Mys­tery car

New Zealand Classic Car - - Automobilia -

We nor­mally try to fea­ture ve­hi­cles that reached pro­duc­tion, even in small num­bers, for our mys­ter­ies, but, this time, we’re look­ing at an in­ter­est­ing mid ’60s bolide, of which, alas, only two were ever built. Who can tell us about this very strik­ing Ital­ian near-su­per­car? Send your so­lu­tion to ed­i­tor@clas­s­ic­ or by mail to Mys­tery Car No. 255 March 2017, New Zealand Clas­sic Car, PO Box 46,020, Herne Bay, Auck­land, by mid April. Last month’s Mys­tery Car was Citroën’s M35 coupé with ro­tary en­gine, which was built in small num­bers be­tween 1969 and 1971. The cars built (267 al­to­gether) were ‘sold’ to ex­pe­ri­enced and knowl­edge­able Citroën-ori­ented high-mileage driv­ers as devel­op­men­tal pro­to­types for Citroën’s ro­tary-en­gine projects. Main­te­nance was to be done by spe­cially trained me­chan­ics only, and run­ning re­ports on prob­lems were also sent in by the own­ers, who listed their opin­ions and prob­lems. The body was built by Heuliez us­ing parts from var­i­ous other Citroën mod­els, and no real at­tempt was made to style the car or give it an at­trac­tive in­te­rior. In­ter­est­ingly, it used the com­plex Citroën hy­drop­neu­matic sus­pen­sion for the first time on such a small car. Once Citroën had canned its ro­tary-en­gine projects, the com­pany gave the own­ers of the M35s the op­tion of re­tain­ing their cars or re­turn­ing them to Citroën, un­der a fac­tory buy-back scheme, of­fer­ing a good price for the ve­hi­cles. Many of those built were re­turned to the fac­tory, where Citroën de­stroyed them, and, as a re­sult, only very small num­bers of th­ese sur­vive. Citroën was ini­tially an ac­tive sup­porter of the ro­tary-en­gine con­cept, work­ing closely with NSU Mo­toren­werke as part of the Co­mo­tor con­cern, and the two com­pa­nies shared re­search and data with Toyo Ko­gyo (Mazda) and Mercedes-benz. Only Mazda stayed the course, as it turned out, keep­ing its ro­tary-en­gine ve­hi­cles in pro­duc­tion through into the 21st cen­tury un­til 2012 and is still de­vel­op­ing ro­tary-en­gine tech­nol­ogy and pro­duc­ing en­gines for spe­cialpur­pose use. It was pleas­ing to find en­trants who knew about Fe­bru­ary’s Mys­tery Car, the Crowther Toiler, an in­ter­est­ing lit­tle slice of New Zealand mo­tor­ing his­tory from the mid ’70s — a well-con­ceived idea for a small util­ity ve­hi­cle, and it de­served a bet­ter fate. Our win­ner was reg­u­lar en­trant David North, from way down south in River­ton — as al­ways, ex­tremely well in­formed.

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