Climb to the Eagle 2012

The Climb to the Eagle is without a doubt one of the highlights of the Adelaide automotive calendar. The event has now become a first Friday of November institution for all of us, signalling that the start of the summer season is not far away.

What could be better than skipping work on a sunny Friday morning to go hang out with a cool bunch of guys and a couple of hundred classic and sports cars on an old F1 track?

And not only that, but after checking out the cars, you get to go and sit on the side of the road in the hills and watch them all roar past. And what’s more, it doesn’t even cost you a cent. You can then roll back into work around mid morning, still on high from the morning’s activity. Brilliant.

The idea for Climb to the Eagle came from John Blanden, who in 1985 decided to hold a car run in conjunction with the first Adelaide Formula 1 Grand Prix. The Sporting Car Club got behind the idea, and it soon became one of the highlight events of the Grand Prix weekend. Cars would leave from the track, and drive through the city to a morning tea at the Eagle on the Hill hotel. And some pretty big names participated over the years – Sir Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio and Sir Jack Brabham just to name a few.

The cars were even more impressive – A Porsche 962, a Maserati 250F, and Mick Doohan riding his Grand Prix racing bike were just a few of the vehicles to have threaded their way through the Glen Osmond road traffic and on to the Eagle. I have a foggy recollection of going to one in about 1994 when I was six, and it was at that Climb to the Eagle that I saw my first Ferrari F40 in person.

The Climb to the Eagle tradition continues long after Formula 1 was poached from our city, and exactly 27 years to the day since Ayrton Senna qualified on pole for the first Adelaide Grand Prix, the Climb to the Eagle once again gridded up and departed from the start line of the Adelaide Street Circuit at 9am.

The fun of Climb to the Eagle starts long before you actually reach Victoria Park. Seeing an old 911 on the morning commute into the city is rare, but it does happen occasionally…

… however you almost never see one following a JPS F1 World Championship edition Lotus Esprit and a Triumph Stag through the peak hour.

The 300SL is no less breathtaking no matter how many times you see it. I love the dash designs of these old Merc’s, so elegant and timeless yet the form is heavily influenced by usability and ergonomics in a way only the Germans can.

The Climb offers a good chance to compare the generational progression of the automobile. The new XK is a pretty car, but I don’t think it’s a patch on the E-Type.

Nor does it have the sense of free spirited yet refined fun of the XK120. Although to cut the XK some slack, its predecessors are two of the most beautiful cars ever made, and in isolation the new XK is a fine automobile.

The svelte Pininfarina lines of the Dino 246GT stopped tracks back in the day…

… and in this case, I feel that Pininfarina’s modern successor, the Ferrari 360 Modena, is a worthy descendant and the perfect modern interpretation of the smaller, mid engined Ferrari. I know the 430 and 458 are faster, better cars, but for me it’s the 360 that still gets my heart racing. It’s just so beautiful.

There’s something about the Porsche Turbo badge and Martini stripes that just go so well together.

Speaking of things that go well together – Alfa’s and twisty roads.

This little Moke had demon stance with its minilites, the dusty bronze setting the red off perfectly.

The quilted seat trim was pretty cool too.

Moking is good for your health!

Not quite sure on the accuracy of the sticker though, although the two words are probably enough of a contradiction to get away with being sufficiently ironic. Carry on then!

A completely different approach to Moking, courtesy of sunraysia’s…

… and Nanna’s best tablecloth used as seat and roof trim. Only in a Moke could you get away with this.

You don’t see many minters/stockers series 2 205 GTI’s around anymore, particularly in this colour.

It was great to see this black D-Type replica in the natural light. I commented at the Torrens Parade Ground show that the paint on this thing just has to be seen to be believed, and I discovered that it’s another level again in proper daylight.

Hellaflush stance looks hot around the city and sounds like a great idea on the interwebs, but the harsh reality is that it sucks for proper driving. I’d love to say that this Mini was laying fat rubber around the bend, but no, it was merely the outside rear getting seriously intimate with the fender.

Please excuse the rice car freakout for a second.


The badges are easily replicated, but this NSX had the legit titanium NSX-R gearknob, suede dash trimming and a pair of the uber rare red kevlar Recaro’s; all trademarks of the legendary NSX-R. Can any of the Honda fanboys out there positively identify this car as genuine?

Where there are car clubs, there are MX5’s, that’s just the way it goes. The owners of these probably also own British or Italian sports cars, but spend most of their time driving their MX5’s because it’s a lot more enjoyable than being stuck in the shed on a sunny day tracing electrical faults.

But I guess the tradeoff is that when it is working properly, the British or Italian sports car is full of a lot more character than the MX5.

More elegant, too!

These two GT’s would have squared off against each other in the 60’s, so it was fun to watch them chase one another up the Eagle. I think in this case the Jaguar wins on looks, but the V12 Ferrari 330 definitely wins on exhaust note.

So who knows, if the rumours we’ve been hearing about a possible return of Formula 1 to Adelaide are true, maybe in 2015 these people will be assembling their cars just off the track, and they might be joined by a Webber or a Schumacher. Wouldn’t that be nice.

But one thing’s for certain. 3 years of covering the Climb to the Eagle from the sidelines is too many, and next year’s report simply must come from behind the wheel of something. Who know’s, if I stop driving the MX5 on sunny days I might just get that Italian sports car finished in time…

Words and photos by Andrew Coles.

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  1. Leanne Cotton November 8, 2012 Reply

    Thank's for all your hard effort in putting such a wonderful stance on events like this. I've seen both my sons and his friends car on your site and feel very proud. Thankyou

  2. Ray Finkle November 8, 2012 Reply

    Cheers Andrew for making the effort to put this together, din;t realise the event was still held (used to go to this back in the day when the GP was on). Will be sure to attend next year....pity I just missed this years!

    • Andrew Coles November 12, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Ray, it's always the way isn't it? You always manage to hear about these things once it's too late, right?

  3. Brenton Griguol November 26, 2012 Reply

    The 246GT has a lovely signature sticker on the rear window

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