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Return of the classy, antique car
By:
Berta Chulvi, thinkSPAINtoday , Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Vintage cars are all the rage, not just in the increasingly popular club rallies but on the streets of many Spanish cities. A classic car is within everyone’s reach and we take a look at where and how to find them.

FLYING down the highway in a 60-year-old car is really something special. Perhaps their unique design is the reason or as the cities are so jammed these days speed is no longer important. Either way, old, well-restored cars are in fashion again.

Another powerful incentive for their comeback is their price. Antique cars, in comparison with some of the newer makes, are not so expensive, and a glance at the internet, or at the doyenne of classic cars in Spain 'Motorclassic' magazine, proves this to be the case.

Car manufacturers have already realized this tendency and are beginning to offer ‘remakes’ of the classic 20th century designs.

Besides this, there are fantastic museums such as the Salamanca’s Historic Transport Museum, of which we will speak more later, and a full agenda of rallies and vintage car meetings, where fans of these precious machines can share their passion.

In short, the whole world of antique cars is opening up, and becoming yet another of the faddy tendencies in our daily lives.

Classical glamour
Is there anything to compare to a drive by the beach in a bright red Triumph TR-3 convertible? Probably not.

Believe it or not, this longed-for-dream is no longer so difficult to achieve. As an example, a white Triumph with a black hood, registered in 1964, is on sale in Asturias for only 35,000 euros (www.autoocasion.com).

And this is but one example. There are plenty to choose from, within all price ranges, Spanish and foreign makes, but they all share the magically smooth transition from nought to a happy 60.

If we are speaking of the Triumph, we should also talk about the Spanish six hundred (main photo). Spain also has its grand motorcar classics, and this was a real car fetish. The 600 was as famous as the Triumph TR-3, for Spaniards. It was a mini car brought out by Seat in 1957, but which stopped being manufactured in 1982.

Many Spanish youths will recall their grandfathers or even their mothers – because this was the car for women par excellence – driving a six hundred, whose doors opened in the opposite direction.

When our protagonist came on to the market, it was an authentic car within reach of the middle classes, and perfectly timed for its clientele.

It suited the sector that did not want something as luxurious as the Seat 1400, but that needed something in excess of a Vespa scooter. At first, the six hundred was not a popular car but it was a luxury within reach of a few.

The forerunner of the 600 was the Fiat 600, presented in the parlours of Geneva in 1955, and mimicking the fashionable ”wedge shoe”.

Some units were imported into Spain, but Seat eventually made an agreement for the production of the 600 in the Zona Franca (in Barcelona). The first copy was delivered in May 1957, to an army general’s son and in that first year of production another 2,585 Seat 600’s were produced.

The 633c.c. engine functioned with gasoline of 72 octanes and only had 3 fuses of 8 amps. It yielded 21.5 CV.

Compared with the Biscuter, PTV, Isetta and other micro cars, right from the outset, the Seat 600 was a whole lot more.

Between 1957 and 1963, this first series was produced, characterised by its indicators on either side. In 1958, it was modified to have light levers and indicators placed on the steering wheel.

The convertible version appeared in the same year. 1963, saw the creation of the 600 D, which had a more powerful 767 c.c. engine and 29CV.

In many garages you can still see six hundreds and they are now very accessible. Every detail of this car can be confirmed at www.seiscientos.org but to satisfy your curiosity I can reveal it is possible to buy a six hundred, in canary yellow, in perfect condition from only 2,400 euros. Visit: www.tuscoches.com.

To resolve any doubts about the mechanical benefits of these cars you cannot do better than go to website: www.pieldetoro.com where you will find up to 300 testimonials with each model’s good and bad points.

A network of clubs
Entering the world of vintage cars also places you in contact with a dense social network of clubs that organise multiple activities. The best way to locate them is through the Spanish federation of antique vehicles’ website: www.garajeclasico.com.

In many aspects the website is not up to date, but in its member’s section there are useful links with webpages and contact numbers of the most active clubs in Spain.

Across the regions, groups of friends meet to enjoy these precious objects of a more romantic era, tranquil, patient and ready to succumb to the asphalt.

Salamanca leads the way when it comes to vintage

To understand in depth the history of automobile design, there is nothing better than a visit to Salamanca’s Historic Museum of Transport. There you can take an authentic walk through the history of four-wheeled travel.

SALAMANCA’S Historic Museum of Transport has organised a host of information that you might use when approaching the world of vintage cars. The collection covers more than 200 vehicles, but you can study 80 to 100 examples in detail.

The museum’s permanent exhibition is clearly laid out in four distinct periods.

Prehistory
From the year 1770, in which the first steam-powered car prototypes appeared. Vehicles in this section are displayed like the one created by Giovanni da Fontana (1420) or by engineers such as Aelopilo of Heron, of the first century BC.

Proto-history
Includes all types of automobiles between 1700 and 1900, all the prototypes and unique models known. This includes the first model of artillery car by Gugnot and other vehicles like the original Benz tricycle, that was the first car with an internal combustion engine. A very valuable piece in this section is the Bonet, the first car of purely Spanish production.

High transition
This is the name given to the period between 1890 and 1935, which was the most creative era in the evolution of the car. Its significance is clear as it contains one of the richest rooms of the museum. Here there are pieces as important as the Hispano Suiza 20-30, a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, a Model T Ford and others, such as the Amikar CGSS or the Airplane Voisin C7.

Low Transition
This covers from 1935 to 1950. It is the era in which the achievements of the previous period were consolidated, represented in cars like the precious Mercy 320 D Cabriolet, the Buick Super Eight, or the more modest, but superpopular, Fiat 500.

Integrated Configuration
Covering 1950 to the present, and called Integrated Configuration because the car comes full circle, marked by the integration of all its components, its aerodynamics and habitability. They have on display a Munt Jel, of which very few units were manufactured. Also a 62 Cadillac, the Fleetwood, the Seat 600 and 1500 and the Citroën DC. There are pieces of extraordinary value, such as the Pegasus Z-102 (fourth photo) and the Biscuter 200 C (third photo).

 

MUSEO HISTÓRICO DE LA AUTOMOCIÓN DE SALAMANCA
C/ Mercado Viejo s/n.
37008 Salamanca.
Tel. 92 326 22 08
www.museoautomocin.com

 
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