Lancia’s 037 Prototype And More Showed Up To Interclassics Maastricht
Photography by Máté Boér
I’m not a morning person, but waking up at 3AM to catch the first plane to the Netherlands was an alarm I was happy to set. I was heading to the 28th Interclassics show in Maastricht.
“Forgotten Classics – Epic Designs from the Past” was the title theme of this year’s event, displaying 24 cars on the main stage from memorable brands that no longer exist. From Auburn, Delage, Delahaye through Hispano-Suiza to Pegaso and Studebaker, visitors could enjoy a wide variety of those forgotten, but wonderfully interesting machines from people cars to the higher ends of luxury.
When it comes to design extravagance, the French never fail to amaze, and this time was no exception. The striking blue Talbot Lago Grand Sport Coupé (pictured above) greeted the visitors in the first row, and the avant garde bodywork’s flowing contours, extensive chrome decorations, covered wheel arches, and fins indicated the work of Jacques Saoutchik, a Parisian artist, who arrived from Ukraine to the French capital to become one of the foremost coachbuilders of the day, and today a Saoutchik design is always a capable competitor on the concours lawn.
I was also especially happy to see the 1930 Voisin C14, which was the first chance I’ve had to look at one of the masterpieces of Gabriel Voisin in person. He was an aviation pioneer, but switched to designing luxury cars after World War I because he lost many of his friends in the war and didn’t like the military’s use of his designs. The now-90-year-old six-cylinder C14 stood in a nicely “matured,” but unrestored condition on stage.
Also very much related to airplanes, the defunct Saab brand was represented in Maastricht by its rarest model, a 92B from 1953. Amazingly this example only covered 60,000km since delivered new in Sweden, and it arrived in the Netherlands a few years ago in original condition. But the list of aviation-linked car marques didn’t end there. Spyker, the Dutch automobile and aircraft manufacturer ceased production in 1926 before the name was reborn in Spyker Cars in 1999. The 1921 C4 Torpedo exhibited was the last model from the Dutch company’s first iteration. The period reviews appreciated the C4’s driving abilities against its competitors, but it wasn’t enough to find sufficient number of buyers to finance further production.
Also from the Netherlands, the successful manufacturer of commercial and heavy-duty vehicles, DAF, produced passenger cars between 1958 and 1975 before Volvo gained a controlling ownership stake in the company. These funky little cars were equipped with the world’s first continuously variable transmissions (CVT), called the Variomatic. This yellow DAF 33 Cabriolet pictured is apparently the only cabriolet built by the factory.
Although the exhibition on the main stage was worth the trip itself, for me Interclassics Maastricht is always about the hidden surprises amongst the cars for sale, which are somewhat lost in the crowds. In the shadow of the title exhibition, I stumbled across this ex-Ronnie Peterson 1971 March 711 Formula 1 car. It stood there without any cordons, offering the opportunity of full admiration for anyone who cared to stop. I spent more than a few minutes observing the March’s details, happy to have a rare opportunity to see such a extreme car in this kind of setting practically all to myself. The 711 is easy to recognize by the huge airfoil mounted on its nose, which earned the car nicknames like “Spitfire” and “Tea Tray.” March engineers understood that the key to success in the 1970s would be aerodynamic efficiency, a statement which may sounds evident for those of us who’ve followed Adrian Newey’s work in the sport in the past decades, but it wasn’t so evident half a century ago.
The “Super Swede,” Ronnie Peterson, drove this car, chassis No.2, in the first part of the 1971 season, meaning this car played a significant role in his 2nd place season finish in the Driver’s Championship. Then on the 15th of August 1971, a young, talented driver named Niki Lauda, new to the March-STP team, got his first chance in F1 by driving the exact same car at the Austrian GP at Zeltweg. The 711 is powered by the legendary Ford-Cosworth DFV V8, the most successful engine in motorsport history. This car holds a lot of history.
But an even more significant motorsport milestone was also hiding inside the halls of Interclassics. The very first prototype of the Group B Lancia 037 was the biggest, and most welcome surprise. Without any information tags or anyone next to it explaining what this machine was, it could have been easily mixed up with a homologated Stradale version of the type for the untrained eyes. The Lancia 037 was last rear-wheel drive car to win the World Rally Championship, and this car is where it all started. After “SE 037” finished its testing duties, it became all but abandoned in the backyard of the Abarth factory—as was the common fate of prototypes of the day—until Sergio Limone, the engineer/designer who helped create it, bought the remnants and restored this important piece of Lancia and rallying history.
This year’s Interclassics was also kind to enthusiasts of early Ferrari road cars. The 1949 Ferrari 166 Inter is one of the 40 examples ever produced, and it was built in the year that Ferrari’s Tipo 166 claimed victories in all three of the world’s most important racing events: the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio, and Le Mans. This example, “027 S” wears Touring’s Superleggera coachwork. The road-version of the Tipo 166, with its single twin-choke Weber carburetor, produced just 100bhp, but we must remember to keep that in perspective.
A few steps away from the 166 Inter, a freshly restored, aluminum-bodied 212 Inter was offered for sale. This 1952 Ferrari, chassis “0225 EL,” has significant ties to the Netherlands, seeing as this was the first Ferrari sold in the country, and the first Ferrari to win a race in the country. The Ghia-bodied coupé was ordered by Eddie Hertzberger, the first Dutch Grand Prix winner. Many years later his son, Anthony bought back the car and brought it back to its former glory and home country.
Nearby, a huge 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Turismo “Ministeriale” was on display, which was said to be one of the two surviving examples in the world. According to the info tablet set up next to it, the car also appeared on screen in more than 80 films. On the other side of the size spectrum sat a green on green 1955 Fiat 600, which boasted a period Mille Miglia racing history.
The Bugatti Club always sets up a charming display, and this year they exhibited a wonderful, green Type 57C Special Coupé. Since this is a one-off design, many details are unique to this car, like the two-piece sunroof. It also served as the personal car of Ettore Bugatti for a time.
For collectors, looking for a much more modern, but still collectible machine, the 1997 Ascari Ecosse seemed to be the opportunity to grab a rare piece. The Ascari supercar is powered by a Hartge-tuned, naturally aspirated BMW V8, and accelerates from 0 to 60mph in 4.1s, onto a top speed of 200 mph. It’s no slouch. These Ascaris were designed by Lee Noble, the man behind Noble sports cars, who was also involved in the McLaren F1 project before working on either of the other cars he’s known for. Another historical tidbit is that these cars were assembled in the same factory that houses the current Haas F1 Team in Banbury. The example shown here was offered for sale with original blueprints and the factory original moulds.
With so many interesting cars on display, it is no surprise that the number of visitors broke the previous record in 2018. For those who missed this opportunity the good news is that a slightly smaller, but equally worthwhile show, Interclassics Brussels will open its doors later this year, in November.