Car Show Classics: Tour Classica – Down By The River

This year’s Tour Classica drive to the Motorclassica show began at the Alexandra Gardens by the boat sheds alongside the Yarra River, just south of the central Melbourne (Australia) city.  From here the cars would cover approximately 5 km/3 miles to the Royal Exhibition Building.  Luckily I was in the area and was able to stop by to see the cars before they left, because there were some pretty remarkable sights.

You probably spotted this car in the first photo, and either thought “what is that?” or “that’s the Holden Efijy show car from 2005”.  This is a very appropriate car for Motorclassica to celebrate 100 years of Holden car body building as well as the end of local production.


But before getting too far ahead of myself, behind the Efijy was a yet another iconic Holden – the 1976 HX model Sandman panelvan with its bold graphics; not seen here is the Sandman script running the full width of the tailgate.  Immaculate stock-standard restorations of these vans are a relatively recent phenomenon, and there are some beautifully-done vehicles such as this one.

Next, this 1969 LC model Torana GTR which marked Holden’s entry into the youth sporty-car market with a much more affordable car than the previous Monaro.  The engine was a 161 (2.6L) inline six with a few production-friendly modifications including upgraded camshaft, exhaust and 2-barrel carburettor.  Not a bad little package.

I did a feature on the HX model LE coupe a little while ago, and here is another one.  I will intersperse some of the static shots with photos of cars as they left the area to head for the Swan Street bridge crossing the Yarra.

Behind that was its predecessor, a 1973 HQ model Monaro GTS.  This one has the smaller 253 V8 (4.2L) and champagne gold metallic paint.

This 1965 HD Premier is an incredibly-preserved example with just 13,000 miles on the clock – it still has the original tyres!  It normally lives in a museum, so it was great to see it out on the road.

Still more Holdens; a 1968 HK Premier and 1961 EK Special.  The EK was the first Holden with an automatic transmission (which this car has), while the HK model saw the Holden grow to match the second-generation Falcon launched 18 months earlier.

There were a pair of FJ Holdens next, and on this ute you can see where the front of the Efijy came from – it even looks like they used a standard badge.

The second car was a station wagon, just one of 6 built by a body-builder because Holden was flat-out building their existing three body styles – during the sub-3 year run of the FJ annual production increased 43%.  The wagon would have to wait for the next model, the FC in 1956.

Next we have a Holden-bodied 1932 Chevrolet, but an extremely rare one, as just a few of these “Moonlight Speedster” bodies were built during the depression years at Holden’s Woodville factory and sent to each of the state capital assembly plants to be put onto imported chassis.

This car is one of two prototype Holdens built in Australia in 1947, and has 5 owners since it was sold by Holden in 1951.  Next to the car is the judge’s box at the finish line of the 2 kilometre rowing course on the Yarra River.

A group shot next, to speed things along; a 1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL and 1967 Citroen DS21.

This 1958 Mercedes-Benz 220S had a spot in the sun – what a beauty!

Don Andreina chose the 1970 Mondiverdi 375L High Speed as his car of the show, and I can see why.  It is probably the most exotic of the American-powered European ‘hybrid’ GT cars.

The angular Fissore-designed body is neatly-styled if not quite beautiful, but with big-block Chrysler power giving a top speed of around 150 mph it would show its rear end to most other cars of the era.

Here is the profile shot that Don could not get within the confines of the crowded Exhibition Building.

Here is a 1967 Maserati Mexico, which was fairly substantially overshadowed by the four other models offered (Mistral, Quattroporte, Ghibli and Indy) and only 458 were built.  Even if it isn’t the fastest or most beautiful, I bet the quad-cam 4.7L V8 topped by a row of Weber carbs still makes for a fun cruiser.

This pair of Rolls-Royces is pretty great, a 1965 Silver Cloud III Continental Flying Spur bodied by Mulliner Park Ward and a 1925 Phantom with a Brewster body.  The owner of the Phantom told me the timer-framed body is all original and does not have any squeaks, creaks or rattles – quite impressive.

I had to look up what this car was, initially; it is a 1936 Hudson Terraplane touring coupe, with a very striking local body.  Therefore while my initial guess of a Holden sloper body might not be wide of the mark, because Holden used to build bodies for more manufacturers than just GM.

Coming back up the other side of the road, there were a pair of Lancia Fulvias (a 1970 1.6 HF works rally car and a 1968 Zagato-body Sports) and behind them a row of classic bikes.

Ironically the 1990 Ferrari F40 is probably the most common car on Australian roads today, and it could not be registered here when new.  The 1980 Lancia Beta Zagato Spyder is almost rocking-horse-poo rare, while the 1924 Lancia Trikappa is one of 6 in the country (10 known to exist in the world).

Here are a pair of Ferrari 365s; a 1972 GTC/4 and a 1974 365 BB.  The greenhouse of the GTC/4 must have been a strong influence on the Chevrolet Monza/Buick Skyhawk.  Note the 308 and 246 Dino ahead.

In front of those was the 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso that Don also liked, a 1967 250 GT 2+2 and a 1980 Aston Martin AMV8 Volante.  Unlike many the latter has a manual gearbox.

Moving forward are a pair of Jaguars, an XK150 convertible and a 1967 Mark II 3.8L sedan, one of the last of the sedan that was a strange mixture of state of the art (DOHC engine, 4-wheel discs) and the traditional (timber dashboard and trim, and leaf springs).  And behind them is the same Alvis TA21 Graber from two years ago.

Any TVR is a rare sight, especially an early one like this 1960 Grantura MkII which has a 1600cc MGA engine.  This particular car was originally sold in the US.

Then there were a pair of 1957 Chevrolets.  Both are Bel Airs, but the convertible has been converted to right-hand drive which might be an indication that it has been in the country for more than a few years.

I’ve skipped over a few cars so here are some as they drove out.  For one a 1939 Oldsmobile Sports Roadster, one of 10 built by GM-Holden.  The information board at the show stated that this model was not built in the USA, perhaps a one-year technicality only as there was a convertible for 1940.

The Aston Martin DB2/4 MkIII is the last of the original series, with the inline six boosted from 2.6 to 2.9-litres.  They also had a more organic version of the iconic A-M grille shape, and are a curious mix of looking small from some angles and large from others.  I think it is because the wheels are 16” and tyres quite high-profile, where you would assume they are smaller, plus the body tapers slightly so the 4.3m/169″ overall length is not always apparent.

Back to the (back of the) Efijy, which you may remember as having featured at the Detroit Auto Show in 2007, as well as the Woodward Dream Cruise later the same year.

The car had a Corvette floor pan with air suspension and a supercharged 6.0 V8 making about 640hp.

The interior is more typical show car stuff.  There were some big claims about multi-function this and such and such that but I wonder how much of it works, given the speedo appears to be displaying zero with the ignition switched off.  Giving the display screen the appearance of an early CRT screen is an interesting touch.

Here is a highly opportunistic shot; a 2005 Monaro CV8-Z, the final edition, next to the 2005 Efijy.

Ok, time to hit the road and head to Motorclassica!  It is not every day that you see a multi-million dollar concept car driving on public roads.


Further Reading:

Carshow Classics: Highlights From MotorClassica 2017