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article imageLyon’s Classic and Antique car rally shows off its star models Special

By Michael Cosgrove     Aug 9, 2009 in Technology
People the world over love older cars, and their collectors do too. A rally held in the streets of Lyon France today rested up for lunch, giving amateurs the opportunity to admire these elegant French, American and British classics of yesteryear.
I have never met anyone who told me they didn’t enjoy seeing an antique car in the streets or on the open road that is being taken out for a ride by its owner. I am sure that I am not alone in waving to its lucky driver, flashing my headlights, giving the thumbs up or honking my horn, or all four at once, to say “Beautiful machine!” and, if possible, taking a photo of it.
There is something magical about these cars, and one can only marvel at their grace and class which, although they are not as fast and comfortable as today’s models, more than make up for it with their nonchalant panache.
Summer is when car clubs the world over overhaul their cars’ engines, repair worn parts, wax and polish the bodywork, and take them out for rallies and meetings.
Lyon’s rally club chose today to do that in the charming setting of the city’s Park de la Tête d’Or, and I went along at lunchtime, while there was enough room to take pictures. These cars were to set off again an hour later for another destination.
One of the first models that took my eye was this French car, a Peugeot Torpédo 172R. Built in 1925, this is a sports version. Not very powerful by today’s standards, but it’s a fun and pugnacious-looking car. Some readers may notice the black Buick 62 Special behind it.
Peugeot Torpédo 172R  1925
Peugeot Torpédo 172R, 1925. An early sports car!
Michael Cosgrove
This big-and-classy open-top Hotchkiss was made in Paris. Hotchkiss were well known as an arms manufacturer before they turned to cars, and this was their biggest-selling model. It is based on the design of the Mercedes Simplex.
Hotchkiss  built in Paris
A Hotchkiss, built in Paris. Want to look like a film star? Drive this!
Michael Cosgrove
Hotchkiss  built in Paris
A Hotchkiss, built in Paris. French class
Michael Cosgrove
As I walked around I was agreeably and pleasantly surprised to see complete strangers striking up earnest conversations about such and such a car, or engine, or petrol consumption, or steering wheel size. Wonderful!
This one, A Citroen, was one of the first successful front-wheel-drive models in France. It was built in the late 1940’s in a classical design reminiscent of some smaller American models, notably those produced by Ford.
Citroen  1940 s.
Citroen, 1940's. Reminds me of Chicago and Al Capone..
Michael Cosgrove
Does this car even need an introduction? Colour? Red, of course.
Ford Mustang
File photo: Ford Mustang. What kid never dreamed of driving this?
Michael Cosgrove
I’m British, so I was naturally seduced by this sumptuous and irresistable black Jaguar XK140. Exquisite and beautiful lines combined with a very meaty and sporty look. It's a wonderful machine and this one is in pristine condition. Made in 1955, it develops 190 bhp at 5500 revs. This car’s predecessor, the XK 120, won the Le Mans Race from 1951 to 1953, as is commemorated here by the badge, situated on the trunk (boot) door.
Jaguar XK 140
Jaguar XK 140. British engineering at its best.
Michael Cosgrove
Jaguar XK 140
Jaguar XK 140 with Le Mans winner badge
Michael Cosgrove
Let’s stay with British cars for a moment and take a look at these two sleek, chic and racy Morgans. They are both from the Morgan 4 series, although the grey one, a Plus 4 model, has a more powerful engine, a 2088 cc version, than the red one, which sports the legend ‘The Real Sports Car.' I’m not arguing with that. To drive one of these you must have a scarf blowing in the wind behind you and be called Cary Grant. Obligatory.
Morgan Plus 4
File photo: Morgan Plus 4. A James Bond sort of car.
Michael Cosgrove
Morgan A
Morgan A. A British Classic
Michael Cosgrove
The photo below shows the dashboard of an older version of one of the most famous and mythical models of automobile ever built. The young kids just loved this car. Then again so did the bigger kids like me and many others too. Does anyone know what make this is? A clue, millions of people drove them in the past, but not many people actually owned one. Bonus points if you can guess the exact version, and the answer is below.
CJ7 Jeep dashboard
CJ7 Jeep dashboard. (With bulletproof dial glass?)
Michael Cosgrove
It’s a CJ7 Jeep dashboard, of course.
Many older people discussed this car’s origins and specification. It’s a Citroen Type A, which meant it was made somewhere between 1919 and 1921. 14 000 of these cars were made, making it one of France’s first ‘mass-produced’ cars. Mass produced today talks different figures of course. The model shown here has a water-cooled 1327 cc four-cylinder engine and an output of 18 hp. Its top speed is 65 km/h (40 mph.)
Citroen Type A  Circa 1920
Citroen Type A, Circa 1920. No chance of a speeding ticket here!
Michael Cosgrove
I have saved my favourite until last. This sublime machine is yet another American success story, and deservedly so. A unique car in its genre, and built in Milwaukee Wisconsin, the Excalibur was the first example of a range of cars commonly called 'contemporary classic' or ‘neoclassic’ cars. The Excalibur's design was unabashedly based on that of the Mercedes-Benz SS. The first Excalibur was revealed to stunned car-loving audiences at car shows in 1963. It used a Studebaker chassis and housed a 5362 cc Chevrolet engine. The one shown here is a Series II Roadster model.
The Excalibur was, and still is, a dream car for many people. Marvin Gaye thought so too, and that’s why he owned one. The picture at the top of the page is a front view close-up.
Excalibur Series Roadster II
Excalibur Series Roadster II. Would I die to have a car like this? Yes. Twice over.
Michael Cosgrove
It is heartwarming to know that there are still many people who spend their time and money to preserve these cars. Antique and Classic cars are an essential testimony to the ingenuity of car designers over the years, and their preservation is important.
The motor car, much-maligned and yet much-loved, is a part of our heritage and as such deserves to be preserved for future generations in order to show them the origins of whatever machines they may be using to get around in.
Those future machines shall very hopefully be much kinder to the planet than automobiles have finally proved to be, but they certainly won’t be any more beautiful.
And I am sure that their drivers will agree with that if we can just manage to preserve these elegant examples of their predecessors for them, and for their children too, long enough that they may be able to judge for themselves.
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