Classic car shows must try harder

Classic car events have followed mostly the same structure and approach for decades. The cars you wanted see aren’t there, there’s bad coffee, there’s an auction, there’s a concours, there are volume sellers your grandma wouldn’t touch, there are bored wives, girlfriends and tired kids…

The likes of Goodwood is the exception, but not every classic car show can be like Goodwood. The UK has enormous history in the automotive sector and with wealth passed through generations, there are plenty of crowd pulling rarities at disposal. Similarly for Pebble Beach in the USA. 

Photo: David Merrett

The mistake of many classic car events is trying to emulate the likes of Goodwood and Pebble Beach with most coming off as a poor imitation resulting in an underwhelming experience.  

If you go to enough of these things, like most cars and coffee events, it’s usually the same old cars attending. Where cars and coffee differs is it’s (mostly) casual approach. No entry fee, no big promises, just people who love cars getting together trying to convince the next guy (and themselves) how special their Porsche 924 is.


Photo: Luftgekühlt

Speaking of Porsche, the Luftgekühlt event may appear elitist at times as cash up neunelfer fanatics compete to outdo one another with rusted (bonus points!) barn finds and nut and bolt $200,000 restorations. But that’s just one cynical view of a multi-faceted scene where Le Mans winners mix with cars that have traveled the world carrying all the authentic bumps and bruises. There’s the odd oddity and the usual crazy build under the guise of “a 911 can do anything, even crochet a scarf on the move”. 

The organisers know how to shake things up, however. The last Luftgekühlt event was exactly what we need. A car show that’s been curated and lovingly and painstakingly organised to provide something different. Every car positioned carefully against a back drop to create endless photo opportunities for everyone from professional photographers right down to us Instagram hacks.


Photo: Cnet

Radwood is another that has tried to embody much more than car culture, extending the experience to fashion and everything else typically 80’s. 

I’m waiting for an Australian version of Radwood but I suspect it would turn out to be a PC version of Summernats, unless it took a leaf out of the Luftgekühlt book and was curated. Australia has its fair share of wild muscle cars from the 80s but also plenty of Japanese with just enough European metal to make it feel authentic. 

I also have the perfect location: Sydney’s Bondi beach. There’s parking on the beach to showcase cars, the sand and waves to flaunt bright coloured T&C and Billabong tank tops and Okanui’s, while the skate bowl has Steve Caballero and Christian Hosoi riding around in exhibition. The list of potential sponsors is actually quite lengthy with marketing and brand opportunities aplenty.

Stop the boring

A car parked in a hall with a stand next to it that rattles of some specs doesn’t tell me a story. And a few over exposed flashlit pictures of it being built is not enough.

I don’t blame the owners of the cars. It’s not their job to figure out how to entertain the crowds and get them excited about classic cars, the scene, or the likeminded cultures that fit so well.

Lazy marketing such as “A great day out for the whole family” just doesn’t cut it. That tagline is so far beyond vanilla, it’s rancid sour cream. 

These classic car shows have a certain responsibility. If classic car ownership and usage is to continue to be a viable pastime, then education and interest for younger generations is paramount. Apathy will be the death knell. Let’s rethink this and make sure we don’t get caught up in our own little clique.

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At Privateer Garage we love products with great design, and experiences that are memorable and bring together the tactile nature of print through books and other media, an appreciation for photography, a nod to heritage and style inspired by classic pieces, and travel stories which feed the bug.

All of this is bound together by our love of the automobile.

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