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Reflections from Europe

Article from Chesapeake Chatter , Spring 2002, and The Steering Wheel, Spring 2003


1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom I, Windovers touring, taken at Frank Dale & Stepsons, London.



As this is being written (late June, 2002), your Editor has been back in the United States for three weeks, following five weeks in Great Britain, France, and Germany.  What follows is a small compendium of the 1,000+ photographs I took while I was abroad.  This includes cars in museums and cars that I found for sale.  I was tempted by a few cars, but not enough to motivate me to sell everything I currently own.



                         I know, it’s not a Lincoln, but it’s an impressive car.                                                        And I’m not sitting in a Lincoln here, either...



The most memorable evening of the trip occurred when I was in Paris.  I buy some of the parts I need from Chris Dunn down in Florida.  When he found out I was going to Paris, he gave me a name and phone number and the instructions to "Call this guy".  When I got to Paris, I called Michel Rougé, who works in product development for Peugeot.  Michel has a restored 1958 Continental Mark III convertible and a 1960 Cadillac 4-door hardtop. 


Michel’s 1958 Continental Mark III convertible, sitting on the streets of Paris.


We chatted on the phone for roughly 20 minutes, and set a time to get together a couple of days later.  He picked me up at my hotel and we drove down to the south side of Paris and the apartment building where he keeps his cars.  There are a number of big apartment buildings in southern Paris that are subsidized housing. The residents cannot afford automobiles (and you don’t really need a car in Paris), so the garages are rented out to car collectors.


We got the Mark III running, and brought it up to the street.  Michel put the top down and proceeded to spend the next four hours driving me around Paris.  Michel is a lifelong resident of the city, and we share an interest in architecture and design.  He was able to show me things that the standard tours can't even dream about.  We had been out for an hour or so, and we ran across a roadside sobriety checkpoint.  While we hadn’t been drinking (yet), there was apparently a problem with the car’s paperwork.  While I was waiting, I decided to take some photographs of the car.  One of gendarmes seemed to have a problem with this, and said something rapid and incomprehensible (my pidgin French proved woefully inadequate) to me, followed by some rapid arm waving.  One of the other policemen said something equally incomprehensible to her, and then it wasn’t a problem anymore.



After spending about twenty minutes sitting at the curb, we were permitted to leave, although Michel said that he was going to have to straighten out the paperwork problem in the near future.  Along about Midnight, we put the ’58 away.  Michel’s company car is a Peugeot 206cc, a small hardtop convertible similar to the Mercedes-Benz SLK230, and he permitted me to drive it up to the theater district.  We found a restaurant, had a pleasant dinner, and I think I got back to my hotel sometime about 3am.




Michel’s Peugeot 206cc, popping its top. This is a neat little car. I rather wish we could get it here...




One of my other memorable stops on the trip was to a little town in the east of France called Mulhouse.  I went there to visit the National Automobile Museum of France.  This is also known as the Schlumpf Collection.  The museum has two of the six Type 41 Royales built by Ettore Bugatti, the Coupe Napoleon and the Park Ward Limousine.  The Schlumpf brothers made and lost their fortune in the wool industry, and amassed the world’s premier collection of Bugattis between the 1950s and the 1970s.


The car pictured here is a recreated Royale, a duplicate of the roadster built for Armand Esders, a coutourier in Paris.  The original car was rebodied as a Coupe deVille, and the Schlumpf brothers began building this car using spare Royale parts.  The car was only partially completed when the museum was nationalized in the early 1980s. The museum management decided to finish the car in the early 1990s. These photos show the finished car. The images give you no hint as to just how big the car is. 


All of the Royales are enormous automobiles, but they are so perfectly proportioned that you don’t realize it until you are standing next to them.  This Royale is over twenty feet long, the wheels are about three feet in diameter, and the mascot is almost five feet off the ground...


Pictured below are the Park Ward limousine (left), and the Coupe Napoleon. The limousine was built for Captain Cuthbert Foster of London. The Coupe Napoleon was Ettore’s personal car, and was not sold until sometime in the early 1960s.






When I returned to England, I was able to get together with Colin Spong, an overseas member of the Lincoln Zephyr Owners Club.  I also met a chum of his, Derek Brown, who is in the Lincoln Owners Club, and CCCA.  Colin has several toys, including a 1937 Lincoln Zephyr sedan and a 1937 Lincoln Zephyr three-window coupe.  Both are export-model cars, and as such are RHD, and are equipped with trafficators.  Derek has a 1929 Lincoln L limousine and is currently performing a mechanical restoration on a 1929 Hispano-Suiza Sedanca (town car).  The three of us spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon traipsing through the countryside north of London, visiting an old church, an independent restoration shop, and an independent Rolls-Royce/Bentley agency, P & A Wood.


We spent most of our time at P & A Wood wandering around the shop, which was equipped to do anything from routine service work up to ground-up restorations.  In looking around the shop, I could almost hear the cheque books spinning.  The cars in the shop ranged in age from a 1905 Rolls-Royce up to current models.  As you might surmise from the photographs, this shop was not lacking for work.



                       A late 20s Bentley, getting a ground up restoration.                                                                  This is a 1905 Rolls-Royce.



Two views of P & A Wood’s shop.



                                  Old and newer, both waiting for service.                                                         A rack of special service tools, some were in use.




One of my trips outside of London was to the city of Crewe, which has been the home of Rolls-Royce and Bentley for over 50 years.  I was there to tour the factory, and the beginning of the tour was in the “Heritage Room”, which displayed the individual and joint histories of Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors.  The displays included several cars, including AX201, a 1907 40/50hp Rolls-Royce that originated the name “Silver Ghost”.  The car was given this name because it was painted silver, and was as quiet as a ghost.  It also completed a 15,000-mile reliability run without a breakdown, and with negligible wear of all mechanical components.  AX201 was sold and later repurchased and restored by the factory.  The car is often out for tours and shows, and it is reported to have been driven over one million miles.  Our guide stated that AX201 was the first car through the Chunnel.





Colin Spong and his brother Adrian are currently restoring an export model 1938 Zephyr convertible coupe, pictured above. This car was almost literally resurrected from a pile of very rusty metal. That’s Colin, with Derek Brown, on the left.

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