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Motorclassica welcomes brand expansion

Modern classic: Motorclassica is in its sixth year and 2015 brings a record number of new car brands to the annual event.

Classics still the stars as Motorclassica attracts more new-car brands in 2015

General News logo22 Oct 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

CLASSIC car show Motorclassica opens its doors this week in Melbourne, with the 2015 event showcasing a record number of new-car brands alongside the classics in its Concours d’Elegance.

The annual event, now in its sixth year at Melbourne’s iconic Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton, this year not only features vehicles from event sponsor Mercedes-Benz, but also BMW, Mini, Citroen, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Lotus, Porsche, Maserati, Morgan and Caterham.

Speaking with GoAuto ahead of the event, Motorclassica event director Paul Mathers said rival new-car brands could happily co-exist at the event without issue.

“What Motorclassica is all about is celebrating heritage first and foremost and that means for manufacturers it is how they link their heritage to their new cars,” he said.

Mr Mathers said while Mercedes-Benz was a major sponsor of the event, that did not guarantee exclusivity.

He suggested that any brand with a significant and interesting history was welcome to inquire about being a part of Motorclassica.

“If, for example, if Audi wanted to come in next year we would say ‘you have got some interesting history with Auto Union, absolutely it’s appropriate that you’re here’,” he said.

“It’s about balancing those relationships and the opportunities that each of them bring.

“Motorclassica must come first. As a brand and an event. And our respect for our visitors I suppose, and what they want to see at a show has to come first.

“I think so far, so good. Both of those brands (BMW and Mercedes) have shown respect for that and if we start out from that basis then there is no reason why everybody can’t work together.” Mr Mathers said Motorclassica attracted about 20,000 visitors each year, but added that “absolute capacity” would be 25,000.

Mr Mathers said despite the growing numbers of new-car manufacturers the event was attracting, it would never be at the expense of the classics on show in the Concours d’Elegance.

“We will never push out the cars that are in the Concours d’Elegance,” he said.

“There will always be 100-110 on Concours. We do have a small amount of expansion space for new-car brands. If everyone came back and we got another one next year I could fit them in.

“What that would mean is some companies exhibiting on the ground floor that are not car brands would have to move upstairs.

“It is a challenge to manage growth with this show because car manufacturers can only be on the ground level, they can’t be upstairs in the gallery.

“And there is a finite amount of space because we won’t reduce the size of Concours. It’s a nice challenge to have.”

Mr Mathers said there was no issue with allowing car-makers to sell vehicles at Motorclassica, and highlighted international events such as Pebble Beach in California and the Goodwood Festival of Speed in rural England as other events where vehicles are sold.

“At a normal motor show you couldn’t test drive a car,” he said.

“I think this distinguishes Motorclassica once again from regular motor shows.

You can come and interact with new cars. I will love it when all manufacturers say ‘yes we will run test drives’, and we certainly have the facilities to do that.”

Mr Mathers said he was not surprised to hear news that the VACC/RACV-backed Australian Motoring Festival had been killed off after just one year, and suggested that Motorclassica’s niche audience meant it had a sustainable model.

“I think that today’s market has changed remarkably,” he said.

“The Australian Motoring Festival was never going to be what Motorclassica is to car enthusiasts. And I don’t think it was trying to be.

“Assuming that the model for that show was about selling new cars, then its concept and its focus was very different to Motorclassica and I think that’s the biggest challenge for a motor show.

“I think the success of Motorclassica lies behind the fact that it is a niche show that is for an enthusiast audience. Whereas a generalist motor show relies on drawing people that don’t necessarily ‘get’ cars but need a car. It comes down to this utilitarian need.

“If I need a car to get from A to B I will go to a motor show to research those cars.

“People don’t need to go to those shows anymore. They can do a lot of research online. Then pick out two or three cars and go and test drive them. So they consumer need for a motor show is no longer there the way it was 10-30 years ago.”

While Motorclassica is growing each year, Mr Mathers said there were no immediate plans to expand beyond its Melbourne home, for now, but added that he would keep his options open.

“Look I would say never say never. There are no direct plans for us right to go into another market nationally. We are very open to ideas of growing our brand though. In fact the growth of our brand is part of our strategy.

“We would love to go overseas perhaps to find the right market to take Motorclassica internationally.

“But like I say, in terms of national footprint, whilst there is no immediate plan, if the opportunity arose for us to reinvent Motorclassica in a new market, and there was a demand for it, then certainly that would be something we would consider.”

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