Look, there’s nothing wrong with October’s Motorclassica Concours in Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building (built in 1879), where they also have the Boho Luxe Market and Glamping Festival and super views of Nicholson Street, Carlton, the Melbourne Museum IMAX (now showing Rewind: Blues Brothers — “there are 106 miles to Chicago, we have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses …” — a must-see film for the kiddies because a then-world-record 103 cars were wrecked during filming and Dan Aykroyd told Vanity Fair “we had a budget in the movie for cocaine for night shoots”) and Sean Herbert’s Concours d’Lemons, where owners of questionable engineering and roadworthiness fall all over each other to win $2 recycled trophies in categories such as “Needlessly Complex Italian”, “Rueful Britannia”, and “Der Self-SatisfiedKrauttenWagen” to name but a few. Of course, the low-point of the day is the public humiliation of the winner of the “Worst of Show” award.
My favourite concours is the Leyburn Sprints in Queensland. This is really a race around the town but in cars that make even one of the world’s toughest rugby league players, Shane Webcke, crack it for a tear in the ladies lounge of his Royal Hotel.
Weekend Australian Racing Team star Michael McMichael said to remind you that if you have a seniors card (and you have to show it) Shane is serving the chicken schnitzel and battered fish served with salad and chips but no pasta for $14.50. Naturally, if you mention WART or show a copy of this paper Shane (the best front-rower in the known world) will throw in a big serve of spaghetti on the side of the plate for free! Friends, have you ever counted the dollars you save by being a subscriber to this incredible multimedia platform and paper?
Shane did ask me to mention that he has started a public speaking career and that for between $5k and $10k he will fly from the Royal to your bucks/hens/others night/ bar or bat mitzvah or both/smoko or corporate seminar. He is top on his feet on topics including but not limited to “Shane Webcke — My Journey”, “Workplace Safety”, “Men’s Health” and “14 Ways with Schnitzel”.
Now where was I going with this?
Of course. Look, events like this are super but can I suggest it’s time in Australia for something more like the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, which owes its privileged status among the world’s most prestigious heritage events for historic vehicles to the elegance of the event, its long and illustrious tradition, the unrivalled flair experienced at the majestic Grand Hotel Villa d’Este on the shores of Lake Como and the select groups of participants.
Now I realise the Villa d’Este, which is considered one of the most beautiful architectural works of the 16th century, designed by Pellegrino Pellegrini and surrounded by a private park with centennial plants where you can admire the Nympheum by Pellegrini, the Hercules Fountain and the Telemachus Statue, could be seen by some as more comfortable than the Royal or the Best Western Travel Inn (near Motorclassica) but in the $4391 you pay the good folks at the Villa d’Este for the one-bedroom suite with lake view they throw in an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast.
But now international car judge James Nicholls is putting on the inaugural Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance in the grounds of Lindesay, the 1834 National Trust property, in Darling Point from March 7-9. James has put together a collection including the first ever Bentley to run at Le Mans in 1923, the MG K3 which Eyston and Lurani drove at the Mille Miglia in 1933, a Ferrari F40 and a McLaren F1. Many of the 30 metal sculptures will be displayed for the first time. My favourite is the nude Roller. It’s a 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II chassis that left the factory in Derby and was delivered to the customer’s chosen coachbuilder, Hibberd & Darrin, Paris, to be fitted with its body.
In May 1935, when it was out of warranty, it was sold to Mr & Mrs Bruce Ismay. Now many of you will remember Bruce. He was the chairman of the White Star Line, which owned and built the Titanic. Brucey went on the maiden voyage but unlike the 1503 people who died the Brewster made it back alive and was hated for it. The car is as it left the factory to be delivered to the coachbuilder in Paris, a running chassis or nude. Restoration took more than 3000 person hours.
But the bad news is you can’t go unless you’re invited. Ferrari and the Intercontinental Hotel are among the sponsors looking to attract young, beautiful and rich people. But in better news James says there will be an auction as well as a Concours next year.
Moving to the one-born-every-minute department, I have to write that a 1938 Triumph 5T Speed Twin owned by Steve McQueen sold for $240,000 at Bonhams’ annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction this week.
There was a flood of emails from people saying the editor is wrong and hordes of people read this column. For instance, Queensland literary fan Kevin Cruickshank suggested we all should drive on the Gillies Highway from the coast at Gordonvale just south of Cairns, which then weaves its way up to the Atherton Tablelands. Kev says “there are 356 (sic) corners, one for every day of the year”. Yup, between Kev and all the other emailers, we now have eight readers.