McLaren Vale Vintage & Classic Day

A superb autumn day, hundreds of classic cars and one of the worlds premiere wine regions are the three main ingredients that have contributed to quickly making the McLaren Vale Vintage and Classic Day one of the highlights of the South Australian classic car calendar.

The thing that sets this event apart is it’s core concept and the way it embraces the region. All cars met at Serafino wines for an informal show before parading through the main street of McLaren Vale at 11am. From there, the various car clubs head to an assigned winery in the area to hold a small show, so the end result is eight or ten small shows within a ten minute drive.

You get a living, breathing, moving car show. And it’s a fantastic day out. Each type of car is displayed in a different environment and in a different context. And some of the best cars you see are the ones you spot while driving around between the different wineries. The whole region was alive with classic cars – sitting having lunch at about 2pm in McLaren Vale, there was a constant stream of lumpy muscle cars, old Porsche’s and Corvette’s, Jaguar’s, Mercedes, Rolls Royce and MG’s just cruising past.

The event was no doubt helped no end by the weather. The morning started off as one of those stunningly crisp and balmy autumn mornings, the mornings that are just so beautiful and made even more so by the knowledge that winter isn’t far away. This probably helped to get a lot of the cars out of their garages for the day, and whilst the dark clouds soon rolled in the rain kept away. 

Unfortunately I missed the morning, although I still made it around to a few winery displays around lunchtime and in the afternoon. The McLaren Vale visitor centre was filled with a combination of British cars and GT Falcons. There was one other GT in attendance of rather more interest, however. The single best thing about the new (well, 2005) GT is how Ford stayed true to the original concept and design – it just looks like a slightly updated version of the venerable GT40.

I love how overtly British some of these cars are. This Rover actually wears a Druid as its emblem. Short of actually being a Druid, I don’t think it’s possible to be more British.

It seems like this Armstrong-Sidley has a Pharaoh atop the radiator. I wonder if this had anything to do with the British occupation of Egypt which ended in 1914, or maybe it’s just coincidence. The British still had troops in Egypt until 1954 which would have been around the time this car was built.

I then went to Hardy’s Tintara Wines in the heart of McLaren Vale to see the MG, Austin Healey, Sprite and MX5 clubs.

The stories of British cars leaking oil are most certainly true.

Although they have a certain style and charm that can be replicated by few, and a rugged simpleness that makes them ideal classics for people who like to do the work themselves. And at the end of the day, oil drip trays are cheap, right?

Next up was Penny’s Hill Wines to see the Sporting Car Club of SA and the Chrysler Car Club.

I guess you’ve got to have a sense of humour to drive a Messerschmitt.

I really dug the pipes on this Carrera. From 356 Carrera to GT3 Cup, this is exactly how the exhausts on factory race Porsche’s are done – you can keep your tips and polished stainless steel.

The final winery to visit was Lazy Ballerina to see the Fiat Lancia, Scuderia Italian and Citroen clubs. Although I’ve regularly driven past it and actually competed in the dusty Kuitpo Forest Rally held just 100m across the road, I’ve never been to Lazy Ballerina before and suffice to say it took my breath away. The proprietors are friendly and the picturesque setting just has to be seen. From what I saw it was definitely the pick of the venues.

And what’s more, Lazy Ballerina had even organised a band playing the best of Clapton, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones well into the afternoon.

The female lead singer even owned a Fiat Spider back in California in the 80’s, and currently gets around on a 70’s Harley Davidson here in Adelaide. Even more proof that music, sports cars and motorcycles go hand in hand.

My parents had brought along their ’79 Fiat X1/9…

… but the unquestionable car of the day for me was this Lamborghini Urraco. It really is the perfect car – wedgy good looks, enough old world charm to remind you of what a sports car should be, still properly fast by modern day standards and nobody has a clue what it is!

Make sure you get out and be part of this event next year. I was surprised by how many people didn’t know about it, and with the right weather and the right friends the McLaren Vale Vintage and Classic day is a perfect day out.

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  1. abauerporsche May 2, 2012 Reply

    Reblogged this on The Porsche Independent Repair and commented:
    What a super place in the world to find that huge of a collection of enthusiast sport cars.

  2. pjrebordao May 2, 2012 Reply

    Fantastic photos!

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