Another mystery car

Author
Discussion

TonyRPH

11,073 posts

137 months

Tuesday 25th May
quotequote all
Zirconium said:
I would be very suprised if only one photo was taken at the time; even if just to bracket for exposure. Have we confirmed that this was taken on a 35mm camera? The aspect ratio looks about right to me (if it hasn't been cropped). Also, I can't remember if anyone has taken a crack at working out the field of view - and hence focal length of the lens.
I did say in a previous post (quoted below) that I thought a telephoto lens had been used - because there is some depth of field compression in the distant objects in the picture.

TonyRPH said:
My first thought is that the lady in grey/green is carrying a dog or cuddly toy of some description?

Regarding the secondary (skin coloured) object just over her left shoulder - I initially though it was the arm of the person directly behind her, but further examination of the image reveals that there is someone else directly behind her (blue top) and the mystery object is possibly the arm of the person behind the one in the blue top (looks to be wearing a red top).

The fact that they appear so close suggests that a telephoto lens was used, as that would cause objects in the distance to be really close together.

Doofus

16,773 posts

142 months

Tuesday 25th May
quotequote all
[quote=V41LEY]Paul Getty Images which are then licensed by users ?/quote]

Getty Images was founded by Mark. Nothing to do with Paul.

smile

uk66fastback

15,263 posts

240 months

Tuesday 25th May
quotequote all
Yertis said:
You're barking up the wrong tree if you harbour notions about the car being added to the photo. Retouching to the extent of adding a car would have been an expensive labour-intensive process, used only in advertising or for some important artistic or editorial purpose, not a book about buses. That photo will have started life as a transparency. If it needed retouching it will have been printed, faffed around with by an artist, then rephotographed back into a trannie, from which separations would have been made ready for printing – you can make some small changes at the repro stage too. I'm not sure dodging is a thing in making colour prints in the darkroom. I've done it loads of times in the darkroom with black and white, but colour is a whole different ball game. I think the pic does look like it's had some touching up done, possibly, but the addition of the car? No way.
It wouldn’t have been rephotographed back into a tranny, as it would probably not have been drum scanned back then. It would have been a continuous tone print taken from a tranny and then separations made on a flat scanner/camera much like a fine art painting might be today.

skwdenyer

9,680 posts

209 months

Tuesday 25th May
quotequote all
Hawkshaw said:
Trying to come at this from a different angle -

The picture and the car are really two different problems.

On balance of probabilities, the car was always in the picture, but for some reason has been so heavily retouched that we cannot identify it.

My main technical queries about the car are these:

Why would anyone want to build a body with such a complicated mixture of styles, especially an amateur with limited facilities ?

Why is the wheelbase so short?

Why are the wheels so large?

How is the engine packaged with such a low bonnet line?

How do the doors work, given the various shut lines which are visible?

Why use a dog-leg windscreen in a position which interferes with the door area?

Most of this can be explained by the extensive retouching which has used styling features from various cars. The "real" car probably has a conventional screen, higher bonnet line, and completely different shut lines, and may not even have tail fins. And so on.

That leaves the wheel diameter and wheelbase. 15 inch wheels are not impossible, but this could also be due to retouching, and 13 inch wheels would perhaps suit the radius of the arches better, in which case the arches may be part of the "real" car.

We seem agreed on 78" wheelbase and a prewar chassis has been suggested. This is possible, but I think it is unlikely because there would be inadequate headroom in a closed car with the floor placed on top of the chassis rails. With many open A7 specials, a driver sitting on the floor can easily see over the windscreen.

78" is almost 80" which is the wheelbase of a Sprite. If more detailed work on the scaling indicates a wheelbase of 80" plus or minus 1" then I think it is quite likely that the car behind the retouching is a special bodied Sprite.

Not what I expected to be thinking, but there you go.
In terms of sizes, I know you keep saying this, but there are quite a few cars that do fit the size envelope, however compromised you feel they might be smile This post from borani from 13/02/2019 is relevant:

borrani72 said:
Hi Gareth1974, I looked at the Heron too. Pretty little cars.


Here are three, with an amazing variety of wheel diameters. The first two are almost certainly Austin Sevens (the Heron was designed for the 6'9" Seven chassis). Seven wheels got progressively smaller during their production run, so the black car is probably an early one.

The last one is anybodies guess (sadly, not registered with DVLA). 4-stud wheel hubs that look like they came from a spitfire maybe?










The drawing of the Heron was also a convenient basis for my own drawing - if Big Seven based, the mystery car is actually quite a lot larger than the tiny Heron.



skwdenyer

9,680 posts

209 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
Hawkshaw said:
78" is almost 80" which is the wheelbase of a Sprite. If more detailed work on the scaling indicates a wheelbase of 80" plus or minus 1" then I think it is quite likely that the car behind the retouching is a special bodied Sprite.
On the question of who might have made such a thing, this is what a little-known Carrozzeria in Udine, Italy, came up with when asked to re-body an Austin Healey 3000 (belonged to a GI who'd crashed it):



So it remains a decent possibility in my mind this is a one-off coachbuilt special along similar lines.

More on that A-H here: https://www.undiscoveredclassics.com/sport-customs...

andyps

7,800 posts

251 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
Hawkshaw said:
Trying to come at this from a different angle -

The picture and the car are really two different problems.

On balance of probabilities, the car was always in the picture, but for some reason has been so heavily retouched that we cannot identify it.

My main technical queries about the car are these:

Why would anyone want to build a body with such a complicated mixture of styles, especially an amateur with limited facilities ?

Why is the wheelbase so short?

Why are the wheels so large?

How is the engine packaged with such a low bonnet line?

How do the doors work, given the various shut lines which are visible?

Why use a dog-leg windscreen in a position which interferes with the door area?

Most of this can be explained by the extensive retouching which has used styling features from various cars. The "real" car probably has a conventional screen, higher bonnet line, and completely different shut lines, and may not even have tail fins. And so on.

That leaves the wheel diameter and wheelbase. 15 inch wheels are not impossible, but this could also be due to retouching, and 13 inch wheels would perhaps suit the radius of the arches better, in which case the arches may be part of the "real" car.

We seem agreed on 78" wheelbase and a prewar chassis has been suggested. This is possible, but I think it is unlikely because there would be inadequate headroom in a closed car with the floor placed on top of the chassis rails. With many open A7 specials, a driver sitting on the floor can easily see over the windscreen.

78" is almost 80" which is the wheelbase of a Sprite. If more detailed work on the scaling indicates a wheelbase of 80" plus or minus 1" then I think it is quite likely that the car behind the retouching is a special bodied Sprite.

Not what I expected to be thinking, but there you go.
Why do you think someone producing a book about buses would find a photograph of buses in London and go to such massive effort to change a partially obscured car in the foreground of the picture? The only possible explanation would be to generate a massive amount of discussion on car forums with people trying to work out what it was in order to sell more copies of the book. How many people discussing it here have bought the book?

Loose_Cannon

1,521 posts

222 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
Hawkshaw said:
seem to remember pedestrian crossings of that type being marked by lines of square metal (stainless steel?) studs in the road surface.
They still are. The DoT specification for highway works hasn't changed in places since the 1930s.

mbwoy84

598 posts

81 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
The car hasn't been heavily retouched or altered in anyway. There's no way anyone has gone to the considerable effort for the day to do that for a partially obscured car. The image has some enhancement/retouching around the edges. Someone, at some point has obviously had sufficient interest in the car to make it the most interesting item in the image to them, rather than the buses which are the main point of interest for the book.

The most likely explanation for it having such large wheels is that it is based on a pre-war chassis, which typically ran larger wheels.

Why the builder would want such a mix of styles to make it more complex to produce or less practical is just their personal preference. It looks very modern for the time and mixes obvious styling cues from some of the most up-to-date sportscar designs of the time, with some space age/futuristic touches, which were also in vogue during the sixties. Someone obviously like the idea of using a curved rear screen of the time as a windscreen and built a lot of the styling around that.

If the engine sits far enough back, then I don't see the bonnet line being a problem for certain engines. If it was build around an existing chassis, everything would have been built to fit, however tight that may have been.

hpojnk

3 posts

4 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
I found this thread from RR and made this for a bit of fun (deliberately not accurate) based on the original image I thought I’d share it here.

Nice to see the thread revived with positive/constructive discussion and hopefully one day a conclusion or someone finds it in a garage somewhere.


Yertis

16,328 posts

235 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
uk66fastback said:
It wouldn’t have been rephotographed back into a tranny, as it would probably not have been drum scanned back then. It would have been a continuous tone print taken from a tranny and then separations made on a flat scanner/camera much like a fine art painting might be today.
Yes you're right, I was thinking about last time we did it which was as you say a big print from a tranny – retouch with an airbrush etc make a new tranny then on to the drum scanner.

andyps

7,800 posts

251 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
hpojnk said:
I found this thread from RR and made this for a bit of fun (deliberately not accurate) based on the original image I thought I’d share it here.

Nice to see the thread revived with positive/constructive discussion and hopefully one day a conclusion or someone finds it in a garage somewhere.

Brilliant restomod there, anyone know what the car is as I'd like to buy one and do that with it smile

V41LEY

2,656 posts

207 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
Yertis said:
Yes you're right, I was thinking about last time we did it which was as you say a big print from a tranny – retouch with an airbrush etc make a new tranny then on to the drum scanner.
Can you explain what a ‘tranny’ is ? I’m getting the wrong image in my head !


mbwoy84

598 posts

81 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
I really know nothing about photography, but I'm assuming its a transparent.

V41LEY

2,656 posts

207 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
skwdenyer said:
AIUI the book doesn't credit individual photographs; there are credits for the book as a whole (which have been scanned and put on this thread previously). Somebody (ideally somebody retired smile ! ) could try to track own all the credits, where the images are now, etc.

Of particular interest to me would be whether any further photographs exist. Whilst film cameras were not the snap-happy devices of modern times, somebody seems to have gone to the trouble of climbing up a ladder to get this shot. That suggests to me they took more than one image, but of course there's no guarantee all were kept even for a short while.
You make a valid point. Is it a photo of the car, the buses or the perspective that climbing a ladder provides ? If it was just a stock photo of buses taken by someone you wonder why they would need to be up a ladder. Just stand on the edge of the pavement and get a clear shot. There must be more photos. I’m at a car boot on Sunday - I’ll start looking !

TonyRPH

11,073 posts

137 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
V41LEY said:
Can you explain what a ‘tranny’ is ? I’m getting the wrong image in my head !
I'm assuming 'transparency'

negative-vs-transparency


V41LEY said:
You make a valid point. Is it a photo of the car, the buses or the perspective that climbing a ladder provides ? If it was just a stock photo of buses taken by someone you wonder why they would need to be up a ladder. Just stand on the edge of the pavement and get a clear shot. There must be more photos. I’m at a car boot on Sunday - I’ll start looking !
As I noted in a previous post - there is some evidence of lens compression, which suggests a telephoto lens was used.

I did wonder that instead of a step ladder, the photographer was in an elevated position in a nearby building, possibly a little further away from the car than is being envisioned.


borrani72

263 posts

31 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
I was going to reply to Hawkshaw's post from a few days ago, but I can't find any of their original posts??

Anyway............




Hawkshaw said:

“My main technical queries about the car are these:

Why would anyone want to build a body with such a complicated mixture of styles, especially an amateur with limited facilities ?

Why is the wheelbase so short?

Why are the wheels so large?

How is the engine packaged with such a low bonnet line?

How do the doors work, given the various shut lines which are visible?

Why use a dog-leg windscreen in a position which interferes with the door area?”

…...........................................................


As to style, I guess that was a matter of personal taste, current influences and practical considerations. As to limited facilities, well, who knows? The builder could well have had access to all the right equipment if he worked at one of the small engineering and metalworking shops that were common at the time (car bodies, bus and coach bodies, aircraft suppliers, industrial fabricators, car-body repairers, metal cabinetry manufacturers etc). It wasn't uncommon for the boss to allow evening projects at these places.

As to wheelbase, the size seems to be 78 inches. An early Austin Seven was only 75 inches. Plenty of Sevens were used as the basis for specials, also smaller Fords. The Morris far less so. I'm not sure why this was. Perhaps they were heavier, or held their value better? There must have been a reason.

Assuming that the car is a Minor, then it would have had antiquated 3-stud hubs. Could you get anything smaller than a 15” wheel to fit?

The Minor, and the Austin Seven, had small engines. They were mounted well back behind the axle line, and with the radiator and ancillaries re positioned do allow a very low bonnet line. I spent some time on the bonnet clearance question with the CAD model, as per the pictures below.




Above, outline of the head and plugs, etc on the centreline. The outline was traced (onto a central construction plane running along the centre of the car), as seen on the Minors below.









The doors have to be gull-wing. The square-cornered roof cut-out can't work any other way. My interpretation has a relatively small, tapering door, but as the car is low, and with the roof opened-up by the gull-wings, you would step over the sill much as with a small, open racing-car of the era. The door sill height of my model is 534mm from the ground, and the base of the aperture, allowing for rubber seals, is 318mm long. Enough clearance for a mans shoe, which is all you would need.

The dogleg windscreen may have been a personal style preference. But equally, it is also the simplest type of gull-wing-door to engineer and seal because there are no undercuts to be considered. Also, the triangulation of the A-post would make it naturally strong enough to grip when lowering yourself into, or pulling yourself out of, the seat.




…...........................................................


Hawkshaw said:

“We seem agreed on 78" wheelbase and a prewar chassis has been suggested. This is possible, but I think it is unlikely because there would be inadequate headroom in a closed car with the floor placed on top of the chassis rails. With many open A7 specials, a driver sitting on the floor can easily see over the windscreen.”

…...........................................................

Your practical knowledge is showing here, and you are quite right that the interior height is limited on the Morris Minor based model. In fact, with the floorboards across the chassis rails as you have suggested (there isn't room for two people to sit between the rails), the floor to roof height is around 780mm. This is low, but not without precedent. It would definitely require a very reclined, long-arm driving position (referred to at the time as the Lotus Position, I believe?).

Of course, we also have no idea how tall the driver was. Colin Chapman famously built production cars around his own 5'8” stature, whilst this was a one-off, and the driver could have been 5'3” for all we know. Having tried out the dimensions from the CAD model at full size, I think a driver of average height could fit well enough. The length of the space (back of head to the front of the pedal box, is around 1450mm. How comfortable it would be on a long journey is difficult to say.

An inclined, F1-style driving position would also make perfect sense of the set-back glasshouse, with the drivers' shoulders inclined over the front of the rear wheel-arch.





Yertis

16,328 posts

235 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
TonyRPH said:
V41LEY said:
Can you explain what a ‘tranny’ is ? I’m getting the wrong image in my head !
I'm assuming 'transparency'
Yes in those far off days tranny meant transparency. Transvestism wasn't that much of a big deal back then.

TarquinMX5

825 posts

49 months

Wednesday 26th May
quotequote all
andyps said:
Hawkshaw said:
Trying to come at this from a different angle -

The picture and the car are really two different problems.

On balance of probabilities, the car was always in the picture, but for some reason has been so heavily retouched that we cannot identify it.

My main technical queries about the car are these:

Why would anyone want to build a body with such a complicated mixture of styles, especially an amateur with limited facilities ?

Why is the wheelbase so short?

Why are the wheels so large?

How is the engine packaged with such a low bonnet line?

How do the doors work, given the various shut lines which are visible?

Why use a dog-leg windscreen in a position which interferes with the door area?

Most of this can be explained by the extensive retouching which has used styling features from various cars. The "real" car probably has a conventional screen, higher bonnet line, and completely different shut lines, and may not even have tail fins. And so on.

That leaves the wheel diameter and wheelbase. 15 inch wheels are not impossible, but this could also be due to retouching, and 13 inch wheels would perhaps suit the radius of the arches better, in which case the arches may be part of the "real" car.

We seem agreed on 78" wheelbase and a prewar chassis has been suggested. This is possible, but I think it is unlikely because there would be inadequate headroom in a closed car with the floor placed on top of the chassis rails. With many open A7 specials, a driver sitting on the floor can easily see over the windscreen.

78" is almost 80" which is the wheelbase of a Sprite. If more detailed work on the scaling indicates a wheelbase of 80" plus or minus 1" then I think it is quite likely that the car behind the retouching is a special bodied Sprite.

Not what I expected to be thinking, but there you go.
Why do you think someone producing a book about buses would find a photograph of buses in London and go to such massive effort to change a partially obscured car in the foreground of the picture? The only possible explanation would be to generate a massive amount of discussion on car forums with people trying to work out what it was in order to sell more copies of the book. How many people discussing it here have bought the book?
Agreed.

I had a copy of this book, original '67 version, from when I was at school (was if really that long ago eek) and only recently gave it, and many others, to a local charity shop.

It was a book about buses, not the most exciting of subjects, and it's a picture of bl***y buses. I recall seing the car and as a car-mad youngster not knowing what it was but, as t'internet didn't exist then, there wasn't much else you could do if it wasn't in one of your books. It never entered my wildest dreams that it would become a world-wide phenomenon for a load of geeks all these years later smile

And we think trainspotters might have a problem biggrin



Dan Singh

323 posts

19 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
Yertis said:
TonyRPH said:
V41LEY said:
Can you explain what a ‘tranny’ is ? I’m getting the wrong image in my head !
I'm assuming 'transparency'
Yes in those far off days tranny meant transparency. Transvestism wasn't that much of a big deal back then.
Unless you happened to be one wink
A ‘Tranny’ was a transistor radio in my youth. Nowadays it is seems to be a gearbox as well.

Loose_Cannon

1,521 posts

222 months

Tuesday 1st June
quotequote all
TonyRPH said:
As I noted in a previous post - there is some evidence of lens compression, which suggests a telephoto lens was used.

I did wonder that instead of a step ladder, the photographer was in an elevated position in a nearby building, possibly a little further away from the car than is being envisioned.
I agree, bloke up a ladder on a high street would mean lots of faces raised upwards. The depth of field is remarkable in this picture for a busy moving environment.

Edited by Loose_Cannon on Wednesday 2nd June 09:21