Well they’re here in our bumper Easter, Passover, autumnal equinox, Ridvan or another example of how many days off Australians can squeeze into two weeks, column.
For instance, what did happen in Essen a week ago? Why was the China F1 a boring procession except for that great prang at the start? What should you buy at Shannons’ Sydney and Melbourne auctions and: What would Jack Absalom cook for Easter lunch? Plus, a free offer for subscribers to The Weekend Australian(remember you only get what you pay for) and the inside form guide to Targa Tasmania.
The last time I was at the Shanghai International Circuit was in 2005 for the inaugural Buick V8 Supercars China Round, or what was really the first V8 Supercars race outside Australia if you don’t count New Zealand, and who does?
I’m not sure that it was all that successful since locals told me the government had ordered the nearby factory managers to give all their employees the day off to go to the track. The stands were full with 30,000 workers who generally rode bicycles to the plant, yelling and screaming with huge enthusiasm as they appeared to watch Australian cars roar around the concrete. A translator suggested their enthusiasm was because of copious free shots of Baijiu (or liquid lightning strike) followed by Snow beer chasers. Then again, she did say they were hollering “Go Skaifey”, “Go Frosty”.
Anyway, they had plenty to holler about because in the opening race, Frosty (Mark Winterbottom) hit a loose drain cover ripping the bottom out of the car and him out of the series. Later that year, in the Chinese GP, Juan Pablo Montoya hit the same manhole cover with the same result. Nothing that exciting happened last Sunday. It was a procession. Basically, the first seven cars on the grid took the first seven places except Lou MBE swapped places with Val and the Danster finished seventh a lap behind the rest.
Moving to Essen, which is not in China but has a super Cantonese restaurant, Jade on Rellinghauser Strasse. Frosty says mention his name to owner Yin Yu and ask for the number 35 with a combination prawn omelette and a chiko roll on the side.
RM Sotheby’s moved $30 million, or 83 per cent, of OK metal over two days. Big ticket items like a Bugatti Veyron and a Lambo Diablo didn’t sell. A 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K cabriolet A was top of the pops at $3.5 mill. A 1979 Mercedes-Benz 500TE AMG was bid up to $224k; a 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC AMG 6.0 wide-body went at $234K; someone who’d had too many shots of Baijiu paid $64k for a 1992 Land Rover Range Rover (double low estimate); and a 1992 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo sold for $50k. Anywhere in the world, especially in Australia, original and unmolested manual examples are just about impossible to find. If you paid $50k here you’d be getting a great investment.
But the big story out of Essen was the Lancias. Up first, an Azzurro-painted 1975 Lancia Stratos HF Stradale, with only 11,800km on the clock, sold at $856k. Then a 1982 Lancia 037 Rally Stradale with just 3500km, doubled estimate at $1.2 mill. But wait, there’s more: a serious bidding war took a 1985 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale, with a very original 2200km, to a world record $1.6 mill. K500’s Steve Wakefield described the scene best: “Jaws dropped wide open when a telephone bidder paid over a million euros for what some might describe as the love child of a box and a builder’s skip.”
Two local auctions to look at this month and next are from the local auction house you can trust, Shannons. In Melbourne, at the end of this month, lots of Holdens under $30k, Toranas under $100k, a 1962 Falcon XK windowless panel van ($35k) and the highlight, the late Paul Trevethan’s very successful 1963 Ford Cortina Group N, built to Lotus specs and yours for around $45k. (Fair notice: I will be bidding on this so I will highlight the stone chips on the nose.)
Ones to think about: the 1988 Jag XJS V12 Coupe, around $20k for a future classic, and the 1962 D- Type replica ($180k). In Sydney, lots of motor bikes for our food writer John Lethlean to bid on and my editor to drool over, lots of Holdens under $140k and a toss-up between the 1963 Merc 190SL and the 1973 Aston Martin V8 both around the $170k-plus mark.
A huge reaction (two emails and an abusive phone call) to Australia’s renaissance man, Jack Absalom’s beer can extinguisher tip last week.
So, today, what would Jack cook for Easter lunch? Jack and co-author of Jack’s barbecue cookbook, Jill Chinner (a truly remarkable woman) are both up there with Ayrton Senna and like Beco, Jack and Jill often contact me over the psychic internet.
“Mate. I would be going for the braised kangaroo tail. Get four large tails from as close as possible to the butt, two onions, flour and stock, place in the camp oven and simmer till the tails start to break up. Serve with mashed potatoes.”
Finally, with Targa Tasmania only a week away, some longshots to consider: Simon and Amanda Davidson in the 1955 Austin A30; Stu McAuley and Phil Ettiene in the 1985 Porker and Grant and Lindsay Ridge in the 1985 RX7.
Then there’s people with a real chance like Paul Stokell, Jason White and Tony Quinn in a 2018 Nissan GTR. If you’re a subscriber to this mighty multimedia platform, you can follow all the action every day of the rally and even some other days with the exclusive WART blog. Just send me your email and the old bloke and I will tell you what it’s like with our reports from the back of the field.