Quietly awestruck at Festival Automobile de Mulhouse

Mulhouse_Festival_Auto (15)Anyone from overseas who has experienced the European classic car scene will be familiar with the feeling of discovering the rarest and most interesting vehicles in the world and marveling as they are almost ignored by jaded locals who seemingly take them for granted. Just another classic car show in France? Worth a look, I guess.

Mulhouse_Festival_Auto (4)Last year I was traveling through France, and on my way to Switzerland I made a detour through the industrial city of Mulhouse to visit the famous Schlumpf collection. I was only intending to stop for a day or two, however it soon became apparent that I had chanced my visit to coincide with ‘Festival Automobile de Mulhouse’, a weekend classic car festival beginning the next day. It seemed to be one of those government tourism commission type events which usually aren’t very good, but I didn’t have any firm plans and I needed to catch up on some writing, so I decided to hang about and take it in.

Mulhouse_Festival_Auto (47)Festivities kicked off on Friday evening with a small display of cars in Place de la Réunion, the historic town square. It was an odd mix of largely B-list modern supercars that was punctuated by a Bugatti Grand Sport Vitesse Roadster. I’m not sure what to make of the Veyron. I don’t really like it, but I also can’t help but appreciate the engineering that goes into a fully street legal factory road car with 1,200hp that does 0-100 in 2.6sec and will crack well over 400km/h. And the build quality is superb to match. Continue reading

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Charleston – French racing blue in the morning sun

French_Vintage (1)Last weekend, friend of Any Given Reason Luke Jaksa and I were rushing through the hills chasing rally cars around as part of Scouts Rally SA. We were on our way to a jump out behind Nairne and we simply couldn’t be late as it’s always the first cars that jump the hardest. We had empty stomachs and an empty fuel tank, but nothing could stop us. Except, perhaps, a group of vintage French cars stopped on the side of the road. How often do you happen to see a Bugatti Type 35A and a pair of Amilcar’s in the wild?

French_Vintage (10)Rally cars be damned, this was WAY more interesting.

French_Vintage (13)The trio were out for a Sunday morning drive and had stopped just out of Charleston when one of the Amilcar’s suffered a puncture to its front tire. You sometimes forget just how different vintage cars are to the more modern stuff we’re used to. Who even packs a brass hammer when they go for a drive anymore, let alone actually needs to use one? Brass and hickory, a winning combination. Continue reading

Celebration of the Motorcar at Carrick Hill

CelebrationOfMotorcar (63)Adelaide witnessed something truly special when a completely new type of show, Celebration of the Motorcar, took to the immaculately manicured gardens of Carrick Hill one stunningly perfect late Autumn Sunday a few weeks ago.

CelebrationOfMotorcar (56)The lush grounds were overflowing with some of the finest classic and sports cars this state has to offer, and were merely supplemented by the expansive views of the metropolitan area as backdrop. Thousands of attendees enjoyed the cars to the accompaniment of champagne, oysters and a string quartet from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

CelebrationOfMotorcar (9)Celebration of the Motorcar represents somewhat of a departure from most traditional car shows, largely because emphasis is placed on the experience of the attendee. The cars are there to serve the viewer, rather than the viewer attending a show about the cars. It’s a small detail, but one that ensured an interesting, eclectic, and most importantly a high-quality collection of vehicles. Entry to display was by invite only, and the cars were individually selected by a committee of advisers aiming to build the best possible display.  Continue reading

Car hunting in Monaco

MonacoCarHunting 1312You don’t need to say it because I can already hear the calls. ‘Hunting exotic cars in Monaco, that’s a little bit like shooting fish in a barrel, isn’t it?’

MonacoCarHunting 1298Well, yes it is. But that’s no reason not to do it. I mean, what else are you going to do in Monaco? Unless you’re the kind of person who is happily granted entry to the Hotel de Paris or you’re a diehard Formula One anorak, there’s no real reason to come here other than to witness obscene wealth of others. It does have a certain charm, but Monaco doesn’t really offer anything that can’t be found elsewhere on the French Riviera.

MonacoCarHunting 1297However like most readers of Any Given Reason I’m into cars and boats and rally and Formula One, so Monaco was a must-see destination while recently traveling around the Riviera. And the cool thing about not giving a damn about obscene wealth is that I had no issue with attempting to fit in or looking like a tourist, which meant I had no issue with taking photos of the cars.

MonacoCarHunting 1322Because lets be honest – taking photos of nice cars parked on the street is probably the most un-cool thing you can possibly do. But I like interesting cars, so whatever.

MonacoCarHunting 1300The heart of Monaco and the centre of its ‘supercar barrel’ is Casino Square, the tourist filled block of land that acts as the valet area for the most opulent and exclusive hotels and casinos in the Principality. Continue reading

The Cartier Style et Luxe at the Goodwood Festival of Speed

DSC_0914The final chapter in Any Given Reason’s coverage of the Goodwood Festival of Speed is The Cartier Style et Luxe, a premium concours d’elegance for around fifty hand selected and high quality examples of mechanical art.

DSC_0502Set in a relaxed yet tasteful atmosphere on the lawns of Goodwood House, far from the noisy din of racing engines tackling the hillclimb, the Style et Luxe features possibly the widest spectrum of entrants spread over ten classes spanning automotive history.

DSC_0272Given that the Festival of Speed was celebrating 50 Years of the Porsche 911, it is no surprise that the rear engined cars from Zuffenhausen featured prominently in a class of their own. Taking center stage was a 1973 Carrera RS Lightweight, which was raced by Fritz Muller in the European and German National GT Championships.

DSC_0515Right alongside was one of only a handful of what has to be the ultimate air-cooled 911 – the 1995 993 911 GT2.

DSC_0282Right across was the most extreme 911 to have ever been built – the 1998 911 GT1 Street. New regulations in international GT racing in 1998 meant that manufacturers could enter a car that had been designed from scratch, providing a road going version was offered to the public. Strangely enough this is the only road going version to be built and none ever reached any customers, however the model finished first and second at Le Mans that year, giving Porsche its 16th victory. Continue reading

Cité de l’Automobile Collection Schlumpf

DSC_0045Mulhouse isn’t the typical city most tourists usually visit. Located so far in the East of France that it’s almost in Germany (in fact it was a German city in semi recent history), it’s a lovely town, but with the famous Champagne producing regions on the Paris side and Switzerland on the other, it’s typically skipped by most travelers for its more scenic neighbors. But for over fifty years Mulhouse has been home to the largest automobile collection in the world, and for me it was one that simply couldn’t be missed.

DSC_0163The Schlumpf Collection is probably most well known for housing two of the world’s six Bugatti Royale’s, however its chequered history is arguably more interesting than those two large cars. The Brother’s Schlumpf, Hans & Fritz, were an odd pair. Their interest in cars was only beaten by their almost obsessive dedication to their mother, and the boys worked hard before the second world war building their textile empire, with Fritz finally acquiring his first Bugatti which he used in local races. All of that was put on hold with the outbreak of war, and once the war finished the brothers put everything they had into further building their textile empire in Mulhouse. By the time of the swinging 60’s, the brother’s had enough spare capital to acquire a couple of cars.

DSC_0034The term ‘a couple of cars’ is of course used very loosely as they built their collection at a fanatical rate from the early 50’s through the mid 60’s. The brother’s contacted the likes of Enzo Ferrari offering to buy cars, and with a particular penchant for the local Bugatti brand (located just down the road in Molsheim), they struck up a friendship and bought direct from Ettore himself. They famously sent a letter to every member of the Bugatti owners club with an open offer to buy their cars, which in 1963 resulted in the acquisition of an entire 30 Bugatti American collection in one hit along with several individual cars.They bought ten racing cars from Gordini, three Lotuses from racing driver Jo Siffert and several cars from the Mercedes Benz factory museum. With new prosperity after the war people were looking to upgrade their 1920’s and 30’s automobiles, and the Schlumpf’s used this wholly to their advantage.

DSC_0173Even as their textile business began to falter in the 70’s as cheaper production emerged in Asia, the boys kept building their collection in total silence. They employed 40 staff to work full time restoring and maintaining the cars, who were each sworn to secrecy and forced to sign non disclosure statements about their work. The collection grew as production at their factory further declined, so the Brother’s converted one of the disused warehouses into a museum to house their now 400 strong private collection. They employed yet more staff to lay red tiled floors and create grey gravel display areas and installed thousands of replica Parisian lamp posts. All of this was just for themselves – the collection was still top secret. Continue reading

A visit to Royal Automobile Paris

DSC_0191Every now and then you stumble upon something utterly brilliant, and the fact that it’s unexpected makes it even more enjoyable.

DSC_0216The other day I was walking through Paris trying to find a patisserie before making an ascent of the Eiffel Tower when I noticed an unassuming building with a sign saying ‘Royal Automobile’.

DSC_0217A classic car dealer in such a prime location? Definitely worth a look. Sorry for the poor photo, but in the left you can see Royal Automobile, and in the top right you can see the tip of the Eiffel Tower. As far as automotive things in Paris go, this is pretty much as prime as it gets. Not even the big brands are this close.

DSC_0211Stepping in the door, I’m greeted by an AC Cobra and a Porsche 356C.

DSC_0212Yes, that is a Bugatti Type 35 and a Jaguar D-Type. Unfortunately the language barrier made getting more information about these cars rather difficult, but I got the impression they are both genuine. Continue reading