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Tribute to early Australian racing specials

Belying the modern idiom that Australia's most famous motor race, Bathurst, is all about sedans, Motorclassica 2014 will this year feature a display paying tribute to the early days of the sport in this country.

Motorclassica, to be held at Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building from October24-26, will feature a display of Australian Specials - those home-grown machines built with ingenuity but not much money, that took on the thoroughbreds from Europe.

And something that these Australian Specials have in common is that almost all of them raced at Bathurst at some point in their lengthy careers.

"Think Bathurst and you think Touring Cars, but these machines are nothing like what you imagine today... they are an amazing and eclectic collection of home-built vehicles with all sorts of weird and wonderful mechanical configurations," said Motorclassica event director, Paul Mathers.

"Back in those early days of the sport in this country, there was more enthusiasm than money, so it was perfectly normal for drivers to build their own racing car out of whatever they could lay their hands on... our Australian Specials display is a tribute to these men and machines.

"We're delighted to be able to present so many significant cars of the period, it's a credit to the sport's historians that these vehicles have survived."

Among the oldest vehicles on display is a 1934 MG P Type Special that was imported as a chassis and bodied locally in a manner to give its driver, Les Murphy, a performance edge. It enabled him to win both the 1934 and 1935 Australian Grands Prix.

Of similar vintage and heritage is the 1935 Kleinig Hudson, built by Frank Kleinig on an MG chassis but with a supercharged straight-8 Miller engine. It went on to hold the Australian Land Speed Record, set a lap record at Bathurst, and contested the Australian Grand Prix seven times between 1938 and 1954.

Then there's the 1953 MM Special, built by Lou Molina in his backyard, this Holden powered device made its debut just streets away from the Royal Exhibition Building at the 1953 Albert Park Grand Prix before racing regularly around Australia and New Zealand.

Queensland Glyn Scott was active around this time too, building the 1957 Scott Special Repco Holden - basically a copy of Jack Brabham's Cooper-Bristol. It won on debut at Bathurst, before further success and a succession of owners.

There's also the 1932 Ford V8 Parsons & Phillips Special, the 1953 JSR, the 1939 BWA and more as Motorclassica recognises this unique period in the sport's history in Australia.

Motorclassica 2014 will also celebrate 100 years of the legendary Italian marque, Maserati, with a special display of landmark road and racing cars, and 50 years of the Ford Mustang with a line-up of its most significant models.

Fifty years ago too Donald Campbell drove his Bluebird CN7 to a new World Land Speed Record at Lake Eyre in South Australia, and then, on the very last day of 1964, piloted his Bluebird K7 hydroplane to a new World Water Speed Record on Lake Dumbleyung in Western Australia.

In doing so he became the first and only person in history to do 'the double' in the same year.

In recognition, Motorclassica will this year pay tribute to the iconic British adventurer with both a special display of Bluebird artefacts and memorabilia dubbed '50 years of Speed presented by Longines' and a visit from Donald Campbell's daughter, Gina Campbell.

Along with the Maserati and Mustang displays, there will be more than 150 cars and motorcycles on show inside the historic 19th century halls of the Royal Exhibition Building, plus another 380 cars and motorcycles over the weekend in the adjacent Lorbek Luxury Cars supported 'Club Sandwich' club displays.

A collector car auction completes the weekend's packed program.

The fifth-annual Motorclassica will be staged once again at Melbourne's magnificent World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building on October 24-26.

Additional information is available at www.motorclassica.com.au

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