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

Any Given Reason Burger Meet 3

BurgerMeet3 627The concept of Burger Meet is simple – a car park meet to get as many readers of Any Given Reason and their cars in the same place as possible. The emphasis is on diversity and informality, and the vague idea of standing around a car park eating burgers is about as far as the planning goes.

BurgerMeet3 525On the evening of Saturday 28th December, the readers of Any Given Reason descended on the Hagen Arms Hotel at Echunga in the Adelaide Hills to watch the sun set with burgers, beers, and of course, cars. And what a spectacular array of cars it was – but more on that later.

BurgerMeet3 518The thing that makes organising Burger Meet such an exciting, rewarding and completely terrifying experience is that I have absolutely no idea who actually reads and follows this blog. I get traffic statistics but they’re just abstract numbers and graphs, so when I put the word out that Burger Meet 3 was happening I had exactly zero idea who and how many people would actually come. I guessed about 80 cars and thought it would be pretty cool if we could fill the car park, but when streams of cars started pouring in and it wasn’t even the 6pm start-time yet, I started to get a little nervous/overjoyed. Continue reading

The 2013 Goodwood Revival

B_GRev 187Living the dream. An often over and sometimes ironically used phrase that seems to have lost its significance of late, and somewhat of an unreachable goal. I mean, very rarely does anyone actually get to live a dream. But I’ve just come back from the Goodwood Revival Meeting and as far as I can see, that entire event is a dream, and to attend it is to spend three short days living that dream down to its minutest detail.

B_GRev 009Sitting back now looking at these pictures on my dimly lit computer screen in suburban Adelaide, I have that kind of groggy, vague memory of this dream I’ve just awoken from. Was I really there, did that actually happen? It was set in the lush, green English countryside and everyone was dressed so nicely in tweed and frocks and they were all so friendly. There was champagne flowing and everyone was dancing to live swing music; the best classic cars driven by the most famous drivers were racing door handle to door handle; there was an airshow and a dogfight and there were priceless Ferrari’s dotted around the place. And then for some reason we were with Hillary and Tenzing at the summit of Mt Everest? At least, I think that’s what happened. Take me back!

A_GRevBMW 324Any Given Reason has been truly privileged to attend both Goodwood events in 2013; two events with completely different characters, despite being held only a stones throw from each other just outside Chichester in the South of England. If the Festival of Speed is the world’s biggest automotive garden party, then the Goodwood Revival is surely the worlds biggest automotive dress up party. 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

The 2013 Peking to Paris Rally

DSC_0310The word epic is regularly used with nonchalance to describe things that, whilst maybe quite exciting, are still reasonably ordinary. However, the word Epic is a perfect and apt description of the Peking to Paris rally, a challenge for classic and vintage cars quite unlike anything else that exists.

DSC_0322The Peking to Paris is 33 days straight of rallying across some of the most remote and inaccessible places on the earth. Mongolia. The Gobi desert. Russia. Eastern Europe. Whilst the third annual modern recreation of the 1907 pioneering event is somewhat watered down compared to the original with modern GPS, support crews and travelling mechanics provided by the organisers, it is still one hell of an adventure and even making it to the finish is an achievement in itself.

DSC_0171You’d seriously think twice about driving some of these cars down to the shops on a cold day let alone across the largest single land mass on earth in one hit.

DSC_0084Any Given Reason was at Place Vendome in Paris a few Sunday’s ago to welcome the cars home across the line, along with thousands of other friends, family and curious onlookers. It wasn’t just a time to celebrate for the winners – everybody was happy to be here.

DSC_0203The families of the crews in particular were the happiest. The competitors were competing right up until the day before the finish, and still had a 150km drive into Paris that morning to cross the line. The families hadn’t seen the crews since the rally started over a month ago, so were waiting with great anticipation for their loved ones to appear in the traffic. Continue reading

Car hunting in London

DSC_0485In the oil age we live in, it’s a common belief that most of the world’s supercar stock sits somewhere between Dubai and about Kuwait. But much to my surprise, certain districts in the city of London actually contain more exotic metal in a small radius as I’ve seen anywhere else.

DSC_0416This is an odd phenomenon because there is more against car ownership in central London than for it, let alone supercar ownership. For one, you’ll pay over ten pound in congestion charge as soon as you move anywhere. Assuming money is no issue, despite the charge the city is still in gridlock for as many hours as the sun is up. It’s an old city too which means almost nobody has a garage because cars didn’t exist when the houses were built, even the swanky ones, so on-street parking is the norm. And unlike in Australia, London has an excellent public transport system. With all the good roads so far away, why would you even bother taking a car into the city?

DSC_0390And yet here we are. In the Knightsbridge area there literally isn’t a street without some form of exotica lining its sides. In these parts V8 Vantage’s and Bentley’s are commonplace, and it takes something special to grab your attention.

DSC_0395Like, say, a Bristol Blenheim?

DSC_0433Or an original, non footballer-spec Bentley Continental?

DSC_0397The car that held my attention for the longest did so for all the wrong reasons. I’ve long been hoping to see one of these in the flesh for I have long labeled them the stupidest and most hilarious car ever built, however I’m not aware of any Australian’s daft enough to have made the purchase. In London I saw three, all within a block of each other. Continue reading

Display cars at the Palmer Coolum Resort

IMG_4224The Hyatt is known around the world as one of the premiere chains of high end luxury resorts and hotels, and their sprawling Hyatt Regency Resort at Coolum Beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast was no exception. Spread over 150 acres at the base of Mount Coolum, the lush resort was home to the rich and famous, and has hosted the internationally renowned PGA golf tournament since 2002.

However a few years ago the venue was purchased by mining magnate Clive Palmer, a man fortunate enough to posses the lucky combination of eccentricity and extreme wealth. As you would no doubt expect from the brain behind Titanic II, he has added his own special touches, the most obvious of which is his car collection.

IMG_4231Personally, I kind of respect Clive Palmer in a weird sort of way, and I like the way he just pursues his passions regardless of what anybody else thinks – the world would probably be a more interesting place if everyone acted like that. And really, you’ve gotta hand it to anyone crazy enough to buy the Hyatt and then make the guests shuffle around three pre-war Fiat’s before they can check in.

IMG_4241In January of this year Palmer converted one of the spare rec halls into a car museum, filling it with his 110 strong collection. Soon after, the decision was made to construct a dedicated building for the collection, and the collection was moved off the premises in readiness. However, when I visited in May construction of the new museum building had not yet started, so instead there were several cars dotted around the resort. As you do. Continue reading

Sightings – The Vietnam edition

Going back through old travel photos is always a great way to burn a couple of hours. Long forgotten memories are instantly brought back sharp as day, as the pixels on your computer monitor instantly transport you back to a time and place where you were just that little bit more free and living a little closer to the edge than you do in your day-to-day life. Just re-reading that sentence, I sound like an old man reminiscing on days gone by. But no, these shots are just from 2008. I was barely 20, and it was my first overseas trip – a four week visit to my sister and brother-in-law who were working in Saigon for a year. They got some time off, and we headed all over the countryside and into Cambodia on an odyssey of discovery. Well, at least it was for me.

I had no DSLR or real interest in photography, and Any Given Reason wouldn’t be thought of for another three years. Even though I just bought a cheap Pentax snapshot camera before I departed, taking photos of the cars I saw just seemed natural. I guess the seed was there, even back then. Here are a few of my discoveries.

The Bentley in the lead photo and this Rolls Royce Phantom were both on display at a dealership just around the corner from where my sister was living in Saigon. It was quite funny because they had a strict no photo rule. After being denied, I went back at about 10pm that night, just to discover that the dealership was paying a group of locals to sit outside all night and stop people from taking photos. I managed to snap a few frames before legging it away down the street. Being a tall caucasian does have its advantages sometimes; they didn’t stop me.

I found the juxtaposition of these super-luxury cars in Vietnam fascinating. Here, on one hand is a finely sculpted piece of automotive engineering – the Phantom is as close to perfection as you’ll find. Yet it just looks so out of place driving down a potholed road, street vendors lining the sides and motorbikes whizzing by. It was like a moment of calm in a sea of utter chaos.

The local Suzuki dealership had P.G Andersson’s Super 1600 JWRC Suzuki Swift on display. It was the only racecar I saw for a month, the first time that had happened in a while. Continue reading

All British Day 2012

The All British day is probably South Australia’s largest annual gathering of British cars, trucks and motorbikes. I’d never really considered myself much of a fan of British machinery so have never really made much of a point of going to this show in the past. Sure, there were a few makes and models I admired, but then I actually sat down and thought about the British cars I liked. I’m an obvious fan of Lotus. I appreciate the eccentricity of TVR’s, and the rugged simpleness of MGA’s and B’s and early Land Rovers. You can’t go past the stunning looks of the Jaguar E-Type and it’s predecessor the XK120, or the modern technology in the turbocharged Cosworth Ford’s. The stately elegance of early Bristol’s and Bentley’s can’t be ignored, and then there’s the legendary and inspiring stories of the works Aston Martin and Jaguar teams running the DBR’s and D-Type’s in when the mechanics drove them to LeMans to compete in the 24hr in the 50’s and 60’s, back in the days when the state of the art LeMans winners were still road registrable.

With all that in mind I put on my Ben Sherman shorts and Kooks T-Shirt and headed up to Uraidla in the picturesque Adelaide Hills to take in the best of automotive Britain – with the Beatles and 60’s Rolling Stones playing through the stereo on the way to get properly in the mood, of course.

Continue reading