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Home  /  February 2018  /  Reviews

Bonjour (that means hello in French) readers.

It’s been a big week in Paris. Torrential rain has taken the Seine so high it’s covering some of the legs of the Zouave statue on the Pont d’Alma (Pont means bridge in French). Georgie Diebolt carved the statue of the balding overdressed French soldier and everyone looks at how far the water is up his person to decide whether Paris will soon look more like Venice, Italy or Broadbeach Waters (without the bull sharks), Queensland.

So, there was only one question. Do I feel lucky? Do I feel lucky enough to walk the five minutes from the Hotel le Cinq Codet to the RM Sotheby’s tent at Place Vauban or stay in l’hotel where rooms evoke a je ne sais quoi of ocean liners of times gone by and the restaurant has an open fire that heats you on the outside while the veal stew with sweet spices, eggplant and sesame ($33) and Le 1876s (Tequila Patron Silver, Campari, Fish Cream, Lemon Juice, Lemonade, $25) warm you on the inside and where I can watch the auction streaming live? Readers and others, you already know the answer — like you knew Clint Eastwood had fired six rounds when he asked Albert Popwell the same question, when he lay on the ground bleeding but was reaching for his rifle.

Anyway, just like we saw in Scottsdale (where the weather was warmer but the food and wine weren’t as good), prices were down and some big names didn’t sell. Chanteur (singer) Johnny Halliday’s 1965 Iso Grifo was passed in, as was the Ferrari 166MM raced in the 1953/54 Mille Miglia and featured in Kirk Douglas film The Racers. The 2017 Bugatti Chiron did sell at $5.1 million and the Ferrari F40 at $1.5m.

Look, there were lots of million-dollar sales at RM and the other two Paris auctions this week but really, isn’t it time we all took a cold shower? Paying anything from a $1m to $30m for a very old used car is getting to be a big nothingburger. As Road & Track magazine’s headline put it this week, Ferrari Doesn’t Make Anything Close to the McLaren Senna: “For $1.3m plus taxes, McLaren gives you a new car that runs the quarter mile in 9.9 seconds and has 800kg of downforce for those 250km/h corners. Yes please.”

The 4-litre twin-turbocharged delivers 800Nm and is the most powerful internal combustion engine McLaren has ever built. The whole thing is built of carbon fibre except for the door panels, which are glass. Leaving the traffic lights on the corner of Flinders and Exhibition Streets you get to 100km/h in 2.7 seconds and in another four seconds you are just over the speed limit at 200km/h.

And it’s over a million cheaper than the new Koenigsegg the Swedes will be launching at the Geneva Motor Show next month. An Aussie has already bought one.

Moving right along: As you know it’s not often that we take any notice of press releases here at motoring in the business section of possibly the world’s greatest multimedia platform, The Weekend Australian. But this week, a notice of such importance that we felt, in the interests of ensuring you are completely on top of every major global development in the car caper, we should bring to your attention. It was issued by the ­RaceAway Track Time Team.

“They have torn up the track at 24 Hours of Lemons, they have conquered the Marulan Cheap Car Challenge, and now the father-and-son duo of John and Tom Connolly will take on one of the longest-standing club-level endurance races in Australia — the Wakefield 300 — to be held next weekend, surprisingly, at the Wakefield Park motor racing track near Goulburn.

“John Connolly is familiar to many car enthusiasts as the motoring writer for The Weekend Australian, while Tom also enjoys the challenge of testing his skills on racing circuits.

“The pair have finetuned their craft in RaceAway Track Time’s fleet of race cars, and will make their Wakefield 300 debut in the RaceAway Mazda NC MX5.

“John Connolly said the event was a logical progression for his and Tom’s racing careers.

‘‘Last year the father-and-son team of Craig and Adam Burgess took back-to-back victories in the Wakefield 300 and it’s time they got some real competition. Just because they race in a Ginetta G50 and are much better drivers than us, there’s no reason our Mazda MX5 can’t be there threatening them at the finish. Tom and I have driven badly at tracks around the world and we did really well driving dog sleds during a week-long blizzard in the Arctic Circle. Phil Alexander has blended all that experience including really poor results in the 24 Hours of Lemons and Marulan Enduros into making us the top combo we are today.”

RaceAway Track Time team owner Phil Alexander is excited to give the Connollys the opportunity to tackle the 300. “John and Tom have done a lot of motorsport activity with us — track days and race events. Their dog sledding abilities are second to none. While John has serious doubts about the Mazda CX-5, the MX5s are popular cars for the 300s because they’re reliable and consistent, so hopefully John and Tom can get through at least 10 laps.

“While The Weekend Australian Racing Team is sponsoring the car, I believe John and Tom will be giving away only a very few limited edition Australian pens that don’t work and even fewer Australian T-shirts that have faded in the warehouse and are too small even for your children. Remember don’t ever wash them because they will shrink even further and the colour runs badly,” Phil said.

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