Monday, October 27, 2008

Mystery Car #50: Revealed

I was introduced to Mystery Car #50 in A History of Sport Cars by G.N. Georgano.1 A picture at the bottom of page 268 shows a "Denzel on the Col du Ste Baume during the 1956 Alpine Rally." The car caught my attention because it looked like a widened Porsche 356 convertible. But it just wasn't quite right. This, I said to myself, would make an excellent Mystery Car #50.

Apparently Denzel was an Austrian company which produced sports cars derived from Volswagen cars. Later as the company progressed they eventually began designing and making their own vehicles.
Ex-motorcycle racer Wolfgang Denzel at Vienna started out using primarily VW mechanical components for his cars. However, as production increased, by the mid-1950s he was using many fewer VW parts. For example, most major mechanical components of his engines (except for the two-piece VW crankcases) were made by or for Denzel, including cylinder heads, intake manifolds, pushrods, rocker arms, pistons and cylinders, connecting rods, and even crankshafts. Brakes were from Fiat. Wheels were not VW or Porsche; by the mid-1950s many of them used Borroni steel/alloy wheels.2

Denzel's work resulted in approximately 150 units during the 1950's which competed with Porsche and eventually won the 1954 Alpine Rally.3 According to Car & Driver a 1958 model produced a whopping 64 hp and topped out at 107 mph.4 Sadly, however, Wolfgang Denzel eventually came to the conclusion that he couldn't compete against Porsche anymore. So, he left his work as an automobile producer for his former employment at a garage.5 That's too bad. They really were special cars.

1 If you are able to find this book, it would be worth purchasing. It covers the first 70 years of sports cars. It amazes me how little we really have progressed over the years. They were making DOHC, OHV, high powered, efficient engines way back in the 30's! It truly is an amazing book.

2 A short quotation from DENZEL (Austria) 1948-1960.

3 Denzel (automobile) by Wikipedia

4 Car & Driver: 1958 Denzel 1300WD - Auto Shows by Frank Markus

5 Denzel Overview by Motorbase

6 To read a more full history of the Denzel experience, visit ritzsite's Car of the month archives and look for October 2008.

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