan. More powerful, with 50 against 40 hp for the sedan, the Simca 8 Sport allowed a speed of 135 KPH, a respectable performance for a relatively small displacement engine but disappointing for a car for sporting purposes. But anyway, the customers were more sensitive to its elegance.
Considered the most beautiful French car at the time, the Simca 8 Sport would have a short career as its body was modified in 1951 to accommodate the platform of the new Aronde. The convertible that can accommodate only the cut remains, becomes the Simca 9 Sport with a windshield in one piece to the show in 1952 where it gave way to a new generation with fully drawn Simca model as the Aronde based Simca Sport Plein Ciel. A production run of 5.165 Simca 8 Sport, including all versions was made.
• More interesting readings:
• Photo Album Presentation of the 1950 Simca 8 Sport Coupé
• Photo Album about the Restoration of the 1950 Simca 8 Sport Coupé
• Photo Album about the car being detailed in Athens, GR.
Today we reached a long-awaited milestone in the progress of the 1957 Lancia Aurelia B20S, Ser. VI restoration project. Having completed basic electric wiring, not without excessive delays, the engine was ready to be started after its complete overhaul. The Master of Ceremonies was none other than our chief mechanic, Makis Efthymiou. Without further ado, here is the short video clip of the start-up procedure. The loud engine noise is due to the exhaust piping system not being as yet connected. Another positive observation is that there is practically no engine vibration. To boot she is an easy starter! A very good indicator to proper assembly of the engine.
Next phase: pre-painting the car and then onwards to the upholsterer. The end of the project is near!
Feb 12 2015 update: At the Upholsterer: I was watching a restoration project from Jay Leno’s Garage, where Jay says “From now on we use Dynamat insulation material in all our projects”. It was enough for me to start Googling. Luckilly a dealer in Greece was located, contacted and the correct material Dynaliner was selected for our project! See more in the Gallery. For more: www.dynamat.com
Some photos from the status of the car as of today; clicking on any picture the viewer opens in larger format:
My spouse asks with a certain mode of temper: another classic-car? As big boys know well, spouses often cannot appreciate our investment decisions nor that we are stricken by the now famous verse of “Car Collecting, a disease for which modern man has no cure”. So when a good friend brought few days ago his 1969 MGB Roadster Mk II in true British Racing Green livery at the Classic-Car.gr for storage and with an accompanying ‘FOR SALE’ tag, I was prompted to take a closer look. We raised the car on the lift and thoroughly inspected the undercarriage, mechanicals, body condition etc. The verdict was positive with few minor and cosmetic ‘to do list’ items which will need attention in order to bring the car up to a top cruising condition. Because this is the main role of this particular car. To be driven as much as possible and to be enjoyed. Hence the car is now registered with regular license plates and insurance coverage for daily use.
My personal memories of MGB’s go back to my teen-age years when in the mid 60’s an Olympic Airways pilot, Lambis Costides had owned a light blue MGB Mk. I. (For my Greek readers, another account of Lambis can be found here ).
He had fitted a pair of spot lights and inside the cockpit an aircraft switch with telltale amber light, activated them; I was very impressed. Another admiring memory was when Lambis drove us quite fast down Syngrou Avenue during a hot summer night, hearing the distinct roar of the exhaust and experiencing the thrill of wind noises which only sporty roadsters can offer.
All these memories came back to me when I first saw the BRG [aka Byron Riginos Green ;) ] car. I warmed up on the idea of owning an affordable classic roadster, not having to spend a fortune to bring her up to my spec’s and setting a goal to use her as much as possible for my short commutes from home in Kifissia to my www.3cg.gr man-cave in New Ionia. Other aficionados tell me that MGB’s are great Historic Vehicles for entering into Regularity Rallies, a sport that we do several times through each year. To boot, classic car prices are on the rise, and this example, Chassis No: GHN4L163339G, Engine No: MG 18GGWEH897 was an original Greek import car, first licensed in 1969. She also carries a “Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens” (FIVA) Identity Card with A/3 classification. What all these mean is that she is a highly original car which always lived in dry, sunny, no salty Greek roads and that she bears regular license plates; hence she can be used freely on the roads without the restrictions imposed on H.V. licensed cars. Enough reasons to go ahead right? Ipso-facto a friendly deal was negotiated and the car came into our family on 15th January 2015.
Also pleasant is to know (according to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust certificate), that this example was first dispatched from the factory to Greece on 7th February 1969 and that she is ‘a matching numbers’ car!
For those who would like to learn the complete history of the “B”, here is a lengthy but comprehensive documentary:
A picture Gallery of the ‘new’ car follows; upon clicking on any picture, the viewer opens in larger format.
Since my last post on the Lancia Aurelia GT back in early March of 2014, a lot has happened relating to the restoration of this magnificent Italian classic Grand Turismo car of the mid fifties. On Tuesday 9/9/14 a certain milestone was achieved; the reconditioned Lancia V-6 engine (the first production V-6 engine adopted by a car manufacturer) was installed in the engine bay!
But let’s rewind to where we had left off back in March. We had set up the following ‘works to be done’ outline pertaining to our restoration procedure:
Where are we today? I’d say having completed points 1 to 4, we should be about 60% done. Let’s be a bit more specific.
A/ Engineering and Mechanicals (mainly completing the body works and sourcing spare parts).
After considering few options as to which body shop to use, obtaining couple of quotations, we opted to employ the services of Dimitris Chronopoulos (a.k.a. Naftis), who had successfully worked on couple of past projects for my partner Thanassi. Hence the B20S was truck loaded from my garage to his shop one fine day in mid-March. Naftis and his son Costas attacked the project with gusto and soon enough many imperfections were rectified. The engine bay and undercarriage as well as the trunk (boot) area, wheel arches, doors and door posts, trunk lid etc. were treated, straightened and primed. Few photos tell the story best.
So here are some shots from the works already done. [By clicking on the photos they open in a larger size format.] ;)
In the mean time, a long quest to search and source an extensive list of spare parts needed for the project commenced, burning long computer hours, drafting and sending countless e-mails, sorting through replies, evaluating the answers, comparing prices, negotiating and finally placing purchase orders.
At this point it is worth to mention that our two main suppliers for spare parts are Omicron Engineering in the UK, and M.A.R.A. in Italy. With both proprietors of these fine establishments we became friendly, namely Andrew & Elizabeth Cliffe and Fabio Poledro. As a nice surprise Andrew mentions in one of his messages pertaining to the previous custodian of B20S-1548, Mr. Peter Hudson: “Dear Byron,
It appears the car belonged for a long time to Peter Hudson. My parents know him quite well as they used to live nearby many years ago. He has a Fulvia at the moment.
The address on the old registration document is still valid, so I suggest writing to him. I don’t have an email address, but his telephone number is +44 1132 xxxxxxxx. I would recommend writing to him or calling him, and maybe he can advise if he uses email.
I’m sure he will be pleased to fill in what history of the car he can remember.
Elizabeth has your wish list and is going through it now.
Andrew”. As the saying goes, It is after all quite a small world! :)
Needless to say, thereafter I have established direct contact with Peter who has helped us by filling-in some provenance details of the car and even finding and sending to me the original ignition keys of the Aurelia!
Another issue to resolve was learning about and then sourcing the original color of the car, known as Azzuro Celeste, or sky blue. Scouting the various Fora of the Lancisti communities in Europe, the USA and Australia, I finally discovered that the original paint manufacturer for Lancia Automobiles S.p.A. was a company by the name of Lechler; to boot this company still exists and has a dealer in Athens! Hence Thanassi rushed to this shop and obtained a liter of the #1173 code item. Armed with this hard sought after item, a first paint trial was performed by Naftis. The result was quite pleasant.
B/ Engine, transmission, suspension, steering and brakes overhaul & reassembly
All these tasks were entrusted to Makis Efthymiou, a competent mechanic with many years involvement in competition preparation of formula, rally and other race cars. To boot he had recently successfully completed the overhaul of a very similar V-6 engine from a Lancia Flaminia. One word that characterizes Makis’ skills is ‘inventiveness’. No matter what the challenge faced, he would come up with a proper solution. His network of contacts and allegiances within the Greek ‘mechanicsdom’ has proved equally valuable. He attacked the project by first evaluating the disassembled engine and existing parts trove in my garage, as loaded on my Dodge Dakota pick-up truck in early in March. We both agreed at that time that the challenge of jumping into a project that has been disassembled by someone else and even without knowing if all the parts are there, is awesome; like a big jigsaw puzzle…
Next step was to remove the front and rear axles plus transmission from the car while it was worked on in the premises of the Naftis body-shop. His inventiveness came to test regarding the unique design of the front sliding pillar suspension system that used by Lancia on its Lambda model from around 1922. Lancia continued with sliding pillar suspensions until the 1950s Appia model. Dismantling, inspecting and repairing these parts required some spacial tooling which we did not have. After searching on the net, I located some articles and pictures of the required tooling. Sharing these with Makis, he proceeded with fabricating these tools and eventually, not without considerable effort, he managed to dismantle the parts. Luckily, M.A.R.A. was able to supply some critically needed spare parts to complete the overhaul of the sliding pillar suspension!
All the other parts as brake drums, shoes, pedal assembly, steering box and linkages, rear axle as well as the trademark of the Aurelias, the transaxle (both a transmission, differential and clutch in one compact aluminum housing), were inspected and overhauled by Makis. While at it, the clutch disc and diaphragm were replaced. The nasty surprise came when we realized that the flywheel was missing from the parts trove. Fabio of M.A.R.A came to the rescue once again, pointing to two thicknesses used. ‘Which one do you need? Measure the thickness and let me know’ was his logical question. BUT, what to measure if one does not have the part in hand? After some back and forth, he revealed the little secret: flywheel sizes/widths/weights had a direct relation to the clutch disc diameter. Ipso facto, we could now answer this critical question, since we had a clutch disc in hand to measure and report!
Having worked on the various sub-assemblies of the car, having ordered and taken delivery of a rather large collection of spare parts from Italy and England, and at the same time Naftis having completed all the preparatory work on the B20S body hulk, the time came for the car to be moved (sans wheels) to the workshop of my friend Costas, where Makis would commence the critical V-6 engine rebuild. Ensuring a safe moving procedure, a special dolly was constructed; the car was placed upon it, fastened down and then loaded to a car transporter truck. At its new friendly guest house, the car would remain for few months until the completion of the engine overhaul and the installation of all the sub-assemblies, i.e. until the end of September 2014.
A special mention is due for the engine overhaul. Early on Makis and I had visited the machinist shop (apparently one of the most reputable in Athens) to who we entrusted the engine block, crankshaft, new pistons, liners, connecting rods and the two cylinder heads. We bought six new pistons & cylinder liners, while the already reconditioned in England heads were inspected, milled, polished and the valves checked for proper seating. The crankshaft was reground and balanced, new main and con-rod bearings fitted.
A number of other tasks had to be completed. The inner water cooling passages needed scraping and cleaning before the new liners could be installed along with their new O-ring rubber seals. Some studs required rethreading and/or replacement etc, etc. The Zenith carburettor was also entrusted to a specialist for reconditioning and replacing its jets & needle. Ditto for the radiator and fuel tank, brake/front suspension fluid canister which were disassembled, cleaned, pressure tested etc.
For a more thorough photo album documenting in great detail the jobs done by Makis click HERE!
The final stage of these works culminated by the milestone of fitting the engine in the engine bay, a task done on 9/9/14. At the same time both the prop-shafts and gearbox linkage rod were fitted. Several more details need to be addressed as: gas pedal assembly linkage where some additional parts are required and awaited from Italy, installation of the dual piped exhaust system, radiator & plumbing, brake & suspension fluids, clutch & hand-brake linkages, steering wheel etc.
Afterwards, the partially restored B20S will be transported once again, this time to the electrician’s workshop for fitting a new custom made wiring loom and installing lights, switches, the reconditioned instruments et. al., before we can reach yet another milestone: firing her up! :)
December 2014 update.
@the Electrician. Progress has been slowed down by few factors. Few more parts were needed which took some time to source in Italy. For example the windshield wiper mechanism, needed to be in hand before the dashboard panel and the instruments wiring could be installed. Second, after getting this vital part, the spindles upon which the wiper blades are fastened were shorter. This required careful machining. The list goes on and on.
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
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.
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+!
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
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!
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.
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 & after’ documentation. 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.
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 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:
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…
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:
Our primary goals for this project are:
Access this link for a brief pictorial of the Aurelia GT racing history: http://viva-lancia.com/aurelia/sport.htm
|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)|
|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|
|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)|
© Byron E. Riginos, Kifissia, Greece, 2014. (ver. 1.3)
Την Πέμπτη 6 και Παρασκευή 7 Φεβρουαρίου 2014, βρεθήκαμε στο Παρίσι με σκοπό την επίσκεψη στη μεγαλύτερη φέτος και πλουσιότερη διεθνή έκθεση Ιστορικών Οχημάτων, τη γνωστή RETROMOBILE 2014, η οποία διεξήχθη για 39η φορά στο Porte de Versailles Exhibition Centre. Ήταν μια διοργάνωση του ‘more’ ;)
Περισσότερος χώρος για τους 400 εκθέτες, άνετοι χώροι για τους επισκέπτες, περισσότεροι λόγοι για αγορές και για όνειρα (άλλα free & άλλα με υψηλό κόστος), για ενημέρωση, για θαυμασμό και φωτογράφηση μοναδικών εκθεμάτων σε αμέτρητα περίπτερα. Με ειδικά αφιερώματα για τις Apline Renault, τα αυτοκίνητα των stars, αφιέρωμα για τις Lancia, μαζεμένες Shelby Cobras, αφιέρωμα για το Paris-Dakar, τις επιβλητικές προπολεμικές λιμουζίνες των Μαχαραγίαδων από τις αποικιακές Ινδίες, τιμητική παρουσίαση για τους κατακτητές ρεκόρ ταχύτητας Thomas Parry & Malcolm Campbell, κ.ά. Περισσότεροι καλλιτέχνες, Λέσχες, Ομοσπονδίες, ανταλλακτικά και πωλητές μοντέλων μινιατούρας, διοργανωτές εκδηλώσεων, αναπαλαιωτές, καροσσερίστες, και πάμπολοι ποιοτικοί έμποροι Ιστορικών Οχημάτων, όλα αυτά συνέθεσαν ένα πολύχρωμο πάζλ, επιβεβαιώνοντας με τον παλμό τους και την αθρόα προσέλευση των χιλιάδων επισκεπτών, ότι το λεγόμενο ΄κίνημα των Ιστορικών Οχημάτων’ είναι ολοζώντανο!
Πρός επίρρωση αυτής της διαπίστωσης ήταν και οι τέσσερεις δημοπρασίες πού έγιναν μέσα στη βδομάδα, ξεκινώντας από την Τετάρτη 5/2 με αυτή του Καναδικού Οίκου RM Auctions που από τα συνολικά 52 οχήματα, πουλήθηκαν τα 41 (ποσοστό διάθεσης 79%), με συνολική αξία τα €17,242,740. Μία Jaguar D-type του 1955 ήταν το ακριβότερο αυτοκίνητο της εβδομάδας με τιμή που έφτασε τα €3,696,000!
Η σκυτάλη πέρασε την Πέμπτη 6/2 στον Αγγλικό Οίκο Bonhams που έκλεψε την παράσταση για δεύτερη συνεχή χρονιά με τη δημοπρασία εκλεκτών οχημάτων να λαμβάνει χώρα στο εντυπωσιακό οικοδόμημα των αρχών του περασμένου αιώνα (1901) του Grand Palais. Τα αυτικίνητα, λίγες μοτοσικλέτες και τα memorabilia ήταν άψογα τοποθετημένα στην αρένα, με επαρκή χώρο για περιεργασία ή φωτογράφηση και με καλό φωτισμό. Στη δημοπρασία αυτή το σύνολο των πωλήσεων έφτασε τα €15,959,656, με 105 από τα 149 προς πώληση αυτοκίνητα να αλλάζουν χέρια (ποσοστό διάθεσης 70%). Το ακριβότερο αυτοκίνητο ήταν μια Ferrari 275 GTB/4 του 1968 πρός €2,218,333.
Ενδιαφέρον επίσης είχε ο παράλληλος μηχανισμός ανοίγματος των θυρών μιας BENTLEY 4¼ LITER À PORTIÈRES ‘PARALLÈLES’, COUPÉ-SEDANCA του 1937, η οποία πουλήθηκε για €172,500 και την οποία μαγνητοσκοπήσαμε:
Ο Γαλλικός Οίκος Artcurial πραγμα-τοποίησε την κυρίως δημοπρασία του μέσα στο Pavillion 1 της Retromobile την Παρασκευή 7/2 ενώ το Σάββατο ακολουθησε μια μικρότερη σε μέγεθος δημοπρασία αφιερωμένη σε μια συλλογή από Alfa Romeo. Ο χώρος που ήταν στοιβαγμένα τα αυτοκίνητα ήταν σαφώς υποδεέστερος της περίστασης, δεν υπήρχε άνεση για προκαταρκτικό έλεγχο ή φωτογράφηση, ενώ ο φωτισμός ήταν άθλιος. :( H Artcurial πούλησε 159 από τα 191 αυτοκίνητα (ποσοστό διάθεσης 83%), με συνολικό τζίρο που έφτασε τα €29 εκ. Η υψηλότερη τιμή (πώληση μετά τη δημοπρασία) πήγε σε μια Ferrari 166MM Barchetta του 1953 σχέδιο αρχικά του Vignale και μετά του Oblin πρός €2,550,000, ενώ κατά τη δημοπρασία τιμή ρεκόρ ‘έπιασε’ μια Bentley 8 Litre Coupé Sportsman Gurney-Nutting του 1953 πρός €2,190,400. Μας άρεσε και μια Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A Cabriolet Ramseier του 1924 που πουλήθηκε στα €1,287,200. Το επίσημο Δελτίο Τύπου της Artcurial με κλικ ΕΔΩ!
Συνολικά πουλήθηκαν στις τέσσερεις δημοπρασίες των Παρισίων περί τα 305 οχήματα ύψους άνω των €60 εκ.!
Συμπέρασμα: A major international event in Paris. The first show of the season devoted to classic cars. Η όλη εικόνα της εβδομάδας Retromobile 2014 στο Παρίσι θυμίζει λίγο την αντίστοιχη “ιερή εβδομάδα του Monterey” στη Καλφόρνια, όπου διεξάγονται πάρα πολλές εκδηλώσεις και αρκετές δημοπρασίες για 7 συνεχείς ημέρες (με πενταπλάσιο τζίρο πωλήσεων)! Επόμενος σταθμός για την Ευρώπη θα αποτελέσει η αντίστοιχα σημαντική ‘26th Techno-Classica Essen‘ στη Γερμανία μεταξύ 27 – 30 Μαρτίου 2014.
– 400 exhibitors
– 44,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space
– 500 cars on show
– Over 100 clubs in attendance
– Clubs and Federations
– Events organizers
– Press stands
– Automobilia vendors
– Parts and tools vendors
– Car vendors
– Auction houses
– Bodywork restorers
– Insurance Companies
– Car art galleries
• Το φαγητό στο εστιατόριο ήταν μέτριο και πανάκριβο :(
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 :)
Next event: the ’42nd PHILPA International Rally’ in the Peloponnese during Sept. 2013.