What do you get when you combine a German coachbuilder that specializes in American iron and a tuner that turns old sports cars into race-winning machines? One of the strangest and most influential customs of the post-war era.
Hot Rods, Deutchland Style
Veritas was started after WWII by former BMW employees as a race car and tuner car manufacturer. With parts in short supply, they turned their efforts to the pre-war 328. The result was the RS race car and its street legal counterpart, the Meteor. Despite modest underpinnings, Veritas managed to get 140 horsepower out of the 2.0 liter straight six, nearly double the BMW powerplant’s stock output. With just 1,235 lbs to move around, the car was a serious performer. The RS took the German 2-liter championship in 1947.
Thirty miles away, a very different customizer was gaining fans across the globe. Karosseriebau Spohn started as a body shop, but shifted over to coach building in the late 1920′s. Under Josef Eiwanger, the company became the favorite builder for Mayback, kicking off the streamlined craze with 1931′s Zeppelin DS8.
Just as Veritas had to draw from old parts stores to build their cars, American customizers of the time were modifying and swapping regular production parts. When ownership of Spohn shifted to Eiwanger’s son after the war, he was able to apply this mix and match American style with old world building techniques to create truly unique vehicles. American G.I.’s utilized the military’s free car shipping to have their vehicles brought over for customization by the German shop, driving the majority of the firm’s business through the ’40s and ’50s.
The Spohn-Bodied Veritas: Big Performance Meets Unique Style
It seemed inevitable that the country’s top tuner and the top customizer would work together on a project, yet they would only construct a single car. The result was a 1949 Meteor that had its racer body replaced with something that would inspire future models from the company’s biggest fans, Americans.
As weird as it may look, petrolheads may notice something familiar about this 1950 model. Harley Earl’s famous 1951 LeSabre concept seems to have an identical rear end treatment. Although they were not the first company to use tail fins, the rounded fins and chrome circle bumper seen on the rear of this car were a Spohn trademark. With many of Spohn’s cars making it stateside, it’s probably more than coincidence that the LeSabre shares the same styling.
Up front, the car received features that would be refined on Spohn’s future cars, both on privately-owned cars and the numerous concepts they would build for Detroit over the next decade. The tall fenders’ mid-mounted lights would give way to top-mounted units that would define classic cars like the ’57 Bel Aire, although the split grill would remain a Spohn-only feature.
Buying It Today
RM Auctions sold off Lee Roy Hartung’s collection of classic cars last November, which included this car along with many other automobile oddities. The Veritas sold for a total of $195,500, including the 15% auction fee.