1948 Bentley Mark VI Facel-Metallon Cresta Coupe
(all photos by JC)
1967 Iso Grifo GL Bertone Coupe
1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Vignale Spyder
1937 Bugatti Type 57S Corsica Drophead Coupe
1938 Bugatti Type 57C Gangloff Stelvio
1932 Chrysler CG Imperial LeBaron Special Roadster
1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria
1936 Lancia Astura Séries III Tipo Bocca Pinin Farina Cabriolet
1924 Pierce-Arrow Model 33 Four Passenger Touring
1933 Cadillac 452C Fleetwood Convertible Coupe
1933 Duesenberg SJ Murphy Convertible Berline
1932 Chrysler CL Custom Imperial LeBaron Convertible Sedan
1939 Ford Transporter with 1931 Miller 122 Depalma-Miller Special
1968 Ferrari 206 GT Dino Scaglietti Coupe
1956 Ferrari 410 Superfast Pinin Farina Coupe Speciale
1950 Ferrari 195 Inter Ghia Coupe
1957 Ferrari 250 GT Pinin Farina Spyder Prototype
1929 Packard 645 Deluxe Eight Dietrich Roadster
1953 Lancia Aurelia Pinin Farina PF200 C Spider
1936 Packard 1407 Twelve Coupe
1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Pinin Farina Cabriolet
Keep ’em coming! WOW, WOW and WOW!
Just as soon as I remarked yesterday on the paucity of big Cadillacs, Lincolns and Chrysler Imperials to go along with the Packards and Pierces, here they come today.
The first photo is a Bentley with a custom body. The coachbuilder was Facel Metallon, not Facer Metallon. As far as I know, Facel only built one body on a Bentley Mark VI. Facel is best known for it’s line of Facel-Vega cars. I used to own a Facel-Vega Excellence.
This is an interesting car with an equally interesting history. Facel wanted to build a vehicle for one of the big car salon shows, but Facel was not a Rolls-Royce & Bentley approved coachbuilder. So facel managed to get the local Bentley sales agent in Paris, France to order a standard Bentley Mark VI cowl & chassis, supposedly for an approved coachbuilder, and Facel produced the car you see today. One of the numerous restrictions placed on an approved coachbuilder, was the original radiator grill couldn’t be altered. This car has an altered grill, and that did not sit well with Rolls-Royce & Bentley management.
I was offered this car back in the early 1980s, the asking price was $16,000, but the attorney said they were open to a lower offer. It was part of an estate, stored in a garage for many years, and had not yet been made to run & drive or advertised for sale. The body was poorly re-painted a horrible bright “fire engine” red. I spoke with a well-known Rolls-Royce and Bentley collector, who suggested due to the car being created by a non-approved coachbuilder, along with the altered grill, it would not be a good investment, so I didn’t buy it. One guess who ended up with the car! [But is not the current owner.]
Had I bought this car, I could have been the driver pictured here!
That was a typo; fixed now.
I remember you mentioning this car in an earlier comment of yours. I thought this might well be the same car.
Today’s featured cars makes it appear this was a special Pinin Farina appreciation day! Keep ’em rolling on in, I love his work.
That Facel Bentley is so advanced for 1948. Could this have influenced Pinin Farina’s Aurelia B20? I certainly see a strong resemblance…..What do you think?
Pinin Farina’s 1946 Cisitalia 202 is credited with being the seminal design of this new postwar look.
That Facel Bentley tells me where Gerald Palmer got his inspiration for the 1953 Riley Pathfinder…I’ve also seen 1940s Pinin Farina cars that remind me of certain 1950s British models. And of course, when you’ve seen the Ghia Chryslers you realise why Park Ward were able to make such beautiful Bentley Continentals in the late 50s/early 60s….
Some of the styling on those early Ferraris was a bit hit-and-miss though.
Wow that #20 is the Ferrari that Phil Hill and Richie Ginther drove in the 1954 Carrera Panamericana.
Would love to hear that one go by, those guys are sitting in the seats of giants!
This series is like a long, slow-moving, seemingly-endless, freight train…
…a freight train made up of really expensive, extremely rare, and really cool classic cars.
Keep ’em coming, Paul.
These folks must be uber-rich. Many of these cars are valued well into 7-figures.
Nice rare cars Ive been watching Bad Chad building a type 57 Bugatti from a 34 Chev sedan its remarkable how close to an original hes got, Rolls-Royce are worse than Jeep with their trade marks Im not surprised that Facel coach built Bentley wasnt an approved build but what a nice car they came up with and you sure wont see yourself coming the other way/.
It looks like Chrysler was getting a bit cheeky in 1932, considering that they copied the Duesenberg Model J’s signature front bumper for their Imperials. They’re still gorgeous cars though.
I am surprised to see so many of the classic American cars around the 1930 mark on blackwall tyres rather then the whitewalls I expect to see on such cars. Is this becoming a trend?
Based on 50+ years of studying vintage B&W photographs of new, lightly used, and worn out luxury American cars, as well as those same cars still for sale at the dealerships, both on the lot or in the showroom, I feel comfortable in making this totally generalized statement:
Most of the American higher-end luxury cars in the pre-WW2 era were sold new with wide whitewall tires, many of them with whitewalls on the inside of the tire as well! I was lucky in finding photos of my 1940 Packard 1808 Custom Super 8 limousine when delivered new, and it had whitewall tires on both sides.
For those cars that had owner/drivers who had to maintain the cars themselves, or paid for that service, when it came time to get new tires, people often elected to go with blackwall tires because to keep those tires looking good, it was a weekly chore for cars in areas where it rained/snowed regularly.
By the time the car was traded in or sold to the next owner, Blackwalls were a common choice.
Now when we look at the slightly cheaper cars, for example — let’s look at factory photos of Packard 110 and 120 cars. Almost all of the closed cars are wearing blackwall tires. Some of the open and sportier cars have the wide whites. We find this is also the case with LaSalle cars and the big Studebaker Eights.
But there is always the “Outlier” car. In this case it’s the big Lincoln V-12 cars with custom bodies. Many of these big Lincoln cars are not as ostentatious as Cadillac or Packard. I’ve seen many factory [or coachbuilder] photos of these big cars, brand new, with blackwall tires. Most of these cars were closed cars in dark colors. Perhaps I’m stretching it by suggesting the owners of these big cars, in the middle of the depression years, were trying to keep a lower visual look by toning down the “bling” factor on the outside, while going all out for comfort on the inside. I even know of a few ultra high-end custom-bodied cars that had most of the exterior chrome trim painted over when they were constructed, so as to not be noticed by the poor public. As I recall, a certain Packard 12 owned by the Drexel family [furniture makers], had no exterior chrome trim.
I once made the comment at one of the big AACA Hershey meets that the percentage of cars with wide whitewall tires, was twice as high as when the cars were new. Another person standing near me said he felt my statement was incorrect. He said the percentage of white wall tires [for the cars on display] was much higher!
Thanks for that, Bill.
I guess I’m used to seeing over-restored cars than ‘as they were sold’.
Peter [and everyone reading this blog],
I believe installing whitewall tires is very subjective, and some cars look nice with them, others not so much. Some examples from this showing of cars above;
The 1933 Duesenberg SJ Murphys Convertible Berline. This car looks nice with blackwalls, and is a courageous decision by the owner, as most J and SJ cars have full whitewalls. But this car, with it’s black top and subdued colors, handles blackwalls very well.
1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria. This lovely car needs wide whitewall tires because it has chrome wire wheels. The colors are not bright or flashy, so it can wear blackwalls if the wheels were body color or black.
1932 Chrysler CG Imperial LeBaron Special Roadster. A very sporty car in black. Even though it’s a luxury vehicle, It’s long, low stance gives it a look of speed, so blackwalls are a great choice. I think putting wide whites on this example of Imperial luxury, would result in the tires opposing the beauty of the long, low body style.
1932 Chrysler CL Custom Imperial LeBaron Convertible Sedan. I grouped this car next to the other ’32 Imperial above, to showcase how well wide whitewall tires look on basically the same automobile. In this situation, The wide whites are a good choice, as the coachbuilder used a larger amount of chrome trim accents, and the tires look great. However if the owner was to change the tires to blackwall, I believe in this specific car, with black wire wheels and a black convertible top, and the all black spare tire, blackwalls would again look great.
European cars in general do not look good with wide whitewall tires. One exception is a beautiful maroon Ferrari in part 5 of this series. That car looks outstanding in wide whites, but it would also be fine with blackwalls.
I believe that wide whitewall tires should compliment the vehicle they are mounted upon, and not scream “Look at me, not the car”. I operated a vintage limo service thru the 1980s and had several Princess Limousines. Those with all black bodies were always shod with blackwalls. I had a couple of them in white and silver, those vehicles looked better in wide whites. 99% of my customers had no problem with my tire choices, and believe me, brides can be very picky when looking at vintage limousines!
I still have a 1961 Vanden Plas Princess limousine. It was sold new by Inskips Rolls-Royce of New York City, to the British Government, for use by the Royal Family when in America. This car is equipped with all options and the original invoice notes it is equipped with wide whitewall tires. I’m only the 3rd owner, and the second owner replaced the original tires with the same width whitewall tires. On this car, with 2 tone paint, chrome trim rings on the wheel rims, and a lot of chrome accents, the wide whitewalls look OK, but when it comes time to put new tires on the limo, I will probably choose blackwalls.
I’m including a 1988 photo of the limousine. The photo was taken at the front portico of the British Embassy, then Ambassador Sir Antony Acland riding inside. The British Embassy used to hold a couple of fund raising events each year, and if Ambassador Acland was attending, they usually called for the limo, with me driving.
Would you put new whitewalls or blackwalls on this limo?
Good god! I would give that driver a new suit, sir. And give him a shave, dammit.
Not really, ofcourse. But I would put new wide whitewalls on the Princess.
It IS terribly subjective (which is why I found your historical overview of whitewall application so interesting), but to these eyes, the old Princess has always been such a dowager that she desperately needs some visible flashy underknickers to add some swish and vim. For her, they should be mandatory.
As an aside, are those front side grilles an addition? They make her look 1940-Packard-ish, and, in my subjective view, don’t hurt a bit, FWIW.
On thinking it thru again, I will likely put wide whites back again, if only because it had them when new.
I’ll have you know that driver is none other than myself, the suit is from the late 1950s, and the coat is a dark navy blue, real 100% cashmere coat, hand tailored by Jimmy Chen of Hong Kong [but the measurements taken at his location in Karachi, Pakistan], for my maternal Grandfather Dr J.W. Wright, in 1959. He was there in Pakistan to oversee the new crop of boll wevil resistant cotton crops from the USA, back when being an American meant something in that area of the world. Today it might get you killed!
I still have the coat! It was created when all aspects of a good piece of clothing, from the growing & weaving, to the custom tailoring, were done to the utmost quality, so it could be handed down to susequent generations.
Your comment; “but to these eyes, the old Princess has always been such a dowager that she desperately needs some visible flashy underknickers to add some swish and vim.” Very well said, sir! The typical all-black Vanden Plas Princess can be compared to the standard Cadillac 75 limo in America.
As for the side grilles on the Princess; You really are the first person to notice they are different from the regular front grille! Well noticed! Did you also notice the ceremonial blue police lamp on the roof above the windshield? While it doesn’t have the same power as it does in the UK, they still added one anyway.
As far as I can determine from the original Vanden Plas records, because this was a vehicle to be used by the Royals, every part of the car had to work very well. The typical British automotive Air Conditioning systems didn’t work well in the hotter areas of North America. I have had a Jag Mk X, Princess 4 liter “R”, and a couple of Daimler limos with British A/C, and none worked well in our hot and humid climate.
This limo has a huge A/C unit that takes up about half the trunk area. the cold air ducts come up the areas on either side of the rear window, inside the roof. All of the ducting is inside, and there are 6 vents in the roof letting cool air decend onto riders, including the driver’s compartment, but the A/C use is controlled from the rear seat only,
To handle the increased amount of heat transfer expected by this larger system, the engineers decided to create the heat exchanger as a 4′ wide, and 1′ tall unit across the bottom section of the grille, The areas of incoming air thru the 2 grille extensions, exhaust the hot air, not into the engine compartment, but into the front wheel inner fenders, so the hot air can escape out the wheel openings. Instead of the standard 2 blade cast aluminum fan blade, this car has a yellow plastic 6 blade fan that can be found in big Healeys with the heavy-duty cooling system.
In 1988 I spent several days pouring thru the original Vanden Plas records housed at the BMIHT museum in England, and I have also met with Mr. Roland Fox, the Managing Director of Vanden Plas until the early 1970s, and I’m sure this is the only one with this extra capacity A/C unit and the extra side grilles.
It was customary for Princess limos to be used in the British diplomatic service, however if the limo was assigned to a hot climate, the A/C would be made and installed in the country where it landed. As far as I can determine, my limo was the only one to have A/C installed when the car was planned and built at the Vanden Plas factory.
I briefly met Prince Philip when I was a guest of the King of Bahrain in 1987, and he told me he remembered the car well, with nothing but praise for the car. He arranged for me to visit the private Royal family car collection in Sandringham in 1988 where they have the Princess limo that Princess Margaret and Mark Phillips were riding in, when they were attacked by a gunman in London. It was that attack which caused the government to require all government vehicles used by the Royal family to be armored. My limo was traded back to the Rolls-Royce dealer in New York, on a Silver Shadow LWB with armoring.
Blimey teddy! Who’d have thought such a tale lay behind some grilles?! Great stuff.
In some unrecognized part of my brain – that might describe all of it, I’m no expert – I have pondered the same thing, Mr Wilding.
Happy to accept your totally generalized statement in response, Mr McC. Fascinating, not least because it refutes the idea that what was once often disdained as a clear aspect of over-restoration turns out to be nothing such.