Welcome to what has fast become a great car show since it was first held in 2010, and the perfect venue for a CC meet-up. After the recent Auburn meet, I thought it was a nice touch to find this 1929 Cord L-29, which is a recent arrival from the States. Keep reading to see some of the cars that Don Andreina, AVL and I got to enjoy at this incredible gathering of automotive art.
Needless to say this is a beautiful car, and the lower body line allowed by the front-wheel drive makes for an impressive profile.
A few people commented on the building itself, which is perhaps too far from the curb (100 metres) but has a fascinating history of its own. It was originally built in 1880 for the Melbourne International Exposition and approximately four times the size, although the extra portions were only ever intended to be temporary.
This building was the home of Australia’s first national Parliament, and held basketball, weightlifting, wrestling, and fencing during the 1956 Olympics. In more recent years it held the Melbourne Motor Show. The building is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Fun fact, it has only had the “Royal” title since 1984.
I’ll start with covering our picks of the show. As a life-long Alfa Romeo fan, Don was very excited to see this 1938 6C 2300MM that has just finished a restoration, or more correctly a re-creation on a genuine chassis and engine by Historic & Vintage Restorations of the eastern suburb of Blackburn. These guys do amazing work, as they typically build the aluminium bodies from scratch.
The MM of course stands for Mille Miglia, as with more sporting body work that is one of the races these Alfas were very successful in. They were powered by a supercharged 2.3L(ci) 6-cylinder engine, note the blower below and the finned intake as a primitive form of intercooling. The car had torsion-bar suspended swing axles at all four corners.
The car Don was looking forward to seeing was this 1954 Bentley Continental R, which was to be auctioned during the show. It is a truly extraordinary car, being a smaller, more aerodynamic aluminium body with a tuned engine. With a top speed of 120 mph in was the fastest four-seat car of the day, so you can see how the name referred to continent-crossing abilities. Later Continentals were a pale imitation, being ‘normal’ re-bodies without anything like the same focus on aerodynamics or light weight.
This car was originally sold in this very building at the 1955 Motor Show for the towering price of £8,900 (or the cost of two nice houses), and was the only example sold in Australia although more have been brought in through the years. It has been repainted from the original yellow in 1970, but is otherwise original and in beautiful condition. Not hard to see why it sold for AUD $1.06 million (US$930k today).
I had a pretty hard time playing the “which car would I take home” game as there were so many tempting options, but I thought this 1937 Packard 120 roadster would be an interesting prospect because l like this era Packard, and a roadster instead of the usual sedan would open up a range of experiences.
My other favourite was also a 1954 British fastback – the Bristol 404. While it shares the BMW derived 2-litre six, the styling is radically different from the iconic 401/403 ‘Aerodyne’ cars with the most prominent feature being the grille and hood scoop inspired by the engine air intakes of Bristol aeroplanes. Only 52 were built of which only around 10 remain! Perhaps some were scrapped after timber framing to some of the body rotted, perhaps a concession to the low-volume nature of the car compared to Bristols’ usual “Superleggera” metal tube construction.
I didn’t get the chance to ask AVL what his favourite cars were – please chime in below and chances are I got a photo of them.
I will leave the Maseratis marking the brand’s centenary for another post, but thought I would mention the one disappointing aspect of an otherwise mind-numbingly good show, which was the Mustang display, and that was only because there were too many high end collectible Mustangs! That does sound a bit crazy, and perhaps it may be the CC influence but only 2 of the 10 were non-Shelby or Boss cars, 3 if you count the “Eleanor”.
To be fair finding post-1973 Mustangs would be a challenge (perhaps we should count the 1967 Eleanor as a 2000s-era car?) but perhaps one of the local 1983 Group A touring car racers might have been available for example. A couple of the cars did have quite the story behind them too such as the Mach 1 above that was one of the original Texas Motor Speedway pace cars.
That will have to do for now, although I have only scratched the surface. I’ll close on another high point and link back to the Auburn meet, while I put together a few more posts to do some type of justice this incredible array of cars. Don suggested that we try again next year, so that with some more notice hopefully a few more down under CC-ers will be able to join us for a look at the cars and a dinner in nearby Lygon Street.