The Royal Exhibition Centre would host yet again the annual MotorClassica, Australia's premier show displaying the history of motoring. Special anniversaries would be celebrated, and classic icons would be commemorated, and car fanatics would be able to lust over the different ages of motoring.
So, let's start at the beginning, with what people like to call the 'Golden Age' of motoring. The designers and coachbuilders of the early 1900's were pioneers of the automotive industry. There were no rules or expectations with design meaning that every piece of material was shaped as if it was a sculpture. Straight away, cars were built for the elite, and it showed in the craftsmanship and materials used.
Yet, above all they were workhorses, and many of these golden age vehicles on display at MotorClassica have extensive documentation of their travels.
Quickly though (as I've already written about before), the quest for speed begun. Big power and a lightweight frame were the name of the game (and still is), as shown with this stunning 1904 Napier L48 Samson which set the Flying One Mile World Record at the time with a run of 104.65mph at Ormand Beach in Florida.
The Napier was the first in a special display called the 'Icons of Speed'. This included the Jaguar XK120, the world's first supercar, Australia's own Falcon GTHO Phase 3, the Lamborghini Muira; the world's first modern supercar and the 80's poster cars of the Testarossa and Countach.
My personal favourite however was the Bugatti Veyron. A car that experts thought would never exist when it was announced, but shook the automotive world, breaking the 12-year record for the fastest production car held previously by the McLaren F1. It's not a particularly pretty car, but you appreciate its presence immediately because in its time (which was only 10-15 years ago) it was, and I think still is, one of the production car world's greatest achievements in handling, speed, technology and design.
Speaking of brilliant car designs, I have a book that I've had forever called 'Dream Cars'. The dust jacket is long gone, and my rabbit has ripped apart the spine down to the paper. Yet it still holds together containing accounts of some truly bonkers car such as the Vector W8, Sbarro Challenge and many others. One brand that intrigued my much younger self was Bertone for their wedge like designs of the Stratos and Lamborghini Silhouette.
The 110 Years of Bertone display showed that they were more than just a wedge like car styling coachbuilder. They were responsible for some classic designs of great cars. Not only the aforementioned Stratos, but also the Lamborghini Muira, the first mid-engined supercar. Others too like the Lamborghini Uracco and the curvilinearly beautiful Alfa Romeo Guilia and GTA. Although they styled for many different car manufactures, including Volvo, BMW, Citroen and Mercedes Benz, there is a family resemblance among all of Bertone's design, despite the badge on the front grille.
On the subject of exotics, one of the biggest names in the automotive world was celebrating it 75th birthday, Ferrari. A grand display at the entrance of the Royal Exhibition Centre showcased Ferrari's greatest hits, the Testarossa, F40, F50 and an Enzo painted in inevitable Rosso Corsa red, were in the centre surrounded by various other stunning designs from Maranello and plenty of glaring eyeballs.
Two of my favourites were this green Berlinetta Boxer and the silver Ferrari Dino. It was very cool to see a green Ferrari with orange headlights (I thought it was a Lotus at first) and just look at the exhaust coming out from the back of the Dino!
Celebrating 60 years was the American performance badge of Shelby. Carroll Shelby and his company Shelby American first grabbed people's attention when he infamously put the V8 in the AC Ace to make the Cobra, which evolved into the Shelby Daytona. Ford, interested in Shelby's efforts, teamed up with him for their GT40 Le Mans success. This led to further work with the Ford Mustang GT350 and GT500. The Shelby name would eventually become synonymous with performance parts and special editions of the Mustang.
Continuing on speaking of car design, the Mustang was one of the last great sports cars to be designed before laws greatly affected how cars looked, given that in 1973, cars had to have thick bumpers to withstand impacts, windscreens had to be of certain size and headlights had to be a certain height above the ground.
We often however see car companies hark back to those days before car design became more about ticking boxes than making a unique looking car. Porsche has kept true to their 911 look and the new Alpine A110 is a modern take on the rallying legend. These are just a handful of examples. However, you can certainly say a bit of the magic is missing slightly, although overall they certainly do a good job.
It's not an easy decision to make though. Do you try your best to make something that ignites times of old and nostalgia, or instead attempt to break the mold with an experiment that is both unique yet ticks all the safety prerequisites. Some companies like Ford and Porsche have pushed themselves into a corner trying to stick to the original design as much as possible with their Mustang and 911. Whilst brands like Bertone, Ferrari and others always seemed to push boundaries, never looking back yet still being distinctively themselves.
15/10/2022 10:49:00 am
Great photos Noah and write up.
16/10/2022 06:38:22 am
Great write up, Noah. Amazing photos too. Well done.
18/10/2022 05:34:08 pm
Love the pics Noah (composition and use of depth of field) and the knowledgeable comments
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