I’ll be the first to admit that I know nothing about cars – it’s not something that I can claim expertise on. However, I do have a thing for vintage and classic things, so while researching my trip to Melbourne, I came across the Fox Classic Car Collection, and I knew I had to check it out.
Fox is an Australian businessman best known as the founder and chairman of his family-owned trucking and logistics company, Linfox. Fox has a passion for classic vehicles and has been collecting for a number of years. These cars are on display for the public to view and enjoy, located in the Queen’s Warehouse in the Melbourne Docklands precinct.
The Queen’s Warehouse is also an interesting venue, as it used to be Australia’s Customs Building pre 19th century, and taken over temporarily by the Department of Treasury in the 1920s where the first Australian bank notes were printed. The Fox Classic Car Collection includes more than 50 prestige vehicles collected over a 30 year period by Fox. The collection includes Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Porsche and Mercedes Benz marques.
Here are some highlights.
Mercedes Benz 190E Evolution
This car was previously owned by a world renowned heart surgeon Victor Chang, who lobbied to create a heart transplant program in St. Vincent’s Hospital in 1980. 4 years later, he and his team performed a transplant on a 14 year old young girl, who became Australia’s youngest heart transplant patient. Unfortunately, he was shot to death after a failed extortion attempt in 1991 and was left dead in a gutter.
The 190E was modified from the highly reputable 190 to match the requirements of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) (German Touring Car Championship) motor sport series. Mercedes had spent £600 million into researching and developing the 190 and debuted the 190E in Frankfurt in 1983. The Evolution was further enhanced in 1989 as a response to BMW’s M3 Sport Evolution, with changes to the brakes and suspension to make the car more effective on the tracks.
Porsche 550 / 1500 RS Spyder
Best known for the car that James Dean was driving when met with his fatal accident. Dean’s car was the 55th car that was built – this particular car in the collection is number 56. Most of us would have pronounced this the way it was written, as “spy-der”. However, the correct way to read it is “sh-peeder”.
The car is extremely light weight and very much built for racing, and has been raced many times in the New Zealand Grand Prix by Frank Klonig and in a few hill races as well. One interesting thing that I noted about the car was that there is a little hatch cover that closes off the passenger side, and apparently it is meant to improve aerodynamics of the car when there is no passenger.
A lovely bright blue colour, it is one of my favourite cars in the collection, but probably the most uncomfortable car to drive. As compared to conventional cars, the car seat is really low, and the wind shield is tiny as well, which pretty much meant you had to wear goggles while driving. Absolutely beautiful car, but really not for regular road driving. Put this baby on the race track where it belongs.
A classic car collection wouldn’t be complete without a Ferrari. The 1988 Ferrari F40 – Such an iconic car, and probably the last car that was built before Enzo Ferrari’s death. This car was, at one time, the fastest car in the world.
An 8-cylinder engine car as compared to the similarly fast 6-cylinder Porsche 959, it was built at the height of the rivalry between Porsche and Ferrari. Both car manufacturers were in deep competition at that time to build the world’s fastest cars, and while Porsche’s focus was their technology, Ferrari went back to the basics.
The F40 was one of the first cars to use carbon fibre as the material for the body of the car, as compared to steel or aluminium. Ferrari went to great lengths to ensure that the care was as light as possible. The coat of paint was so light that at some angles you could almost see the carbon fibre surface, whereas other cars generally had a primer and multiple coats of paint.
This car was that bare to the bones that it did not even have door handles, only a wire that you pull to open the door! A pioneer in car manufacturing, the F40 paved the way for future cars to begin utilising carbon fibre to build their super cars.
Another celebrity car, this time it’s not just related, it is the car! Previously owned by Ringo Starr of The Beatles, this luxury 6-door sedan has also been featured in some of his movies. Technologically very advanced for those days, this car had hydraulic suspensions that operates various parts such as the boot. A very powerful car with a 6.3L V8 engine, and ridiculously costly to maintain. But hey, if you have the money to buy a car like this, I’d expect you’d have the money to maintain it.
The Pullman made an appearance in The Beatles’ final rooftop concert. Honestly, instead of calling it a car, I’d much rather call it a super limousine. It has a TV, a sound system and also extremely spacious.
TIP: Well if you’re looking to get a classic car of your own, one little thing I learnt at this collection is that there are collectors who sell such luxury cars on Ebay! I thought it strange at first, but it does make sense though – if only available at auction houses, sellers limit the sale of their cars to interest within the region or country. On Ebay, you’re looking at a global audience – well, that is the point of Ebay now isn’t it?
The collection closes for the Australian summer from 2nd December 2015, but will re-open again in February next year. Start planning your Melbourne trip now!