Background and history

Membership is open to current and former Ferrari owners.

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Ferrari Club Australia began in 1972 as The Australian Ferrari Register, making it one of the oldest car clubs in the world.

Because of Australia’s isolation, our first contact with Ferrari, outside the pages of motor racing magazines, was when some of the retired racing cars came here after they were no longer competitive in Europe in the 50’s and 60’s. Little were these owners to realise how valuable these cars would eventually become and they were frequently left in sheds or dismantled for parts once their racing days were over. Australia’s fastest speedboat of the 60’s was powered by the engine from a 1950’s Ferrari GP car (it’s now been reunited with the correct chassis).

Later, cars like 250GTE’s and 275 GTB’s were imported and raced with some success in open sports car fields and gradually, the performance and elegance of Ferrari’s road cars became more widely known. In the 60’s, Australia and New Zealand hosted a wonderful series for open wheelers known as The Tasman Series. This attracted many of the top F1 stars and constructors, including Ferrari who sent specially upgraded F2 cars and drivers like Chris Amon and Derek Bell, during the European winter. At about this time, David McKay imported a brand new 250LM (6321) which quickly became a crowd favourite, winning almost everything it entered, over a number of years. This much-loved car is now owned by Ralph Lauren. It was quickly followed by an ex-Can Am 4.2 ltr P4 (0858) that perhaps wasn’t ideal for our sprint racing formats and was sold to Paul Hawkins and later owned by David Piper.

These exotic cars really put Ferrari on the map in Australia. From an initial group of 14 dedicated enthusiasts in 1972, Ferrari Club Australia now boasts over 700 members (about 40% of all Ferrari owners) and a fantastic array of cars reflecting Ferrari’s complete history, from the beginning. We can boast just about the highest, per capita, Ferrari ownership in the world.

Ferrari Club Australia is highly active and has a passionate and enthusiastic membership. Events are run all over the country and include track days, rallies, concours d’elegance, drive days, social gatherings and just about any excuse we can think of to use our cars and mix with our friends. Many members have been with the club for over 25 years and many still own the car they purchased when they first joined. New cars and owners are equally welcome and just about every event attracts a wonderful blend of models from early V12’s and Dinos through to F430, 612 and 575’s.

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Our members take great pride in the presentation of their cars and all our concours events are keenly contested but our real emphasis is on driving, with regular track events being a long-standing club tradition. We publish several, quality club journals and interstate friendships, formed over many years of attendance at our much-loved annual rally, are an important part of our culture.

In a clear case of history repeating itself, we are just starting to see a trickle of older competition cars coming into Australia (F40LM, F50LM, F333SP, Challenge cars of all models etc.) and hope this continues to boost the numbers of important, later cars at our events.

Australians are great followers of F1 and just like everywhere else around the globe, Ferrari is the favourite team. Whenever our club gathers, the recognition and respect our cars receive from the general public is very heart-warming and reminds us how lucky we are to be the custodians of these wonderful pieces of automotive history.

It all started with an idea.

It is said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever – and this applies particularly to that mobile work of art – THE FERRARI. Fired with enthusiasm for all things Ferrari since my acquisition of a 250 GT Coupe in January 1969, I noticed a very small advertisement in the Classified pages of the English magazine “MOTOR SPORT”, inviting Ferrari owners to join the UK Ferrari Owners’ Club. Contact was established with Godfrey Eaton, Secretary of the F.D.C. in England, and the idea of forming an Australian club grew and grew, until it became unmanageable, forcing me to depart our shores in search for the “Holy Grail!”

Thus in early 1971, I found myself walking the streets of Modena with my head in the clouds – this had to be paradise! I wandered in on Tom Meade (an American enthusiast trying to improve on Enzo’s work), and Piero Drogo (coach builder and ex-racing driver) who had some incredible machinery at his works. The ‘Breadvan’, built on a 250 GTO chassis, is one of his creations.

Finally, introducing myself at the main Ferrari Office in Modena, I had the good fortune to meet Dott. MANICARDI (Ferrari General Manager) who was hosting Col. Ronnie HOARE (Chairman of Maranello Concessionaires UK). In our discussion, the formation of an Australian F.D.C. was warmly supported, and resulted in a good relationship with Maranello Concessionaires, who were soon to have the Ferrari agency for the whole of the R.H.D. world.

After Modena, I drove to Switzerland, and met Rob de la Rive Box, an enthusiast, author and part time dealer in Ferraris, who was quite enthusiastic about my plans. Subsequently I organized a meeting with Godfrey Eaton in the U.K. and we became serious plotters: it was quite amazing, but in his involvement with Bugatti Owners’ Club, Godfrey knew Bob King from Melbourne, who was thinking on similar lines, writing in the Bugatti Newsletter of August 1971 as follows :

“I feel I do not need to apologise for mentioning Ferraris in this newsletter. Most Buggatisti feel an affinity with the creations of Enzo Ferrari and a number of our members now own cars of that make. It has often been said that these are the type of car that Bugatti would design if he were alive today.”

The Bugatti Owners Club, in England, has taken on the task of creating a Ferrari Club and this greatly benefited the owners of both marques. It has been suggested that we should form a Ferrari section within our register. I view this with mixed feelings. It would, of course, be marvellous to have Ferraris competing in our events. However, it would be a great pity if owners of both marques were to use their Ferrari in preference to their Bugatti, in these events. Also, this is an informal club, and is not equipped to cater for large numbers of people. In other words, I do not think we would be wise to establish a comprehensive Ferrari Register or Club. Rather, I would imagine that a Ferrari section could cater for owners of these cars who also had an interest in Bugatti matters. This matter should be discussed amongst members and possibly a decision could be reached at the Bugatti Rally next year. Any letters on this subject would be greatly appreciated by the editor.

Ian Ferguson has now added a second Ferrari to his stable. This car is the very exciting 212 coupe, reputedly ex Carrera Pan Americana of 1951. It is, according to Peter Menere, not unlike a Grand Prix Bugatti to drive. On looking at “the office” I can quite believe this. There is no trim, one being surround by polished aluminium with a (5 speed) crash gear box situated where Bugatti placed his gear boxes at the left knee. The performance (and the noises) are said to be shattering”.

On my return to Australia, I called Bob and met him for dinner at Molina’s Imperial Hotel in Spring St., in November 1971. After discussion we decided to invite Ferrari’s to the 4th Great Australian Bugatti Rally at Griffith, NSW in June 1972. At that rally my words fell on fertile ground as I reported in the August 1972 Bugatti Newsletter

A proposal for the formation of a Ferrari Owners’ Association was made at the opening of the 4th Great Australian Bugatti Rally at Griffith by the writer thanks to courtesy of the organisers.

As apparently the need for such an association had been felt before, the words fell fertile ground, and after many words over even more glasses, the inaugural meeting the Ferrari Owners present was scheduled for the evening of the Presentation Dinner The owners present at Griffith were Lou Molina with his 250 GTE 2+2, Geoff Stubb his 330 GT 2+2, Noel Thomas with his Dino 246 GT, and the writer with a 250 GT coupe. Other owners, but alas without cars, were Stuart Murdoch, Peter Menere, lan Ferguson, about whose ill fortune more should be written.

At the presentation Dinner, and informal meeting – the first on record took place and it was pronounced desirable that we exist, and a more formal meeting was prop to be held at the Central Hotel, Church Street, Brighton on Wednesday 12th July, 1972 at 7 pm.

FORZA FERRARI
George Luk.