Delightful Pre-War Styling with 4-Speed and Hydraulic Brakes. Quick, Visceral, and Ergonomically Sound!
1948 Benjamin Sports Special
Chassis no. 0109
Polished Alloy with Red Interior
The Benjamin car company was a French establishment under operation from 1921-1931. Producing a range of vehicles and cyclecars for small displacement racing, they built interesting competition cars including a rear-engine two-stroke that won its class in the 1923 Tour de France. Long out of business after the war, the name and sporting ideals associated with the original French cars was the inspiration behind Rodolfo Iriarte who, along with this Benjamin, has built many highly refined recreations of some of the finest cars in history.
A brilliant engineer and trained architect, Rodolfo Iriarte operated his facilities in Buenos Aires, assembling vehicles with hand formed alloy bodies, often using authentic vintage components from a vast array of vintage cars. Among his more notable projects, Iriarte built several Delahaye 135S recreations using modified Delahaye truck and bus engines acquired from Uruguay. Additionally, Iriarte marketed half-scale cars bearing the name Benjamin as well as the recreation Benjamin example offered here. Listed in the All-Car Index under the manufacturing name of Rotor Motorcar, Iriarte Atelier, Argentina is likely the earlier business iteration originally associated with the manufacture of this series of cars. Although each example was uniquely configured and essentially built to order, it is thought that fewer than a dozen examples were built in this style, though factory records are not available to confirm if these numbers are actual or merely boastful marketing.
Though initial build history remains to be fully revealed, this appears to be an earlier example representative of Iriarte’s efforts perhaps on commission from the first owner or in promotion of his company’s efforts. Mr. Francisco Fabian Bustos, who is named on a registration document included with the car, appears to be the first known registered owner. Registered in General Lavalle, a city south of Buenos Aires, the car is identified as a 1948 Benjamin “Inscrpcion Inicial: 9/05/99”, which indicates the year of title, also identifying the engine as a 1500cc Hillman. While not confirmed, it is very likely that Mr. Bustos commissioned the construction or possibly became aware of it while under construction and purchased the car upon completion. The next known ownership appears to place the car in Belgium, 2006, thereafter being imported into the US where it has since resided under current ownership since 2009.
The overall construction consists of a hand-formed alloy body with cycle fenders built around a post-war frame, possibly of 1948 origin. The car is brimming with delightful period components including Brooklands Aeroscreens, twin headlights, 16” wire wheels, and leather hold-down hood straps. The body has been very cleverly constructed with exposed rivets and louvers typical of period racing construction along with a captivating cockpit featuring vintage instruments and competition themes. Clearly the car was constructed by a team of people familiar with vintage competition cars, possessing the skills and design expertise to execute their vision with attention to authenticity despite the actual car being a decisively clever phantom of astute modern construction. Titled on a clean California title as a 1948 Benjamin, the current owner has recently commissioned extensive mechanical work on the car performed by experts at Eriksson Enterprises, Del Rey Oaks, CA.
Invoices accompanying the car dating back to 2009 and extending through 2016 indicate general services performed including work on the front suspension, brakes and various hoses, steering box, and wheel bearings. In 2016 additional mechanical work was performed by Eriksson Enterprises including all fluids, steering box adjustment, fresh gearbox oil, a new gearbox output shaft seal, a new (specially made) woodruff key, and a new speedometer cable. In 2019 the car was given a full fluid change, new fuel filter and fuel hose, new thermostat, a new Smiths temp gauge, and new throttle shaft links. At that time all suspension bolts and systems were inspected. During this period the carburetors were removed and rebuilt, tested, and reinstalled with new fuel lines and linkage. Also at this time, all four-wheel brake cylinders were removed, rebored, rebuilt and installed with new seals and refreshed parts. The car was tested for general operation and all systems were found to be in good working order.
Today this Benjamin Sports Special presents as a wonderful example of innovative construction and fabrication true to the period of great automobile motorsports designs. Its low-slung body, cycle fenders, and open cockpit deliver dramatic views for both spectators and those fortunate enough to be inside the car while it is underway. Every aspect of the car is visually enticing while beguiling even the most astute experts of vintage artifacts as to its period of origin. Unlike other recreations, the enchantment of this composition is pleasantly convincing in part because it is not emulating a specific previous car - it is its own design, and rather pleasantly so. Especially considering that time has matured the finishes to a fitting visual harmony that further propels us back to the intended period. Competition inspired details continually excite the eye from the exposed side exhaust, cast aluminum fuel filler, staggered Brooklands Aero windscreens, and exposed suspension, to the aircraft inspired body construction. In addition to the raw aluminum body, the sporting nature of the car is accented by painted 16” wire wheels shod with Excelsior radial tires.
Racing themes continue throughout the interior with contrasting red contoured seats and a full array of Smiths gauges across the polished aluminum dashboard. A large black rimmed steering wheel allows for easy cranking power to the steering and the 4-speed manual gearbox is properly positioned to allow for easy shifting while underway. Just as one appreciates the quality of construction on the exterior of the car, the interior has been crafted with the same level of care, without being overly done. The fit and finish are very much in keeping with the qualities and natural composure of time and use that generally are found in objects of greater maturity. Which is a further distinction of Iriarte’s desire to build cars that had both the mechanical qualities and “soul” of the original. Even a cleverly constructed rear storage compartment can be accessed, which allows space for two small duffle bags, perfect for vintage events or driving tours.
Lifting the aluminum formed hood, the 1500cc engine is a wonderfully simple display of vintage motoring combined with modern allowances such as a screw-on oil filter, contemporary distributor, a fuel filter with fuel pressure regulator, and a modern Optima spiral cell battery. The engine compartment is purposeful and visually dynamic, particularly with the dual Stromberg carburetors and side exit exhaust, in part because here too, as is the case with the entire car, the construction is honest and straight-forward, very much in keeping with the spirit of cars from this era. The underside of the car is clean and shows no signs of inclement weather use. The construction is consistent with the workmanship shown throughout the car, utilizing materials and engineering consistent with cars of this intended period. The car is accompanied by copies of previous registration documents, copies of shipping documentation for import to the US, and service invoices dating back to 2009.
Beautifully constructed and designed in a manner to evoke the lore and excitement of pre-war competition cars, this 1948 Benjamin Sports Special is a wonderful example of the artistry and engineering of talented craftsmen seeking to capture that long gone period of vintage motorsports. Ready to deliver all the charm and motoring pleasure of a bygone era, this Benjamin Sports Special is certainly bound to excite and engage enthusiasts of vintage sports cars for years to come.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
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