Chonburi, Thailand - A brand-new event on the busy Thai car show calendar – the Amata Spring Classic d’Elegance – has just taken place and it more than lived up to expectations as over one hundred vintage and classic cars, with a few slightly more contemporary models thrown into the mix, rolled up together for a spectacular and elegant afternoon-to-evening event.
The inaugural Amata Spring Classic d’Elegance was held at the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, a convenient 80km drive from Bangkok’s city centre.
Spreading the event out over the rolling green grass expanses of the Amata Spring Country Club immediately evokes all the imagery of a prestigious “Concours d’Elegance” as – arguably the two most famous “concours” in the world, Pebble Beach and Amelia Island – are both laid out on immaculate fairways.
So, the ingredients were ticked off in terms of the backdrop visuals – all that was needed to complete the picture was the cars. And they certainly came, a spectacular roster of immaculate and cherished vintage and classic cars, to be displayed on the lawn. All boxes checked.
A truly beautiful event with an array of spectacular cars, the Amata Spring Classic d’Elegance was, most importantly, thoroughly imbued with the atmosphere of an international “Concours d’Elegance”. Job well done.
So how did this new event come together? That’s a question to put to the organiser and one of the driving forces behind the operational side of the Amata Spring Classic d’Elegance, Mr Parinya Linason.
It all started with the venue, he explains: “First of all, Amata Golf Club plan to promote their fields and as much as their golf course is popular, they want to put it up to an international perspective, they want to make it more international.”
That strategy was building on an already robust platform. One of the best-known golf courses in Thailand, the Amata Spring Country Club has for the last decade hosted two important golf tournaments, the “Honda LPGA Thailand”, the first LPGA event in this country, and the “Royal Trophy”, a competition that pits teams from Europe and Asia against each other.
“At first, they considered [a] jazz [music event] or something else,” Parinya continues. “But one of the directors raised up why not do a classic car show.”
The idea germinated and with the support of the Country Club, Parinya was free to start the ball rolling. “I could now go ahead and invite groups, members and classic car enthusiasts,” he says. That green light however came just three months before the event!
For Thailand’s classic car world, the new event would help to drive ambitions. “The Classic Car Association Thailand and Bangkok Classic Car Club, we always want to raise up standards of our classic car enthusiasts’, to make better quality and better details,” Parinya continues.
As an organiser of overseas trips to leading classic car events such as Pebble Beach and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, he also has intimate knowledge of how to carry the international standards and game plan of a world class ‘concours’ over in to Thailand – and that really starts with having the perfect venue. “It’s normal in the US or the UK to have events on a golf field,” Parinya notes. “So, it’s a good opportunity for us to go ahead and to get [an event] as good with the classic cars we have in Thailand.”
The ‘Spring Classic’ was starting to grind into gear and participants were invited. “We approach many classic owners and garages and groups that do only Japanese [cars],” says Parinya. “The Bangkok Classic Car Club is a popular club and we go back and get old friends back together and tell groups like Minis, BMWs, British cars, which have their own groups now, that this is the time to come back and gather up.”
This was always going to be so much more than just a bunch of classic cars in a field – however eye watering they might have been – it was the opportunity for the classic community to create a truly special event. The chance to strike while the iron was hot. And all were welcome. “We want to raise standards in restoring,” says Parinya. “You can come with a patina car but it has to look its own way, we can accept all ... everything we think is classic to you.”
When you have a hundred spectacular cars clustered together in a flowing grass bowl it’s hard to pick out individual models, there are so many that catch attention, but we have to try and so a good place to start is with the show stopping Alvis.
This was a Speed 20 Drophead Coupe from 1934, one of eleven hundred originally built over four variants by Alvis. It’s been in the hands of its current owner for around two decades and hasn’t been seen in public since it appeared at the annual classic car show held at the Seacon Square mall about ten years ago. It’s been beautifully maintained by its owner and is kept in the right controlled environment – getting it out and down to Amata was a coup for the organisers’ – and it rolled onto the lawn under its own power. “This car is so perfect for the event, for its highlight,” says Parinya.
Joining it on the crest of the bowl, where the event’s ‘icons’ stood in a gleaming row, was a stunning Alfa Romeo Montreal which has recently undergone a restoration. This legendary 70s Gandini-styled sportscar, which is powered by a racing derived 2.6 V8 engine, has in fact been the hands of the same family since it arrived in Thailand as a new car.
Complementing the signature standout orange of the Montreal was a yellow Lamborghini Diablo, most famously restored by its owner at his house a few years back, and probably a much better recognised car by the public here.
Also very familiar to Thai car enthusiasts was a Jaguar XJ220, one of 275 built and one of a brace in Thailand, which in fact now makes regular public show appearances, most recently gracing the International Motor Expo held earlier this month, but which never loses its capacity to draw glances and its sleek shape was further enhanced by the outdoor environment and natural light from the sun on what turned out to be a very bright and hot day.
Also, amongst the feature cars, was a silver 1956 Jaguar XK140 and a Mercedes 300 S cabriolet that eschewed the majority trend of the participating cars coming down the Bangna-Trad highway from Bangkok to the Amata Country Club as it in fact resides in Pattaya. With its immaculate black paintwork, acres of polished chrome and big brown canvas hood thrown back it was an elegant yet imposing sight.
There was also a sleek white Mercedes 190 SL from 1955 as well as Aston Martin’s flagship Virage 6.3-litre in a rich dark blue hue, one of a thousand originally built and a kitted sportscar that perfectly nails the 90s. The row of feature cars was completed by a pretty blue Porsche 356 C and an elegant vintage Bentley.
Away from the highlight cars the big field was a veritable mix of much-loved cars. Porsche, arguably the most popular brand here with the higher end collectors, was represented by classic to contemporary models, including the 911, 912, 914, 930 and a stunning 550 Spyder replica exacting in details right down to the metal-and-enamel ‘Nürburgring’ badges plastered on the wings.
An RWB Porsche 993 in beautiful original “Riviera Blue” also stood out; it was in fact one of a handful of these widebody models on show on the golf course from the 27 examples to have been converted by RWB in Thailand so far.
From the home of automotive style, Italy, there was a clutch of sleek Alfa Romeos, an unusual original white painted Ferrari 355 and a superb Fiat 124 Spider 1600 as well as a more contemporary yellow Lamborghini Murciélago while further Jaguars on show included a white Mk2.
The ranks of classic British cars also saw the appearance of the now familiar but never tiring to look at “Le Mans” replica MG in British racing Green and a big Daimler sedan in ‘Vanden Plas’ trim.
There was strong representation from the Mini and VW Beetle clubs while American cars didn’t miss out on the extravaganza as their ranks included a classic Ford Mustang coupe as well as an immaculate condition 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Station Wagon. Novelties included a Karman Ghia dressed up in Martini racing colours and a little Mini van hitched up to a big caravan. Other rarities included a Volvo P1800 S coupe and a Lotus Eclat.
The Amata Spring Classic d’Elegance was a big hit with everyone who came. “This event is a dream come true,” says Parinya. “We’re happy with it, to have all these beautiful cars in the field.”
The organisers are ambitious though, they want the Amata Spring Classic d’Elegance to go places and Parinya admits: “People still don’t understand quite how this event works, we want cars to pre-register, we need more selective cars to make the event more beautiful, [the concept of] pre-registration and selection is more normal for the USA.” That’s the next stage of the plan. Building an international level event is firmly the long-term goal.
“Definitely we will do [it] for next year,” he adds. “We have to start earlier this time, gather all the details [and] some systems do have to be better.”
The event was supported by Bangkok Classic Car, Classic Car Association of Thailand and the Bira Revival.
So, all-in-all the inaugural Amata Spring Classic d’Elegance was a beautiful and enjoyable event – but even more importantly it’s a superb platform to build on for the future. However, there’s a lot of hard work ahead, everyone in the classic car world is going to have to really pull together – and then maybe Thailand can have the internationally recognised classic car show it deserves.