Super Sleuths + BMW 850i + Avanti - Mailbag 417

By: Unique Cars magazine

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Inside this month's Unique Cars mailbag...

Revenge of the sleuths

Interesting to see the photo and accompanying letter seeking identification of the car in the photo.

The vehicle is a Humber Super Snipe MkII of 1948-1949 vintage, indicated by the large hole under the headlamp for the parking light. Later models, 1949-52, had rectangular park lamps.

Powered by a 4086cc side-valve six cylinder engine, these were large English vehicles produced by the Rootes Group (absorbed by Chrysler) and used by both business moguls and the Royal Family.

I hope this information is helpful to you. It is sad to see such a once classy vehicle in such a parlous state and obviously beyond the scope of any economic redemption.

Colin Mannering

ED: Thanks, Colin, and everyone else who dropped us a line about our One for the Sleuths letter and photo last issue. We got a huge response to that question and we’d have to publish a separate mag just to cover them all. A 1949 Super Snipe was the most popular conclusion. 


Mixed up Bimmers


Great Editorial in issue 416 about the BMW 850i and M5. However, I’m sure you’ve been inundated by now with corrections. The chassis codes in the story have been reversed. The 850i was an E31, while the M5 of the same era was an E34.

Fabulous article otherwise, and I have also used the house value analogy in a presentation about my own 850i. My 1992 model in its spec level was around $240,000 new, while the median house price in Sydney at the time was $185,000.

I picked my E31 up five years ago for $18,000, pictured here at Qld Raceway during the 2017 BMW Clubs Nationals. A lot of car for the money.

The Big Drives article was also awesome. Keep them coming.

Ian McLachlan

ED: Thanks, Ian. Yep, I must have had a little dyslexic moment with that one. Big Drives is missing this issue because we had to make room for the giant family car value guide, but it will return in issue 418. Young Alex, who writes it, tells me the next one is an Aston Martin V8 Vantage.


Outstanding Avanti


Great article about the Studebaker Avanti in your July edition. A real stand-out design for the struggling Studebaker company.

Thought the following might be of interest.

In the article it refers to a widely accepted misconception about the origins of the shapely ribbed Coca Cola bottle, that is that Raymond Loewy, much later to be recognised and hugely respected as the Avanti’s designer, was responsible for the iconic bottle’s design.

In fact the unique Coke bottle was created over 100 years ago, in 1915, by a Swedish engineer, and foreman at the Root Glass Company of Indiana, Alexander Samuelson. Possibly inspired by the shape of the Kola nut, the bottle’s design was patented a year later.

At that time the twenty-two year old Raymond Loewy was a continent away, serving in the French Army, before migrating to the U.S in 1922. After initially working as a department store window-dresser, Loewy started his own design consultancy business, which, by the 1940s had grown to be the largest in New York.

In part the attribution of the coke bottle design to Loewy likely resulted from a letter he sent to the Coca Cola Company, in which he described the bottle as "...the most perfect fluid wrapper of the day and one of the classics in packaging history", a quote later misinterpreting Loewy as the designer. Never one to lose an opportunity for self-promotion, Loewy was in no rush to correct the error.

Of course the term ‘coke bottle’ has a more contemporary automotive connection. In the mid 60’s the term was used to characterise the upswept hip design on the rear quarter of many ‘sporty’ production cars, as seen on Ford’s XR Falcon, GM’s 67 Chevrolet Camaro, and locally on GM-H’s scaled-down Camaro, the humble HB Torana, nee Vauxhall Viva.

Ah, the pause that refreshes!

Paul Beranger

ED: Paul is the author of the excellent book Crayon to CAD


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