Motorclassica is the annual Australian International Concours d’Elegance & Classic Motor Show held at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne over the October 11th to 13th weekend. Since 2010 the event has welcomed over 20,000 visitors each year to enjoy a display of over 500 vehicles, fine food and wine, cinema, educational displays and more than 100 trade exhibitors.
Club stalwarts, Maria and Dom Lepro, make the annual pilgrimage across the A8 (Dukes and Western Highways) to attend this amazing event. Since I was scheduled to be ‘back home’ that weekend we decided to make an event of it – Friday afternoon I picked the kids up from school, Ariana from work and met up with Dom and Maria for my first Motorclassica.
Boy did I pick a good year to start this new pilgrimage! Each year celebrates one or more marques to commemorate a common milestone. This year paid tributes to Bentley, Alvis, Citroen, Mini, Japanese Sports Cars and – of course – Abarth.
“The Iron Ladies” celebrated 100 years of Bentley – specifically those built by Walter Owen Bentley over twelve-year period before the brand merged. These ‘WO Bentleys’ were driven to victory at Le Mans 24 hours in 1928 by Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin – who was born in Carlton, not too far from the Exhibition Buildings.
“Joyeux Anniversaire Mon Ami” celebrated 100 years of Citroën. Founded by French industrialist Andre-Gustave Citroën in 1919, this iconic brand became the first European mass-produced car producing at a rate of 100 cars/day within its first year.
“The Giant Slayers” celebrated the 60th anniversary of Mini. The Morris Mini-Minor debuted on August 29th 1959. The economical two door cars were targeted towards a family of four and became an instant hit through their innovative packaging and entertaining go-kart like driving dynamics (sound familiar?). In 1961, John Cooper spearheaded the release of 1000 units featuring an enlarged engine, taking displacement right up to a full 1.0 litre pumping out 55hp. Undoubtedly this was a car inspired by other, similar such vehicles such as the iconic FIAT 500, launched as ‘The Cinquecento’ back in July 1957.
“A Sting in the Tail” was Motorclassica’s celebration of Abarth’s 70th anniversary. Starting as an apprentice in a motorcycle factory, Carlo Abarth (Karl at the time) had a penchant for motor racing until an accident in 1939 ended his racing career. Post-war Abarth saw him settle in Merano and eventually became the Italian distributor of cars produced by his German friend – Ferdinand Porsche.
The Porsche-designed Cistalia 360 drove that company to bankruptcy in 1949. Carlo promptly bought up the assets to launch Abarth and Co. in Bologna as a modification and tuning business for many Italian vehicles. The iconic logo originated from the colours of the Merano Coat of Arms combined with his astrological birth sign. The rest is history which we Scuderisti love to celebrate.
Our time at Motorclassica was capped off with lovely, authentic Italian pizza at A25 at the top end of Hardware Lane. All in all, a lovely weekend I look forward to next year!