Mr Boddy’s exhortation never to trust experts may be sound advice as a rule of thumb but, on the question of the last sports car to be made in the Netherlands, I would like to strike a blow back for the experts by illuminating the story of a car which will be familiar to many readers.
The last Dutch sports car was neither the 1910 Spyker nor the post-war Type C4 Spyker but the small series sportster of that illustrious Dutch racing driver Maurice Gatsonides. His Gatso “aero-coupe” was being manufactured as late as 1950 although its distinct lack of commercial success has relegated it to a position ot undeserved obscur ity The very first Gatso. known in its prototype stages as the Gatford, was developed during the war whilst Gatsonides was unable to pursue his racing career It appeared in 1946 for the French Alpine Rally where it proved to Ice very c.ompetitive thanks to the development advantages it boasted over its rivals Intact it came second I n its class by finishing less than one mmute behind the winner.
The prototype was based around a 1937 Ford 08 chassis Idled with a 3 9-litre Mercury so V8 which, in its normally aspirated form, would develop 95 bhp. The duralumin-Panelled body had the benefit of wind tunnel testing. For racing purposes, this took the form of a flowing open sports style with enclosed rear wheels but, when the Gatso reached the buying public, it featured a curious aircraft cockpit-type “bubble” toot and a cyclopic third headlamp. Hydro-mechanical brakes, overdrive on all three gears and the option of a 170 bhp ohv engine did not, however, spur many customers to splash out on such an unusuaI sports car and, by the time the Gatso left production in 1950 very few examples had been sold.
No doubt a rather different tate awaits Volvo s 480ES, the corporate child of a car maker which does not seem able to make mistakes Here’s to a healthy rebirth ol the Dutch sports car industry.
London W1 GARY S. AXON