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95-yr-old behemoth for auction

2013-05-21 10:19

95 AND STILL GOING: This 14.5-litre LaFrance Open Speedster will be auctioned off in June 2013 and another will take part in the Peking-Paris rally. Image: Newspress

LONDON, England - The mighty 14.5-litre, 1918 LaFrance Open Speedster, which would be frowned on as a fuel-guzzling, eco-ignorant behemoth if manufactured today, will be auctioned at Historics at Brooklands, England, on June 1, 2013.

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One will race in the Peking-Paris rally which will see 100 classic cars journey from China on May 28 2013 to reach the finish in Paris on June 29.

FIRE-TRUCK PROPORTIONS

With roots that go back to around 1830, American LaFrance was, and remains, a manufacturer of fire trucks. But it also applied its talents to building passenger vehicles on its fire-truck chassis, hence the significant proportions of the LaFrance Speedster.

The model at Historics, SV 5636, was imported to the UK in the mid-1980s. It was used on tours and rallies before it received a complete overhaul, that brought it to its current standard. 

Driver and passenger sit on a blue leather bench with wicker finish, a long aluminium bonnet stretching out before them and a touring trunk to the rear and it has artillery wooden wheels.

The car weighs 3.5-tonnes and measures of its gargantuan proportions is in the fact each of the six cylinders in the 14.5-litre engine displaces 2.4-litres, more than the total engine capacity of a modern sedan.

Starting the car is by hand crank (although for the less physically adept, the push-button provided is a better choice). Given its torque, a gearbox has little relevance other than to accomplish greater vigour and panache, with three forward gears capable of propelling the vehicle to a heady pace, 150km/h being typical for Speedsters used in competition.

The sale price of the American LaFrance Open Speedster could be as high as R690 000.



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