Car Show Classics: 2017 Motorclassica Club Sandwich Cornucopia

Cornucopia (noun) – a great abundance; overflowing supply.

That is certainly what there was in the Club Sandwich display area outside the Royal Exhibition Building, in Carlton which is just north of the Melbourne city centre (Australia not Florida).  As a different sort of game for this post, make a comment to “claim” a car and we will see if there are any unloved leftovers – I doubt it!

To get one thing out of the way before we start in case you are not familiar with the term, a club sandwich in Australia is any “double decker” sandwich, ie 3 slices of bread & 2 lots of fillings;  I gather that it is a specific set of fillings in the US.  For some reason the car club display area is the only part of the Motorclassica show that has such a whimsical name.  Each of the three days of the show had a different groups of clubs displaying cars, and on the Sunday that I was at the show there were the Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Triumph, Fiat, Saab, BMW, Singer, Citroen, Peugeot, Jensen, Chrysler and the Historic Rally clubs.

I rushed through a lot of the area pretty quickly, so this shot is about all I have of the Fiats – an interesting combination of vintage Fiats (perhaps a 501 and 508?) and a pair of 500F’s.  Note they both have front-hinged doors that were a feature of the second half of production (1965-on).

Here’s a striking grille from one of the Swedish “Big 2”.  Am I the only one to see a bit of Edsel here?

That grille adorns a 1966 96, a direct evolution of previous Saabs.  It had the 2-stroke 3-cylinder engine bumped up to a whopping 850 cc (841 actually) that would give an 80 mph top speed.

As the model name suggests the 96 actually followed the 95 station wagon, although the example here is from 1976.  Of course the vivid orange paint is a sign it is from the seventies!  By now the 2-stroke engine had been replaced from a 1.5L V4 engine sourced from Ford.

There were a couple of newer Saabs, a 1997 9000 CS and a 1992 900 Turbo, both from near the end of their lengthy production runs.  I think it is fair to say that any of the pre-GM Saabs are classics now, even if this takes some adjusting to!

Next was Renault and a magnificently restored 750 sedan.  Beyond it is a 2005 Clio, and it is only looking at the photo now that I realise it is not a common-or-garden RS 172 (itself a great hot hatch) but what I’m pretty sure is one of the mid-engined V6 models!  There can’t be many in Australia, and only 354 Phase II cars like this were built in RHD for the UK market.

The Renault 16 is quite a landmark car, and I wonder how much inspiration that Saab took for the 99 which had the same layout.  Apart from the size difference probably the most notable difference was the Renault’s column gearshift.  Oh, and the Saab console-mounted ignition!  This TS version with the larger 1565cc engine gave very decent performance.

I’d say that fifty years later the 16’s direct successor was the Laguna which I always thought was a pretty good car.

The 12 was a more conventional sedan, and another solid model for Renault.  A relative of mine had one for about 25 years, replacing a Peugeot 203 that was owned for a similar length of time!

Here is another highly distinctive front fascia, which with its covered headlights must have been unwelcome in the USA.  Is it still a problem if you were to import one as a classic car?

It is an Alpine A310 from the early 70s.  While a size larger than the iconic A110, looking at the 2010-era Clio RS200 shows it is still pretty diminutive to say the least!

This 964-model 911 convertible must be a rare colour, but if you are going to drive a 911 convertible, why not a purple one?  I imagine that many people would be surprised to hear that it is 25 years old too.  Being a convertible helps here, lacking the narrow window frames and rain gutters of the coupe.

Perhaps the least popular Porsche is the 924, but this one is clearly loved.  The striping is unconventional but evokes the Martini racing livery of the era.

This shot shows what I don’t think the American market appreciated, that Triumph made sports sedans as well as roadsters.  CC commentator Bryce frequently reminds us that they set the format for a compact sedan with fully-independent suspension and an inline six (the engine from the TR6) well before BMW got in on the action.  I don’t know what year this 2500 Mk2 is from but it could be 1966-74.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the R107 model SL’s were fairly affordable, but now they have definitely appreciated significantly.  There are two clear factors in play, firstly a response to prices of the earlier cars going through the roof, as well as hitting the 40-50 age that I think represents the peak value point for most cars.

The only other Mercedes-Benz I shot this year was what I am guessing is a locally-assembled 1959 220S, from the 6-year period that they were locally-assembled in Melbourne.  The number plate is curious, bearing the right number for the period but looking more like a UK plate than an Australian one.

Triumph Stags attained classic status early in their life and so a large proportion survive.  Due to the problematic 3.0L sohc V8 many have had engine swaps.  In Australia as well as the 3.5L Rover V8 you are also likely to find a 4.2L (253ci) Holden V8.

Here is a pretty rare example, a Triumph Herald Coupe.  There don’t seem to be many Heralds of any type around today but the Coupe made up a very small percentage of sales, from what I can see just 20,472 were built or 2% of the total production!

Next is something from the other extreme of the motoring universe, a Ferrari F40 GTE!  This was a racing version of the F40 built by Michelotto.  Note the larger front splitter, rear wing, wheels, vents and even headlights.

The engine bay shows quite a few differences from a normal F40, such as a complete lack of mufflers, slick tyres and extra coolers.  Power was boosted from a measly 480-odd hp to 660, and weight was cut by around 200kg – and the F40 didn’t have a lot of fat to begin with.

The F40 was one of a few Ferraris arrayed around the entrance to mark the 70th anniversary of Ferrari.  Another was this 275 GTB/4, which I’m tipping will be ‘claimed’ within the first 3 comments.

This 1960 Chevrolet C30 wasn’t a display car but still deserves to be in this feature.  I expect this will be claimed early too – who wouldn’t want a mobile wood-fired pizza oven?

How about a BMW 2000 Touring?  The Touring wasn’t sold in Australia but there have been a few imported.  Note the 323i JPS beside it, which was special edition to commemorate the local touring car team run by Frank Gardner.

Something else you won’t see too often – a pair of Hillman Superminx wagons.

Here we have a 1930 Singer Junior and a pair of late 50s Gazelles which are yet more cars that weren’t officially imported although there were some dealers who would bring them in if ordered.

There was a pretty broad range of Citroens, even within this one shot; a 2CV, 1992 AX GT and DS23 Pallas.

Perhaps peak quirkiness for Citroen could be represented by this 1970 Ami 8, with unusual mechanicals as well as styling (to be kind).

I wonder if the 2006-2012 C6 will be regarded as the last great Citroen?  Just 104 were sold in Australia, 90% of those in the first 2 years including this 2007 example.

This 1998 Xantia might look like a pretty conventional machine, but it offered the computer controlled hydro-pneumatic Hydractive suspension (hydraulic suspension with air springs) and there was even an Activa version where an additional pair of hydraulically activated air springs were used to completely eliminate body roll.

Beside the Xantia was a 2006 C4 VTS coupe, which was a particularly sleek design.  These did reasonably well in Australia, by Citroen standards at least.

In the very back corner we find this pairing of a Peugeot 403 sedan and a 404 cabrio.  Both are excellent restorations but the latter is obviously the stand-out, being such a rarity.  I think this is the same one that I spoke to the owner a while back and heard the story of how a pedestrian told him off for driving what is essentially an irreplaceable car in Parisian traffic, before he brought it out to Australia.  They don’t make replacement panels for these; only 3728 were built.

A Mitsubishi Galant GTO isn’t that rare, but won’t be found on every street corner.  The fastback styling is well executed, and I think there is a hint of the ‘humpback’ Javelin in the rear end treatment although they debuted at the same time.  This car is the only documented period rally car known, and has been restored as a replica of the pair of works rally cars.  Both were destroyed in crashes while leading events back in the day.  It has a 1.8L 4G35 engine with twin 44 Solex carbies, so I’d guess it has 200 hp or more.

This Celica is a fairly recent build, and the potential for fun is high with this one.

The Jensen club display included this 1974 Jensen-Healey, and the highly distinctively-styled CV-8 which provides quite a contrast to the more conventionally-handsome Interceptor beyond.  It looks like the last car in the row is a 541R.

Back to BMW, with a wonderful pairing of a M635i (an M6 by another name) and a 3.0 CSi.  If you want to claim one of these I hope you are an early reader!

The last car for this post is a 1946-48 Dodge, but not what you might expect.  The mirrors are a clue…

This car is what would now be called a restomod, but done back in the 1970s, as it has the original running gear replaced by a 318 from a Royal Monaco.  The suspension, brakes (note the dual circuit master cylinder) and steering was updated as well, and the owners said it drives very well.

So which car would you like to drive, or own?  The Chrysler Newport in the opening photo?  I’d a hard time choosing between the E9 3.0 CSi, Alpine A310 or Renault Clio V6, but I think the Galant GTO would be the one as it could be used on some pretty interesting events such as the Classic Outback Trial.


Further Reading:

Carshow Classics: Highlights From MotorClassica 2017

Car Show Classics:  Motorclassica 2017 – Extraordinary Vintage Machinery

Car Show Classics: Tour Classica – Down By The River