You all know where Amelia Island is. Up north Florida way, just across from the Okefenokee Swamp. It’s 21km long by 6.4km wide and home to the Eight Flags Shrimp (prawn to you) Festival, the Petanque American Open, Florida’s oldest continually operating drinking establishment, the Palace Saloon, some of the best shelling in America (shelling is where you walk along the beach at low tide and pick up shells — and you thought F1 was exciting) and of course the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and five classic car auctions.
Anyway, I’ll be there next month staying at the Miller Cottage at the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge ($700 a night) including a private Ocean View deck with rocking chairs. And, I’ll be calming the nerves of a morning before the auctions with the bottomless mimosas at the Palace. Of course, the Palace was better when I used to go there when Lou Hirth owned the joint. Back then you got towels to wipe the foam from your moustache and there were 6kg solid brass cuspidors (spittoons) for those of us who enjoyed a good chew with their drink. I’ll be talking to Peter and Jenny Hurley about installing the towels and cuspidors in the corner bar at the Kensi in Adelaide.
Look, there is some serious metal for sale but it seems to me Amelia Island is declining in importance on the classic calendar. I think we should expect sales and prices to be down on last year where 28 cars sold for more than $1 million but the two with the biggest prices, $8m each, were passed in. So, three Feezers sold for about $2.8m, a Ford GT40 for $2.6m and a Porker 964 Turbo for $2.4m. This year there’s a lot of focus on pre-war and brass cars. RM have a 1930 Duesenberg Model J “Sweep Panel” Dual-Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron for about $2.5m and a 1934 Packard Twelve Convertible Sedan Custom for $2m and change.
Bonhams has a strong Australian connection with the Ex-Jochen Rindt/Jacky Ickx 1968-69 3-litre Repco Brabham-Cosworth BT26/BT26a. This won the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix, has a Ron Tauranac (born in Britain but an Australian citizen) space-frame chassis design and competed in nine frontline qualifying rounds of the 1969 Formula 1 World Championship. A steal at $1.5m. Dave Gooding is now the leading auctioneer of high-quality classics.
At Amelia Island he’s selling 10 of the best Porkers around from WhatsApp founder Jan Koum’s collection. Don’t let the kiddies read this but Jan dropped out of uni, played Ultimate Frisbee, founded WhatsApp and sold it for $26 billion. Keep studying for your HSC and you can end up working 80 hours a week in a top-tier law firm.
Anyway, the 1979 Porsche 935 Dave is auctioning for $4.2m is not one of Mr Ultimate Frisbee’s. It’s better. The 935 was the greatest ever Porker racer. Due to strong demand from super-rich consumers Porsche built seven 935 chassis for private teams in the US. The 935 Davo is selling, was built to order for Otis Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles Times and one of Porsche’s VIP customers.
Back home, last Monday was Shannons Melbourne Summer Classic auction with the top sellers, as usual, being number plates ($255K and $215K), a 1985 Brock SS Group A Holden for $165K, a 1969 Holden HT Monaro GTS 350 for below estimate at $120K and 2009 HSV W427 above estimate at $98K.
Monday week Shannons are in Sydney looking for my editor and other temporary Australians to pay $150K for the 1953 Vincent Black Shadow at $150k.
OK, on to more serious matters. You remember Ian McPherson and the Mazda CX-5 he bought from Moss Vale Mazda? You know the one that failed on a steep section of Jamberoo Pass, but could have failed when turning across traffic, or when overtaking another vehicle, or when operating at speed on the freeway when in the company of high-speed heavy vehicles with his three children in the car.
Ian had his first NCAT (NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal) hearing this week. “Underwhelming really,” says Ian, “as expected Mazda simply held the same line, and we held ours, so a further hearing is needed.”
Basically, Ian’s arguments are that a three-year-old vehicle should not need its engine replaced; no one knows what the problem is; major repair work often causes other non-related issues and Mazda has only provided a two-year warranty on the new engine versus the three-year warranty the car came with.
So, the tribunal member told Ian he will need to prove that the car is unsafe, rather than Mazda proving that the car is safe. This is despite the fact that Mazda are unable to (or unwilling to) diagnose exactly why the engine failed, and that they have now replaced the faulty engine with one the same.
Here’s the best part. Ian was told that if he wanted to have a lawyer he has to apply for special permission. NCAT says it’s designed for regular consumers to be able to address an issue with large companies without the cost of involving lawyers. Now Mazda was represented by a woman, and Ian asked her directly whether she was a lawyer. She replied that she had “had legal training, but was a customer relations specialist”. A LinkedIn search reveals that she is a lawyer, with previous roles at major law firms, and a law degree from the University of Victoria in 2013. Good old Mazda, you’ve done it again.