An Aladdin’s cave of Ferrari’s in Switzerland

LausanneFerrari 788I’ve discussed the concept of serendipity before on Any Given Reason, and the adventure and discovery to be found in being lost while traveling. The best things are always unexpected, and it pays to keep your eyes open to possibility no matter how discouraging your circumstances may seem.

LausanneFerrari 776Recently, I was traveling through the Swiss lakes on my Vespa with the unlikely goal of reaching the holiday town of Lausanne by nightfall. My tent had flooded the previous night in Italy which meant that all of my possessions except the clothes I was wearing were packed sodden in my bags, and I was lost. I had a ferry booked on the other side of France for a 4am Thursday morning Channel crossing which I had to make in order to not miss the Goodwood Revival Meeting; it was 6pm on Monday night and I still had close to 1000km of Switzerland and France to cover. The small 125cc capacity of my Vespa meant I couldn’t ride on the Autobahn, and whilst it was tempting to give it a crack anyway, I decided to play it safe and take the slower route through the towns.

LausanneFerrari 789Long story short, all of those circumstances sent me on an unexpected path that saw me ride past an Aladdin’s cave called Garage Zenith, and then discover another equally impressive workshop a little further on. I really didn’t have the time to justify stopping for a coffee let alone a walk around a car dealership, but when I saw Michael Schumacher’s own factory personalised Ferrari Enzo and a 1957 Maserati 250S sitting on the showroom floor, I just knew I had to stop. To hell with the schedule. Continue reading

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Auto Italia Adelaide 2013

DSC_0096Italian cars, like their French counterparts, are possibly the most divisive vehicles in all autodom. You either love them or you hate them, and in this argument there are very few fence sitters.

DSC_0107Almost everyone appreciates the svelte lines of a 246 Dino or the downright cuteness of a 500 Bambino but when it comes to actual ownership, it’s only the brave who put their money where their mouth is. Those that are willing to endure dodgy electrics, crummy interiors and rusty metal are treated to superior dynamics, glorious noises and wonderfully tactile controls. Not to mention the fact that every journey in an Italian vehicle (with the possible exception of the new ones) is tinged with just a tiny bit of doubt. How boring would life be if you were always completely certain of reaching your destination?

DSC_0196You either ‘get’ Italian cars or you don’t, and the annual Auto Italia Adelaide show exists to bring as many of these like minded enthusiasts and their vehicles together in once place. In only its second year, the show once again assembled a vast range of Italian marques to the Campbelltown Soccer Club for a sunny Sunday of Italian cars, food and music. 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 Maranello Motorsport

I had a few spare hours in Melbourne the other day so I decided to head down to Maranello Motorsport in Richmond for a look around.

Maranello Motorsport (MM) is just a 10 minute train ride from Flinders Street Station. From the Richmond stop it’s just a five minute walk down the funky and arty Cremorne Street. It’s quite a surreal walk – the street is very quiet, you pass a whole collection of small designer furniture stores and boutique legal practises and then Bam, there’s an F40 sitting right there.

Mark Coffey, Managing Director of MM, is surely living every car enthusiasts dream. MM are primarily Ferrari race preparation specialists. They are responsible for most of the Ferrari’s you see racing in the Australian GT Championship and field their own entry for regular driver Alan Simonsen and a host of other drivers who are lucky enough to be partnered alongside him. Their bread and butter is preparing 360 Modena and F430 GT3’s for GT racing and private track days, and they also offer a complete arrive and drive race or track day service. They have a showroom where they sell high end Ferrari’s and offer scheduled servicing and repairs for Ferrari road cars. Continue reading

Burswood Casino Perth – Just your average Thursday night

Last week I was in Perth for Top Gear Live (post coming soon), held at the Burswood entertainment complex. I’d heard that the lobby area of the Burswood casino/InterContinental hotel is often worth a visit so I decided to check it out before the show. It didn’t disappoint.

Apart from the last two which were taken after the show, all of these photos were taken within a 15 minute period. Continue reading

The morning commute on Greenhill road – Maserati Indy

Short of the likes of something like a Ferrari Daytona, this is just about the coolest thing you could possibly drive into the city. I spotted this Maserati Indy this morning heading west along Greenhill road, before turning toward the CBD. I can’t even remember the last time I saw one of these.

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Supercar hunting in Singapore

The one thing that anyone who is even vaguely interested in cars takes away from a visit to Singapore is the sheer quantity of nice metal that populates the roads of this progressive city. Despite ridiculous import duties that make even the cheapest Toyota around AUD$70,000 on the road, 5 series BMW’s and S Classes are commonplace. But I was chasing something a little more enticing. Such is the quality of Singapore that I managed to shoot the following collection in just a single five-hour stopover. Enjoy.

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