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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Scouts Rally SA 2014

ROSA_2014_Saturday (46)Scouts Rally SA once again returned to the Mount Crawford Forest and the northern hills over the weekend of August 1-3 for three heats of intense gravel rally action on some of South Australia’s most challenging roads.

ROSA_2014_Sunday (12)Taking the outright event win and victory in round four of the Australian Rally Championship was Scott Pedder and Dale Moscatt in the Walkinshaw Performance prepared Renault Sport Clio R3. The pairing narrowly claimed victory in all three heats which was enough to snatch the lead of the ARC.

ROSA_2014_Saturday (50)Claiming second place was Brendon Reeves and Rhiannon Gelsomino in the quick little G2 Mazda 2. It was a close battle for much of the event however the Mazda 2 was struck with problems, including non functioning windscreen wipers in heavy rain and the loss of a rear wheel on SS20 when the studs broke, forcing Reeves to tripod back to service. Reeves was able to match the pace of Pedder when everything was working correctly, but these niggling problems kept him down at this crucial point in the championship. With two rounds remaining, Pedder managed to snatch the championship lead. Continue reading

Porsche, rally weapons and odd Italian cars – A chilled Sunday on the road.

Sunday_27 (23)There’s a lot to be said for organised events and races but sometimes it’s fun to just cruise around on a lazy Sunday and see what you find. With my own Fiat X1/9 project finally hitting the roads after seven long years in the shed, I used the vague excuse of the media briefing and scruitineering for the upcoming Scouts Rally SA Australian Rally Championship round (happening this weekend) as a way point and took the X1/9 for a drive.

Sunday_27 (7)It’s not uncommon to see a few Porsche’s in the hills on a pleasant Sunday but after about the sixth in a row I figured something must be up, so I followed them just down the road to Longview Vineyard in Macclesfield.

Sunday_27 (4)When it comes to Porsche it’s usually that trademark classic style that steals my heart, and even though this left hand drive 912 was definitely a looker there was something else that stopped me dead on this occasion…

Sunday_27 (1)… this stunning 964 Carrera 4 sitting on a set of OZ Allegerita‘s. Continue reading

AGR Readers’ Rides – The Virtual Burger Meet

DSC_0052The theory that the people who read Any Given Reason typically drive the kinds of cars that we’re all interested in is the thinking that initially lead to the first Any Given Reason Burger Meet. Unfortunately it’s not possible to hold Burger Meet’s all the time, so why not a virtual Burger Meet?* A few weeks ago the word was put out, and since then I’ve received a huge variety of readers’ rides to post. So here we go!

If you missed out this time, email me a shot of your ride for next time – andrew@anygivenreason.com

*Actual burgers not available at the Virtual Burger Meet

Brady_AldousBrady – 2006 Mazda MX-5 NC. I’m turning 40 next month and my beautiful wife allowed me to purchase a 2006 NC MX-5. She and I love it and the lifestyle it has given us. My plans for it are to eventually do some track work, some hillclimbs and maybe a tarmac rally (regularity) in the future.

Hamish_ScottHamish – Subaru WRX Hatch. To the average person it’s a stock looking car.

Steve_SchmidtSteve – Fiat 124 Spider. The Fiat 124 Spider, decluttered of its USA legislated bumpers and sidelights the purity of this Pininfarina design is allowed to shine through. Continue reading

Sydney – London Classic Marathon to pass through SA before Easter

Sydney-London_Prep 1423The Sydney – London Classic Marathon is passing through South Australia over the next few days, so to prepare Any Given Reason went and had a look at what is sure to be one of the front running contenders – the Datsun 260Z of Geoff Olholm and John Doble.

Note – keep reading for leg maps and stage times for the South Australian stages

Sydney-London_Prep 1414Longtime Any Given Reason readers will be familiar with Olholm and his Coconut Car Racing Team – AGR checked out the Rally Raid Desert Warrior he used in the 2011 Dakar Rally, and followed his 2013 Dakar Rally campaign where he was first privateer and 11th outright in an Overdrive built V8 Hilux.

Sydney-London_Prep 1430Like all of Olholm’s cars, the 260Z has been prepared for the rally in the Adelaide workshop of Garry Kirk. It looks like your regular gravel rally Z-car, but with a few minor additions for both strength and reliability.

Sydney-London_Prep 1426The 260Z isn’t new to the world of marathon rallies, having been previously used in the 2009 East African Safari Classic Rally. It has received a complete teardown rebuild since then, and is in stunning shape. Continue reading

Eurofest 2013

DSC_0457It only feels like a year ago that we heard of and attended a new show called ‘Eurofest’, but in fact it was three. Organized primarily by the BMW Drivers Club of SA and held on the grounds of the National Motor Museum at Birdwood, Eurofest was run by a fresh, younger group of enthusiasts and promised to offer something a little different from the other shows out there.

DSC_0468Personally, I thought it was a top day out but if there was one criticism to be leveled, it’s that it was predominantly a BMW/Mercedes-Benz show. For some reason a lot of other European marque clubs didn’t get behind it, which I thought was a shame given the potential of the concept and the energetic crew making it happen.

DSC_0521But after attending the third Eurofest, I’m proud to say that this event is quickly coming of age and the turnout this year was simply brilliant. It was still a predominantly German based field, which is to be expected, but what impressed me the most was not the country of origin of the cars but the sheer number of styles and cultures that harmoniously clashed on the lawns of the mill. 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