"Cars from the Land of the Rising Sun of every era inspire devotion in a diaspora of automotive enthusiasts. Influx sought out a fistful of them. “I look after between 38 and 50 Japanese cars in various stages of repair. I can’"
Fiat Abarth 750 Zagato
Give a tiny Fiat chassis the Zagato bodywork treatment and a tuned engine and tweaked running gear from Mr Abarth. What more could you want from a pocket rocket for the fifties? Post war Italian austerity gets a shot in the arm, If you couldn’t afford Ferrari’s 250 TR – this was the bargain basement racer of its time.
Ferrari 250 TR
With a body by Scagietti and Ferrari’s race-focussed engineering, the TR was dominant in its various arenas and remains unassailable in its aesthetic appeal. This was the car that announced the true arrival of the prancing horse as a global force. Not surprising, then that the few on the market command as much dinero as a prime Picasso.
Mercedes 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé
Benz’s head of motorsport Rudolph Uhlenhaut bespoke two of these enclosed, gull-winged versions of the W 196 SLR for road use. Reputedly the fastest car on the planet in 1955, the coupé version of Moss’s recordbreaking Mille Miglia winning car invokes the Ride of the Valkyries with a Gene Vincent backbeat. Scarily teutonic.
Maserati Tipo 61 ‘Birdcage’.
Unveiled with Stirling Moss at the helm in 1959, the Tipo 61 got its moniker because of its cage-like space-frame chassis – which was lighter and stiffer than its competitors at the time. We like it, though, because of its arachnid styling and the way its design exemplifies that moment when the fifties with its make-and-do feel of the ancien regime gave way to the self conscious modernism of the relatively affluent sixties. Lecture on social history over. Just look at it!
Jaguar XK SS
Contender for sexiest car of all time, let alone the fifties – this was the road-going version of the all conquering D Type racer – with a passenger seat, a door and a proper windscreen. Unseemingly curvaceous and rare – due to a fire at the Jag plant – it remains a totemic road-going piece of British automotive craftsmanship. Steve McQueen and his XKSS were, apparently the focus of a free donut bonus scheme by the LAPD. The Coolest Man in the Universe and his ride would tool around the Hollywood Hills on the limit it seems…
Maserati A6 G
We’re repeating ourselves here a bit but we couldn’t leave this beauty out. The curved proportions of the coachwork combined with its laid-back, hunkered down poise get us in the back of the throat. Those tiny rear headlamps. The huge Maserati trident on the grille. The minimal brushed steel bumpers and the pertly curved boot! Those Webers! Those wire wheels! We’re STILL in love.
Originally intended for export to the US to compete with sporty and succesful Mercs and MGs, the 507’s pretty roadster lines live on in the Z-series of roadster. Never selling in numbers due to high costs they now fetch silly money. There’s only 200 or so in existence – and we doubt you can name a prettier German car.
CLICK TO ENLARGE