Glimmer of Glamour — Gold Coast Motor Festival 2016
For so many years the annual classic car show on Chater Road, Central is the only event of its kind. Not anymore. 1–2 October saw the first Gold Coast Motor Festival, and despite the dazzling sub-tropical heat, the motors on display have certainly drawn a considerable crowd, and well-deservedly so.
Strategically placed at the end of the main entrance, doubling as the event poster boy, and very rarely presented in this bright crimson in place of the usual metallic silver, the Mercedes 300SL certainly stole the show. The aluminium spaceframe chassis necessitated the trademark door arrangement as the substantial structural members run through the door sills, while the slant six fed by a Bosch mechanical fuel injection system delivers the power to the rear wheels, through a slightly antiquated swing axle arrangement that could catch out less experienced drivers during hard cornering. Much of its fame was due to Sir Stirling Moss’s legendary 1955 Mille Miglia win in the 300SLR, maintaining an average speed of 99mph throughout the arduous 1000-mile rally round Italy. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Pur Sang Type 35 is a replica that refuses to be called one, and very rightly so. The company specialises in recreating iconic pre-war vehicles such as the Alfa Romeo 6C and the Bugatti Type 35 seen here, and they’re done to the exact original specifications — authentic materials, identical construction methods. The result doesn’t just pay homage to the originals, but also a convenient way of allowing the full thrashing action of these stunning vehicles without the enthusiasts getting paranoid about possible damage. Pur Sang, we salute you.
The Bugatti EB110 might be the early 90s hypercar that nobody’s heard of. The last of the Italian Bugattis, mounted midships within its carbon tub structure is this beast of a motor, a V12 displacing 3.5L and boosted byfour turbos, driving all four wheels through a six-speed manual, it clocked 0–100 km/h at 3.2s, and posted a whopping 342km/h top speed. Styled by Marcello Gandini of Miura, Countach, Stratos, (and Berlina) fame, to name a few, it was (and still is) very relevant today. It’s the second time for me to see these cars in person, the last time being at Classic Remise Berlin, and not one but two at a time — a normal and a Supersports side by side. To me it certainly brought back memories of flipping through the Bburago catalogue when I was 4, 5-ish, gazing at the 1:24 scale Le Mans Blue EB110, rather puzzled by its daring lines. By the way, maybe it’s just me, but I cannot un-see the Z32 Fairlady 300ZX in it, though it’s most obvious who copied whom.
The McLaren F1 needs no introduction. Envisaged by Gordon Murray who led the McLaren-Honda team then, it drew inspiration from the revolutionary Honda NSX, which impressed the designer so much that he decided to have a go himself by marrying its concept with the Formula 1 racing technology of the time, of which he naturally possessed. The unitary carbon fibre construction housed a cab-forward design with excellent visibility, and a driver position at the centre of the car and 2 passenger seats behind on either side. Power is from a BMW-derived 6L V12 which famously utilised gold plating in pursuit of a high heat (and therefore cooling) efficiency, pushing out 627bhp; while the all round double wishbones allowed for more longitudinal than vertical play to achieve a balance between high speed stability and cornering sharpness. With a curb weight of around 1130kg, it held the title of the fastest production road car for 12 years since 1993, came 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th in the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hours, and remained competitive till the late 90s on endurance competitions like and the FIA GT and JGTC Championships.
This Ferrari 195 Inter was something entirely new to me, and probably the rarest car at the event — only 27 examples were ever produced. Ferrari was still in its infancy during the 50s, but the renowned Colombo V12, here in its 2.3L guise, would certainly be familiar to all Ferrari aficionados — it’s the maxim of founder Enzo Ferrari and therefore the spirit of the company, the V12 layout being inherently balanced but provided the perfect architecture for performance development. Coachwork was by Ghia, with fully integrated wings and smooth flowing, slightly bulbous volumes, the overall effect being rather baroque but still easy to the eye. Unfortunately, Ghia was absorbed into Ford in the early 70s, and till this day traces of the coachbuilder could only be found in some trim levels of Ford products. Again, I really should begin the discourse on the great Italian Carrozzerias soon.
Hidden deep within the garden landscape is an Aston Martin area set up as a dedicated pavilion. There’s the DB5, complete in the correct silver as inGoldfinger sans the Bond gadgets of course; while the DB6 next to it in the same colours provided a neat contrast, the latter a more relaxed GT to suit the period tastes. Another Lagonda, this time finished in an elegant dark blue, complete with colour-matching wheel trims. Due to the barriers it was impossible to peer into the futuristic interior and try my chances at spotting those infamous CRT screens on the dashboard. Next to this V12 Zagato in bright green is its elder sibling, a Vantage Volante Zagato, which I’m almost certain was the exact car at the Aston Workshop in County Durham in July. Who would’ve expected our reunion that soon? Looks like I should send the photos back to UK!
Yet more points of interest include a C2 Corvette Stingray, although not of the 1963-model-year-only split window variety; the mid-90s rally giants — the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition (known in its circles as the Evo 6.5), and the Subaru Impreza STi 22B; an Audi Quattro Coupe LWB, and a BMW Z1, both in RHD format, a stock Skyline GTR R32 (my favourite generation) next to an R33 Nismo 400R and an R34 Nismo Z-Tune; a Porsche 901 complete with Fuchs alloys; a 190E EVO II 2.5–16 Cosworth; and other late 80s/early 90s supercar greats including the Jaguar XJ220, the Porsche 959, and the Ferrari F40; just to name a few.
Some points worth considering for the next event, if it’s going to happen:
· The entry fee of $100 HKD (approx. £10) was pretty reasonable, especially considering the vehicles on display — rare and iconic, a feast for the eyes but eye-watering in value; however, the ticketing arrangements could be improved.
· The site was well selected for prestigious events like these, but was rather constrained in terms of space and layout, therefore rendering all the exhibits strictly as static displays only. No demonstration runs, startups and revving to be had. At all.
· The barriers round the cars were a bit of an overkill — surely we all know how incredibly valuable all these motors were, and nobody in their right mind would risk causing any damage; together with the fair number of security guards on site, it seems preposterous to go to such ends to organise such an event, only to deprive the visitors from getting a closer look at the exotic mechanical layouts and exquisite interior craftsmanship of the exhibits.
· It’s still a first time and I do appreciate the organiser’s ability to attract so many owners to display their prized and priceless collection, but many of the vehicles were just fairly recent imports, mainly from UK, and probably couldn’t be licensed on HK roads. It’s about time that the interested parties and the general public alike should consider suitable empowerment tactics to seek reasonable breathing space for Hong Kong’s car culture.
· It’s still that bit short from a proper car show without even one single Alfa Romeo in it!
Anyway, still very much looking forward to the next event. Till then.