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

The magic of Lamborghini on a Sunday morning

Lamborghini_Stirling (12)It’s a well-known fact that the Adelaide Hills are teeming with interesting and exotic vehicles of all kinds on sunny Sunday mornings, and why not? Before nine the roads are largely devoid of the Sunday lunch crowds, the coffee shops are beginning to open their doors and the mornings are warm and balmy now that we’re coming into spring.

Lamborghini_Stirling (10)Throw in the fact that it was father’s day last Sunday and you’ve got a perfect storm of car hunting.

Lamborghini_Stirling (14)We were having breakfast at Stirling’s Miss Perez cafe on the Fiat Lancia club’s traditional Father’s Day run, and had arrived to find this Ferrari 599 GTB parked on Druid Avenue. I didn’t catch the make of wheels it was sitting on, but they are certainly inspired by the blistering 599 GTO and I think they suit the big V12 to a tee. It was running some sort of modified exhaust system too, and the noise on startup was to die for.  Continue reading

Formula 1 Gran Premio d’Italia 2013 Monza

F1_Monza_2013 (43)With the famous Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix taking place at Monza this weekend, I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a look back at the 2013 race, which Any Given Reason attended. If you can’t be there in person you might as well be there in spirit, right?

F1_Monza_2013 (38)This post won’t attempt a blow-by-blow account of the race because you can find that elsewhere, written by far more knowledgeable and experienced scribes than myself. This post aims to give a glimpse of what it’s actually like to attend the Italian GP; information that doesn’t make the international broadcast.

F1_Monza_2013 (67)The Monza circuit is situated near the city of Monza, around 50km north of Milan in northern Italy. Below it sits Italy’s motor valley and the homes of Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Pagani are all less than a couple of hours drive away. Around 30km north of Monza sits Lake Como, the gateway to the Alps and the rest of Europe. Monza is the spiritual home of modern Formula 1, and is the only circuit to have held a round of the World Championship every year since its inception.  Continue reading

The new California T at Adelaide Ferrari

California T (15)In the late 50’s Ferrari was faced with a problem. It made some of the fastest and most technically advanced racing cars, and its road cars were pure works of art. But there was one problem – some customers, particularly in America, viewed the road cars as too focused. They wanted a car that enabled them to enjoy the wind in their hair and the company of a special passenger. With old Enzo surely seeing a cash-cow ripe for milking, the solution was the now infamous 250 California Spider, a vehicle that combined the mechanics of their latest GT racer with a svelte Scaglietti designed convertible body style. Just 106 were built, and today they are some of the most collectable Ferrari’s in existence.

California T (7)Its contemporary namesake, the California T, was previewed to an assembled group of Ferrari owners and enthusiasts recently at the new Ferrari Adelaide showroom on West Terrace in the city. Whilst I’d certainly argue that the modern car doesn’t live up to such a storied name (a 599XX V12 powered, lightweight, limited production racer for the road would be more fitting), the modern iteration certainly embodies the concept if nothing else. Here’s a Ferrari with just enough practicality to be considered for daily duties; with enough luggage space to escape for a weekend away and a folding hard top that can be hidden away for sunny drives.

California T (4)At $409,880 the California is the cheapest way into a new prancing horse, and the Australian distributor expects a whopping 70% of California’s to be sold to first time Ferrari owners. To facilitate this the California T is some $50,000 cheaper than its predecessor, indicating a business model already utilised by several manufacturers to attract buyers to their high-end brands. Ferrari is world famous for its brand loyalty and repeat purchase, so how many of those 70% first time owners will go on to purchase a second or a third Ferrari, maybe something more focused like a 458? It’s a smart growth strategy.

California T (14)You can certainly see the resemblance to the outgoing California, however everything is new save for the folding hard top. It looks leaner, edgier and sportier. I find some of the detailing a little fussy, particularly the mesh used in the bonnet and guard vents, but overall it is a harmonious look communicating its intended purpose and the sporting ideals of Ferrari. It’s a huge improvement over the old car.  Continue reading

Another visit to Classic Throttle Shop

CTS_June_14 (63)There are some things you just do without question; acts that are almost mandatory given another related occurrence. You never change oil without also changing the filter, and you never get behind the wheel without first belting up. In what’s becoming somewhat of a similar ritual, you never make a visit to Sydney without also stopping in at Classic Throttle Shop.

CTS_June_14 (2) In the 21st century we are connected to the world in an unprecedented way – I’ll bet at least some of you are even reading this from the bathroom. The impact of technology is changing the world forever and can be felt everywhere in our society; even frontiers seemingly unrelated are being forced to adapt or die. For example, the internet is replacing newspapers as a primary method of news delivery which leaves the door open for magazines to deliver a material experience, and online shopping is apparently devastating the retail industry. Adapt or die, right?

CTS_June_14 (6)Any smart business person will tell you that a threat is often opportunity in disguise, and what we’re learning is that technology can’t deliver an experience. Industry leader Deus ex Machina is brilliant at delivering an experience, and new players like Zen Garage are fast catching up. I’m sure the Peel Microcar sitting on the shelf in this image is a hint at where I’m going with this, which is why Classic Throttle Shop has quickly become an essential Sydney destination. I wonder how many people with the necessary means stop by for a relaxing Saturday morning coffee only to spot a lithe Porsche 911 in the corner, stew over it for the weekend and then return during the week to make a purchase.

CTS_June_14 (72)Case in point – this track inspired but oh-so-clean E30 M3. It made me weak at the knees on first sight, and had I the means it would be eating away at me right now. And the fact that it was converted to right-hand drive at brand new in the UK by the dealer just sweetens it further. Continue reading

Around Maranello and a visit to Museo Ferrari

Museo_Ferrari (86)Ferrari is a brand that captivates the imagination like no other. Careful cultivation and strong ties to the legendary racetracks and drivers of decades past means that the Prancing Horse holds an almost mythical status today, arguably outstripping the material value of the cars that wear its badges. These days the commercialization of the brand verges on cringeworthy – how many airport Ferrari apparel stores and red co-branded Puma shoes do you need to see before you’re left with no option but to run into the arms of some obscure hipster car manufacturer that nobody has heard of? I mean, who actually buys a Gumpert for any other reason than Ferrari escapism?

Museo_Ferrari (63) But who am I to comment? Ferrari is and always has been the be-all-and-end-all sports and supercar manufacturer for me. I know that some of them aren’t actually that good, aren’t that reliable and the wrong one can make you look like a drug dealer or attention seeking poseur, or both. But I don’t care. I dream of driving them, I dream of owning one. My pulse rises every time I see one. I regularly check Carsales to see what the cheapest Ferrari is, and then ponder the realities of dropping fifty large on a thirty year old hunk of rusting Italian steel with dodgy wiring. Would I? In a heartbeat if I could.

Museo_Ferrari (2)When I set out on my recent Vespa trip around Europe I had almost no plans – I didn’t even know what countries I was going to visit. The only thing I had was a small handful of places in the back of my mind that I wanted to experience, and number one was Maranello.

Museo_Ferrari (1) Because you don’t really visit Maranello – you experience it. Museo Ferrari is the hot-ticket tourist attraction, but the rest of the small industrial suburb of Modena, steeped in so much legend, sits there waiting to be discovered. Just around the corner from the museum are the famous factory gates, looking almost identical as depicted in period photos of the 60’s and 70’s. 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