Friday, 11 July 2014

Dinner Meeting of the CCC at the Bristol Hotel, Warsaw June 25th 2014

Click on Photographs to enlarge - far superior rendition

Dinner in the Slowacki Salon during Blazej Zulawski's excellent presentation of the
2014 Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance

We managed to achieve an attendance of 13 for the Summer Dinner Meeting before members head off for their holidays to all points of the compass. The superstitious among us insisted on a 14th empty place being set!

These dinners have become a real education in terms of serious even encyclopaedic historical car knowledge and input from all the members present.

I have been to many such evenings at one marque car clubs in the UK (the R-REC, the MGCC and the Lagonda Owner’s Club) for example and although the material is of course is fascinating it is by necessity specialist and restricted in range to one manufacturer. We have been privileged to hear some quite extraordinary and esoteric presentations over a wide spectrum of automobilia since we began these Bristol Dinners. Last night was no exception. 

I sometimes feel the essential value of the CCC is the fact we are not restricted to one marque which makes for imaginative and stimulating evenings that range widely in scope and content. Quite apart from the immense learning curve we have all decided to embrace…very stimulating indeed.

During the meal we had a remarkably valuable and surely unique detailed presentation of this year’s stunning Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance by professional photographer Blazej Zulawski. Apart from possibly the organizers of that event I simply cannot imagine such brilliant photography and informed commentary covering the entire exhibition being presented over a civilised dinner in a beautiful private room (the Slowacki Salon) in an historic hotel (the Bristol) in a capital city (Warsaw) anywhere else in the world – this is not an exaggeration.  Can you? Some 350 photographs of amazing and rare works of automobile art. The reason is Blazej's abiding passion for cars coupled with great aesthetic sensitivity – rare enough today.

Here is a selection of his photographs of the event:

Blazej Zurawski (left at the end) hard at work identifying these ultra-rare exotic machines

The shore of Lake Como where the Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance takes place. Billionaires travelling...

The Judges

Matched set of Purdey shotguns in the rear of a unique Hooper-bodied Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud Shooting Brake. They would probably be valued higher than the car itself!

Having fun in a priceless Bugatti...

Sensual body details at Villa d'Este are certainly not restricted to motor cars

The glittering prizes

This presentation was then followed at the conclusion of dinner by a fluent and deeply fascinating talk by Paul Ayre (our club logo designer) of the evolution, design and influence of the Streamlined Tatras (Tatra V570, T77, T87, T97 ) by the visionary Austro-Hungarian or Austrian automobile designer and engineer Hans Ledwinka (1878–1967). In this talk Paul was playing in a fashion the Devil's Advocate for Ledwinka concerning the reputation for complete originality of some designs of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. 

The illustrations brilliantly supported his contention that in car design all is not as clear cut as it might first appear. Clearly some very discriminating research was in evidence here. Streamlining itself was patented by the Hungarian-Jewish Viennese engineer Paul Jaray (1889-1974) who designed airships on which the Graf Zeppelins were based. Jaray founded the Stromlinien Karosserie Gesellschaft, which presented numerous designs for streamlined car bodywork. It issued licences to major vehicle manufacturers including the Tatra Works in Koprivinice in Czechoslovakia. Tatra was the sole manufacturer that introduced Jaray streamlining principles into their car production. 

Some of the most extraordinary images of cars I have ever seen was combined with esoteric information of a fascinating order. The beauty of the Tatra illustrative sales material was also amazingly beautiful and arresting. 

Both Hitler and Porsche were influenced by the Tatras. Hitler was a keen automotive enthusiast, and had ridden in Tatras during political tours of Czechoslovakia. He had also dined numerous times with Ledwinka. After one of these dinners Hitler remarked to Porsche, "This is the car for my roads". From 1933 onwards, Ledwinka and Porsche met regularly to discuss their designs, and Porsche admitted "Well, sometimes I looked over his shoulder and sometimes he looked over mine" while designing the Volkswagen. There is no doubt that the Beetle bore a striking resemblance to the Tatras, particularly the Tatra V570. 

The automotive designer engineer Hans Ledwinka  (1878-1967)
1933 Second prototype Tatra V 570 .  Does this shape remind you of any other vehicle?

First sketch of the VW Beetle

The automotive engineer Dr. Ferdinand Porsche (1875-1951)

First reveal of the German People's Car

This extraordinary photograph of Herr Hitler hunched over a model of the first VW car with a look of sheer excitement transfiguring his whey face along  with his Nazi cronies was worth coming to the dinner for alone. 
The influence of the Tatra designs by Hans Ledwinka is clear. 
Tatra T 77
Brilliant Tatra advertising material for their streamlined cars

Superb Tatra Logo

The extraordinary futuristic streamlined coachwork of the Tatra T 8

Brilliant Tatra graphic design

Extraordinary frontal treatment of the Tatra T 87 with central headlamp

The elegant interior of the Tatra T 87

Air-cooled V8 engine of the Tatra T 87

Advertising material for Tatra 603

Even buses seem to have been influenced by Tatra Streamlined cars.

1939 Leyland Cheetah Bus as featured in the UK TV Series Foyle's War
1939 Leyland Cheetah Bus (rear view with fin) as featured in the UK TV Series Foyle's War

This fantastic but impractical  (ultra heavy at 188 tons) design of the 1943 Panzer VIII Maus by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche was entirely new to me. Only 2 prototypes were built of which 1 is incomplete.

This is an interesting link to more detailed information on the Maus

Later we discussed possible future events. One was of mounting a car display in September at the Mielżyński Wine Bar, possibly matching wine to cars just for fun and perhaps other serious nonsense. 

As we left there was a glamorous party in full swing to celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of a branch of the Mielżyński Wine Bar at the Bristol Hotel.

A few of us joined the happy party group here after dinner...

Those CCC Members present at the dinner were:

Paul Ayre
Iain Batty
Paul Blackman
Jacek Czeczot-Gawrak
Andy Fincham
Michael Moran
Michael Motz
David O'Driscoll
Blazej Zulawski
Bill Flint
Guy Pinsent
Mirek Staniszewski
Artur Gabor

P.S.  By an odd and happy coincidence I visited a relatively unknown but excellent VW Museum in the Kaszuby region in the north of Poland while I have been writing this blog post on my holidays. It has been established by one family over many years and contains 40 VW cars of various models. They are presented in a particularly stylish manner. The collection of Combi vans is second to none. It is astonishing what one finds in remote parts of this country!

Volkswagen 181 Badge

VW Beetles from various years on manufacture

                          Volkwagen 181. This model was a two wheel drive, four door, convertible,off-road military vehicle
                     manufactured from 1968-1983. This one was from California where it was originally marketed as The Thing

Big Game hunting in a Volkwagen 181. 

She just stepped out for a moment...

Well do I remember this crazy time...carefree fun while it lasted!

ul. Armii Krajowej 50
83-330 Pepowo

Zenon Suchecki