The Manila Sports Car Club last month celebrated its 40th anniversary with a 36-car concours for classics in the gardens of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza on the Manila Bay waterfront. The displays ranged from Jorge See's 1930 Ford Model A to Tashiro Koike's 1974 Porsche 911 at an event covered by MTV and backed by Yokohama Tyres and two radio stations - and that should show local clubs how to present cars to the public. Land might be at less of a premium in Manila than in Hong Kong, and the Filipinos gave each classic enough space to be admired at different angles - an aesthetic contrast to the Hong Kong concours style, in which models are too often tightly packed behind an unphotogenic security barrier. The club also added prestige to its prizes by replacing old friends on its judging panel with some of the region's best classic car brains, including Atavit Suwanapakdee of the Vintage Car Club of Thailand, Masaki Kouga, the editor-in-chief of Japan's Oldtimer magazine, Osamu Hasegawa of the Japan Classic Car Club and Ian Foster and Graham Allen of the Classic Car Club of Hong Kong. Each was given a pen, a pad, a panama and a brolly dolly at what Allen says was an 'amazing' event. Mind you, the club has come a long way since its founders, Amado Castro, Rolf Kleindienst and the Triumph TR4 fan Andres Santa Maria, met under the acacia trees at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, in 1967. Sports and classic car sales soared when import restrictions were relaxed in the mid-1990s, and the club now has 150 members and cars on its books. This year's concours for pre-1977 cars was special. The Performance and Classic Enthusiasts' Club of Cebu shipped cars in specially for the show, including a 1966 Corvette owned by Bobby Aboitiz. Other entries included Nen Silvestre and Santa Maria's 1948 MG TCs, Boy Tibayan's 1955 BMW Isetta and Kenneth Cobonpue's 1959 Porsche 356A, some of which seemed to have aged with the club. 'Many of our cars weren't vintage cars when we started,' says Santa Maria. 'But after 40 years, they simply became that.' Eduardo Cojuangco Jnr's 1931 Pierce Arrow B won the grand prize. The 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing owned by Ramon Torres and Amado Castro's unrestored 1962 Triumph TR4 won the General Manager's Award and the Preservation Class Perpetual Trophy. Michael Aguilar's 1966 Jaguar XKE and 1973 Ferrari 246 GTS won the Early Golden Era and Modern categories, Toti Scarella's 1964 Austin Cooper won the Late Golden Era category, and Albert Perez's 1957 Chevrolet pickup trumped more expensive American cars in the Classic category. See, whose 1953 Jaguar XK120 roadster won the Post-war Vintage class, says he wanted to make a point at the event. 'I wanted to show what we can do in the Philippines, and to point would-be car restorers in the right direction.' Most Filipino owners tend to have their own mechanic, Allen says, but parts aren't as readily available as they are in Hong Kong. The majority of the cars' engines and chassis were 'as good as the bodywork', says the Ferrari Dino-owning Englishman. 'Cojuangco's Pierce Arrow would have won any concours event.' Foster says a couple of cars had Hammerite-covered under-bodies but that others, such as the refurbished grey Series II E-Type, 'were as clean and original as the day they left the factory.' The concours gave the Hong Kong judges 'a lot of good ideas for our own event in Hong Kong', says Foster, who staged a bike show on Chater Road last November. 'When I say this is the best concours I've attended in Asia, I mean it. Our concours have occasionally been held at the Jockey Club's Beas River facilities, which are beautiful, but not as centrally located as the Sofitel. The problem in Hong Kong is, where is there a venue with such opulent yet affordable facilities for the public to enjoy our cars?'