Tuesday 30 April 2024

Shop Makes Modern Jeep Wranglers Look Like Weird 1930s Off-Roaders

source - Wikimedia Commons/ Hurtan-club.de

Well, as I sit out in the dappled sunshine gracing my garden it seems I've just about kept my promise from the last post to come back in April (this being the last day)!  That pesky thing called life conspired to get in the way again, although there were some pleasant interludes along the way - not least an enjoyable week away in Scotland (more perhaps on that another time).  Anyway, here we are again and back to it with this latest article that has been languishing in my Drafts folder for the last four months(!). 

Clockwise l-r: Panther J72; NG TD Roadster; Bufori Geneva; 
Devaux Coupe; Wiesmann MF3; Mitsuoka Roadster
source - Wikimedia Commons
GTHOAndrew BoneEl monty/Alexander Migl/ WmeinhartDavid Howard)

The market for retro-inspired cars is a remarkably (but perhaps unsurprisingly) popular one - one only has to look at the success of Fiat's 500 range, BMW's MINI brand or Porsche's 911 (not to mention the wonderful anachronism that is Morgan) to see the draw nostalgia still has on the motoring public.  However the desire for producing cars designed to look like machines from a previous age has been around for longer than most people might think, dating back at least as far as the early 1970s.  In Britain companies such as Panther, NG and Dutton rode the wave of popularity that kit cars enjoyed throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s with their models resembling prewar Jaguar SS100s, postwar MGs and Caterhams respectively, all using easily obtainable and maintainable parts usually from Fords or Triumphs.  More recently international manufacturers such as Japan's Mitsuoka, Germany's Wiesmann  and Australian concerns Bufori and Devaux (among many others) have produced beautiful pre- and postwar-inspired vehicles (in Mitsuoka's case based on Nissan platforms; the others relying on bespoke designs) and even more "mainstream" companies like Bentley can't resist dipping into their back-catalogue for the super-rich vintagista.

Hurtan Albaycín T2
source - Wikimedia Commons/ Berthold Werner

However, until now I must admit I had never heard of Spanish-based business Hurtan - despite the fact that they have been producing vintage-styled sports cars since 1991.  Their Albacyin range has, to this author's eyes, a very definite prewar BMW or Mercedes look about it and looks all the better for it (their forthcoming Grand Albaycín has an equally attractive '60s MG vibe, I'd say).  Thanks to this news story I am now fully aware of this little Spanish sports car maker and its latest model - the Vintage.  Based on the already retro-inspired Jeep Wrangler 4x4, the Vintage lives up to its name and goes for the full Thirties aesthetic - with mixed results, it has to be said.  

One problem with attempting to graft older designs on to modern underpinnings is overcoming the differences between the base mechanicals and the bodystyle shape.  In short vintage cars tend to be smaller than more modern ones, with the result that a vintage bodystyle, when placed over a modern chassis, can look somewhat stretched and misshapen.  The track (width) can look too wide, the bonnet/grille can seem a little exaggerated and very often the wheels are (admittedly sometimes by necessity) modern reproductions that tend to be too small and fitted with wider tyres, which only helps to spoil the overall look.

While the Vintage does fall into this trap somewhat, as with so many "modern vintage" reproductions it is something that cannot be avoided and while to the trained eye its Jeep origins are still obvious the aesthetic remains pleasing enough to make me glad that Hurtan created it.  Very much a niche market of one it is perhaps the answer to the question "what if off-roaders had existed in the 1930s?" and enjoys the advantage that all modern reproductions have of combining vintage aesthetics with modern comfort.    

Even more pleasingly I have discovered in the writing of this post that a Hurtan Vintage is plying the streets of Madrid, Toledo and Segovia as a tourist bus, taking visitors around the sights and sounds of those historic cities in suitably old-fashioned and luxurious style.  I congratulate Vintage City Tours on their business idea and choice of vehicle -something that could easily be adapted for other [capital] cities around Europe (and beyond) - and if I ever visit Spain I will be sure to seek both them and Hurtan out.

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