Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Louwman Museum

The Louwman Museum in the Netherlands is home to the world's oldest private collection of motor cars. Started in 1934 and complied by two generations of the Louwman family, the collection boasts 250 antique and classic cars.

Architecturally, the museum is astounding. The purpose-built infrastructure was opened in 2010 and was designed by one of the renowned 'New York Five' architects, Michael Graves. Graves specialised in maintaining a pure form of modernism in the buildings he designed, and is the architect behind a huge number of outstanding structures, from the Riverbend Music Centre in Cincinnati, to the Team Disney building in Burbank, with many more credits to his name around the world. 

Our company accountant, Amanda, picture outside the museum

With a plethora of cars in the collection, it has listed its own Top Five cars in order to show the scope of vehicles that they own. So, best take a look...

Jaguar D-Type XKD 606 (1956)

This car happens to be the 1957 Le Mans winner, crewed by Flockhart and Bueb. The XKD 606 achieved a hat-trick of consecutive Le Mans wins, covering a record 4397km at an average speed of 183km/h; a record which remained unbroken for four years. After Le Mans, the D-Type ended up on the club racing scene, and then, following a crash, was split in two: body and rear-wheel suspension and front sub-frame and engine. The museum managed to acquire both halves of the car, and after a lengthy – and historically accurate – restoration project, the car was returned to the condition it was in during it's successful run in 1957.

Lagonda M45R (1935)

This Lagonda M45R won Le Mans in 1935, despite running low engine oil and suffering a collision that damaged the steering earlier in the race. This car is displayed in completely original condition, right down to the upholstery; an impressive feat for a car over 80 years old!

AC Racing Special (1924)

Englishman Gordon Rossiter used money gifted to him on his 21st birthday to convert an old 1924 2.0-litre six-cylinder AC into a racing car. AC stands for Auto Carrier, the name of the three-wheeled delivery van launched by the Weller brothers in 1904. Rossiter set a new class record at the Blackwell hill climb in his converted AC, and, while racing at Donington Park, clocked a top speed of 105mph.

Spyker C4 All-Weather Coupe (1922)

This particular Spyker C4 is upholstered in simulated snakeskin, and the luggage rack has a jagged edge to discourage one from hitching a ride on the back. The reliability and luxurious design of this car led to it being known in England as the 'Rolls-Royce of the Continent.' In 1922, Selwyn Francis Edge headed to Brooklands in a C4 for the 'Double Twelve.' The record attempt was held in two 12-hour stints, and Edge set a new speed record of 2860km at an average speed of almost 120km/h.

Renault 40CV Type JP Touring Wiederkehr (1922)

With a six-cylinder engine that has a nine-litre capacity, this is one of the largest Renaults every built, and the one on display at the Louwman museum is the only one still in existence. The 40CV soon became a firm favourite in high society, and was delivered as just a motorised chassis, with the choice of bodywork being left to the customer. In 1925, a 40CV won the Rally Monte Carlo, and in 1926, a special single-seat bodywork 40CV participated in the Montlhery endurance event. 

Fellow Velocista, Amanda, recently visited the Louwman museum, and brought back with her numerous images of the vast collection. Now, aside from the very conventional looking cars that make the museum's top five, here are five cars that stood out for their unique and striking designs!

Brooke 25/30-HP Swan Car (1910)

Created by the eccentric Scotsman Robert Nicholl 'Scotty' Mathewson, the bodywork represents a swan gliding through water, and on the rear is an elaborate lotus flower design in gold leaf. The swan's eyes are even fitted with electric bulbs! Fully restored by the museum in 1991, the car went on to win the Montagu Prize at the 1993 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, held in California.

Fiat 1100 Boat-car Carrozzeri Coriasco (1953)

Despite how it may seem, this is not an amphicar! Coriasco, a bodywork manufacturer in Turin, built this in the '50s to promote the Scuola Nautical Scarani sailing school in Bologna. Lots of nautical details were included, such as portholes, lifeboats and a varnished wooden deck, with the mudguards representing the waves of the ocean.

Lincoln Sedan Delivery Deco Liner & Harley Davidson Sportster Deco Scoot (2008)

Inspired by the bodywork designs of Saoutchik and Figonie et Falaschi in the 1930s, and the art deco movement, Terry Cook and Frank Nicholas of Deco Rides, New Jersey, designed this vehicle based on the 1939 Lincoln Zephyr T. Completed in 2008, the car is powered by an eight-cylinder, 5.7 litre Chevrolet 'small block' engine, and the Chevrolet Blazer four-wheel chassis has an extension to allow for a 1992 Harley Davidson Sportster to be stored in the car.

Taruffi Italcorsa/TARF II

Designed by Italian racing driver and engineer Piero Taruffi, this car is powered by a 1.7-litre 290HP supercharged Maserati engine, and is driven using control sticks, as there is no room for a steering wheel. Achieving a top speed of just under 300km/h on the flying kilometre and flying mile, held on the Via Appia near Rome, it went on to break records over longer distances at Montlhery and Monza over the following years. 

Darracq 12HP 'Genevieve' (1904)

Ah, Genevieve... Those who are regular followers of all things Veloce will recall that we published a book on Genevieve at the end of 2016. Written by Rodney Laredo, A Darracq Called Genevieve is the biography of this 1904 Darracq's life on and off the silver screen. Coincidently, we recently received a review of this fabulous book, which you can read here:

"An enjoyable insight into the Genevieve legend"

"Genevieve, as revealed in the 1953 classic British comedy movie was, and is, a credible tale of veteran motoring mayhem. Veloce has recently published A Darracq Called Genevieve. It's a 154-page hardback detailing the story of the car, the film, and the multifarious and multi-talented characters involved.

"We've got a copy of the book right here in the office and we've been enjoying reading it. New Zealand author Rodney Laredo writes from the heart; this tale reads like a very personal account of his lifelong involvement with the Genevieve story.

"Laredo was just a boy when he became entranced with the film and the 1904 Darracq at the centre. His developing interest led to numerous letters, articles, conversation and finally meeting the late Dinah Sheridan.

"Laredo and family eventually became good friends with Sheridan and other personalities involved in the wider story. Therefore, it was natural enough for the author to also explore the very interesting history of Darracq cars, which is still a largely overlooked- or even unknown- chapter in the annals of motoring history.

"Packed with numerous artifacts from the film, it's hard to see why any hard-core Genevieve fan would not want a copy of this book. But even those with a more casual interest will find this enjoyable.

"If you haven't seen the movie for a while and want to re-view it, you'll be sure to watch it in a much wider light and context after you leaf through this publication. And if you simply want to know something about Darracq cars, here's a pretty good place to start."


All of this just scratches the surface of what the Louwman has to offer! Maybe this post has inspired you to plan your own trip over to the Netherlands to see the museum for yourself, and if so, rest assured you will not be disappointed! Visit the Louwman Museum website:


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