A little-known family of streamliners from the Netherlands - Gatford/Gatso.
The forerunner of the postwar Gatford and Gatso sports cars was built in 1938 and called Kwik (Mercury). Two-seater, with luxurious red Connolly leather interior. Detachable fabric top. Bodywork custom-built to Maurice Gatsonides' requirements by Schutter & Van Bakel, Amsterdam*.
Built on the first Ford Mercury chassis imported into Holland, and therefore featured the enlarged, 3.9 litre 95 b.h.p. V8 engine fitted with high-compression aluminium cylinderheads and two double barrel carburettors.
The engine was exclusive to the Mercury line, rather than the regular 3.6 litre 85 b.h.p. Ford V8. With only the "Kwik" (the Dutch word for "mercury") legend on the body being visible here it is the typical Ford-pattern road wheels which give a clue to the car's mechanical specification.
Photo by Zappadong, on Flickr
Making its debut in the Prize of Zandvoort 1939 with number 38, a cylinderhead-gasket problem and engine damage from the resultant overheating caused Gatsonides to pull out of the race before the end. Contested the Liège-Rome- Liège Rally in 1939 with number 28. Team : Maurice Gatsonides - Lex Beels. Finished in 14th place.
Photo by Zappadong, on Flickr
Early 1940 Kwik collided with a truck and a streetcar in the Dutch village of Lisse. Repaired, it was sold soon afterwards, and has subsequently disappeared.At the end of 2003 Tom Gatsonides, the son of Maurice, became the new proud owner of "Kwik". The car was a present from the staff of Gatsometer BV the company Maurice started in the late 50's.
Gatford (Gatsonides-Ford), Year: 1946, Built: 1 piece
Built on the chassis of the Ford V8 Roadster in which Maurice Gatsonides and Klaas Barendregt had completed the 1938 Liège-Rome- Liège Rally in 2nd position overall and winner of the unmodified category. The chassis was suitably modified to reduce height.
The standard Roadster's 3.6 litre V8 S.V. engine was retained at first, but replaced by the larger Ford Mercury 4 litre V8 soon after completion. The same type used in subsequent Gatsonides-built cars. For the Gatford the Mercury engine's power output was raised from the normal 95 b.h.p. to a figure of 124. This was achieved principally by using a pair of American tuning expert Eddy Edmunds' dual carburettors manifold and ribbed aluminium cylinder heads. Of more efficient design, these raised the compression ratio from the normal 6.8 : 1 to 7.5 : 1.
Transmitting the power to the rear wheels was the old Ford Roadster's normal three-speed gearbox and a Columbia two-speed rear-axle assembly. Thus, the Gatford had the benefit of six forward speeds. Overall the Gatford could be considered as a Gatso modified Ford.
Perhaps the most striking feature however was the third head-light placed centrally above the radiator grille. This had come about due to the need for an extremely low bonnet line at the front of the car, whilst further back needing to clear the carburettors mounted in the V of the V8 engine.
Finished in second place overall on the first postwar staging of the Alpine Rally, July 1946. Team : Maurice Gatsonides - Henk Blijdenstein.
Finished in third place in the Lisbon Rally 1947. Team : Maurice Gatsonides - Theo van Ellinkhuizen.
Finished first on the first, postwar, Dutch sportscar race at the Leeuwarden air force base, July 1947. Driver : Maurice Gatsonides.
This car was the only one to carry the "Gatford" name script, as the Ford Motor Company felt it sounded too much like "Matford" (the abbreviation of Mathis-Ford), which was Ford's brandname in France. Consequently the remainder of the Heemstede-produced cars bore the name "Gatso" which was of course every bit as appropriate, although, ironically, those later cars were actually built on genuine but lowered Matford "13" (Ford France) chassis with 4" shorter wheelbase than the American one.
Gatso 4000 Aero Coupé, Year: 1948, Built: 1 piece
Built on the Matford "13" chassis, lowered by five inches. 2+2 seater. A tuned 4 litre Mercury V8 engine providing the power. The general styling echoed the original Gatford, but additionally the Aero Coupé featured a sliding clear-plastic canopy reminiscent of a fighter aeroplane and in fact manufactured for Gatsonides by the Fokker aircraft company.
Photo by Rene Vallentgoed, on Flickr
Performance : over 100 mph (160km/h), Economy : better than 20 mpg.
Introduced at the Geneva "Salon de l'Auto" in march 1948 and also showed at Holland's own first postwar RAI Motor Show in Amsterdam. From the United States came orders for no less than 200 cars. But this was impossible for Gatsonides, who hadn't really even the financial means with which to continue his business at its modest level.
Gatso 4000 Roadster, Year: 1948, Built: 2 pieces
Open two-seater, using the similar chassis and mechanical components as the Aero Coupé (Matford "13" chassis, Mercury V8). A detachable cloth top with side screens was provided for weather protection.
1 sold (detail : righthand-side steering wheel) to Félix Endrich of Switzerland, Olympic champion two-men bobsleigh, 1948 Sankt Moritz. With this car Endrich became Switzerland's mountain-climb champion. Later in 1948 he was killed in a bob-sleigh accident.
What happened to the car? 1 sold to Dutchman Aad Tops who emigrated to South-Africa. Tops drove this car to victory in the Lorenzo Marquez Rally. Last known owner (1990) : a doctor in Graaf-Reinet, South-Africa.
Fixed-head coupé, using the similar chassis and mechanical components as the Aero Coupé (Matford "13" chassis, Mercury V8). Almost identical to the previous Roadsters. Fixed steel hardtops however rather than the removable cloth tops of the earlier twoseaters resulted in these being closed Coupés.
Of these one was for Dr. Roberts, a doctor in Sneek (Friesland), whilst the other car belonged to a Mrs. Jochems, a well-known personality in The Hague's high society. Dr Roberts sold his car.
Gatso 4000 2+2 Coupé, Year: 1949 ?, Built: 1 piece ?
A low-built 2+2 fixed-head coupé, using the similar chassis and mechanical components as the Aero Coupé (Matford "13" chassis, Mercury V8). This car was nicknamed "Molehill" due to the curvature of the protruding top, was intended to win the tough 1950 Liège-Rome-Liège rally. Co-driver : Ginet Trasenster (Belgium).
Type: Platje, Year: 1949, Built: 1 piece
Fiat 1500 chassis (shortened), Fiat 1.5 litre six-cylinder in-line OHV engine, Dubonnet independent front suspension, finned alloy brake drums. This car didn't require the bonnet bulge of the Ford based Gatso's, and so the central lamp was omited. The car was nicknamed "Platje" = "Flatty".
Gatso Platje by Apemantus, on Flickr
Leading at the National Sportscar Races held at Zandvoort in 1950, a rear wheelrim centre gave away, putting the car and its driver/constructor out of the race.
Flatty was equipped with ultra-lightweight wheels specially made in France, which aided the performance of the car whilst also providing better brake cooling. Unfortunately, the one on the left rear failed to stand up to the high cornering forces generated on the Zandvoort circuit.
Gatso 4000 Luxe, Year: 1950, Built: 1 piece
The last and most luxurious Gatso. Built for a Dr. Polano, a well known personality in the The Hague society scene, and was specially designed according to the doctor's wishes. On a modified and longer Ford Mercury chassis and running gear, and with a normal Mercury V8 engine this car was however of more conventional height, being built as a luxury six-seat convertible with a fully-retractable electrically operated soft top.
When bankruptcy was declared, Dr Polano reached an independent agreement, so enabling the car's completion.
1948 Gatso 4000 Sport by aldenjewell, on Flickr
*Text: ©2007 www.uijtenhaak.nl
Headline picture: 1948 Gatso Aero Coupe by aldenjewell, on Flickr