Yes, it is Motorclassica time again, and as always the event starts with a parade of some of the display cars through the centre of Melbourne on their way to the Royal Exhibition Building. This year I was able to catch some of the cars on their way from the starting point at the Docklands, including this Amphicar; possibly the first example to drive through Melbourne!
After a pair of Jaguar XK150s and an E-Type, we have a Jaguar 420G acting as an escort to a trio of Bugatti Type 23s. One of the features at the show this year was the 50th anniversary of the Bugatti Owner’s Club of Australia.
I don’t think I could leave out a shot with one of Melbourne’s famous trams alongside this 1921 Ballot 2LS. The history of the car is pretty extraordinary, as it has been in one family ownership since 1927, it has racing history at Brooklands and still retains its original paint. There is some crazing, which is understandable on a 94-year old car!
Incidentally if you want to ride on one of these W-class trams, you don’t need to leave North America; they can be found in Memphis, Dallas, Savannah, San Jose and San Francisco as seen above. Melbourne has the largest tram network in the world, with 250 km (155 mi) of tram lines, nearly 500 trams in service and over 180 million fares per year.
The Ballot 2LS is also the first commercially-available car with DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder, with over 100 built. Other racig cars such as Peugeot and Miller pre-dated it but were not built in quantity. The 2-litre engine produces 75 bhp, enough for a top speed of 95 mph; quite impressive for 1921.
Here is a 1937 SS 100 sports car passing the 1856 State Library of Victoria. The car sat for 53 years, before being exhumed and restored in the last 10 years. The library on the other hand has been in continuous use!
Another really interesting car is this 1953 Alvis TA21 with a body by Hermann Graber of Switzerland. The car was delivered to Graber’s on New Years Day in 1954 and was shown at the 1954 and 1955 Geneva Motor Shows, the second time in the configuration seen today. In between it was traded back to Graber’s in the 1960’s and after Graber’s death it spent time in Wales and Saudi Arabia before coming to Australia.
Again the beautiful Library forms a backdrop for a 1927 Rolls Royce Phantom 1 limousine. This car has an interesting story in that it was originally built with a Hooper cabriolet body, which was replaced with a sedan body when it was imported to Australia in 1934. Actually this would not be so unusual, because I expect what was originally an indulgent car (cabrio) that would have been a low-mileage, valuable used car was often converted to something more practical by a subsequent owner. It is only in more recent years when the cars became classics that it became common for body swaps to go the other way.
Now we have a 1932 Dodge Brothers DL sedan leading a 1925 Hudson Super Six. The Dodge is an unrestored 20,000 mile car that was last registered in Pennsylvania in 1946, while the Hudson has been fully restored and featured in some period TV dramas.
Not all the cars were exotics, such as this 1962 Chevrolet Impala. This is an original RHD car sold new in Melbourne that spent most of its life in a small country town, has had two owners and has been fully restored.
A fantastic array of cars took part in the Tour, and while you might find it strange that in some cases priceless cars were driven through a major city centre, between the dense traffic and the 40 km/h (25 mph) speed limit even the oldest cars (1920s) weren’t out of their depth, and the short 4 kilometre (2.5 mi) route was not too taxing even for the diminutive Fiat 126 tasked with towing the promotional trailer. We’ll get into the show and unofficial CC meet-up next time…