Footdown

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 July, 2007, 12:00am

Gleaming Collectors celebrate in style


The heavens opened last weekend, but that didn't deter the Collectors Club from rolling out some of the most beautiful cars in Hong Kong for two reunification celebrations. At the Yau Tsim Mong District's 10th Anniversary Celebration of Reunification Parade on Saturday, 'every owner was especially in high spirits, reminiscing of the day of the handover in 1997,' says the club's spokeswoman Connie Lau.


Forty of the club's cars filed down Nathan Road from Mong Kok to Yau Ma Tei, Jordan and past the Hotel Miramar in Tsim Sha Tsui. Dancers and drummers greeted a cavalcade led by a police escort. A 1934 Plymouth was followed by a 1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom I, a 1924 Vauxhall (above), a 1934 Rolls-Royce 20/25 Coupe de Ville and a white1954 MG TD (below bottom).


'We finally arrived at the New World Centre, the designated car show venue,' Lau says. After an opening ceremony, 30 cars were parked overnight, enabling the general public to view them. 'A real highlight,' says Lau 'was the 1953 Red Flag [below middle].'


The club's second test against the elements was in Kwun Tong, for the district's reunification carnival and parade. 'It was a stark contrast to that of the Yau Tsim Mong event,' Lau says. 'Under 33 degrees of dazzling sun, the parade took off at 1.15pm, followed by


a series of moving traditional Chinese lion dance and kung fu martial arts performances.'


The parade drew a large crowd of spectators on both sides of the road, which gave the event an 'enormous festive atmosphere', she says. 'The 1945 Volkswagen VW82 military van and the 2001 Hummer HMCS drew much of the bystanders' applause.'


The Hong Kong Automobile Association organised a Round-the-Island Charity Drive in aid of the Po Leung Kuk on Monday. Lots of lovely cars revved up in Chater Road, but where was Clear the Air? We wanted to listen in to wing-mirror conversations between the environmental group's crack camera-toting anti-idling squads and the drive's CO2-spewing B-listers. But we were disappointed. Enjoy today's Live Earth concert.


Chic baby; no showroom


We hope the new Fiat 500 (below) will be sold in Hong Kong shortly. The runabout, which was launched on Wednesday, 50 years after the original unveiling of its iconic predecessor, could be a chic match for the BMW Mini Cooper and the Smart ForTwo runabouts, both of which have a hip and devoted following in Hong Kong.


Industry analysts doubt that the Cinquecento, which the marque hopes will become 'the iPod of cars' will quite match the Mini's sales, but 'people will buy it as a fashion item', one expert said this week.


Italian newspapers say the new 500 will be a 75 brake-horsepower, 1.3-litre turbodiesel and will come in 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre petrol versions. It will sell from about Euro10,000 (HK$106,300).


Made in Poland, not Turin, the Cinquecento looks neat, and with a small production run of just 120,000 its exclusivity seems perfect for Hong Kong. However, Fiat has already been in and out of Hong Kong, and the Italian Motors/AutoItalia axis of Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo dealers has been awfully quiet. Will they introduce the Cinquecento, or will another dealer snatch this franchise? Watch this space.


Do you have any fond memories of the original Fiat 500? Tell us, at cars@scmp.com.


Beastie Boys strike silver in Paris


Finally, our congratulations to Hong Kong's 'Beastie Boys', Ralf Weiss (below right) and Kurt Schneiders, who not only finished the gruelling, 35-day Beijing to Paris Classic Car rally in their 1918 American La France Roadster last Saturday, but also won a silver medal for performance and the Veteran Car Club award for 'Pioneer' pre-1919 cars, their website says.


'We did it in style,' the daring duo's website says (http://pqc03.proqc .info/blog). 'Not only did we finish on a high note, we also won the most difficult endurance rally in the most difficult class in the most difficult-to-drive car.'


Bravo, too, to American rally silver medallists Jim Taylor and Fred Nelon, who drove a 1941 Buick Convertible from Hung Hom to Beijing, also 'turning left' to Paris.


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