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A Streamlined Sunday – An Early Streamliner And A Film

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Streamliners have been covered extensively on The Old Motor in the past and the oldest enclosed version so far has been a 1914 Alfa Romeo Aerodinamica with coachwork by Carrozzeria Castagna. Thanks to Paul Jaray, an earlier one has been uncovered that was constructed by Karl Czerny & Co. in Vienna, Austria in 1913.

The uncommon Ganz gefchoffen is covered in a 1913 issue of the Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung along with these photos. The aerodynamic coachwork was built on and around a high-quality French Charron  (C.G.V.) 75 h.p. chassis that shares the same arrangement of the radiator mounted behind the engine as did the early Renault.

We are left with two thoughts – is the Czerny creation the first streamliner ever built with an enclosed body and if not can our readers can point us to an earlier example? More photos of it can be viewed at the Gläser-Karosserien-Forum. If you can read German and have the time, send us a comment with an overview of the text in the Allgemeine Automobil- Zeitung article. Thanks to Ivan Pozega for his help with this article.

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  •                  Note the radiator above just forward of the front door and the center driving position. 
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  •                  The hood and radiator are visible on the inside of the body, note the curved side glass.
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  •   L&R – Rear passenger compartment – Front compartment with division window and speaking tube.

Even though it is a little over to twenty years newer than the Ganz gefchoffen, the video Streamlines below by Chevrolet is a well-worth watching. In it you will learn about wind tunnel testing and also view an interesting demonstration of a device that uses a liquid and aluminum powder to show the effect different shapes have on streamlining.

11 responses to “A Streamlined Sunday – An Early Streamliner And A Film

  1. I think the German term should be “Ganz geschlossen” which can be translated as “fully closed”. In the original article, the Gothic script used makes the “s” looks like an “f”.

    Dave A.

  2. Sure reminds me of the “cars of the future” in that wonderful film Metropolis (1927).

    I’m pretty sure that German term is “ganz geschaffen”, which means “all created”, i.e. “all – new”.

    Tom M.

  3. (Actually, I prefer the “all enclosed” translation – except that the example on this page doesn’t have an L in the second German word.)

  4. Hi Tom,
    The “l” appears in the original German language article referred to in the link. It’s just a typo that occurred when transcribing from the original text.

    Dave

  5. “Ganz Geschlossen” (Completely closed) is the title of the piece in the “Allgemeine Automobil Zeitung”.
    I n fact there are 2 articles The first one with describes the first run of this car to pass Semmering a fashionable ski resort in winter and vacation in summer near Vienna. You can see the picture of the cars and skiers in front of a fashionable hotel a the pass at http://anno.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno?aid=aaz&datum=19130223&seite=12&zoom=33. It says that the idea may be good but they see problems with the cooling of the engine.
    A few weeks later there is a description of the features of the car with more pictures: http://anno.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno?aid=aaz&datum=19130413&seite=57&zoom=52 and on
    The say that streamlining was top priority . Even the running board is streamlined into the bodywork and as you open the door the step appears. When you open the door an electric light helps you to find the step. Even the door handles fold into the body and the have a patent for retracting door hinge. Mr. Elias is generalimporter of Charron to Austria and owner of this 35/75 HP is fully satisfied with the way this car handles, it is faster than cars of the same type with conventional bodywork. There are no problems with overheating of the engine. There are louvers at the side to help to get air to and from the engine comparment. The interior is gray cloth with pillows of suede. The seats in the rear unfold to a bed. There is a Isophon ( speaking tube) connection to the driver. The electric interior lights a called fairylike . There is a small luggage compartment in the rear of the body. The toolbox the battery and the gas bottle for the frontlight are all inside the body. There is a complete undertray from front to back.

  6. Great article ! Fascinating stuff !

    On the face of it, I think perhaps Czerny might have been inspired by the airships & Zeppelins of the era.

    As for the reference to Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”, I believe the autos used for the street scenes were “Tropfenwagen”, built by Rumpler, and / or scale models of the same.

    Keep up the great work !

    Francis McMullen

  7. The radiator being enclosed in the compartment would have leaked a lot of heat there – not a problem in a European winter, but otherwise…

    Like Francis McMullen, I agree that the enclosed cars used in Metropolis were Rumpler Tropfen-Autos, built by plane manufacturer Edmund Rumpler from 1921-25. The Versailles Treaty had forbidden Germany an air force and what with the economic conditions at the time, he had little else to do.

    I published an article on Rumpler and his teardrop (‘tropfen’) streamliners years ago. As far as I could research, he was the first with series production of streamliners. He was a fascinating man – responsible for inventing the transaxle engine/drive arrangement and deserves a closer look by OldMotor.

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