DID you know Sunshine Coast car dealerships were great places to go classics spotting?
Increasingly, car brands are rightly celebrating their heritage by owning and displaying models from their history. It's a commonplace exercise in many metro dealerships where a polished classic or race car dazzles between current models on sale, and it's great to see regional dealers on the Sunshine Coast following suit.
It's a win for customers too. When you drop in for a service you can be proud of your choice of brand's history if there's some classic metal on show.
You may drive a Ford Fiesta but it's nice to see the same Blue Oval on a classic GTHO Falcon; and who wouldn't enjoy seeing an old rotary-engined Mazda RX-7 on display when popping in for an oil change on your CX-5 SUV?
A dealership passionate enough to invest the time and money in a classic car shows real enthusiasm for the badge too. If your dealer owns and loves a car from that brand's past you can almost guarantee he or she is a true enthusiast that thoroughly backs the product they sell.
We did a quick tour of some of the Coast's dealers to see what they have on display, and were pleasantly surprised with what we found.
Dealer: Ken Mills Toyota, Nambour.
Classic Car: 1964 Toyota Crown Deluxe.
Brett Mills from the Nambour dealership has a particular fondness for this car as his grandfather used to own one. "This example was found under a lady's house with only 27,000km on the clock," Brett said.
"This exact car was originally sold by people who owned a dealership who were friends with my family, so it's nice to have that history.
"I love its electronically tuned radio, plus there are even radio controls in the rear. It was an advanced car in its day, and it proves where Toyota has always been in terms of advanced technology."
Dealer: Coastline BMW, Currimundi.
Classic Car: 1971 BMW 2002 Coupe.
What a little stunner this one is. Dressed in beautiful Inca orange paintwork, Coastline's 2002 looks as though it's been lifted straight from a Munich showroom some 46 years ago. The restoration job is faultless.
Dennis Drane from Coastline, who has been with the dealership long enough to remember servicing these old 2002s, said dealer principal Tristan Kurz spotted this car being driven locally, followed the owner home and convinced him to sell it.
"Tristan loves cars of this era," Dennis said, "and a lot of time and money has been put into the restoration. It's important to have a classic BMW here because of the nostalgia, people just love to see it. You get to see the difference between then and now too, as the technology difference is obviously huge."
Cleverly parked beside a limited edition $295,000 BMW M4 GTS, the contrast was fairly stark. The 2017 track weapon may have over five times the 2002's power (368kW vs. 70kW), but I'd say both make a similar visual impact, albeit in very different ways.
Dealer: Sunshine Toyota, Currimundi.
Classic Car: 1963 Toyota 700.
This was one of the first Toyota cars imported to Australia, and takes pride of place beside a best-selling Toyota Corolla in the Sunshine Toyota showroom. The Japanese brand has come a long way in 50 years, from tiny importer in the 1960s to runaway top selling brand in Australia today.
The tiny two-door used a 21kW 697cc flat-twin engine (probably not much use on the hills), but it did weigh a minuscule 580kg.
"It's classic not plastic," said sales consultant Barry Ramm. "A lot of the oldies remember these cars and love to see this one here in the showroom. It's great to show Toyota's history and how we've moved from this to the modern range of cars."
Dealer: Sunco Holden, Maroochydore.
Classic Cars: 1988 Holden VL Commodore Group A Walkinshaw, 1973 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe, 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air four-door pillar-less.
What a collection Sunco has, nicely picking some gems from the General Motors stable. With four classics on show it's a striking use of showroom space, and these cars are on rotation with even more classics housed elsewhere.
And they're not short of colour. A bright blue Chevy Bel Air, dazzling orange Chevy Camaro, lime green Chevy Corvette Stingray and an unmistakable Holden VL Commodore Group A Walkinshaw.
"It's a bit of a surprise when people come in here," said Ky Vogler, general manager at Sunco Motor. "This year especially when we'll have the last year of a "Made in Australia" badge under a Holden bonnet it's great to celebrate the likes of the Walkinshaw with a big 5.0-litre V8 engine.
"The Corvette probably gets the most attention with its colour, but I'd say my favourite is the Bel Air. I drove it up here from Brisbane and it was beautiful, but it's a bit of a problem not having air conditioning."
Dealer: Mercedes-Benz Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore.
Classic Cars: 1969 Mercedes-Benz 250e, 1983 280 CE, 1990 300E.
Venture upstairs at Mercedes-Benz Sunshine Coast's mighty dealership and you're treated to some delights from Benz's past. And as expected, each looks as immaculate as it would have done on the day they were first delivered.
Speaking of the three classics - a 1969 250, 1983 280 CE and 1990 300E - dealer principal Cameron O'Hara said they "showcase a small but important part of our brand's history, and they're definitely popular things for customers to see.
"My favourite is probably the 250. For a 48-year-old vehicle it drives exceptionally well, and has been fully restored back to original and is in concourse condition. It has won its class in the Mercedes-Benz concourse four times and is a pleasure to admire."
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