In the mid-1930s, Germany’s powerful propaganda machine took on the world of motor racing, throwing untold resources toward utter domination of the sport. Government-backed Grand Prix teams from Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union operated with virtually unlimited budgets, and the cars they produced were marvels of technical sophistication, overwhelming the competition. In production sports car racing, BMW briefly achieved similar status, particularly in 2-liter classes, where their light and nimble 328 was the only car to have if you wanted a chance at winning. BMW even beat the Italians on sacred ground, winning the 1940 Mille Miglia in a streamlined 328 constructed especially for the event. But after the war, German motorsport was an altogether different scene. The cars that dominated the prewar events were locked away, destroyed, or broken up for parts. The legendary Nurburgring Nordschleifewas overgrown, and the surface torn up by tank tracks. But racers are nothing if not persistent, and clubs soon regrouped, cleaned up circuits, and began trading food and cigarettes for spark plugs, spare parts, and fuel.
For the German motor industry, sports cars were the last thing on their minds. Material shortages and rationing meant it was all they could do to rebuild factories and get German citizens back on wheels. Despite the devastation and austerity, racers still wanted cars, and three German friends devised a plan to meet the demand. Ernst Loof, Georg Meier, and Lorenz Dietrich met while serving in Paris during the war. In cafes, they daydreamed about building sports cars and swapped stories of their racing exploits before the hostilities. All three men had connections with BMW via car racing, motorcycle racing, and sales, so it was natural that they chose to base their new venture – named Veritas – around proven BMW components. Occupying US forces stipulated that new German vehicles could not exceed one liter in capacity. However, they sidestepped that rule by utilizing existing prewar 326 and 328 engines and building the cars in French-controlled territory. Customers could supply their own 2-liter 328 drivetrains, along with some cash, and in a few weeks collect their new BMW-Veritas, complete with a modified, rebuilt engine and sleek aerodynamic coachwork.
Veritas’ first customer was legendary racing driver Karl Kling, who promptly won his first event in 1947, going on to secure the 2-liter sports car championship that same year. Soon the grids were filled with Veritas racers, and buyers pushed for road-going versions. Dietrich was happy to oblige, and in 1949 offered a series of production road cars with BMW running gear, lightweight tubular chassis, with coupe, cabriolet, or sports roadster coachwork by the well-known firm Hermann SpohnKarosseriebau. The standard Spohn bodies were distinctly attractive, and the cars offered superb performance. Unfortunately, the funding to secure long-term production proved elusive, and Veritas folded in the early 1950s. Despite their brief existence, the firm left an indelible mark on German motoring history, restoring the nation’s illustrious sporting past and paving the way for Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche to carry the torch into the future.
This marvelous and extremely rare Veritas Scorpion Cabriolet is one of just a handful of known examples worldwide. Finished in dark metallic gray over a gray leather interior, it is a uniquely stylish and understated display of Spohn Karosserie’scoachbuilding prowess, a firm typically associated with over-the-top flamboyance. It is offered from long-term ownership in a private collection of prestigious automobiles and wears an impeccably maintained concours quality restoration.
This car’s known history picks up in the early 1960s when it came to the United States with Mr. James Shipman of Seattle, Washington. A few years later, Mr. Fred Kuney, also of Seattle, acquired the Veritas, and it later joined the collection of Burt Laborette in Lake Sammamish, Washington. In 1974, it was obtained from the Laborette collection, and the new owner recalled the car was complete, though disassembled and due for restoration.
That owner had the Veritas quietly stored away until 1989, when the comprehensive restoration finally commenced, courtesy of the skillful hands of Greg Soter of Phantom Restorations in Seattle. A substantial photo album documents the meticulous process, which included carefully separating the body from the tubular space frame, rebuilding the front and rear bulkheads, and repairing the floor panels. The BMW 328 engine, gearbox, rear axle, and brakes were all rebuilt, and the body was finished in Gunmetal Gray. Dark gray leather and carpets complete the theme, which is subtly striking and complements the purposeful, race-inspired styling. Other details include body-colored center-lock disc wheels, period-correct Michelin Superconfort tires, and exquisitely restored Veritas-branded instruments.
Upon completion, the Veritas Scorpion was invited to the 1992 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it earned third place in Class K, Post-War European Custom Coachwork. After the concours, the owner enjoyed the car on occasion, savoring the superb performance and handling provided by the tuned BMW underpinnings. Since 2015, the Scorpion has quietly been in a private collection, and the restoration shows the benefits of 30 years of care and attention. A few minor paint imperfections are noted on close inspection; however, the car remains in marvelous overall condition. The interior, in particular, is superb, with taut, supple leather trim, excellent carpets, and finely detailed controls. The cabriolet top is upholstered in German Sonnendeck canvas and is fully lined in broadcloth. Under the bonnet, the compact and powerful BMW OHV inline-six is authentically detailed, topped with a trio of Solexcarburetors.
This fascinating piece of German motoring history would be a welcome sight back on the concours circuit, where the rarity and significance would undoubtedly allow entry into the world’s most exclusive events. It would also make a highly capable entry into premier rallies and tours worldwide, where the race-bred chassis, superlative BMW drivetrain, and exquisite balance will undoubtedly shine.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Stock number 7458
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