Author(s): John Kennedy
This unique book shows an album of photos taken in May & June 1913 when James Radley drove from London to Vienna via Paris, Mont Cenis Pass, Brescia, Riva del Garda, Dolomites, & Loibl Pass. His car was entered in the famous "Osterreichische Alpenfahrt," a gruelling 2650 kilometre route with 19 mountain passes to drive across in seven days. On the journey out to Vienna, one of Radley's passengers was his friend Reginald Hope, an amateur photographer who recorded the journey. Remarkably, both the car and Hope's photo album survived, making it possible to recreate the journey with the same car and repeat the photographs in the identical locations exactly 100 years later, in May & June 2013. John Kennedy has been taking photographs since he could first afford to buy film for the family box camera. The digital cameras used nowadays are rather more capable, but the challenge is still much the same. Kennedy's interest in old motor cars was sparked by seeing the movie 'Genevieve' when a boy, and subsequently seeing the actual car itself, which lived for many years in his native New Zealand. An owner of vintage cars for over 30 years, he has taken part in many tours and rallies and has also organized tours in Britain, USA, Europe & New Zealand. The book shows the unique chance to drive the very same car from London to Vienna, to repeat a photograph album taken exactly a century earlier, the challenge being to find the locations and replicate the pictures to show the changes which a century has wrought. About the "Osterreischische Alpenfahrt" in 1913 The OAC (Osterreichscher Automobil Club) began organising alpine trials for light cars in 1898 (one of the oldest events in the world). In 1910 the already well established Semmering hill climb was cancelled due to problems with the authorities which most probably laid the foundations for an event which survived until 1973 as part of the Rally World Championship. The genesis of the Austrian Alpenfahrt goes back to the year 1907 when the OAC organised its first 'International Test Drive for Small Cars'. Similar events were held in 1908 and 1909 but they were all fairly minor events which traversed only a small number of mountain passes. Until 1912 the event grew substantially in size, in number of participants and, most significantly, in international importance, as the other major sporting contests for cars, such as the Prince Henry trials, were discontinued. 1902 saw an event stretching over seven days and 2400 km and incorporating many famous mountain passes of the Dolomites including the Pordoi and Falzarego. The event was under the direct patronage of Archduke (Erzherzog) Leopold Salvator and the actual competitors included the Archduke Karl Franz Joseph and the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand. Other competitors were Prince Elias of Parma, Prince Alexander Croy, the Princess Charlotte of Saxe Meiningen, Count Alexander Kolowrat, Count Paul Draskovich, Count Heinrich Schonfeld, Count Siegfried Wimpffen, Count George Orssich, Count Eugen Lamberg, Baron Walter Franz and Baron Alexander Styrcea from an incredible total of 85 entrants representing 28 different marques. They included a Rolls-Royce entered by the legendary James Radley of England, a highly experienced motorist who had not familiarised himself with the route as many other entrants had and was unprepared for the rigours of some of the passes. On the first day out from Vienna, Radley, in car number 2, stopped on the Katschberg, a six kilometre mountain climb of around 25% gradient. This stop did not bother Radley, but caused consternation to Rolls-Royce who were about to open a new Vienna depot. The results sheets showed that while 72 of the other entrants finished the course, 25 without loss of marks, the Rolls-Royce had been withdrawn on the very first day. The 1913 contest was even longer and more arduous - the most severe that had ever been held, with a total distance of 2650 km and 19 major alpine passes plus many minor passes. There were fewer entries, for many of the works teams threatened to boycott the event as they wished it to be held every two years, not annually. After some last minute team entries from Hansa, Fiat and Fischer, a total of 47 cars participated, still well down on the previous year. Four Rolls-Royce cars were entered, a three car works team plus James Radley, back again in car number 4 after his misadventure the previous year, to prove that both he and Rolls-Royce were a formidable combination. They all made non-stop runs, with Radley leading throughout the contest, starting and finishing first on each day. Each of the cars won one or more prizes and showed a cooling efficiency such that no water was added to the radiators on any day. Rolls-Royce were more than exonerated for the 1912 fiasco and the company never again entered competition motoring.
John Kennedy lives part of the year in Britain and part in New Zealand, but wherever he is, he's sure to be driving antique cars.