It was another phenomenal weekend for a car meet, and being the first weekend of the month it was time for another Rise and Drive Sunday. The overall turnout was a bit lower than last month’s meet, but this did not dampen the event at all. What I have come to love about Rise and Drive’s meets, is the more intimate nature of the event. It is a more focused venue, so it is impossible to miss anything there, and thus impossible to miss anything special at the meet. There are advantages to this intimate set up, you can spend a bit more time absorbing details of cars, chatting with fellow enthusiasts, sipping your coffee and just taking in a beautiful morning. For this weekend, Rise and Drive outdid themselves by having a Mclaren M8A Can-Am race car present. Not only was it shown inside Collectors Car Garage, it was rolled outside and fired up. The thunderous rumble of the V8 was something to behold, the first roaring rev of the engine sent a wave of startled jumps through the crowd, followed by a wash of awestruck smiles and laughter. This is an experience that really can not be duplicated in any other meets that I have ever attended. In addition, a representative from Mclaren was on hand to explain the unique story behind this vintage racer.
This Mclaren M8A, had a dominant career in racing piloted by Bruce McClaren and Denny Hulme. Once retired from racing, the car would go on to become a show car for Goodyear Tires, being showcased at several events to promote the brand. Somehow along the way, it would be lost, the whereabouts unknown for several years until it would resurface on a farm. Incredibly, this car was found buried in various bits of neglected parts and rubbish on a farm in New Zealand! Upon it’s discovery, it was literally dug up from it’s would-be grave and a massive restoration effort was launched with the joint efforts of Denny Hulme, Goodyear and the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland. The result is what we had the pleasure of seeing this past Saturday. The bright orange paint looks nearly perfect and shown brilliantly in the bright morning sun. The intake stacks are a thing of beauty, looking almost organic in nature, I was reminded of a cluster of mushrooms sprouting from a forest floor. The engine is an actual structural component of the car, and again with the organic theme, suspension and running gear appear to sprout from and grow around it’s massive V8 heart. What I love about race cars like this, is that the beauty seems to occur naturally. That is, a race car is generally all function over form, everything is designed with the intent of being faster with little regard to style or beauty. To have beauty occur despite this, is a fascinating thing.
I love cars, but to have a car with a past, a deeper story; whether historic or personal to the individual owner, makes it that much more special. When a car has a deep history like this one, and includes an epic resurrection, it is inspirational. It is hard to think of any other informal meet I have attended that can match this one-of-a-kind experience. I can not say enough about the quality of event the Rise and Drive folks have put together.
After gushing about the M8A, you might think that was all there was to see, but you would be very wrong. Also in the garage display area was a Ferrari 275 GTB/4, which provided an opportunity to see first hand the design evolution of Ferrari when compared to the 250 GT displayed last month. An what an evolution it was, now equipped with a naturally aspirated V12 in front and, a first for Ferrari, a rear mounted transaxle. This is one of those highly valued, highly sought after vintage Ferrari’s and it is easy to see why; is there any better phrase uttered than ‘vintage Ferrari V12’? I think not.
The other special treat, was the appearance of this 1957 Pontiac Bonneville convertible, which was visiting from the Driehaus collection thanks to Chicago Vintage. Neither an exotic, or a vintage European car, but this massive beast of a car is incredibly rare. That is no exaggeration either, only a few hundred of these were made, and in convertible form you can count the number on one hand…with a finger or two missing. Again, I can not stress enough how unique a show Rise and Drive is, in that you can see some true unicorn cars. For this Bonneville, perhaps unicorn is not a fitting enough term, it is more of a wooly mammoth with a single horn on it’s forehead. The proportions of this two door convertible coupe make this car seem larger than life, it measures about two full feet longer than a modern day Cadillac Escalade. When it was released, it tipped the scales at around 4,000 pounds as well, needing every bit of the 347 cubic inches of V8 it packed under the hood. That V8 was special as well, sporting badges that indicate “fuel injection”,it showcased the best GM/Pontiac could build, and the engine generated 315 horsepower, which is quite impressive for that time.
Aside from all the automotive greatness housed inside CCG’s incredible facility, the lot is filled with an incredible variety of cars as well. The scene outside is more informal car meet, but affords the opportunity to see all kinds of fun, enthusiast oriented and owned cars as well. While they may not fall into the category of unicorns, there is some really cool stuff to see. The variety of what is on display, the diversity of the crowd on hand, you get the sense that the love of cars is truly the overarching bond. If you have not made it out to this event yet, you are in luck, there are two more remaining this year; the first Sunday in September and October. Do not miss it
photos and writing by: Robert Sixto