Category Archives: Auto Racing 1894 – 1942
Better known for his Packard dealerships, Earle C. Anthony also ran a Hudson agency located at Tenth and Hope Streets in Los Angeles in the nineteen-thirties, which is where we suspect these photos were taken. They show him with Lee Miles in 1935 who is apparently intent on describing the small aircraft he is towing behind his new Terraplane, and for good reason. Miles was a living legend during the Golden Age of Flight. At the time this photo was taken he was the number one air racer in the National Aeronautics Association standings.
The Miles-Atwood Special and Miles and Leon Atwood – John Underwood photos courtesy of the city of San Bernardino, California
The plane is the Miles-Atwood Special, designed and built by his friend Leon Atwood. A 375 cubic inch engine propelled the small 994 pound craft to a record speed of over 211 miles per hour in 1933. At his height of six-foot, four-inches, contemporary reports say that Miles wore the tiny airplane “like an overcoat.” His car seems a natural choice since an advertising slogan of the day went, “In the air, it’s aeroplaning, on the water, it’s hydroplaning and on the ground, it’s Terraplaning.” You can learn more about Earle C. Anthony and Hudsons on The Old Motor. Dick Whittington Studio photos courtesy of USC Libraries.
The Bebe Peugeot was the perfect car to clown around with and Frank Clarke, a stunt flyer in Hollywood during the twenties and thirties, can be seen doing just that here in a pair of photos, taken in February of 1921. But putting all fun aside, it was actually a car designed for a purpose by no less than Ettore Bugatti. It was introduced by Peugeot during 1912 as their entry into the cycle car craze, which was sweeping the automobile community on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean at the time.
The Bebe as it has been nicknamed was built between the years of 1913 and 1916 and was aimed at economy motoring and lower road use taxes. It featured an 850cc, ten HP T-head engine, with a 2-inch x 3.5-inch bore and stroke. The engine block and crankcase, which used a removable lower oil pan was cast in one piece, it was initially backed-up with a two speed transmission that was later replaced by a three speed unit. Top speed of the little car was limited to 37 MPH. Some three thousand were made during the production run.
The pint-sized car was raced in cycle car events that were popular at the time, and one was even reported to have won its class at the famed French Mont Ventoux Hill Climb. Full details can be found in The Automobile, October 31, 1912 issue above. Photos courtesy of the San Diego Museum of Air & Space and the French National Museum.
Today’s post starts out above with an interesting video showing the Opel Rennwagen. It was produced recently by the Opel Klub of Denmark, when the automaker brought the car back to Fano Island, eighty-nine years after its record setting runs there on the hard-packed sand beach. Information on this special is hard to find, but it appears to have been built in 1914 just before the outbreak of World War I. What follows is the story that we were able to piece together about a pair of the company’s early racing cars.
Opel first started out in the metalworking business, with its first product, a sewing machine in 1862. Later in 1886 the German company entered into the production of bicycles. The first automobile followed in 1899 and was named the “Opel Patent Motor Car, System Lutzmann”. During the year of 1901, an Opel won the Konigsstuhl Hill Climb, and the company also signed and agreement with the French car builder Darracq to produce that car under license.
Around the year of 1902, Opel went back to the drawing board and designed another car of their own that finally entered into production in 1906. By 1907, the 60 hp racing car seen above was built, and the company test and racing car driver Carl Jorns finished third in the Kaiser’s Prize Race behind the wheel with it; the car was also selected by the emperor to win the prize for the best German automobile and thereafter became the official car used for his court.
In 1913, the firm designed and built a shaft and bevel gear-driven SOHC engine much like that produced by Mercedes, in both 4-liter and 4.5-liter sizes for its Grand Prix racing car. The photos of this engine below, were found the following year in The Automobile magazine, July 9, 1914 issue, which covered Grand Prix engines and developments for the season.
Also in 1914 or earlier, it appears that the decision was made to build the Opel Rennwagen record car, with a larger four cylinder sixteen-valve engine of 12.3 liters (750 CI) that was quite similar to the Gran Prix version. It appears to have shared the same basic design with the exception of the rocker arms actuating the valves from below the valve springs.
World War I may have intervened with plans to run the car as we were unable to find any mention of it running until the postwar era on Fano Island. There, off of the coast of southwestern Denmark, was the location of the Speed Trials that were held on Fano Beach from 1919 to 1924. The first reference we were able to find of this car running in an event was there in 1922, where Carl Jorns covered the flying kilometer 19.81 secs.
The video above is captioned that he returned to Fano in 1923 after being the Champion of the event in 1922, it also states that he “brought an even bigger car” in 1923. Wolfgang H. Scholz states in the video, that this car was a one-off, which would seem to indicate that the engine size was larger for the second running. That year Jorns ended up finishing second, after having set a time that would have been good for a record in an earlier qualifying run. In 1924, the last year trials were held, he again won the event with the Opel.
Opel Media, who provided the racing car photos in this post reported that Jorns once more ran the 12.3 liter 260 HP record car in the Schauinsland Hill Climb. During the August 1925 competition, running in the over 5000 cubic centimeter class, he and his mechanic again finished in first place. In the photo below, it appears to have lost the aerodynamic tail visible in the image above. If you can add anything about this interesting car or its history, please send us a comment.