If you visit Brussels this summer, know that Europe’s capital has something in store for car lovers. Indeed, the Brussels Museum Autoworld has opened its doors every day of the week until September 2 to show you the magnificent history of Renault.
Pre-war glory: A 1937 4,1 litre 6 cylinder Vivasport… just dream away behind this sporting version of the Renault Vivastella sedan
We were present at the opening reception, and show you here some photos of the formidable and iconic cars which are on display, and we lift a brief veil on their history…
At the presentation of the latest Jeep Wrangler in Austria, we had an elegant and interesting conversation with Cristina Calasso, Marketing Communication Product Marketing at Magneti Marelli, who lifted for us a veil of the magnificent activities and interesting history of Magneti Marelli, a company which stood at the cradle of the automobile.
A Marelli Magneto built in the ’20s.
She brought us also into contact with her colleague, press contact Maurizio Scrignari, and we subsequently asked him more about the history and growth of the company. So watch out in our column for more about all this soon…
Magneti Marelli is now an important producer with headquarters in Reutlingen, Germany, dedicated to the development, production and sale of automotive exterior lighting products for all major OEMs worldwide.
All this fits into a new and interesting path we want to walk with you dear reader, into the world of the supplier’s industry. We all know that supplier firms co-engineer and make (up) more than 50 % of our modern cars, yet we pay only scant attention to them. All the more reason to open for you these new horizons on our coveted site.
In this column we start with telling you somewhat more about the actual involvement of Magneti Marelli in the engineering and production of the latest generation Jeep Wrangler…
We treat you this time, dear reader, on a following story about famous men who changed motorsport and/or made such an important contribution to the development of the automobile, that the automotive world has never been the same again since then. Such a man was the Austrian nobleman Robert Eberan von Eberhorst. He made his mark as a formidable engineer not only before WW2, but also throughout the war and also in the fifties, and one of his post-war creations, the Aston Martin DB3 sports racing car, is still raced in historic sporting events, right until this day…
The love affair between the three pointed star and the Mille Miglia is now nine decades old.
The legendary successes include the victory of Rudolf Caracciola as the first non-Italian driver in 1931, with his co-driver Wilhelm Sebastian in a Mercedes-Benz SSKL (“Super Sport Short Light”). I included here my drawing based on the historical photo taken at the finish, drawn with ink pen and 2B pencil, focusing on the drivers, bringing them more in detail.
Then there is the sensational success of Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson in 1955, with the overall victory and a still unbeaten record time of 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds. In 1955 Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson drove the 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S) to overall victory ahead of their team mate Juan Manuel Fangio.
Also triumphant were the 300 SL “Gullwing” sports cars (W 198) in the Gran Turismo class over 1,300 cc displacement, and the 180 D (W 120) won a victory in the diesel class.
In 1956, in addition to several 300 SL “Gullwing” cars and three luxury class saloons of the 220 “Ponton” (W 180) model, a privately entered Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121) also competed successfully in the race.
In 2018, a large contingent of the Mercedes-Benz models SSK (W 06), 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198), 190 SL (W 121) and 220 “Ponton” (W 180) vehicles will be lining up at the start in Brescia. Among others, Mercedes-Benz Classic brand ambassadors Roland Asch, Ellen Lohr, Bernd Mayländer and Bernd Schneider will be at the wheel of the vehicles.
Today’s version of the “1000 Miglia” is run on a route which closely follows that of the original road race. This year, the first stage (16 May 2018) will lead from Brescia to Cervia-Milano Marittima, and then on to Rome on the second day (17 May). The route to Parma is on the agenda on the third day (18 May), before the rally returns to Brescia on the fourth day (19 May). Entry is restricted to vehicle models that already participated in the famous Italian road race during the period from 1927 to 1957.
Museo Mille Miglia: Public starting ramp with famous racing cars
The ties between the brand and the racing tradition are also underlined by the cooperation between Mercedes-Benz Classic and the Museo Mille Miglia in the historical monastery complex of Sant’Eufemia della Fonte just outside Brescia.
This year, Mercedes-Benz is putting on an extraordinary special exhibition in the courtyard of the museum: every visitor can drive his vehicle on a starting ramp as is typical for the Mille Miglia. He can position his vehicle for a photo between two famous Mercedes-Benz racing cars which caused a sensation at the Mille Miglia with their successes: the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194) from 1952 (2nd and 4th place) and the 300 SLR (W 196 S) from 1955 (1st and 2nd place).
This staging can be seen and used from 10 May to 21 June 2018.
Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge 2018”
Apart from the actual competition, this is also down to programme items such as the Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge 2018”.
The participants in the Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge” will drive ahead of the classic cars on the same route and will compete in the same special stages. Vehicles permitted to take part in the Challenge are Mercedes-Benz SL models of various generations and vehicles from Mercedes-AMG plus models of particular historical value from the product history.
Of course, BMW also has a magnificent museum, but here we focus first on their new Centre, which was opened in 2016. We present you here some factory photos; needless to say that we are keen to visit the centre, and bring you then an extensive report with own interviews and images, but in the meantime, we shouldn’t already keep this from you…
The company archive and the vehicle collection, the workshop and the customer centre together with the parts service for classic automobiles and motorcycles are now located together in an ensemble of buildings in the district of Milbertshofen in Munich.
The site at Moosacher Straße 66 measuring around 13,000 square meters includes one of the first production buildings of what was at that time still a fledgling company.
In this building, magnificent BMW motorcycles are also displayed, what to think of this iconic and timeless boxer?
It was preserved during the restoration work, as was the heritage gatehouse, which is today a listed building, and now forms the entrance to the history of the BMW Group.
The new location for BMW Group Classic also provides a touch point for owners and fans of classic vehicles of the brands BMW, MINI und Rolls-Royce with information and services relating to the preservation and care of their automobiles and motorcycles.
Vehicles and numerous other exhibits from the comprehensive collection of BMW Group Classic are presented in the historic production hall, like their fantastic aircraft engines. (see photo above). The facilities and event spaces created there can also be booked for events. Guided tours are offered to give participants an overview of the new venue and provide information about the history of the company.
Café “Mo 66” is open to visitors and gives them a vantage point looking directly into the glass covered vehicle workshop of the BMW Group Classic Centre.
At its new location, BMW Group Classic has now better facilities for staging activities relating to the history of the company and its three brands BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce. Questions about the history of the company, brands and products are answered by using the vast BMW Group Archives. The teams responsible for communication with the media and for marketing now also carry out their work in the new centre alongside the specialists involved in organizing events and exhibitions.
The staff of the BMW Group Classic Centre have a long track record of experience, expertise and passion. They work on the preservation and restoration of historic automobiles and motorcycles, and offer support for purchasing or selling a classic vehicle. We are keen to meet them and present you then an in depth report about their work. The offering of BMW Group Classic also includes the loan of classic vehicles and the parts shop. The range of parts offered comprises more than 55 000 items and it is continuously growing. Of course, the happy owners of collectables on four wheels and two will benefit from this supply of original spare parts…
Soon we will start here with a new series on the heritage activities of car manufacturers, as the interest in preserving their heritage in historic sites, buildings and cars is ever growing. The same can be said for the increasing love and interest for vintage and classic cars by the greater public, and therefore a comprehensive series on the subject is long overdue.
Besides the plethora of museums, there are also the services which manufacturers with a keen interest in their mobile heritage are offering to their customers, in the form of Classic Cars Service Centers.
We will first start off with two main German pioneers in the latter concept, Daimler and BMW. But of course there is more to come, just think of Porsche, and not to forget the British museums and heritage centers
and their activities like the Land Rover Series I Reborn programme executed in their Classic Works.Indeed, there is Jaguar Land Rover Classic… And a lot more.
In the spring of 1958, decisive motor history was written: In april of that year, the then Daimler-Benz AG acquired a majority in Auto Union GmbH. All the remaining shares followed on 31 December 1959.
By 1960, Auto Union was therefore a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler-Benz. This meant that all the brands of Auto Union, which included Audi, now could be revived.
And so Daimler did, to let the public forget the two stroke image of Auto Union and DKW. Of course, they had one small car adventure with the two stroke engined DKW Junior, wich actually proved quite popular.
But Mercedes rather more loved the four cylinder engines and the nobler Audi image, which would fit perfectly. So they made efforts – which we will explain here further – to bring a revolutionary four srtoke engine into the existing Auto Union/DKW F103, and started work on the development of an all new Audi.
Daimer strategy changed however, and so they sold on 1 January 1965 the majority of the shares of Auto Union to Volkswagen, and offered them Audi on a plate…in the form of a already extensively developed Audi four dour model, and they even sold the engineer who developed this car with it!
In the meantime, from 1961 onwards, the major Mercedes-Benz plant in Düsseldorf was constructed on a site previously operated by Auto Union. With a workforce of some 6600 and an annual output of around 150,000 vans, Düsseldorf is now Daimler AG’s main factory for vans. All the closed variants of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – i.e. panel vans and crewbuses – roll off the production line there. Just read further…
This is where it all began: as a teenager, I stood eye to eye with the Jaguar D Type at the speed trials in Brecht…
The announcement of this years’ presence again of Jaguar Classic at the Le Mans Classic 2018 – just read soon our following report in these columns – made me think back to the time when I grew fond of these feline cars. As a teenager, I devoured the British car magazines, and read everything about the powerful post war Jaguars with their fantastic XK six cylinder engine. I still adore this classic, double overhead cam six, with hemispheric combustion chambers and of course crossflow cylinder head.
With my father, I attended in those days the flying – or standing – I do not remember exactly anymore – kilometer speed trials in Brecht, near Antwerp. I stood there eye to eye – as the photo shows – with a D Type. Here, the growling XK was fed by a battery of three double Webers and had dry sump lubrication.
The styling, the shape, the curves, the sound, the speed, it was all fantastic to me and I felt this was all “just right”.
Also the road holding and overall handling was just fantastic, and that this car had the latest technical miracle, disk brakes. Looking at the chassis and suspension, this D type was so much ahead of its time, sporting an ideal weight distribution and aerodynamics. But what seduced me also greatly was the fact that the engine, gearbox, the very heart of the car, stemmed from the series production Jaguars, with that XK engine, with its typical beautiful growl, mated with the very same Moss gearbox which was also found in the Jaguar sports and saloon cars of the day, with the typical whine of the long first gear when they accelerated away.
I added my drawing here of the Jaguar XK engine, seen from the rear and the right hand side, with one of the big SU carburetors just being visible…
That was and is Jaguar to me, and still is for me today, as a happy owner of the Mk II Type S, which has the Jaguar E type independent rear suspension and the rear styling reminiscent of the fantastic Mark 10. This was actually the first car I bought when I started to earn money professionally.
I recently rediscovered the Ektachrome slide which my father took of me with his 2.8 Rolleiflex. At the time when I first fell in love with these cars, and rest assured, I am still bitten today…
Early this year BMW Belux organized a remarkable exhibition in its BMW Brand Store in Brussels.
It was the 11th edition of the BMW Art & Design Sessions, and this time it focused on the iconic roadster age which changed automotive history forever since 1955.
The show was close to breathtaking with on display the very exclusive BMW 507, a pristine Z1, (see photo here above)
a BMW Z3, a Z4 cabrio and coupé, and last but not least a BMW Z8 (well known from the James Bond films).
Of course, one looked also to the future, with an exclusive presentation of the BMW Concept Z4.
We just let you admire our photos here…
Art and design in the BMW Brand Store
Just a few words more about this Brussels BMW Brand Store, situated at the Boulevard de Waterloo. It started life as an Experience Center of the German premium brand, and on January 21 2015 this BMW Brand Store launched the concept ‘Art & Design Sessions’.
Within this concept, an artist or designer presents his work and meets invited people in an exclusive event. The Antwerp photographer Marc Lagrange, designer Xavier Lust, artists Yann Guitton and Hervé Poulain, Nicolas Destino and last but not least iconic photographer Terry O’Neill filled the first editions of the Art & Design Sessions in the BMW Brand Store.
Just for the record, Hervé Poulain is the retired French racing driver and professional auctioneer who instigated the BMW Art Project, where artists could use BMW automobiles as their canvas. In 1975 he commissioned Alexander Calder to paint the first BMW Art Car…
Guy Vermant proudly posing at his Mechelen premises alongside his Volvo 122 S...
Classic cars are becoming ever more popular. Many enthusiasts, old and new, have now their shining treasure standing in their garage. But of course there is more to it. One has to drive it. That is where the problems for many owners begin. Who will service and maintain my car, eventually store it and keep it in running condition at all times so it can be fully enjoyed? This is where Guy Vermant steps in with his new concept, recently presented and launched at the Antwerp Classic Car Salon. We commented about this in our columns already. Just klick the following link: http://www.autoprova.be/2018/03/04/vermant-nv-launches-collection-a-full-service-for-classics/
This was also a good reason to have an in depth interview with Guy Vermant, and about his love and passion for classic cars…