AUTO SHOWS

Gathering of the Faithful

Gathering of the Faithful image

Text: Lester Dizon / Photos: Lester Dizon | posted November 07, 2002 11:00

Manila Sports Car Club turns 35

Sports car lovers were treated to an eyeful when members of the Manila Sports Car Club gathered together to display their prized vehicles at the Rockwell's Power Plant mall open area last October 27 in celebration of the club's 35th anniversary. About 35 dreamy sports cars of various years, makes and models were on the display area for the public to view and admire, while a dozen other sports cars were seen parked around the display area.

Organized by Trade Show International, Inc., the event showcased the variety of sports cars that the present members of the MSCC currently possess and have meticulously maintained. The displays were organized into manufacturers and country of manufacture.

At the center of the display was a dreamy ensemble of great cars from Italy featuring the "cavalino rampante" or the prancing horse insignia of Scuderia Ferrari. A fly yellow Ferrari Dino 246 with its 2.4-liter V-6 engine and removable targa top, a Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer with its 5.0-liter horizontally opposed 12-cylinder engine, a Ferrari 308GTB with its 3.0-liter quad-cam V-8, a convertible Ferrari 348GTS with its 3.4-liter quad-cam V-8 and a targa-topped Ferrari F355 with its aluminum 3.5-liter quad-cam 4-valve per cylinder V-8 engine made most of audience drool with their exotic nature and aesthetic beauty. Four of the five cars were coated in "corsa rossa" or the proper shade of red befitting a Ferrari. An Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV sports coupe and a modern Alfa Romeo Spider convertible added spice to the Italian display.

A contingent of Porsches lined on the left of the Italian cars to showcase the best of Germany. A butter yellow Porsche 356 convertible, was followed by a couple of 356 coupes, while two Porsche 911s, an early yellow coupe and a black 993 bordered the 356s. A white Mercedes Benz SLK and a red 250SL with its distinctive "pagoda" top form a duo of old and new MB sports cars. The BMW Z1 and Z3 Coupe, lent by MSCC affiliate BMW Z Club, extended the Teutonic influence among the displays.

Japan was represented by sports cars that were hugely popular during their days. There were two generations of the Mazda Miata, with the latest in its MX-5 guise; the world's best-selling sports car and Japan's well-known classic, the Datsun 240Z; a rare Datsun 2000 Fairlady convertible that is sometimes mistaken for its contemporary, the diminutive Honda S600; while a modern Honda S2000 round up the dream cars from the Land of the Rising Sun.

American muscle was present in the form of collectible Fords and Chevrolet sports cars. On display were a highly sought-after Shelby GT350, which was based on the 1965-66 Mustang fastback, a 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe and a vintage 1958 Corvette convertible with an optional removable hardtop.

The English were likewise in attendance as a beautiful and elegant-looking Jaguar E-type convertible, a current Jaguar XK8 convertible, a modern Lotus Elise, a Sunbeam Alpine convertible, a Triumph TR-4 and a gathering of Morris Garage (MG) cars were proudly displayed. The MGs alone were a sight to behold with a trio composed of a TC, a TD and an MGA parked under the cool shade of a palm tree.

The French connection was evident with a couple of Renault Sport Spiders parked in the display area. These sports cars are made of lightweight aluminum and are fitted with 150-bhp twin-cam 16-valve 4-cylinder engines that sit in the middle of the chassis for ideal weight distribution and balance. A race-inspired suspension, roll bars and minimalist features (no roof, no windshield) signify that the car was built for sheer driving enjoyment.

A few race-ready cars, such as a red Karmann Ghia coupe, a red Opel GT, which looks like a "mini-Corvette", and a green Lotus 23 looked like they just came from the Vintage Car Races in Subic, where some members of the Manila Sports Car Club run the cobwebs off their steeds.

While some members race their sports cars to extract their potential, most of the owners feel that their cars were made to run long distances gracefully. They feel that these vehicles were built not just for display and should be driven out of the garage every so often. Thus, the MSCC organizes out-of-Manila trips called the PK Runs, which are named after Penny Kleindienst whose husband Rolf took her on a trip in their MG TD from Manila to Munich, Germany in 1969. The PK Runs have taken the sports cars to Angeles City, Pampanga, Tagaytay, and to the seaside resorts of Puerto Azul and Caylabne Bay. On top of the out-of-town trips, the MSCC also holds Bow-tie Dinners at the Le Souffle at the Fort and likewise hosts a concours d'elegance at Westin Philippine Plaza.

Currently, the Manila Sports Car Club is headed by Nene Syquia of Michel Motorcar Corporation. During the event, he was so busy answering inquiries about his Michel Spyder, a specially handcrafted reproduction of the 1955 Porsche Spyder 550 roadster which James Dean was driving when he was killed on the way to the 1956 Carrera Panamerica. The club has a registry of about 300 sports cars, ranging from a unique three-wheeled Morgan to an exotic Lamborghini Diablo, but fortunately for the club, they have the capable Sophie delos Santos overseeing the club's administration and finances.

With a growing registry of beautiful, exotic and racy sports cars and with affiliates like the BMW Z Car Club and the Miata Club, the Manila Sports Car Club has become the premier car club of the country.