Thunder Down Under

Australia is a veritable car mecca for enthusiasts, showcasing its longstanding passion for all things automotive. Here are a few things you can look forward to if you’re a car-nut in the land Down Under

THE CLOSEST THING TO A ‘UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE’ IS THE REACTION AND INTERACTION BETWEEN CERTAIN OBJECTS THAT NEAR ANYONE CAN APPRECIATE. THEY CAN ALL BE CLUMPED TOGETHER UNDER A SINGLE MONIKER – ART. ART MANIFESTS ITSELF IN A NUMBER OF WAYS. ONE SUCH OBJECT OF DESIRE IS SOMETHING WE TAKE FOR GRANTED EVERY DAY: THE HUMBLE CAR.

car1Cars are easily mankind’s most ingenious creation. Harnessing the power of explosions generated from what is essentially refined liquidated dinosaurs, they can take you to triple-digit speeds over land, taking corners so fast they generate G-forces that will fling you across the cabin unless you’re strapped into a harness. Cars offer the freedom to traverse the land, perhaps its most appealing factor. Everyone will, at some point in their life, have owned, or in the very least seen, a car that struck their fancy. And then there are those who make cars their daily way of life, car enthusiasts or the people who make up car culture.

Two years ago, after 100 years of domestic car manufacturing, Australia’s final manufacturing plant shut down. Expensive labour rates, insane taxation, a complete lack of government support and a transition in consumer taste saw the country produce its last car in October 2017. An entire industry died, as well as over 200,000 jobs, with automotive giants like Toyota, Ford and Mitsubishi pulling the plug. Despite this, Aussie car culture didn’t die along with it; instead, it evolved into one of the most diverse and unique car cultures globally.

This culture is displayed at car meets dotted around the country, varying from massive model-specific meets, to the occasional small club car meetups, to a couple of blokes just bringing their rides to the park. Everywhere you look, the Aussie passion for these 4-wheeled, man-made marvels is apparent. Here are some examples of meets that happen around the country…

car22019 MUSTANG NATIONALS – MELBOURNE

This is the larger side of car meets in Aussie, with all cars showing being solely Ford Mustangs. Hosted at the Birrarung Marr in Melbourne, the Mustang Nationals boasts of the largest display of Mustangs in the Southern Hemisphere, with over 400 vehicles on show with a Concours d’Elegance – a competition among car owners on the appearance of their cars – and Show n’ Shine Display – a showcase of all the club members’ cars.

The Mustang Owners Club Australia (MOCA) is one of the largest clubs in the country that caters for any and all Mustangs, ranging from 1964 to present year models, stock or modified. Clubs like these often have a strong community made up of hundreds upon hundreds of enthusiasts who provide assistance with anything car related. This particular club is so huge it covers the entire continent with clubs divvied up by state. The one in Melbourne is hosted by the Victoria branch, which posts event dates on their websites and social media pages. This will be your easiest entry into the local car scene as meets like this can occur as frequently as once a week in any given state during the summer.

car4ENTHUSIASTS MEET-UP – RANDOM CAR PARK

On the opposite end of the spectrum is a collection of enthusiasts meeting up for some camaraderie and general ogling of their peers’ cars. Here, you will find as varied a selection as they come, from pristine examples and rough-and-ready ‘rat-rods’, to European sedans and JDM legends. Locations change quite often, but are typically carparks acquired with prior permission, in most cases that is. Finding out when and where these meets take place, however, is a challenge on its own, as only the enthusiasts themselves are kept in the loop. But the effort is definitely worthwhile because you never really know who or what will show up! These kind of meets are just the tip of the automotive iceberg, however. Events occur throughout the year, and come in the form of drag and endurance races like the Bathurst 1000 to professional burnout competitions.

KEEPING IT MUSCLE – CARIBBEAN MARKETS, SCORESBY

At this level, the meets still have some semblance of organisation, restricting them to a specific club, make or model. Here we have one such example at the ever-popular Caribbean Markets in Melbourne, playing host to a selection of Ford Falcon XB’s and Ford Landaus (which are essentially the same car underneath). A few period-correct replicas of racing legend, Alan Moffat’s Falcon XB (red) and XC (black), and a perfect replica of Mel Gibson’s ride in the cult classic Mad Max.

Mad MaxCar culture is very much alive despite the setbacks in Australia’s automotive history, and it is ever growing. So if you are a car enthusiast, budding or otherwise, plan out a trip to Aussie and take in all that is the undeniable passion that they have for all-things cars.

 

[Illustration by Akila Weerasinghe]