Give a hoot

Jaguar owners of this car world are about to converge on Victor Harbor, then take the A13 highway to join classic and vintage car owners and roll on through McLaren Vale. It’s a classic month.

It is rather fitting that the annual McLaren Vale Vintage and Classic – an event for petrolheads of this world – will be launched with a brilliant art show A Moment in Time at the local Tourist Information Centre.

This free exhibition runs from March 9 and ends April 22 – the day of the classic, which would not have started 13 years ago had Trevor Sharp’s dad, Len, had a moment in time when he put the finishing touches to the first-ever Holden FX to roll off the assembly line at the Woodville plant 70 years ago this year.

Now 70, Trevor admits to talking cars ever since, and not surprisingly living life through the classics. The first was a white 1960 MG MGA in 1964, then an Austin Healey Sprite Mark II, and… We won’t go through the list of 70-plus cars he bought-and-sold including a Holden Sandman that he once used for work as a builder.

Diehard car buffs also read magazines hoping to see their model featured, and while flicking through the Classic Motor Monthly from the United Kingdom Trevor spotted a story how

a small town was missing out on tourists because it was being bypassed by the M6 motorway. It led to the villagers organising a display of classic and vintage cars down the main street and 125,000 buffs turned up.

As the local business association chairman, a term that ended after 25 years last July, Trevor thought to himself: “We could do something like that here in McLaren Vale.”

Trevor’s idea was to get the tourists off the A13 and experience everything McLaren had to offer… friendly locals, the vines, sensational coffee shops and eateries, maybe a whiff of sea spray. Most of all, invite them to stay the night.

“We started with almost 60 cars in 2006,” Trevor said. “We had hardly anyone down the street watching, maybe Joe Bloggs walking by, and it progressed from there.

“We did five years before we started to get a crowd at the top end of the street, and last year culminated in the biggest ever starting at Serafino Winery on Kangarilla Rd with people lined-up to the main road and for 2km beyond.

“They stood side-by-side five or six deep. The police said there were almost 20,000 there, and the feedback from businesses was great – the best event in McLaren Vale.

“We are proud that the event brings people into the town and every cafe is booked out; at times they struggle to cope and they’re that busy they put extra coffee machines out on the footpaths. Then they still can’t keep up.”

The vintage and classic event has proved an outstanding initiative by the McLaren Vale Business and Tourism Association and deservingly has earned numerous awards including City of Onkaparinga Australia Day Award for Best Community Event; the Main Street Program SA chose is as the best event in 2014-15 and this year inducted it into its Hall of Fame. Tourism SA has also weighed in with silver and bronze medals.

But like just about every community event, this is about a beautiful town and its beautiful people sharing a wonderful experience; getting to know McLaren Vale, and it’s free.

The A Moment in Time art show will feature a green fibreglass two-stroke Goggamobil owned by the key sponsor Shannons, with the whole idea of promoting the genuine cars.

For the past eight years there has been a charity dinner with past guest speakers including motorsport icons Vern Schuppan, Alan Jones, Larry Perkins and rally driver Ed Ordinsky, and this year Colin Bond, who in 1974 became the only Australian to win Australian Rally and Australian Touring Car Championship at Bathurst in the same year.

The $25-a-head dinner has raised $40,000 over the past five years for the McLaren Vale & Districts War Memorial Hospital to purchase special equipment to benefit the community. It has also raised much-needed funds for the local CFS units. You’re welcome to attend the dinner.

Trevor said the feature event, the parade of some really classic and vintage vehicles, stood out from others because the cars gather at Serafino Winery on the Sunday morning and are placed in categories of make. They roll down the main street amidst the awe of thousands at 11am, and then all the MG cars, Jags, Mustangs and so on drive in their respective groups to one of 10 participating wineries and show them off to those who have a picnic and listen to music on the lawns.

It’s a great day, and this 13th vintage and classic would not be possible without the 60-or-so volunteers, plus every sponsor and the local council.

“It is a special day for all car enthusiasts,” Trevor said. But then, every day is special for these car buffs, like the countless days over almost three years he spent with his grandson, Robbie, 16, working on a silver 1971 MGB/GT.

“To me that is the secret of these cars,” Trevor said. “It’s a passion and they cost money, and yes I suppose there can be bragging rights, but they are really a lot more. The bond you have with car people encompasses friendships, and once you have cars in your blood you see life differently.”
And the Joe Bloggs and Fred Nerks of this world are among those seeing life in that hamlet in the UK and now McLaren Vale differently also. It is certainly special, and something to brag about.

The wineries involved in the 2018 McLaren Vale Vintage & Classic are: Molly Dooker, Serafino, Hardy’s Tintara, Fox Creek, Angove, Paxton, Woodstock, Penny’s Hill, Doc Adams, Hastwell & Lightfoot.


… and the Jags are coming

Drive carefully next month – there are going to be a lot of expensive and classic cars on roads across the Fleurieu Peninsula as its hosts the National Jaguar Rally in Victor Harbor from April 16-20.

More than 80 Jaguars, some of the finest machines on wheels from all over Australia, will tour the region and be displayed at Warland Reserve on Thursday, April 19. Making it special will be the showcasing of the XK120 model, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary of rolling off the production line at the famous Jaguar Holbrook Lane, Coventry plant.

The superbly restored Jaguars coming here are all special, including the XKC models pictured above, a racing sports car built and sold from 1951 to 1953.

The annual rally follows a tour of the Barossa Valley, and leads into the McLaren Vale Vintage and Classic Event, where the Jags and their owners will be hosted by Penny’s Hill Winery.

The National Jaguar Rally is obviously a boost for local tourism – please welcome the Jags.