Luxury & Supercar Weekend @ VanDusen Gardens – A.I. was there

September 13, 2011

Friday early-morning Press day. The first image that greeted me.

My petrolheaded brain is up-in-arms right now – too much ‘really badly want’ and ‘wish I could afford’-like longings have temporarily clogged my ability to think straight and perform basically normal, human-being functions over the last 48 hours - like buying groceries, for example. Sleep has even been uprooted and disturbed… what the heck.

McLaren MP4-12C in the mid-morning light

Then again, if I had known that I was going to be shown this diversely opulent gathering of the finest motorcars ever constructed on a beautifully sunny September afternooon just up the street (!) from my very home, *breathe* then I’d have properly prepared myself for the inevitable  fallout of flashbacks and middle-of-the-night-for-no-reason wake-ups lending to the ruination of my ABC’s and 123′s…

Plus, it probably didn’t help matters either when endlessly sorting/editing through the 300+ photos I captured…. In short, I have become a gibbering, flat-plane crank’d, twin-carbed, gull-winged nuisance. My eyes have seen things that can never be unseen – thank heavens!

Lovely Peugeot Special Sport

This was the 3rd installation of the Luxury & Supercar weekend; the inaugeral event being held at the Plaza of Nations (old Expo site) in Downtown Vancouver back in 2009 with the 2010 event travelling to Seoul, Korea. Now back in Vancouver for the city’s 125th birthday and from what I’ve overheard, it will most-likely become an annual event. This is good… very good.

I’ve taken part-in and attended many many car shows out here over the years of my life, yet never have I witnessed such a level of unbelievable excellence, rarity, detailed beauty, diversity and charm. This was Vancouver’s entry, somewhat, into the world-class Concours realm a-la Pebble Beach, Villa d-Este in Italy and Salon Prive in London… Not quite up to those levels of sheer dominance in world-class exquisiteness and mouth-watering rarity just yet (we didn’t exactly have 7 1960′s Ferrari GTO’s lining the western lawn), but a mighty fine start to say the least. Surely, the roster of rarities for upcoming year’s event will only improve.

Maserati MC-12, officially waking me up

The event itself began on early Friday morning for me as that was the posted ‘Press Day’ for journo hacks and TV-crews to come and take advantage of the laid-back (and always calming) early-morning surroundings of VanDusen while various work teams set-up tents, built benches and erected fences. Of immediate notice was the truly gargantuan ‘Mercedes World’ Pavilion/tent… no, wait…. open-aired lounge… placed smack-dab in the middle of the upper-lawn that work crews were placing final touches on before the army of all-white leather-and-chrome couches, stools, coffee-tables, bars, chaise longues and plants arrived. Overheard during my strolling about was the truly eye-watering figure of $130,000 - something to do with rental costs for mega-posh, rubber tents – Deary me.

Goes well with a morning cup 'o coffee

The local Ferrari dealership managed to perk-up my morning gazes amidst the freshly-cut, dew-y lawn by wheeling-in one of the 50 Maserati MC-12′s in existense (1 of 2 residing in Canada) and McLaren was looking as precision-perfect as you’d expect with their MP4-12C planted on a flat-black show deck.

Looking aggressively taut and almost alien-like with its (expensive) satin, burnt-orange paint inviting glimpses of the morning sun, the glowing curves of this controversial new car made it near impossible to ignore. It was serenity in nature mixing it with near-robotical levels of controlled, precisional dominance.  Make no mistake, the MP4-12C is a thing of subtle, yet recognizable beauty… but it’s in the evolving details (and the car’s still-evolving driving dynamics) where most keenly-eyed individuals will take notice and be firmly awestruck.

Lynne from McLaren, freshly arriving from New York

The next morning, after a buzz-ish sleep session involving aural recounts from the morning before (did I mention the Aventador making its entry in a lurking Battlestar Galactica-on-wheels type of way..?), I downed my freshly-mulched cup ‘o coffee and made my way up towards VanDusen.

Maserati 3500GT - so good

Winding your way through the shaded path leading to the main lawns, you’re eventually greeted by the familiar sounds of tinkling and soaring Classical music amidst an air of grand openess in the wonderful September sun. Immediately to my right was a tent housing tasty automotive collectables from Vancouver’s own Wilkinson’s Automobilia. A quick stop ‘n chat with the owner set the perfect stage for my entry into what was undoubtedly going to be a day to remember in the automotive folklore files.

This one was adorned with the full carbon pack. Quite striking.

Classics from the early 20th-century via Bentley and Rolls-Royce greeted your entry to the left. A quick 180-degree scan revealed a plethora of tempting automotive legends – some of which I had never seen before in-the-metal. Restraint was a troubling offshoot to maintain, especially with so much loveliness on hand. ‘Keep focused lad’ – I tell myself - ‘Stick to the path and remember, you’re mainly here to work/document, not oggle and gasp all day’. So I sink myself into a 20-minute conversation with an elderly E-Type Jag owner named Leon, who owns an incredibly stunning dark-blue example in a shade that offsets the classic chrome accents with such orchestrally layered fluidity. This is what it’s all about…

The attention-to-detail is monumental

I stop and stare at the all-white assemblage of brand-new (and porky-rumped) BMWs and wonder (again) why-oh-why didn’t BMW take proper advantage of that F1-derived normally-aspirated V10 drivetrain they stuffed into the outgoing M5 and M6 and go produce a proper supercar with it… Just for a last internal-combustion celebration of ///M-ness. I’ll openly say it – what a wasted opportunity, BMW…tsk tsk. Instead, we’re eventually going to receive some gadget-stuffed, techno-driven, electric/hybrid, self-folding, baby-panda-saving eco-’supercar’ that’ll do 103 mpg and have Facebook-propelled idrive or something… as a successor to the iconic M1… Hmm…. The truly awkward-looking Mini Cooper Coupe hiding underneath its own tent sporting, what looked like a metal-plated version of the ‘backwards baseball cap’ in this particular silver/black combo hinted towards the confusing direction of this once-legendary Munich manufacturer of prestige autos. (rant/over)

The new Aventador and the F430 Scuderia

Lunch was next on the agenda, and Truffles Fine Foods was set up to offer 4 varying boxed options to divulge your belly with. Deee-licious. Free liquor was flowing as well, if that’s your thing. Though, the Tequilla and Martini tents weren’t exactly displaying long cues – probably a good thing, that. After sipping back my Evian bottled water and childishly chomping down the thin chocolate bar contained within my complimentary lunch-box, I set my sights on the multitude of classic Mercedes SL’s and Gullwings branching out from the ‘Mercedes World’ tent (of which, no one was milling-about in or ‘lounging’ in – I’m guessing 27-degree sunshine belting through the clear structure straight onto the leather couches and seats made for oven-like levels of uninviting heat – whoops?).

Rounding the bend, I was greeted by 2 Toyotas that I’d never seen before… well, one was a Lexus – the stonking LFA, to be exact. The other, a Toyota 2000GT – I was floored. What a beautiful, beautiful car. One of only 337 made between ’67 and’70, the patina worn by this exquisite example had me coming back time and again all afternoon to take-in its elegant lines and attention-to-detail.

Lexus LFA and Toyota 2000GT - me and the little fella both agreed that they were ace

I was shocked at how commanding and solid-looking the interior alone was – I thought it would be slightly plastic-y here and there… Not at all. Of course, this car just drips of British sportscar influences but it has that Japanese Sports/Supercar-lite thing going on… Pure class. I’d always waited for the day that I would see one of these cars, and now that I have, I want one more than ever before. I can see why they tend to fetch upwards of $375,000 at auctions worldwide. Interesting that the LFA costs just as much to buy one brand new… (I’d have that too please – aside from the dumpy rear-end styling, I was in awe at the level of detail and quality of materials/construction… not to mention the blood-curling, shrieking F1-of-yesteryear soundtrack)

If Lamborghini was able to pass this front-end design through legislation, what on earth is stopping the other car makers from scaring small children...?

The Italians were next-up on my visual quest and lordy lordy the Italians showed up, and then some. Lamborghini Aventador. Ferrari 599 GTO and a carbon-fibre blessed 458. Ferrari F40 (gasp). Lamborghini Countach. 2 Ferrari Daytonas. A disturbingly beautiful ’66 Ferrari 330 GTC. 2 Dino’s. Alfa Montreal. DeTomaso Pantera. Shockingly mint Maserati 3500GT. Afformentioned Maserati MC12. Maserati Bora… this list goes on. Sadly though, an Alfa Romeo 8C was listed in the line-up but turned a no-show (same with the Fisker Karma).

Maserati MC-12 interior. Love the side-knee pads

The Brits and the more-idiosyncratic examples of motoring were also on display as well. A li’l red Fiat 500 from the 60′s was there and looking perfectly perfect. But one car in particular that caught my eye was the Jensen 541 R. Produced during ’57 to ’60 and only one of 193 ever made, this oddly brutal (yet attractive) car had me languishing in its wake of lines and nods to aerodynamic knowledge of the day.

Oh, hi. Uh... would you mind moving to the... nevermind

Looking back at the photos I captured throughout the 2 days, it becomes apparent that I’m scanning over a mere sprinkling of highlights and noteworthy add-ons… and then I look at how much I’ve written and I realize that the time has come to halt the typing and allow said pictures to help illustrate what this event managed to gather.

Ferrari F40 - madness from a bygone era

Of course, there were the inevitable wanna-be high-roller G’s and various gals wearing clothing more suited towards the lowbrow nightclubs on Granville… Kids freely climbing into cars that I’m pretty sure they shouldn’t have been (I think a Ferrari F40 should be roped-off, don’t you agree..?) and a level of snootiness/snobbery on the Weissach/Lamborghini stand from a select few that had me rolling my eyes and walking away (A,  your rude hostility forever kills me). But those are minor footnotes on what was an obvious, unrivaled success. I had a fantastic afternoon. Met some genuinely kind and invitingly sincere people that I look forward to seeing again one day… Let’s hope it returns next year. I’ll be there.

Massive photo-fest below…

words/photos: Blake J.

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