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Book Review: Lost Beauties - 50 vergessene automobile Schätze

Give yourself an early Christmas present... Maybe too early?

By Doug Stokes

Wed, Sep 1, 2021 02:30 PM PST

Lost Beauties

50 vergessene automobile Schätze 

(50 Cars That Time Forgot)

by Michael Zumbrunn & Axel E. Catton

Forward by Andrea Zagato

Published by teNeues Publishing Company

ISBN:978-3-96171-339-4 (English version)

ISBN:978-3-96171-339-7 (German version)


Illustrations courtesy of the publisher

Let’s see … when’s Christmas?

No, too long a wait.

OK, then how about the first day of Autumn (that’s September 22)?


Perfect? For what? … For many things of course, but buying a copy of this colorful, informative, and strictly wonderful book about cars that time has forgotten is one thing we’ll strongly suggest here.

page spread from the book "Lost Beauties"
The Blitzen Benz - 1909

Understand of course, that the title is only transactionally correct…”time” hasn’t really forgotten these machines, it just sort of slipped the mind, and in this fine new book from high-style German publisher teNeues the reminder is quite welcome. It is my supposition that rank tyros and seasoned scholars alike will have a great time here “remembering” some of these classics - in many cases for the first time. I’m fairly certain that more than a few readers may even learn a few new stories about wonderfully unique automobiles and the culture that produced them, I sure did.

Fully-illustrated with some one hundred fifty pages dedicated to these fifty unique vintage machines, the studio photography is both detailed and - if I can use the term here - loving. There’s great respect and warmth shown to these so-called “forgotten” automobiles … and the words here about these unique machine are just as beautifully-tinted and storyful. This book is really quite a lovely way to pay them some well-deserved respect.

small red classic convertible

Perhaps the least un-forgotten car here is the AC Ace Bristol. The graceful, lightweight British sports car with features said to closely mimic the 1952 Ferrari 212 Export, and which the redoubtable Carroll Shelby bought a bunch of, beefed up, and sold under the slightly more adventurous moniker of: “Cobra”.  Now the very antithesis of “forgotten”, just about anything on four wheels with the Shelby name involved is highly sought-after, and paid dearly for.

But many of the other automobiles chronicled here are as esoteric and obscure as they come and that’s what makes this book so much fun. There are, as we said, fifty cars that have all been given the full spotlight and an open microphone (so to speak) here in “Lost Beauties”. Just for the fun of it we’ll list ten of them here randomly. The question is, how many do you recognize and how many do you want to see one, two, or maybe three very good studio photos of - along with the real deal 411 on what the heck it was and why?

Ten Of The Fifty Forgotten Cars

1. Venturi Fetish (2002)

2. Opel RAK2 (1928)

3. Kamm K3 (1938)

4. BAG Spatz (1956)

5. Triumph Italia (1959)

6. Bitter CD (1974)

7. NSU Kompressor-Stromline (1959)

8. Blitzen Benz (1910)

9. Volkhart V2 Sagitta (1947)

10. Mercedes6/40/65 PS-Targa Florio (1922)

classic Ferrari from the book "Lost Beauties - 50 Cars That Time Forgot"
Name that car

Yeah, me neither … and that’s the whole deal here: These are not oddities, but real cars that had a real reason for being - however forward-thinking the design - and are now all old and well-respected enough to be called vintage cars. There are forty more of these sensationally-different cars, every one as intriguing as our random ten above, each with it’s own background (and foreground) story.

Readers might note that the book title calls them “beauties”, and that they are, each in it’s own way and style. Most of the machines portrayed so splendidly in this book were built in very limited numbers (and a couple of them, like the Opal RAK2 and the Blitzen Benz, were singular sensations) but, look more closely... You’ll start to discover hints (inklings, clues) of cars that came along well after these forerunners and which were not forgotten - they were, and are, “beauties” as well. This is brisk, unaffected writing. Where else might one see a million-dollar classic like a 1932 Bucciali TAV 8-32 referred to as: “...erinnert an ein Auto aus einem Disney-Cartoon?” (“...reminiscent of a car from a Disney cartoon”). But, you know what? It really is - sort of.

A the time of this writing, this book was not even off the presses yet. This review was conducted by viewing the final PDF of the book on a 18” x 9.5” HP 2009m LCD monitor. The pictures and the text were “fine” - and it was fun - but I found myself longing for a print version that I could (perhaps) lie on the floor with, near the fireplace or the A/C (depending) and page through at random, rather than scrolling up and down like some online microfiche menu or something. These are old school automobiles, and I think that thoughtfully-designed books (like this one) are better IRL. That said, however, this book is a knockout, and - even though only viewed (here) “electronically” - highly recommended.

the cover of the book "Lost Beauties - 50 Cars That Time Forgot"
The cover of "Lost Beauties - 50 Cars That Time Forgot"

...With this review being posted in September, there’s not a lot of truth in suggesting it as a holiday gift for someone else.  Even so, if you’ve read this far, you most likely will want to get one for yourself to be able to read about a different remarkable - now un-forgotten - beautiful vintage automobile each week for nearly a year.

Note: This book is published and printed in both English and German, which adds to the fun for both German and English readers. Comparing the word “Kompressor” (which it is, literally) to the English “Supercharger” and “Rakete” (the German word for “Rocket”) is part of the game in this one.

About The Author

Doug Stokes's profile picture

Doug Stokes

Doug has a long and wide-ranging history in the motoring business. He served five years as the Executive Director of the International Kart Federation, and was the PR guy for the Mickey Thompson's Off-Road Championship Gran Prix. He worked racing PR for both Honda and Suzuki and was a senior PR person on the first Los Angeles (Vintage) Grand Prix. He was also the first PR Manager for Perris Auto Speedway, and spent over 20 years as the VP of Communications at Irwindale Speedway. Stokes is the recipient of the American Autowriters and Broadcaster’s 2005 Chapman Award for Excellence in Public Relations and was honored in 2015 by the Motor Press Guild with their Dean Batchelor Lifetime Achievement Award. “… I’ve also been reviewing automobiles and books for over 20 years, and really enjoy my LA Car assignments.” he added.

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