Birth Year III: Euro-Saloon Cars

In my yoot, I never saw many of the 1954-model European cars featured below, which may have been a Good Thing.  Let me start off with the ones I did  see on the streets of Johannesburg:

Mercedes 300 S

Citroen Traction Avant 15

Renault 4CV

And the reason I saw the Renault at all may have been that it was assembled in Britishland from French parts, and imported into South Africa.  The following, however, could have been seen on the roads of Euroland back in the late 1950s and early 1960s:

Peugeot 203 

Renault Fregate

Simca Grand (“large”, not “grand”)

…as opposed to the small  Simca DV:

Lancia B20 GT

Hotchkiss Gregoire

…although fewer than 300 of these monsters were ever made, so you might NOT have seen one.

Even Alfa Romeo got into the “touring” groove:

1954 Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Touring

Of all the above, only the Alfa (because Alfa), Lancia (because Lancia) and Mercedes 300 (because engineering) would have my vote in the “old cars Kim would want to own because birth year”.

There was one more, though, that would definitely make the list because it had the first V8 engine ever mounted in a German car:

BMW 502

Except that I’d have preferred the rag-top model:

BMW 502 Baur Cabriolet

Oooooh, yummy.  Kim likes.

Next week, we’ll be looking at the 1954 Murkin cars.  Try to contain yourselves.


  1. Never heard of that Hotchkiss before, and I’m likin’ it.
    I think it’s the shape of the roof and hood that are doin’ it for me.
    You know what I’m not liking about it though?
    It’s that little piece of probably sheet steel, at the bottom front of the rear fenders. A lot of cars did that during that period and I understand why (mud shield), I just don’t like it. And get that gawd awful distraction off the front bumper already. BTW, where my curb feelers iz?

  2. putting Simcas in that lineup is an insult to every other car in there 🙂
    It’s like putting a Fiat 500 in a lineup of Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

  3. That Renault Fregate screams Nash Metropolitan to me. The Alfa looks like a good design still, bet it would sell….

  4. Imitation and flattery were well in play with post-war European designers! Leastways, that what my squinched-up eyes see.
    In similar fashion to Volvo’s PV444/544 being a take on ‘47 Fords, the Peugeot 203 favors as a scaled down ‘47 Chevy Fleetline.
    Renault’s Fregate might trace lineage to the ‘51-‘52 Plymouth Cambridge.
    Shades of 1930’s Fords! Wonder if anyone ever thought of making a Citroen Traction Avant hotrod?
    And the Hotchkiss, perhaps of French machine gun fame, is a ringer for the ‘47-‘50 GM series of fastbacks, in this instance the ‘47 Chevy Aerosedan.
    Speaking of fastbacks, hopefully a ‘49 Cadillac Coupe de Ville makes next week’s luxury car cut. Naturally with trademark “Sombrero” hub caps!

    And to double-back a bit, the Birth Year posting of 19 May provided a glimpse of the ‘54 Fiat Vignale. My guess is that with the Vignale, Fiat designers were a good ten-years ahead of “il Commendatore” & the Boys in Maranello. Coming forward to 26 May, not much on English luxury cars but the ‘54 Bentley Continental R was impressive. Only improvement that comes to mind would be Monica Bellucci as ride-along. Or perhaps Penélope Cruz.

  5. My father owned a 1960 Mercedes 300D, bought in Japan around 1963 and returned with us to the US when he was transferred to a new air base. Although it was a few years later, the styling hadn’t changed much. Main difference is that ours was a hardtop.

    The rear cabin pillars on the Hotchkiss seem to have a bit of Kaiser-Frazer styling going on. I like it.

  6. That 1900 C Super Sprint Alfa brought back memories.
    In 1964, I brought back from Italy a ’57 Alfa Romeo 1900 C Super Sprint,
    Superleggera body by Touring. 4 cylinder DOHC engine with two big two throat Solex carburettors and a 5 speed gearbox. I traded it a year or so later for a fully restored Alfa Giulietta Spyder Veloce.

  7. The Borgward Isabella launched in 1954.

    The company went bankrupt in 1961; the Wikipedia article details various controversies and alleged conspiracies involving BMW. The marque was recently revived by Christian Borgward, the founder’s grandson; they have a small line of SUVs. In a sign of the times, the company and its new production facility in Stuttgart has Chinese backing.

  8. There was hippy that lived across the street from me for a few years when I was a kid that had a hardtop Simca. He had added a roof-line tail-light/break light so that people could see him better at night. He also painted it every so often with latex paint using a brush.

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