Eucort Victoria

eucort 1951 eucortbisvs9.jpg

One of the best time waster websites for me is the Internet Movie Cars Database, or imcdb.org for short. Oddly enough, I found it during the first week of having Netflix. I was watching a Jackie Chan movie called (here in North America, at least) Thunderbolt, about the Hong Kong star as a race driver, mechanic, and, of course, hero. The vehicles featured were, like in most Chan films, excellent.

After watching that car-filled movie, I decided to see another: Operation Condor 2: Armour of God, also starring Chan, who quickly showed up in a silver vehicle…but I had no idea what it was. I looked up screenshots of the movie, I read forum posts about film cars, and even though it was obviously a Mitsubishi, I was shocked that I hadn't seen that particular prototype before.

A few searches and more hours than I'd like to admit, I came across imcdb.org and the page for the movie. I was amazed: the site is a community of people who identify vehicles in movies. That's it. And they said, correctly, that the Mitsubishi in Operation Condor 2: Armour of God was a Mitsubishi Colt modified into a roadster for the movie.

The site is most fun when you challenge it with a rare vehicle, because not only does the database cover Hollywood hits, it often has entries for TV shows (like every vehicle seen on-screen during Knight Rider) and smaller independent films. If a car was filmed at some point, chances are it's on that website.

Anyway, as I was looking up sources to tell the story of the Eucort Victoria, an entry on imcdb.org was listed. It turns out that the 1950 Spanish film Apartado de correos 1001 features an all-too-brief appearance by today's car.

This is significant because, as far as the experts are concerned, there are only three Eucort Victories left on earth. This may seem silly, but the chances of a film crew catching a few frames of this extremely rare vehicle in period were slim and, without a doubt, completely unintentional. Now, thanks to the internet, we have a glimpse of the nearly extinct Spanish car.

As a car, it's nothing much.

When Eusebio Cherto Cortés took a few letters from his name, spelling Eucort, it was 1945 and obviously Spain was still reeling from the war that had gripped the continent. Money, machinery, and metal were in short supply. But, with a German ex-Auto Union engineer at the drafting table—I hope they checked his papers—inside of a year the small Barcelona workshop was ready to unveil the first Eucort, a front-drive four-door sedan powered by a 2-cylinder, two stroke engine—becoming at once Spain's carmaker in 1946.

It was an extremely professional effort, and the small shop began to show different bodies on the Eucort chassis: a small truck, a "Blonde" as it was called in Spain (we call them "Woodies"), and a van. Other owners worked on creating cabriolets and sportier models on their own dime.

Even though export contracts to countries like Argentina were signed and the model was being developed, the operation was set up to produce 100 to 150 cars per day. By 1949, the firm had only produced about 1000 vehicles. 

The Victoria was the firm's last, first shown in 1949 and in production by 1950. With a Studebaker-like front end and updated 3-cylinder engine, Eucort had hoped to attract buyers with its much more modern looks, but in the end even an article in the UK magazine Autocar couldn't send enough buyers their way. Underneath, the car was really a modified prototype of the DKW F-9; with a 3-speed manual transmission and 30 horsepower it could hit 100 km/h (62 mph). But it wasn't enough: Eucort's doors closed in 1953 after between 1,500 and 1,700 vehicles were made.

Cars that did make it out of the factory were plagued by defects from low-quality materials used, and the small operation found it difficult to stay afloat, modern accounts say that Eucort tried everything, from racing to promotional vehicles, but nothing worked.

But that's not the whole story.

In 1950, the Spanish government launched its national carmaking project, SEAT, forcing Eucort to go head to head with a company that had government support. The incredible overview of Eucort on autopasion18.com, even through Google Translate, spells it out quite clearly:

"This story is one of many samples, what could become the field of automobile industry in Spain, and again failed, thanks to the autarkic, recalcitrant and backward Spanish government of that time, who always preferred not support the "internal" initiatives for who knows what dark interests."