Great Cars I Remember

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 Great Cars I Remember
5640377737 0a1736190d m Great Cars I Remember

There is no doubt in my mind that a car can be a work of art, and even more so when there is an individual behind it.

Most people identify with men like Enzo Fer­rari, W.O. Bentley, Ettore Bugatti – they all started with nothing and stuck passionately to their indi­vidual vision. It shows in their work.

The Bugatti is a perfect example. Made by an Ital­ian family of artists and sculptors, the Bugatti cars still take the breath away. Ettore Bugatti received classical art instruction, then taught himself engi­neering and began building racing cars.

Aesthetics seemed to be as important to him as technology. His cars have boldly styled bodies, and even the engines look like modern sculptures. The Antlantique was designed by his son Jean in 1936, but as it nears age 60 it still looks as futuristic as ever. Jean Bugatti was killed in a car crash and his father lost his business during the war, but their artistic cars remain as their legacy.

The Antlantique is like no shape I’ve ever seen – with rounded contours, and a studded seam along the top, it’s truly a remarkable vision.  On a race track today, it can still do 100 mph without any trouble at all.

Only three of these cars were ever built. One was demolished when it got stuck at a railway crossing. Ralph Lauren, the fashion designer, owns the second and I don’t know where the third one is, if it exists at all. I have only seen pic­tures of the car, and that was enough to start my heart racing.

When a young man grows up in North America I think it is unusual for him not to be car crazy. I can remem­ber vividly to this day all the cars my father had from the time I was ten years of age. There was a 1940′s Hudson coupe, a 1946 Dodge sedan, a 1949 Mer­cury, a 1954 Buick Century with the port holes on the side of the hood, and so on…

In those days I would sit with my friends and count the cars that went by. ‘Look, there goes a Stude­baker’; ‘There’s an Olds’; ‘There’s a Lincoln’.  Now most cars look alike. If they didn’t have the small indi­vidual logos on the trunk I wouldn’t be able to tell a BMW from a Toyota Camry. There are, of course, exceptions, and most of those fall within the sports car world.

I remember fondly my own cars of the past. In the 1950′s it was a Triumph TR3 and in the 1960′s it was a 1963 Stingray Corvette, with the slat in the back window.

There’s nothing like waking up on a nice sunny day, and going for a drive on a country road, and putting a good sports car through its paces.

The pleasure is not about trying to go fast – it’s the feeling of handling a thoroughbred: the way it comes around a corner, the way the mechanism feels when you shift, and, of course, the roar of the engine.

Each of the great cars that I remember from the past had a distinctive char­acter. I can readily call to mind the Alfa Romeo, the little Morgan, the Long-nosed D-type Jaguar, the Porsche 356 Roadster – some of the most beautiful cars in the world.

Now cars are sold at auction just like works of art, and the prices they command are getting higher and higher. As they become expensive antiques I hope all of them don’t get taken off the road. It would be sad to see them all locked up in large storage vaults or glass cases – after all, they were designed to be driven!

Peter Green, Founder of the antique school, Asheford Institute of Antiques, Internationally Syndicated Antique Columnist, Travel Writer and Owner of South Meadow Antiques. For more information of the antique school, click here Asheford Institute Of Antiques Institute Of Antiques.

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