In his excellent article about the Belgian Imperia (October 1982 issue) W.B. asks if anyone has any memories of this unusual car. I saw the first ones, 1,100 c.c. sports cars, driven in the late ’20s in Czechoslovakian races.
During practice for the first race on the famous Masaryk-Circuit 1930 at Brno, I “discovered” a quite unusual engine in the yellow 1,800 c.c. Imperia racing car, driven by Ing. Jiri Tacheci, who was a well known motorcyclist, manufacturer of sidecars and also importer of cars, which included Minervas and Imperias from Belgium. When the mechanics opened the bonnet at the pits, I had a good look at the side-valve six-cylinder engine, which proved quite fast. Tacheci was in fifth position in the race, when he — shortly before the finish — retired with a broken ventilator belt. Germany’s Hans-Joachim von Morgen who led the race on his Bugatti 35B, won it eventually on Price Leiningen’s Bugatti 35C, after his own 358 had trouble with the clutch. Drivers were permitted to switch cars during the race and also Tazio Nuvolari finished — behind Burggallers Bugatti 35B— third on the Alfa Romeo, driven earlier by his team-mate Baconin Borzacchini.
Back now to the Imperia driver Ing. Jiri Tacheci, who headed during World War 2 the big Brigade Tank Workshops of the Czechoslovakian Liberation Army in England. I was then in charge of DR motorcycles (BSA, M20) for the Czech army at Burton Latimer, when one day Major Tacheci (as he was then) asked me on the phone if I would like joining the Brigade Workshop in connection with motorcycles. These workshops were near Northampton at Ashby Castle and needless to say, I accepted. Quite often I discussed Imperias with Major Tacheci, whose car was the one driven by Freddy Zehender 1930 into fifth place in the Grand Prix of Europe at Spa-Francorchamps. In front of Freddy were the three Bugattis driven by Louis Chiron, Guy Bouriat and Albert Divo and the Aries, driven by Albert Duray. The last time I saw the Tacheci Imperia was in 1935, when driven by Karel Navratil in Czechoslovakia races. Only a few months before lng. Jiri Tacheci died — about 10 years ago— at Praha, I got from him two good photos of the 1,800 c.c. slide-valve Imperia, which he drove in 1930 on the Masaryk Circuit.
Bielefeld, Germany ERWIN TRAGATSCH