- Post is under moderationMy father didn’t write down his speeches, instead he would prepare a couple of phrases that would sum up his thoughts. Obviously, his audience very much determined how he wanted to come across.’
With these words, Piero Ferrari explains how Enzo’s famous, and occasionally obscure, sayings became points of reference for his staff, as well as forming the core of a Company philosophy that is still followed to this day. His famous phrases and maxims have proven remarkably enduring, outlasting their historical context and the specific events for which they were originally composed. They are important to everyone who works at #Ferrari today, from the managers to the staff on the production lines, and especially to those heading a team, who seek to inspire their staff. This is a concept of which Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne gives particular value to. ‘Enzo’s press conferences were legendary because they underlined the ideas he wanted to promote,’ continues Piero. ‘He used to prepare meticulously, tailoring his answers to any questions he might be asked.’
Considering Enzo’s pragmatic approach to press and marketing for his Company, there is much to learn from a person who was so close to him, and who is able to explain which phrases are the most significant for him.
‘I know it is one of my father’s most famous quotes, but “My favourite Ferrari is the next one” is important because my father believed that a company needed to look to the future to be successful and never stop improving. But actually there is another, less famous phrase, which accurately sums up his beliefs: “Look to the past only to avoid making the same mistakes again.”’
As well as his unique way of expressing himself, Enzo used his charm to get his point across and render even the most outlandish request reasonable. He took the #Italian-Grand-Prix very seriously, demanding technical modifications on his cars right up until a week or two before the start of the race. ‘For example, in May he would ask for new cylinder heads for a car that was due to compete at #Monza the following September… During the meeting, everyone would look around the room at a loss, but they soon got to work and it was done!’
Enzo’s attitude towards unforeseen events can be summed up by another saying: “It is easier to see your weak points when you lose than when you win.” For someone who experienced triumph as well as defeat, this deftly illustrates how he never liked to rest on his laurels.
Among Piero’s fond memories of his father, there is one that he considers more important than all the others: the thing that seduced Enzo as a driver, as the head of the Scuderia, and later as a constructor, was always the engine. ‘He loved engines and talked at length about them; he loved them because they made a piece of metal come alive with sound and power.’
That sound was music to his ears, the same music that even today, together with his famous phrases, accompanies Ferrari, pushing it to become the brand that has become famous like none other the world over.
The #Enzo-Ferrari , the constructor: the first and last act. Left, in #1947 , at the wheel of the first car to carry his brand and his name, the #Ferrari-125S ; below, in #1988 , just before his passing, Enzo enters his offices at #Fiorano .
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- Post is under moderationCentre of Gravity
Morris, Hillman & Austin Oxford meets Minx and Somerset. The post-war British ca r m ark et of gravity revolved around saloons such as the #Morris-Oxford , #Hillman-Minx and #Austin-Somerset , but which is best? Jon Pressnell decides. Photography Tony Baker.
These were the bread-and-butter of mid-century British motoring. The cruel would say that these three saloons are so stodgy that the word ‘porridge’ might be more appropriate. But before you sneer, each one of them was a mainstay for their manufacturer, keeping factories turning, bringing in valuable foreign exchange, and providing hundreds of thousands of motorists with no-nonsense family transport. The #Hillman Minx, #Morris Oxford Series MO and #Austin-A40 Somerset between them accounted for more than 700,000 cars, and that’s a figure at which one should not sneeze.
The three cars were similar in price when new – about £700 including Purchase Tax in #1952 – and they are closely matched in terms of accommodation and performance. Unsurprisingly, in an era when conventional engineering was king, at least as far as Britain was concerned, the mechanical configuration is also broadly the same: independent front suspension, a leaf-sprung live back axle and hydraulic drum brakes. Only the Morris has rack steering, and it also has torsionbar front suspension, rather than the coils of the Hillman and the Austin. Dampers are old-fashioned lever-arms all-round on the Somerset and the Minx, while the Oxford has lever-arms at the front and telescopics at the rear. As for construction, the Austin is built on a separate cruciform chassis while the other two have a unitary shell.
Turn to the engines, and an eyebrow might be raised at this comparison. The Hillman has a seemingly weedy 1265cc sidevalve unit that can be traced back to the first Minx of #1931 , the Oxford has a rather bigger flathead of 1476cc, and in the middle sits the only car with a halfway modern engine, the Somerset with its 1200cc pushrod unit. The Minx might only dispose of 37½bhp, but its kerb weight of 2117lb makes it a full 560lb lighter than the 42bhp Somerset. The Oxford’s plodding sidevalve, however, supposedly insisted upon by an ageing and conservative Lord Nuffield, musters a slender 41¾bhp, but has to haul along a less porky 2386lb of motor car. The bottom line is that the Minx – marginally the shortest, narrowest and lowest of the lot – has the best power-to-weight ratio. Don’t get too excited, though: none of these cars could quite hit 70mph when tested in period, and their 0-60mph times were hardly bodice-ripping.
The Minx and the Oxford were both #1948 Motor Show debutantes. The Hillman began life with its predecessor’s 1185cc unit, along with its four-speed column-change gearbox, but was otherwise all-new, with a transatlantic-tinged body designed with input from Loewy Associates – hence its vague hints of Studebaker. This Phase III Minx became the Phase IV when the 1265cc engine arrived for #1950 . It evolved up to Phase VIIIA, before being deleted in mid- #1956 .
Key changes from 1953 to 1956 were a new grille and lower bonnet line, an enlarged rear window, a 1390cc overhead-valve engine for the Phase VIII (estate and low-rent Special excepted), and ‘Gay Look’ duotones (along with standardisation of the pushrod engine) for the Phase VIIIA. There was a Carbodies-built drophead and, from the Phase VI onwards, a hardtop coupé called the Californian. Over eight seasons, a healthy 378,705 Minxes left the Rootes factory in Ryton.
The Oxford, meanwhile, was a big sister to the Issigonis Minor, and was virtually a pantograph enlargement of the smaller Morris. Originally intended to have a flat-four, as was the Minor, it was hastily given a sidevalve engine extrapolated from the overhead-cam unit of its Wolseley 4/50 sibling. There was much agonising about the Oxford in the higher reaches of the Nuffield Organisation, because it was felt that in going up a size from the preceding Ten the firm would hand the key ‘Ten-Horse’ market to the opposition. In fact, the MO acquitted itself adequately, with 160,482 made over roughly five calendar years – plus 43,600 vans and pick-ups. The only body style other than the four-door saloon and the commercials was the timber-framed Traveller, introduced in October 1952. Replaced in January #1954 by the Austin-powered Series II Oxford, the MO was barely modified during its life, other than receiving a bolder grille for #1953 .
As for the Somerset, it was basically a rebodying of the A40 Devon that had been launched in #1947 . A whisker over 6in longer than its predecessor, and 2in wider, it shared its doors with the bigger A70 Hereford. Roomier than the Devon, it was about 110lb heavier, but its two extra body mounts were said to contribute to a 50% increase in torsional rigidity. Current from February #1952 to October 1954, 173,306 Somersets were made.
Finished in a perky pale green and sitting on whitewall tyres, Denis Young’s Somerset is arguably the most striking of the cars, thanks to its exaggerated roly-poly profile that is almost baroquely rotund, an effect compounded by the brio of that ocean-wave wingline. Dumpy it might be, but with its broad-bottomed rear it also appears to be the biggest of the three; it’s not, the Morris being 7½in longer and 2in wider.
The interior couldn’t be considered inspiring. There’s a brown crackle-painted dash with a full set of gauges, plain door trims with carpeted bottoms, and two individual front seats set against each other to form a bench. Upholstery is in coarse leathercloth with contrasting piping, while there is rubber matting to the front and carpet to the rear. More importantly, the rear doors open wide to reveal ample legroom; a nice ‘Olde Worlde’ Austin touch is that the backs of the front seats are cut away, and in each recess there lurks a footrest.
You sit high, behind a predictably big wheel, a nautical position that seems eminently appropriate when you start driving, as the Somerset rolls and bobs like a ship in a swell. The camand- peg steering is a plus, however, being quick, at 2½ turns lock-to-lock, and with no play or untoward stickiness. The column gearchange is okay, if stiff and lacking precision. Likewise, the brakes are firm, short-travel and effective, even if they need a lean for ultimate stopping.
At 50mph the #Austin is happy enough – not that refined, but not rough, and with sufficient vim to the acceleration. This is helped by the low gearing, as was then the norm: the first three ratios seem particularly short, and you can pull away in second. Change down for a bend, and you feel a jolt if you’re casual about smoothing your way through the ’box. In all this, however, one should issue a caveat. Bought off eBay, the Somerset has been refurbished rather than ever having been fully rebuilt – all Young has done is to overhaul the brakes – so a freshly spannered example might feel crisper. That said, these Austins all suffer from over-soft front suspension.
Mike Redrup’s Phase V Minx has been in his family from 1952, when his father bought the Hillman new – having ordered it in 1946, several iterations of the model before. Redrup learnt to drive in the car, which had a respray back in the ’70s and an engine rebuild about five years ago but has never been restored.
The Minx loses out in the style war – strangely, given the input of top designer Loewy. It simply looks dull and frumpy, with no delight to any of its details. The cabin, alas, is no more tempting, with lots of exposed metallic beige paint, not least on the deep embossed door cappings. Nor does the dash warm one’s cockles, with its sparse instrumentation and two open trays. Upholstery is again plain leathercloth, but you slump lower on the seats and lean back more. Access to the rear is tighter – you winkle yourself in – but you sit upright enough to have reasonable legroom.
In fairness, some of these criticisms would be addressed by later models, which had extra chrome and brighter colour schemes. More significantly, the Minx acquits itself well on the road, making a better fist of things than the Austin. The long-stroke engine puts out 58.3lb ft of torque at 2200rpm and is peppy, and about as refined as the Somerset’s pushrod unit. Again the first three gears are low, but fourth is quite high, making for relaxed 50mph cruising. The column change is well oiled but loose and responds best to a delicate touch. Feel your way into the firstsecond plane, though, and thereafter your passage through the ’box is undemanding. The suspension is soft at the front, possibly because the only anti-roll bar is on the rear axle (it migrated to the front on the Phase VIII); as a result the Minx bobs about on poor roads, but not as much as the Somerset. As for the worm-and-nut steering, that’s free of slack and smoother in action than the Austin’s set-up. The brakes are board-firm, but work well enough, while the Minx is the only car of the three with a pull-up handbrake.
Nigel Anderson’s Oxford starts off with an advantage: it has only 33,000 miles on the clock and was rebuilt in the ’90s, after being in the family since 1956. So any observations on how it drives must be tempered by the fact that it is being compared with two unrestored cars that have loosened up over their greater mileages.
To my eyes at least, the Morris starts out with the major plus of being the most attractive of our trio. There might be bits of 1940s #Chevrolet and #Packard in its make-up, but the lines are neat and harmonious, lifted by the vee ’screen and the brightwork. Longer and wider-tracked than the Minx and Somerset, the Oxford looks more planted. There are also lots of attractive details: pull handles for the doors, a flip-up cover for the starting handle, a painted coachline on the colour-coded wheels. Particularly delightful are the little running boards, with their kickplates, that are exposed when the front doors are opened.
Inside, the brown-crackle instrument panel and gold-painted dash are more obviously styled, right down to the concealed glovebox release. The front bench means a cosier rear, but there’s plenty of legroom, with overall space being similar to the Somerset. As a standard model rather than a De Luxe, the seating is in leathercloth rather than hide – just as there are no bumper overriders, nor a heater and only one sunvisor.
Start driving the MO and the first thing to hit you is that here, at last, is a car with steering that is genuinely good. The Oxford’s rack is needle-sharp, accurate and not at all heavy; it’s delicious. Building on this, the Morris feels more poised over pockmarked Fenland roads with a shifting camber and the poor surface doesn’t throw the car about as it does the other two. The MO has firmer responses, and that extends to brakes that are more progressive plus a crisp column shift.
The sidevalve engine could reasonably be expected to be the deal-breaker, but bear in mind that it is the biggest of the three power units, and delivers its 65lb ft of torque – 3lb ft more than the Austin – at just 2000rpm, against the Somerset’s 2500rpm. Despite the usual low gearing, acceleration is not good in third, but the Morris cruises happily at 50-60mph, the engine never becoming coarse. You can also keep the car on the boil by driving it in a more spirited manner than its rivals, taking advantage of its secure handling to keep speed up through the corners.
The Oxford is in fact the only car of the three that feels to be the work of people who wanted you to enjoy driving. For that reason it stands as the easy winner of this comparison. The Hillman, meanwhile, is a thoroughly acceptable if unemotional transportation device – a sweet, easy car, with decent performance. As for the Austin, its cuddly looks will probably win over more hearts than its less-flamboyant rivals. It does the job – compromised by its suspension – with perfect adequacy, but nothing more. The advantage, sidevalve engine notwithstanding, goes to Cowley.
Thanks to the Austin Counties Car Club: www. psimmonds.org.uk; the 6/80 and MO Club: www.680mo.org.uk; the Hillman Owners Club: www. hillmanownersclub. co. uk; and Tom Clarke.
From top: well-designed cabin – glovebox button is on dash top; sidevalve unit lacks zip; pushing centre of badge releases bonnet; on the road, the Oxford outshines the other two.
‘IT’S THE ONLY ONE THAT FEELS TO BE THE WORK OF PEOPLE WANTING YOU TO ENJOY DRIVING’
Above, l-r: auxiliary dials are just fuel and amps, but only the Minx has a pull-up handbrake; improved prewar sidevalve; badge shows three spires of Coventry. “Whatever gear you’re in, it pulls well,” says Redrup.
‘REDRUP LEARNTTO DRIVE IN THE HILLMAN, WHICH HIS FATHER BOUGHT NEW IN 1952’
From top: sprung wheel and simple dash with two gloveboxes; engine has A40 Sports head, but with larger inlet valves; Flying A opens bonnet; Austin’s performance is fair, but the ride is a bit lively.
‘THE AUSTIN’S ALMOST BAROQUE PROFILE IS COMPOUNDED BY THE WAVE-LIKE WING LINE’
Morris is every inch the overgrown Minor; Minx has Studebaker touches (thanks to Loewy input); Austin cherub shares its doors with larger Hereford.
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- Post is under moderationSTAGE CRAFT
A specially built life-size model of a #Ford Cortina stars in the West End stage version of the film Made in Dagenham. Martin Gurdon goes behind the scenes to find out more.
Angel of the north sculptor Anthony Gormley often uses casts of his own body when making his famous statues. Simon Kenny did much the same thing to a Mk2 #Ford-Cortina . Kenny's Souvenir Studios makes sets and props for film, TV and theatre, and was commissioned to work on the Made in Dagenham musical, starring Jemma Arterton, and now running at London's Adel phi Theatre.
Much of the late-1960s plot takes place in a stylised Dagenham factory, and required a period Cortina. Kenny's search for a rust-free example took him from Crawley to Dumfries. He eventually paid £5500 cash to a man in Kettering, and drove his car back to London, completing the last 15 rush-hour miles stuck in second gear.
'The vendor parted company with the car with a tear in his eye and said "Look after her". Little did he know!'
The bodywork was waxed and a full mould taken, then the Mk2 was stripped so that castings of the seats, trim, mechanical parts and running gear could be made. 'Throughout the process we were busy sourcing trims, handles, seven steering wheels and other items' says Kenny. 'It was our intention to keep the car in reasonable condition to sell on.'
He also had access to spares cleared from the Kettering man's shed, 'to make room for his large Staffordshire Bull terrier'.
Many of the cast parts were incorporated into giant steel-framed backdrops that resembled Airfix kits. 'The Air fix thing is obviously fun, and all boys of a certain age know about it' says set and costume designer Bunny Christie, who came up with the idea.
The Adelphi's stage is surprisingly small, with very little space in the wings for storage. Watching the musical, I was gobsmacked at how a fast-moving, 30-strong cast shared it with a whirling selection of ever-changing backdrops, industrial sewing machines on trolleys, bumper cars, a #1947 #CJ27 #Willys-Jeep , what at first sight looks like a spinning Cortina Crayford convertible, and a dancing Harold Wilson - all without bumping into each other.
'Stages can be dangerous, often dark, noisy places with lots of moving, heavy machinery' says Christie. 'The production becomes like a machine, with everyone moving in exactly the same way, night after night.'
Top and left. That steering wheel is one of seven that were required for the production; the #Ford-Cortina-Mk2 is a plastic model cast from the real thing; backdrop resembles a giant Airfix kit.
On close inspection the Cortina is a clever plastic fake. It took four months to build, using the mould taken from the donor car. The door frames are original, but with glassfibre skins, and the seats, steering wheel and switchgear are genuine. Under the floor, hydraulics lower a turntable so the car can spin on its own axis.
'The Cortina needed to drive on, hit a point on the stage and revolve, then a girl jump out of the boot. It had to take her weight and that of the people in the car when it was revolving, then drive off by itself, and be light enough so it didn't go through the stage' says Christie.
During one rehearsal the actor piloting it failed to raise the turntable, and found himself stuck, wheels spinning. 'He didn't forget after that' says Christie, for whom the Made In Dagenham project started about a year before the show opened, and involved two or three months of intensive activity in between other work. 'You're designing right up to the deadline' she says.
You'd expect 3D computer animation to be used, but time constraints mean Christie employs computers, hands-on design and model-making. 'As soon as something's hot off the desk it goes straight to the builders.' Given that a West End theatre that isn't open isn't making money, the workload is intense.
The stage area itself is gutted to allow bespoke tracks to go in to move the sets and other props, which all had to be craned into the theatre through a small, high, warehouse door that, with the plastic-bodied fake Cortina, was the source of some anxiety. Interestingly, one of Bunny Christie's favourite props is the jeep.
'With its original plain colour and markings, that's a really lovely thing,' says Christie. 'As the heart of the story is the factory, there's something about having multiples of stuff. It doesn't work unless all the bits work together. That's what it's like to work on a show, and it was a fun thing to get to grips with.'
As for the dismembered car that made all this possible: 'What was left of the original Cortina body and a medium-sized van of parts has been sold to a family in West Yorkshire, to be restored once again' says Simon Kenny.
So, apparently, no Ford Cortinas were hurt in the making of this musical.
Above, left and below. Creating the giant 'Airfix' kits off-site ready for the production - and the plastic Cortina too; the donor car came from Kettering after months of searching nationwide.
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- Post is under moderationOne last time. Frazer Nash last competed at Le Mans in 1959 – in this car. Time for Tony Dron to test it on track at Gooodwood.
The gentleman driver #John-Dashwood invited the accomplished club driver #Bill-Wilks to share a Frazer Nash in the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours. They'd heard about a Frazer Nash with a #BMW-V8 engine but, as no such thing was suitable, Dashwood bought this 1955 Le Mans Coupe from the Frazer Nash makers, AFN Ltd.
But hang on - the name Dashwood rings loud bells in any Englishman's mind. Was this John Dashwood related to the infamous rake of West Wycombe, Sir Francis Dashwood, who founded the notorious Hellfire Club of the 1750s? Yes, indeed, he was of that ilk.
These are arcane matters but the Dashwood baronetcy of West Wycombe is the Premier Baronetcy in the Baronetage of Great Britain. As a younger son in that line, the Dashwood who owned this car in 1959 had no title. He was just plain John and, also unlike his colourful 18th Century forebear, he appears to have led a thoroughly respectable, indeed blameless life - Eton, Oxford, 'something in the City', a nice house in Surrey, a successful marriage and two children - an all-round good chap, for sure.
After driving their car recently at Goodwood, I set about tracing Dashwood and Wilks but 55 years after the event it was not easy. In John Dashwood's case it was impossible but I did eventually track down his son, Tom, who gave me the sad news that his father had passed away in December 2013.
Bill Wilks, however, was eventually found - thanks to the 'VSCC mafia'. He's 80 now, obviously fit and happily retired in Dorset, but in 1959 he was 25 and had already made a name for himself as a quick man in Frazer Nash cars.
'Actually', Bill told me, 'I had just packed it all in because I was getting married and taking out a mortgage but then John asked me to join him at Le Mans and I thought, why not?' Dashwood, who was Five years older than Bill, had chosen well. Young Wilks wasn't just quick, he was also a proper engineer who recalled doing a lot of work on the car himself, putting it as right as he could before they set off for Le Mans, where the ACO had accepted them as first reserve.
The four-year-old Frazer Nash was hardly going to set the pace at Le Mans in 1959, to be frank, and Gregor Grant's Autosport race report stated: 'With the non- appearance of the Conrero Alfa Romeos, all reserves were called in, including the veteran Frazer Nash of Dashwood and Wilks.' Bill was well aware of that but, hey, you don't turn down a drive at Le Mans lightly.
Dashwood's aim was to take part in a good sporting spirit Even so, they reckoned the old Coupe might still be quick enough in its class - and its large fuel tank would ensure long stints between pit-stops. AFN's standard tanks varied from 14 to 25 gallons, with a 5 ½ -gallon auxiliary tank available.
Rumours that they added an extra fuel tank from an Austin Seven set off my personal bullshit sensor. No, Bill Wilks explained that they raised the fuel capacity to about 18 gallons by adding an auxiliary tank of about two gallons: 'I am absolutely certain it was not an Austin Seven tank - I made it!'
Its pace on the long Mulsanne straight in qualifying wasn't bad - pulling 6000rpm in top, which equated to 140mph with the 3.54:1 final drive they had fitted. At that speed, the kink in the straight should have presented no worries but Bill remembers getting a big shock there.
'I looked at that kink and thought, no problem, I can take this on full noise - easy!' As he turned in, the rear suspension jacked itself up, the car took a great lurch and Bill was looking into the trees. 'I thought it was Judgement Day - I really thought that was it.' But he held it and, back at the pits, investigated the alarming handling problem.
Excessive body roll was expected in those cars and earlier, back at the Isleworth factory, the legendary Harry Olrog of AFN had altered this Coupe's rear suspension, creating a Panhard rod arrangement. What Bill recalls now, very clearly, is that the real problem was not that but dodgy dampers. On closer inspection, they had been modified in a curious way, presumably to stiffen them up. 'I think I found some pieces of wood inside but, anyway, I put them aside and found a better set from a supplier in the paddock - Armstrongs, I think they were, but, whatever, they were much better.'
Apart from that, the car had gone well and Dashwood wisely nominated his more experienced co-driver to start the race. There was some concern over whether the brakes would last - some say that it had roadgoing cast- iron drums, though Bill insists that it had Al-Fin racing brakes - 'But they still weren't any good!' he adds.
Three hours into the 24, Bill came in to hand over to John. T told him to be careful because the brakes had gone but I had some sort of premonition as he drove off - I felt something was about to go wrong.
It did. The overheated brakes really were finished and John Dashwood did not complete one lap. At Amage comer the car buried itself in the mound of sand on the exit, where, as Bill recalls, it remained until the end of the race.
Dashwood was devastated, feeling he had let everybody down but you have to feel sympathy for the poor chap - it was really very bad luck.
Legend has it that the gearbox casing was split in Dashwood's effort to slow down before hitting the sand. Bill says that's wrong: 'Reverse gear did break in John's efforts to back out of the sand after the race. The steering was slightly damaged but they managed to patch things up enough to drive it back to England.
So ended the last appearance of a Frazer Nash in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Ten years earlier, in 1949, Norman Culpan and 'Aldy Aldington had finished in a blaze of glory, third overall in a Frazer Nash High Speed model, but that was to remain the finest hour of Frazer Nash in the 24 Hours. What concerns us now, however, is how the remarkable Le Mans Coupe of the later years came into being at all.
Since taking over AFN Ltd in the late 1920s, the Aldington brothers, led by the dynamic HJ 'Aid/ Aldington, had made heroic efforts to become big players in the high-performance motoring world. They had made the best of the fabulous chain-driven sports car designed by the company's founder, Archie Frazer-Nash - the man has the hyphen but the cars don't - but they always lacked the capital to become truly independent manufacturers.
That was overcome in the 1930s by a strong link with BMW. When the German company proceeded to design the world's most advanced sports cars, business boomed at AFN. The efficient Aldingtons were well-organised importers, with workshops and a talented team enabling them do far more than merely service the cars they brought in. They made parts and bodywork, modifying cars as required and marketing them as Frazer Nash-BMWs. They worked extremely well with the BMW management and engineers, who were right behind them, and things, you might say, were going great guns in the first months of #1939 .
When the world then came crashing down, AFN Ltd switched to war work. As peace returned in #1945 , they wasted no time in returning to high-performance cars. Had it been possible, the link with BMW would have been resumed immediately but German industry needed time to recover and, anyway, British buyers weren't that keen on German products just then.
Controversially, Aldy Aldington did retrieve some useful items from Germany at the end of the war, but that has probably been misinterpreted. He wanted to resume his business links with the German engineers that he admired so much but, in a radically changed world, he simply couldn't.
Instead, he looked for a link with a large British company. After unhappy meetings with leaders in the Midlands motor industry came to nothing, an agreement was signed between AFN and the Bristol Aeroplane Company to develop new post-war high-performance cars from the legacy of BMW's advanced pre-war models.
That should have provided the industrial muscle Aldy needed but the relationship was doomed. A relatively small business in the motor trade, led by a quick-thinking and impatient visionary, could not work with a large corporation accustomed to the different engineering ethics of the aeronautical industry.
They soon fell out and AFN Ltd went its own way, retaining an agreement for a supply of the new #1971 cc straight-six Bristol engines, which were based on BMW's pre-war engine and ideal for the new models that AFN planned to produce.
The basics of the post-war #Frazer #Nash had been laid down by AFN's John Perrett, who designed a two-seater sports car based closely on the front end of a #BMW-327 , with transverse-leaf suspension and lower wishbones, and the rear end of a BMW 326, with longitudinal torsion bar suspension and a live axle located mainly by an A-bracket. The main frame was based on the tubular chassis of the #BMW-328 .
Aldy then managed to recruit a superstar: Fritz Fiedler who, as the chief designer of BMW cars from #1932 , had been behind all the great BMW sports cars of that decade. Arriving at Isleworth in #1947 , Fiedler took on the development of the post-war Frazer Nash chassis, suspension, body design and construction and also part of the work on the Bristol engine. A mild-mannered genius, he was a very well liked at AFN, if gently amused when they called him 'Doctor' Fiedler.
Fiedler returned to BMW after three years, having made a huge contribution to AFN's early post-war success. He went on to influence BMW's return to prominence, which was secured by the time he retired and continues to this day.
In 1952, a revised #Frazer-Nash chassis was inspired partly by race driver Ken Wharton's wish for a single- seater Frazer #Nash-F2 car but also by a desire to produce a simpler chassis that was cheaper and easier to make.
By 1953, Aldy knew that the adventure as a manufacturer was all but over for AFN. It had been a glorious effort, resulting in some wonderful thoroughbred cars. The Le Mans Replica, a copy of the High Speed model that finished third in the 24 Hours, was and remains a truly great classic. Other superb post-war Frazer Nash models emerged from AFN but the enterprise lacked sufficient scale. The quality of the cars went without question and the few that they could make sold well despite being very expensive.
In the mid-1950s, AFN Ltd became the official importer of Porsche cars, a move that was destined to transform the company into a much bigger, very different business - #Porsche Cars Great Britain Ltd.
Only nine Le Mans Coupes were made in all and the first of them, driven by Ken Wharton and HA Mitchell, took a fine class win and 13th overall in the #1953 Le Mans 24 Hours. By then the Le Mans regulations demanded enclosed wheels and encouraged coupe bodywork. AFN's Le Mans Coupe was therefore developed from the open two-seater Targa Florio model.
This particular Coupe was originally sold as a road car to Mrs Kathleen 'Kitty' Maurice (nee Gorst, later Mrs Thomas) in April 1955, and it had a well-documented engine change early in its existence. Kitty Maurice was a keen motorist and, as the landowner of Castle Combe, she had made the conversion of the wartime airfield into a motor racing circuit possible. She soon sold the car to a Dr Mawe, who used it in club competitions in #1956 before selling it back to #AFN late in 1957, where it remained until John Dashwood bought it in March 1959.
Its next owner was the well-known racing driver and Gerrards Cross-based specialist motor trader Roy Bloxam, who fitted disc brakes and other mods such as a #ZF limited-slip differential. He took second in class and tenth overall in the 1960 Autosport Production Sports Car Championship.
Its many owners in the half-century since then have generally cared for it well and it remains remarkably original. At the end of the 1960s, an owner in Malvern had the #Panhard rod removed and an A-bracket restored, taking the rear suspension back to its original specification. By 1963, its original green had been changed to wine red but its Swedish owner in the 1970s, Ake Andersson, had it painted blue. Early this century the colour was changed again, going back to a shade of green close to its original colour.
One owner, though which one isn't known, changed it back to drum brakes - aluminium at the front and iron at the rear. The FLA papers issued for it in 19% show this had been done by then. And, about 12 years ago, a Laycock overdrive was Fitted - a type that would have been available when the car was new. With the standard final drive, an overdrive transforms the car, especially for normal road use - and it might even be about right were somebody to take it back to Le Mans to run it in the Gassic.
It is obviously eligible for top events such as that and the Mille Miglia but would also be ideal for great open- road driving events, such as the Colorado Grand, which it has done twice in more recent times.
My instant reaction on driving it at Goodwood is that it feels like a superb roadgoing sports car, even today - and it's certainly quick enough to outperform most modem traffic. By racing car standards it Is heavy - it was weighed at 2079lb (943kg) by the Le Mans scrutineers in 1959 - but against most of today's road cars it's a featherweight with a formidable power-to-weight ratio.
This car's obviously high value, of course, is largely the result of its genuine Le Mans history, so the normal preference of Frazer Nash fans for the open cars definitely docs not apply here. There's a lovely period feel to the small, high-quality tan interior but tall prospective owners should note that it is best suited to shorter drivers - the seat had to be completely removed for me and I sat on the carpet to drive it.
Even so, it was a pleasure to power it round the Goodwood circuit, where it felt quicker than I had expected. The handling was a bit skittish at first and I went back into the pits after just one lap to have the dampers adjusted. They had been on the hardest setting but, with them suitably softened, the car was much better.
It's a stable car at speed, a true thoroughbred of the old school in some ways - years of sound engineering and the black art of 'chassis-sorting' created a confidence- inspiring machine with sensitive steering. On the straight, it runs true but there is always the feeling that it's ever ready to tackle the next comer. It turns in well and immediately adopts a superbly neutral angle of drift, which the driver can make a little bit more or less pronounced almost by merely thinking about it. The famous Bristol engine is a delight and, in my short run, the brakes were fine - as we know, it takes three hours to knock them out!
This delightful post-war sports car has a great story to tell - the next chapter of which begins after its sale by Bonhams at Goodwood in March.
THANKS TO Tony Bancroft. Blakenoy Motorsport. Tom Dashwood, the #Frazer-Nash Car Club and Archives. Goodwood Motor Circuit, Richard Procter, James Trigwell, and Bill Wilks. Bonhams is selling the car at the #Goodwood 73rd Members' Meeting on 21 March.
Car #1955 #Frazer-Nash-Le-Mans-Coupe
ENGINE 1971cc six-cylinder, OHV, three #Solex downdraught carburettors
POWER 142bhp 5750rpm
TRANSMISSION Four-speed #Borg-Warner manual, rear-wheel drive
STEERING Rack and pinion
Front: independent, transverse leaf spring, lower wishbones, telescopic dampers.
Rear: live axle located by A-bracket, longitudinal torsion bars, telescopic dampers.
WEIGHT 963kg (2079lb - as weighed by #Le-Mans scrutineers, #1959 )
PERFORMANCE Top speed 140mph claimed at Le Mans. 1959. 0-60mph c8sec
Above, left and right Closed bodywork was developed from the open-top Targa Florio - only nine coupes were made: power comes from a #BMW- derived triple-carb straight-six.
‘DRIVING IT AT GOODWOOD, IT FEELS LIKE A SUPERB ROADGOING SPORTS CAR, EVEN TODAY’
Left. Surprisingly civilised inside for a Le Mans entrant, though it lacks headroom for the taller driver. Tony Dron had to remove the seat and sit on the floor...
Above. With 142bhp from its 2.0-litre straight-six and a (scrutineered) kerbweight of 943kg, the Frazer Nash was capable of 140mph on the Mulsanne straight.
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- Post is under moderationROYAL CARS
An exclusive visit to the Queen’s own collection. Hidden away at Sandringham is a certain Windsor family’s own collection of cars. Octane was granted exclusive access into the royal grounds. Words Giles Chapman // Photography Matthew Howell.
By any measure, it must have seemed a baffling request to the craftsmen at Hooper & Co, the Royal Family's favoured coachbuilders for decades. Queen Mary had paid extraordinarily close attention to the specification of her new #Daimler-DE27 . The driver's compartment, she decreed, was too wide, compromising the dignity of the vehicle, and a more seemly front profile was demanded.
It was 1947, and this was to be her personal car, finished in her favourite dark green and taking four months to build. The narrowing process meant the steering column had to be kinked 2.5in towards the centre, and poked out of a truncated dashboard. Widened wings also needed to be handmade. How her chauffeur felt about his custom-cramped driving posture would, of course, never be disclosed.
Her Majesty's other requests were more fathomable. Because the 80-year-old Queen Mary had trouble bending her neck, she requested 57in of headroom, which made this the tallest car Hooper bodied after the Second World War. The drop-down bootlid revealed a bespoke picnic case, and the rear compartment was a snug of green leather and walnut, with notebook, pencil, ashtray and matchbox built into the armrest. Spring-loaded silk blinds gave privacy, although Her Royal Highness couldn't countenance life on the road without gold monograms on doors and boot. Queen Mary proudly called it her 'shopping Daimler'.
The VIP customer proclaimed herself delighted with her 'shopping Daimler' and Queen Elizabeth II's grandmother used it almost daily until her death in 1953 .
Although this unique limousine now belongs to the National Trust, it's found its circuitous way to a resting place at the Sandringham Estate. And it's not alone. The Queen's rural retreat in north Norfolk, at the centre of its stunning 20,0-acre estate, has an extraordinary car collection.
Despite Sandringham Museum being open to members of the visiting public, it's largely unknown. Sandringham House first welcomed visitors in #1977 , and you can ramble through the estate's tranquil woodland free of charge all year round. But the car collection? Even the estate's website mentions only a highly polished #1939 Merryweather fire engine in the outbuildings. Yet there's much more...
You might never have guessed that Sandringham is home to some of Britain's most important and interesting royal cars. Until, that is, #Drive-My was granted unprecedented access to this most august of classic fleets. There are usually between 20 and 25 cars hidden away there.
When the 21-year-old Prince of Wales - later King Edward VII - was gifted Sandringham in #1862 by his mother Queen Victoria, he received an 18th Century, stucco-fronted country pile that he quickly found too cramped. The builders were soon shipped in and, by #1870 , the new main house was completed. Or, nearly. Additions were constant, including a ballroom and a guest wing, and a stable block that included carpentry and sewing schools for the estate's youngsters.
The Prince was a dedicated techie, with a penchant for cutting-edge machinery. Hence, in #1901 , he installed an electricity generator for the house in an extension to the stable (soon obsolete when mains power reached Sandringham). Likewise, the Prince was fascinated by the earliest cars. The contemporary Lord Montagu introduced him to the motoring exhilaration in 1899 on a New Forest outing aboard his 12hp Daimler; the Prince was smitten, and ordered a 6hp Model A example for himself the following year. It had all the latest features, such as an accelerator pedal instead of a hand throttle, raked steering column, and elaborate electric ignition. Hooper & Co were entrusted with the bodywork for this first British royal car, done in four-seater mail phaeton style with separate hoods for front and back seats. A spacious new garage was soon added to Sandringham's stables to meet its needs.
That very car is treasured here today. It's somewhat changed from its original condition - although the alterations all took place in 1902! A Mr S Letzer, the first royal chauffeur and referred to as the Prince of Wales's 'mechanician', sometimes wound it up to 20mph-plus, but it frequently overheated. Moving the radiator from the back to the front cured that but required a bulky bonnet. At about the same time, new and more comfortable tonneau bodywork was built. A frilled Surrey top was added and the pneumatic rear tyres were changed for solid ones, as the lack of a differential made them prone to peeling off.
The lofty veteran is resplendent in paintwork of royal claret over black, picked out in a bright red that's more respectfully termed vermillion. This livery was adopted from one of Queen Victoria's horse- drawn carriages, and remains the colour scheme for the monarch's official transport today. Not that you'd necessarily spot it. The claret often looks like black from a distance and in certain light.
This is one of the most influential single cars in British motoring history. Edward VII's enthusiasm for it quelled hostility towards cars from landowners and the gentry. Before, mass upper-crust opinion was that they were noisy and dangerous affronts to a horse-drawn world. But the moment the King adopted the new motor car, the mindset rapidly switched.
The pairing of Daimler chassis and Hooper bodywork became the royal staple, and there are two magnificent examples of such later limos at Sandringham. The 45hp Brougham dates from 1914 and its Double Six replacement is a 1929 car. These maroon monsters were fixtures of British public life, the King easily visible behind the towering side windows. The newer car has the unusual feature of headlights that can be swivelled to the left, but both cars have the royal quirk of a black- painted radiator grille surround. A bright shiny thing on the front of the car, a rolling advert for Daimler, might have distracted attention away from the occupants of the back seat.
By the mid-1950s, Daimler's grip on the Royal Household's patronage went limp. For two years between #1953 and #1955 , it didn't even build limousines, and Rolls-Royce stepped in, capping the flow of some 80 Daimlers over five decades with a Phantom IV Hooper Landaulette for Elizabeth II in 1954.
The second of the Queen's official Rollers was a special Phantom V in #1961 . It was retired to Sandringham in 2002 where, in this very low-key car museum, it's the most recognisable one to most visitors.
The #Rolls-Royce developed this car in secret under the 'Canberra' codename, to give the impression it was for the Australian Government (the Australians had followed the Royal Family's switch in allegiance to Rolls-Royce in the late 1950s). The coachwork was entrusted to Park Ward, cutting Hooper out of the loop and hastening its decision to quit coachbuilding altogether, and two near-identical examples were built.
Its most distinctive feature was the cover that could be slipped off the rear roof section, revealing a Perspex dome through which to admire the head of state on her travels. And this car really did go round the world - usually in its own garage on board Britannia. This three-ton behemoth would be craned delicately on and off the royal yacht and rolled carefully into its berth, into which it would just fit, thanks to specially designed demountable bumpers.
Another Buckingham Palace workhorse with dramatic history has also come to rest at Sandringham. The #1969 Vanden Plas Princess limousine is mundane apart from one thing. In March #1974 , the car was ambushed on The Mall by a gun-toting madman intent on kidnapping its key occupant: Princess Anne. Although he shot a bodyguard, the chauffeur and two passers-by, the attempt was thwarted and she was unscathed and, indeed, unbowed. But it did reveal two worrying omissions in Royal cars: bulletproofing and radio contact with the security services - both remedied soon afterwards.
Formality is one thing for the Windsor clan, but at certain times of the year Sandringham is all about the great outdoors. And proper shooting brakes have for decades been as regular a feature of estate life as beaters, gun dogs and hip flasks. Hooper's awe-inspiring shooting brake body on a 57hp Daimler chassis must represent a pinnacle in 1920s sporting life. It was delivered in August #1924 to George V, and an excellent day's shooting would be in prospect with 12 guns in its varnished rack. Roll-up side curtains guaranteed lungfuls of bracing Norfolk air for the ten occupants... and four-wheel brakes added welcome retardation on slippery tracks.
Guides at Sandringham today are accustomed to the huge pull this one has on viewers. It's the paintwork. The rear section is timber- panelled but the thoroughly rural theme continues with the woody effect on scuttle, bonnet and wings. It's called a 'scumble' paintjob: the darker base layer was allowed to dry to the tacky stage and then a lighter paint colour was brushed on artfully with a toothed comb to give the woodgrain look, which was sealed in under three layers of lacquer. The stags and pheasants would never know you're lurking among the trees.
Altogether more modest is George IV's #1951 #Ford V8 Pilot with a Garner woody body. The wheelbase was stretched by 12in and the windscreen height raised by 3in, so it was uncommonly roomy, with the gun rack on the roof. Yet another interesting modification was a floor-mounted gearlever, as the King hated column changes. Yet his untimely death in 1952 meant he barely drove it. The family kept it for sentimental reasons, and it was still burbling around the estate in the '60s.
By then it had been joined by an upstart newcomer, a Ford Zephyr Mkll the like of which you'll see nowhere else. Hardly the most elegant of vehicles, with its hearse-like contours relieved with wood panel inserts, eight people could cram in with Prince Philip at the wheel, and it was custom-made for Sandringham shooting parties.
Yet another category of automotive resident here is the Royal Family's personal cars from years gone by. You can see Prince Charles's 21st birthday present from his parents - a blue #MGC-GT . You can also get up close to several wonderful children's cars. We loved the Imperial 1 midget racing car, a gift for Prince Charles in #1955 from America and, with a two-stroke engine, capable of a hairy 40mph. How many scars can the heir to the throne attribute to spills in this one, we wonder? There's also an #Aston-Martin-Volante Junior that a grateful Victor Gauntlett presented to valued customer Charles in #1988 (to pass on to his sons, Princes William and Harry), and a working replica of the 007 #DB5 given to the Queen on an Aston factory visit in #1966 , as a gift for lucky toddler Prince Andrew.
The Queen's own Rover 3.0-litre has a patina that includes small dents and a cracked windscreen. The Duke of Edinburgh's #Alvis-TD21 , meanwhile, is crammed with unusual features: Prince Philip ordered a taller windscreen, electric soft-top and a leather dashboard instead of polished walnut. #Alvis later fortified the car with five-speed gearbox, disc brake conversion and a power-boosting TE cylinder head to withstand the relentless use the Prince put it to: over 60,000 hard-driving miles to Germany and back, commuting to polo fixtures, and frequently picking up Princess Anne from school.
These days, a Vauxhall Cresta PAis a car to admire rather than disdain, and the rare #1961 Friary wagon at Sandringham was an estate runabout. The Queen liked driving this relaxed old barge, and it carries a jocular MYT 1 personal plate. Indeed, Her Majesty pretty much started the craze for 'private plates' after receiving a #Daimler-DE27 as a gift in #1948 registered HRH 1. Who could be more appropriate for either?
'Her Majesty started the craze for private plates with a Daimler, received as a gift and registered HRH 1’
Space is at a premium in Sandringham's garage block. Spare capacity is taken up by interesting vehicles on loan from non-royal owners, including the ex-Earl Mountbatten #1924 #Rolls-Royce-Silver-Ghost (used by him in India during his spell as Viceroy and later Governor-General in #1947 - #1948 ). There's also a #1929 Armstrong Siddeley 30hp shooting brake originally built for George Vi's use at Balmoral.
When the family is in residence at Christmas, though, the garage is needed for the current fleet of limousines and Range Rovers. Cars such as the #Princess , #Zephyr , #Alvis and #Rover are turfed out into heated storage nearby as the retinue of chauffeurs and security staff arrive.
However, the old cars do not depart under their own steam. The Sandringham collection cannot be faulted for polished spotlessness, but many are non-runners and, indeed, some of the pre-war Daimlers would require much more than a mechanical overhaul to get their sleeve-valve engines purring again. Seizures are a near-certainty. The #1900 #Daimler has tackled the London-Brighton a few times but its last mechanical breakage on the #2005 event has kept it indoors ever since. Nonetheless, all these cars are preserved in a secluded atmosphere that, in itself, couldn't really be any more authentic.
VISIT SANDRINGHAM MUSEUM www. sandringhamestate. co. uk/visiting-sandringham/
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- Post is under moderationIn 1902, #Henry-Leland, a master mechanic and entrepreneur boldly founded Cadillac naming the company after Antoine de la Mo the Cadillac, the founder of Detroit.
From its earliest years, Cadillac aimed for precision engineering and stylish luxury finishes, causing its cars to be ranked amongst the finest in the United States. Six short years after its inception, Cadillac layed the foundation for modern mass production of automobiles by demonstrating the complete interchangeability of its parts, the most important advancement of the year in the automobile industry, making Cadillac the first American car to win the prestigious Dewar trophy from the Royal Automobile Club of England.
General Motors purchased the Cadillac company in 1909 making it their prestige division, devoted to the production of large luxury vehicles. By 1910 the company produced, the first production car to feature an electric self starter, ignition and lighting which brought back the Dewar trophy to Detroit making Cadillac the only manufacturer to claim the trophy twice. By 1915 the company had produced the signature V8 engine. The worlds first V-type 16 cylinder engine in a passenger car, followed by a V12 engine by 1930’s. The development and introduction of the V8, V16 and V12 helped to make Cadillac the “Standard of the World”. Shortly after pearl harbor, Cadillac discontinued car production and devoted its resources to the war efforts. When peace returned in 1945, there was a great demand for cars. The desire for Cadillac’s was especially strong because many people had their horizons and expectations widened by the global conflict and their pockets deepened by long overtime hours worked during the war. Amazingly, post war, Cadillac produced the first ‘46 and then the 47 Cadillac making it one of the company’s most popular post-war models.
Here we have is a post-war model the 1947 series 62 sedan Cadillac owned by Mr. Syed Amir Uddin Mohammed, a renowned vintage and classic car restorer, collector based in Hyderabad.
Expertise in the specialist vintage car restorations and having judged many vintage car rallies and shows, he has a wealth of experience.
We asked him on how he happens to own this 47 #Cadillac. He says, “I bought this #Cadillac-62 sedan in 1984 from Calcutta. The car was originally from Hyderabad, later moved to Calcutta. Later when it was up for sale, a friend of mine informed me about it and insisted me on buying it, considering its condition and Hyderabad origin. I decided to buy it even though I had not seen the car. Mechanically I wasn’t worried about it, the only thing was the originality of the car I was looking for. It was in good condition overall and eventually I bought it. When it was time for us to load it up and bring it back to Hyderabad, we called up a carrier and when it arrived there was an immediate problem, it proved to be small for the wider Cadillac. We brought a bigger truck the next day and transported it to Hyderabad”. Since then it has been in my garage and I make sure it’s a runner always taking it out when every possible around town and I also take part in vintage car rallies or displays held in the city for people enthusiastic about these cars and for the younger generations to see and appreciate these cars.
It is Powered by a 150 horsepower, 346 cubic-inch V8 engine which had been battle tested in WW II M-5 tanks”. Yes, you read it right, the V8 engine was indeed powering the military tanks in World War II and were literally said to be bullet proof. In practical terms, the #1947 Cadillac’s were a continuation of the post war 1946 s, which themselves dated back to the trend setting pre-war 1941 s. Designed by legendary #General-Motors design chief Harley Earl, it was one of the company’s most popular post-war models and was so far ahead, more modern and sophisticated than anything else on the road.
It featured the sleek, notchback style, characterizing the racy-look of the 1947 line-up. New features included stainless stone shields, door skins that were flush with the rocker panels, individual window mouldings and front and rear window ventipanes. Standard equipment on the Series 62 included automatic window lifts, bullet-shaped front and rear fenders and script Cadillac insignia. Optional items included fog lights, white sidewall discs, safety spotlight and fender mounted antenna. The Series 62 sedan featured ventiplanes on both the front and rear windows.
Talking about his first restoration project, he say’s “It all started when I first restored a 28 Chevelle in my college days. It was my first complete restoration project and the most memorable one too. This project of a ford woody which we did in our record time that was for a ford event in Bangalore. Coming Saturday was the event and we started body and paint work on Monday, finished it by Tuesday and refitted the whole car by Thursday. We were supposed to leave Hyderabad by Friday noon, but unfortunately the car did not start. We then fixed the problem, had it started and left to Bangalore by late night. The check in entry for cars on Saturday was till 2pm and we managed to reach there by 1:30pm. It was a huge relieve. All the painstaking work was well worth it. It was by far the most exciting project we undertook and completed”.
When asked, how it is to maintain or restore a vintage car in the, he says “Firstly to own and maintain a vintage or a classic car you need to have real passion, experience and knowledge about the car. If you own one always park it in a garage or a closed shed as the metal and chrome work can easily become tarnished when exposed to the changing weather. Vintage cars get spoiled when not in use than when they are in use so start your car up regularly or at least once in a week and allow it to reach normal running temperature before switching it off. If possible the car should be driven a few kilometres to prevent potential problems. Check all liquid levels regularly and top up if necessary before driving - oil and water especially, but also brake and clutch fluids levels too”.
Restoring a classic car can be an extremely rewarding experience, but before you begin, you should know what you’re getting yourself into. Internet can be of great help. Today we don’t find cars in good condition, they require major restorations, so before you plan to buy one do a complete research. Finding replacement parts are very difficult locally, even if u find the required part here it is so excessively priced comparing the old new stock sold online. . Unlike today, cars were available for reasonable prices back then, as in some cases we bought, two same cars and used one as the spare car. Now, tyres have become a concern too. Tyre companies in India are mostly focused on radial tyres and are no longer producing the ones that suit these vintage cars. Considering the rarity and desirability, vintage cars today are sought after more as an investment or a business as they increase in value over time. It is no longer what was ones considered as a hobby or a passion to own for the true enthusiast”.
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