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Home  /  March 2018  /  Reviews

The Weekend Australian motoring in the business section auction special and we’ll be asking the tough questions like: who would pay $250,000 for a 1975 BMW 2002 Turbo? And why would you pay $275,000 for a used 1977 Torana?

But don’t worry. If we have time we’ll also be looking at the latest developments in Mazda­gate, VW Dieselgate, Ferrari­gate. We’ll pick some winners in next week’s St Kilda F1 and even profile the man building a new old mini that can be yours for $175,000.

Six big auctions to review. Five in Amelia Island, the pearl of the barrier islands flanking Florida and one in St Leonards, the pearl of the warehouses flanking the ­Artarmon light industrial estate.

For the second year running, heavy rain changed the auction schedules, which may have contributed to soft sales. But I don’t think so. Only eight cars made more than $2 million: three Feezers, two Porkers, a McLaren and a Ford GT. Naturally, a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB took top billing, at $3.2m, just in front of a 2003 Enzo and ­another 275 GTB.

I don’t think anyone checked if their speedos had been wound back. But the moral of the top end sales was, if you have an air-cooled Porker, don’t sell it or at least ring me for a good price.

Eight of the top 20 cars sold were Porkers and five of them were from the 1990s.

Across the auction, VW Beetles sold well. RM Sotheby’s got the top price award for hammering down a 1956 convertible for $100,000.

Advisory note to hipsters who are contemplating buying one to look cool driving around Brisbane’s or Sydney’s Paddington: these are death machines!!! Not only do they not like anything but straight roads, they love tipping over on their roofs and they are guaranteed to do it if you have nicked a mate’s father’s car and taken it for a midnight spin in the rain. Not that I ever did that.

Talking of VWs, this paper’s Ben Packham broke a huge story this week when he revealed world-first testing in Australia on recalled VW cars shows they use up to 14 per cent more fuel after an ­enforced pollution fix, and still emit four times the allowable level of noxious gases.

“The tests, conducted by the Australian Automobile Association in conjunction with the Paris-based Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, were carried out in real driving conditions — not laboratories — before and after the VW recall to rectify performance and pollution problems hidden by illegal defeat-device” software,” his report said.

“The tests found a 2010 Golf 2.0 turbo diesel wagon used an average 7 per cent more fuel after the recall fix, which is 26 per cent higher than the car’s stated fuel ­efficiency level”.

VW rejected the test results, saying recalled vehicles continued to satisfy Australian and European emissions standards. But who cares? Certainly not Matty Muller, the boss of Volkswagen, whose pay jumped 40 per cent to $16m for doing such a good job.

In another exclusive, the newspaper of record, The Shovel, broke the story that VW “was in further strife after the carmaker admitted its range of Polos have been pre-installed with ‘pretentious wankers’ ”.

“The company admitted 11 million of its cars were fitted with graphic designers, art directors and digital strategists whose verbal emissions were highly toxic,” The Shovel said.

Anyway, back to the pearl of the barrier islands and can I point you to the 1975 BMW 2002 Turbo that brought a world record price of $250,000. Seriously, you could put a deposit down on a flat in Sydney’s western suburbs for 250 big ones. On top of that, Weekend Australian Racing Team member David Dye, who owns 3MW the BMW specialist in Perth (he’s like Michael McMichael but without the same brain surgery and nude faith healing qualifications) talked me out of buying one a few years ago at $100,000 because he said the price had peaked.

Over the past five years, prices of these little bricks have gone up 200 per cent.

Meanwhile, at St Leonards/Artarmon, the warehouses were abuzz about the Shannons Sydney autumn classic car sale. Old number plates brought higher prices than most of the cars in Amelia ­Island. Plates 368, 261 and 251 all made more than $200,000. In the car department, the 1977 Holden LX Torana A9X sold for $275,000; the 1995 Mazda RX-7SP went for $112,000; and Mini Coopers are unstoppable: a blue, white-roofed Cooper made $45,000. My choice, the black under­taker’s 1962 Ford XL ute with the V8 brought a respectable $37,000.

Talking of Minis, David Brown (but not the Aston Martin David Brown: he died in 1993 so it’s unlikely he’s come back) is remaking a new car, the Speedback GT and an old car, the Mini. David’s remastered Mini is basically an old car that is stripped down and given a new structure and exterior body shell and an extraordinary interior and can be in your driveway for only $175,000.

The Speedback looks like a 1960s Aston but has a Jaguar XKR chassis and parts underneath. The 420kW, 5-litre twin scroll supercharged V8 is good for 0 to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds and is yours for $1.12m drive away with lots to pay.

A number of you have asked me about getting a foot in the water in motorsport at a reasonable price. I recommend (because I use him) Phil Alexander at www.raceawaytracktime.com.au.

For advice and personal coaching and exotic drives away, talk to Luke O’Neill (www.longroup.com.au) and for rallying Mick Ryan (www.rallyschool.com.au).

And Talking of next week’s F1 race round the streets of Albert Park Lake, can I suggest the podium will be Hamo, Seb and Max the Man. Otherwise it will be another three drivers.­

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