Quintessentially classic

2011-07-16 13:30

1918 is a fine vintage not only for an elder statesmen, but also for automobiles. Even when Nelson Mandela was born 93 years ago, there were already updated versions of cars built in the early 20th century. We look at a few cars that share the same age as our former president.

1919 Hispano-Suiza
Hispano-Suiza means Spanish-Swiss, and was the creation of a Spanish automotive and engineering company best known for its luxury cars and aviation engines before World War II.

The H6 earned the company a reputation bigger than Rolls-Royce’s in Britain, so much so that the latter actually had many Hispano-Suiza patented features.

An example of this is how Rolls-Royce used the same braking system as Hispano-Suiza, which was known as the best in the world at the time.

These brakes used the torque generated by a drum brake mounted on the gearbox shaft to send power to the wheels.

The H6 was a two-seater, 6.6-litre, six-cylinder engine with aluminium housing and pistons.
» Sources: Car-nection.com;­ Jaylenosgarage.com; and Sportscarmarket.com

1918 Stutz Bearcat
Jay Leno is best known for being an American talk-show host, but in the US he is also famous for his huge car ­collection.

One of those is the 1918 Stutz Bearcat, which he restored after it stood in a shed for 65 years.

The Bearcat was a roadster that became a status symbol in its time.

In 1911, Harry Stutz set up his own company, and had two-seat roadsters and touring cars made in limited numbers to keep the cars exclusive.

Late in 1917, Stutz introduced a ­16-valve, twin-spark engine in all his models.

The T-head engine delivered lots of torque via a three-speed ­transaxle.

Bearcats could be driven from a walking pace to as fast as 60km/h.

Stutz cars were rather successful when they were first used for ­racing.

1917 Cadillac Type 57

This car was first introduced in ­August 1917, but its sales rocketed only in 1918.

With square instead of rounded doors, it had a tall radiator with an equally long bonnet that sloped into a modified hood.

The Type 57 also had black-enamelled headlights with a distinctive nickel trim. According to ­Car-nection.com, the 57 was a ­“Gypsy-type” vehicle which was for one person and had an open roof.

Some of its standard features ­included 75% transparent side curtains, mounted brackets to swing open with the doors, a dust envelope for the roof, tilt-beam headlights and an illuminated clock.

There was also a speedometer with large figures, a trip reset odometer and an ­electric hooter.

Other features included a foot rest, a clothes hanger and a tool kit.

The material used on seats was ­hand-buffed black leather laid in plaits. 

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