Highlights from the European Collection
British and European vehicles have been imported to Canada since the early days of the automobile. These models were highly valued for their luxury and ties to motorsport—a new and daring sporting event in the early 20th century.
The Alfa Romeo and Isotta-Fraschini companies were established in Milan, Italy, in the early 20th century. Both of them produced elegant yet speedy vehicles, many of which won titles in racing events. This 1926 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8AS is one of only two in the world with this body type. It features a unique mahogany wood inlay interior and bright exterior colouring. The 1931 Alfa Romeo is painted rosso corsa, or “racing red,” which is the official motor-racing colour of Italian racing cars.
The 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, nicknamed “Lady Bird,” was owned by Lady Eaton of Toronto. The design of this vehicle is unique—with its roofline curved like a carriage rather than being flat like most automobiles of the day.
Imported directly from Great Britain, British-designed vehicles were purchased by Canadians looking to strengthen their ties to the British Empire, and to solidify their status as upper-class members of society.
The 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, owned by Sir Mortimer Davis, was used by Edward, Prince of Wales in Montreal during his tour of Canada in 1919.
The 1926 Isotta-Fraschini could reach speeds of up to 150 kilometres an hour. A modern Formula One car can travel at a top speed of 375 kilometres an hour.