The ZOUTE GRAND PRIX ® 2018: Sun, sea and purest car pleasure…

This year’s edition of the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX ® proved once again magnificent, and not alone because of the truly beautiful weather. There was a lot to see, enjoy and drive during the four days from 4 to 7 October.

As it is becoming a wonderful tradition now, not less than four events were organized, and besides this general (pictorial) review of the 9th edition of the global ZOUTE GP® event here on these pages, we will come back to you soon, dear reader, with separate reports on each of the venues. We also participated ourselves in the ZOUTE GT TOUR® with an Alpine A110…

So stay tuned…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “The ZOUTE GRAND PRIX ® 2018: Sun, sea and purest car pleasure…”

120 years of Renault is celebrated this summer at Brussels Autoworld.

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…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “120 years of Renault is celebrated this summer at Brussels Autoworld.”

Magnetti Marelli: the breathtaking story of automotive genius…

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…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Magnetti Marelli: the breathtaking story of automotive genius…”

The genius who designed the D Type Auto Union: Robert Eberan von Eberhorst

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…

But there is so much more, just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “The genius who designed the D Type Auto Union: Robert Eberan von Eberhorst”

The Mercedes star shines again in the Mille Miglia 2018…

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.


Mille Miglia 1955: Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson on the way to overall victory in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S), with the best time ever achieved in the Mille Miglia, 1 May 1955.

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.

 


Mille Miglia 2017: Mercedes-Benz Classic cars. Left to right: 300 SL racing sports car (W 194), 190 SL (W 121), 300 SL “Gullwing” Coupés (W 198). Stage from Brescia to Padua, 18 May 2017.

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.


Mercedes-Benz Classic at the Mille Miglia 2017. Ellen Lohr in a 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198, built from 1954 to 1957).

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


Public starting ramp with famous racing cars: Special exhibition of Mercedes-Benz Classic in the courtyard of the Museo Mille Miglia, Brescia, 10 May to 21 June 2018. Visualisation of the installation. At left, the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194, 2nd and 4th place in the Mille Miglia 1952), at right the 300 SLR (W 196 S, 1st and 2nd place 1955).

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.


Detail of the left side of the starting ramp, with the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194, 2nd and 4th place in the Mille Miglia 1952).

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).


Mille Miglia 1952: Premiere of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports car (W 194). The team Rudolf Caracciola / Peter Kurrle (start number 613) finishes in 4th place, 3/4 May 1952.

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.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

 

 

BMW Group Classic and its new Centre…

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

A new series on Car Museums and Classic Heritage Centers…

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Just stay posted!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The star and the four rings: a marriage which happened 60 years ago…and led to the post-war renaissance of Audi

Prototyp eines kompakten Mercedes-Benz Personenwagens (W 119), 1962. Exterieur, Sicht von rechts vorne. Zu einer Serienfertigung kommt es nicht. 955 Mille Miglia: Mercedes-Benz senior engineer Ludwig Kraus (far left) with Rudolf Uhlenhaut, Denis Jenkinson, Stirling Moss and Dr. Hans Scherenberg (left to right).
Prototype of a compact Mercedes-Benz Passenger car(W 119), 1962. It will not make it into series production. 

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!

Das Mercedes-Benz Werk Düsseldorf ist das größte Transporterwerk der Daimler AG. Rund 6.600 Mitarbeiter produzieren dort heute den Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Historisches Foto der Montage des Transporters T1 aus den 1980er-Jahren. The Mercedes-Benz plant in Düsseldorf is the largest van plant of Daimler AG. Around 6,600 employees produce the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter at the plant. Historical photo of T1 van assembly in the 1980s.

The Mercedes-Benz plant in Düsseldorf is the largest van plant of Daimler AG. Around 6,600 employees produce the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter at the plant. Historical photo of T1 van assembly in the 1980s.

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…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “The star and the four rings: a marriage which happened 60 years ago…and led to the post-war renaissance of Audi”

When I fell in love with Jaguar…

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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.

XK Jaguar engine drawing

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…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Z Story continues – images of an exhibition

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Early this year BMW Belux organized a remarkable exhibition in its BMW Brand Store in Brussels.

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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.

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The show was close to breathtaking with on display the very exclusive BMW 507, a pristine Z1, (see photo here above)

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a BMW Z3, a Z4 cabrio and coupé, and last but not least a BMW Z8 (well known from the James Bond films).

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Of course, one looked also to the future, with an exclusive presentation of the BMW Concept Z4.

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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’.

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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.

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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…

As said, enjoy my photos!

Hans Knol ten Bensel