The director of the 2014 Australian International Concours d’Elegance classic car show has been emboldened by its record-breaking foot traffic in 2013, and says more premium brands are preparing to sign on to display their newest models alongside their historic predecessors.
Speaking with CarAdvice today, event director of Melbourne’s Motorclassica Paul Mathers said as many as 10 brands were in the mix in 2014 to display their showroom models at what has traditionally been a classic car gathering, as niche events continue to step into the void vacated by the collapse of the Australian International Motor Show (AIMS) in 2012.
The growth of what remains a smaller-scale event continues a trend from 2013, a year in which Motorclassica lured four luxury brands — notably Mercedes-Benz, which staged the Australian premiere of the S-Class there — and attracted more than 20,000 well-heeled and enthusiastic car fans through the doors of Melbourne’s 133-year old Royal Exhibition Building.
Leading the charge this year will be Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and almost certainly Maserati. Motorclassica is also featuring a range of classic Maseratis as the Italian brand celebrates in 100th anniversary this year.
Mathers said as many as six other mostly very high-end brands were in the mix this year, with talks with four of these relatively advanced, meaning the 2014 event could feature more than double the number of manufacturers jumping on board.
“This event was never meant to be some exclusive boys club,” said Mathers. “The core of Motorclassica was bringing new people in and giving them their introduction to classic motoring and what it means.
“Last year I went on record with you and said this year we’ll have four (brands) and next year we’ll have eight, and I think we might have those eight.
“They’re the ones that have got some provenance, a story to tell. Fingers crossed, not all the deals are done and sometimes it takes time to do that.
“But there’s genuinely significant interest now whereas once upon a time I was calling these companies and a) most of them didn’t know who we were, and b) they were saying ‘yes but you’re about classic cars not selling new cars’.
“I think what we’ve managed to do… is we’ve managed to get the manufacturers’ offices to shift their thinking and to acknowledge firstly there’s value in history and heritage, and secondly, the people that collect cars are the sort of people they want to sell new cars to.”
This development also comes on the same day as former Motorclassica naming rights sponsor, the RACV, announced details of its new co-operative venture with the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) to stage the first Australian Motoring Festival in Melbourne in March 2015.
That event, which aims to entice the majority of Australia’s new-car brands as well as classic cars and motorbikes, will have a much more interactive focus than AIMS, but will operate on a similar, or even larger, scale.
And it is precisely on this point, said Mathers, that this event will have its work cut out for it.
“I wish the VACC all the best but I think it’s a tough job,” said Mathers.
“Consumers are looking for I think is not broad brushstroke events where there’s a whole lot of stuff… at a motorshow you've got to be everything to everybody… I don’t think consumers necessarily want that anymore, they can do their research online.
“I think they're looking for something more experiential absolutely, but I think they're also looking for an event that will talk to them in a very personal way, and Motorclassica does that. We tailor a conversation, we don't try to impose one upon them.
“The success of these smaller shows is because they create communities… you have to look at that angle. It’s far easier for them to do so at a targeted event like Motorclassica because not only have we pre-qualified the visitor audience, it is a more intimate experience – fewer people, more face time, greater education and understanding between vendor and (potential) customer.”