Late November’s Celebration of the Motorcar, in Perth, Australia found just four votes separating the top three Best of Show contenders.
A total of 170 cars, with a minimum combined value of Au$35million, were spread across three levels of the magnificent Cottesloe Civic Centre gardens. Many of the cars had never been seen before and included a just-completed fully restored 1899 Renault.
The People’s Choice Award went to a superb 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom Continental—winning by just a single vote—from a 1990 Ferrari F40, with the 1899 Renault only three more votes behind.
The Rolls-Royce started life as a 4-door saloon, but ended up in California in the 1950s where it was later converted to a mobile crane in a wrecker’s yard. It was dismantled in the 1970s and stored in a warehouse for the next 30 years. In 2005, it went to Switzerland for restoration, but the owner lost interest and it then arrived in Australia in 2007 to undergo a full restoration with a new body by Perth coachbuilder Roger Fry and Sons.
The Renault, owned by Peter Briggs and restored by Sorrento’s Lindsay Taylor, was, despite the car’s diminutive proportions, a mammoth work. One of only five still existing worldwide from an original total production of about 150, the one-cylinder, 273-cc, 1.75hp voiturette was way ahead of its time with a three-speed gearbox along with a Louis Renault patented direct drive to the rear axle via a propshaft and crownwheel and pinion.
Another historic car was the 1935 Bugatti Type 57TT racer, the sole one with the original factory body. With its 3.2-liter straight-eight engine it began life as a Ventoux coupe and was converted by the Bugatti works for the 1935 Ulster TT, where it was driven by the fabled Earl Howe averaging 79.72mph. Later it became the personal transport of French racing ace Jean-Pierre Wimille,
before being sold to Pierre Levegh, and was next bought by Australian driver Duncan Ord in 1938. In Western Australia, it set records at Albany, Pingelly, Applecross and Caversham, and then had several more owners, one of who shortened the chassis and changed the body. Perth’s Jim Krajancich rescued it in 1957.
Beneficiary from the day was Wheels of Hope, an organization which provides transport for families with disabilities.