Tuesday 30 November 2010

Historic wooden car floated at auction

Historic wooden car floated at auction

Wood has long been used as part of automobile manufacturing, although these days it tends to be reserved for the dashboards of higher-end luxury cars. The exceptions to this rule are the likes of Morgan, who still use ash wood as part of the frame in their cars, Rolls-Royce - whose Phantom Drophead Coupe has teak decking as part of the roof-covering mechanism - and the bizarre Splinter concept from a couple of years ago. It's all a long way from the old Morris Minor Traveller of the 1960s, isn't it?

Long before that, though, wood was being used in abundance in car design. Wood was plentiful, surprisingly strong yet able to be made into various shapes and in any number of sizes. The nautical look was also popular in the first three decades of the twentieth century as car makers tried to create a link between the then-luxuries of motoring and sailing. Sea-faring terms like "boat-tail" and "skiff" were applied to vehicular offerings, such as this ultra-rare (only 5 made) 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Labourdette.

The car that features in this article, a 1932 Talbot, was originally just another normal saloon of standard Thirties design and didn't actually acquire its magnificently-built wooden body until the 1960s. Happily the chap who owned it obviously appreciated the Art Deco design of the period and found himself an immensely talented boat-builder to perform the actual transformation. What resulted is a unique piece of automotive design - even the likes of that Rolls skiff still used metal forward of the windscreen, whereas this Talbot's body is wood from the grille to the tail-light.

I find it hard to believe that such a beautifully skilled piece of construction is only estimated to make between £20,000 and £30,000 at auction (says the man who would struggle to afford a tenth of that right now!) and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it easily exceed the higher figure. Whoever ends up buying it, I hope he enjoys varnishing!

1 comment:

  1. wow, fascinating. That use of yachting terminology in relation to motoring is really interesting!


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