This month’s Mystery Car appeared under several marque names in the late ’60s and early ’70s, so sorting out the relationship between its various manifestations is a detective story in itself! Send your solution, by email or snail mail, to Mystery Cars No. 235, Nzclassiccar, PO Box 46 020, Herne Bay, Auckland, by mid August. The winner will be the first correct entry opened from the entries box. Last month’s very tricky mystery was one of those ‘disguised’ prototype and development cars that manufacturers use for open-road testing, before finalizing body and mechanical details for actual production. In this case, we are looking at a prototype BMW 1600 under test in Europe in late 1960 or early 1961. Yes, we know
it looks like an Alfa Romeo, and why shouldn’t it, as BMW must have known that Alfa Romeo was producing at that time one of the best of the smaller sporting saloons, in the shape of the Giulietta 1300TI. It certainly looks as though the BMW technicians had grafted a Giulietta 1300 front end onto a BMW development chassis to produce this particular disguised development car, and some of BMW’S styling cues are noticeable at the rear. The photo came from the June 1961 issue of Road&track magazine, and interestingly, it shows a two-door body and calls it a BMW 1600, while in fact the BMW Neue Klasse saloon, when it actually was launched in 1962, was a four-door 1500 — and the two-door 1600-2, later renamed the 1602, did not emerge until 1966. An intriguing book could be written about this murky world of pre-production prototypes, how they were built and tested, and how design and development staff bought, drove, tested and dissected models from rival manufacturers. Detail about some of them has surfaced — for example, the story of the mysterious Talago, 16
units of which were seen around the Midlands in Britain in the early 1960s, which was eventually found to be a prototype of the Rover P6 series which was introduced as the Rover 2000 in 1963. Another example is the way other manufacturers bought Peugeot 404s, and tried to find out how they managed to set such high standards in reduction of road noise — RollsRoyce was among the buyers. And NissanDatsun was reputed to have bought BMW Neue Klasse cars, then reverse-engineered them thoroughly to cut costs while retaining performance and strength, and produced the hugely successful Datsun 1600 510 series saloons. Regular entrant and master spotter David North was on the ball again with the massive 1963 model Mercury Monterey Custom in our June issue. Incidentally, the rare photo came from an old late ’80s copy of the interesting American magazine, Carsandparts.
Rolls-royce built this two-door five-seater saloon from 1971 to 1995, sold also as a Bentley from 1971 to 1984 (8) 3. The multipassenger version of Volkswagen’s famous Type 2 commercial van introduced in 1950 (8) 4. German specialist supplier of transmission components and gearboxes for many automobile manufacturers worldwide (6) 5. Italian stylist and coachbuilder, working with Ghia, then with his own coachbuilding business, and finally with Fiat in its styling division from 1957 (5) 6. US racing vehicle company from 1964, initially founded by Dan Gurney and Carroll Shelby (5) 7. Another UK coachbuilder, _____ James was active in the automobile world from 1908 through to 1967, latterly under Jack Barclay Group ownership (5) 12. Six-cylinder Riley sports model, influential in styling terms though only built in small numbers (15?) in 1934–’35 (3) 13. Widely used as an abbreviation for one of France’s finest classics, this name was also used for a threewheeler twoseat sports car built by Bond (under Reliant ownership) from 1970–’74 (3) 14. From 1935 to 1939, this was the advertised name under which the William Lyons–managed company, previously called Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Co, sold its cars (2,6) 15. Lot of these in a car, for crankshaft, big ends, and wheels, to name a few — what are they? (8) 19. French racing and rally driver who founded the Alpine sports-car marque (6) 20. Floorchange gear lever to many of us, but fouron-thefloor or shift to the Yanks (5) 21. NSU small saloon (1958 to 1973), starting out as a 583cc twin, then gaining more performance and room when powered by a fourcylinder ohc aircooled onelitre engine (5) 22. Early ’30s Standard six- cylinder 2.5-litre saloon of quite imposing appearance (5)