When Rupert produces a set of well-thumbed photos from his wallet, don’t expect him to show off snaps of toothy grandkids or stunning views of desert sunsets, taken from the roof of his holiday home in Arizona. The Berlin businessman’s delight lies in his collection of classic cars and his face glows with pride as he lays out for scrutiny illustrations of the array of motorized metal, much of which first hit the road when the Sixties swung to the Beatles’ beat, Mary Quant ran up her first mini-skirts and spaced-out hippies tripped to San Francisco, with flowers in their hair and LSD in their pockets. Amongst his fleet of remarkable motors Rupert has housed in the various garages at his homes in Mallorca, Germany and the USA, the prize exhibits are a Mercedes 280SE, a rare BMW 547 and a pair of near-identical Jaguar XK150s.
“They have a charm modern cars can never match,” he says rapturously, “even though they lack many of the present-day refinements, like power steering, air conditioning and high-tech electronics. “They can sometimes be a challenge to drive, but that’s a large part of the fun.”
And fun it is, alongside nostalgia, for up to 80 other, like-minded aficionados, who meet each month as members of the Classic Car Club of Mallorca – conveniently abbreviated to the CCC or, to give it its local name, Club de Cotxes Classics de Mallorca – for a leisurely rally in their big boys toys, a convivial lunch somewhere off the island’s beaten track and a chance to chew the fat over the quirky idiosyncrasies of iconic autos.
Invariably present are the Classic Car Club WAGs, the corps of wives and girlfriends, who display admirable patience and fortitude, often beyond the call of duty, in deferece to the homage their menfolk pay to the allure of the svelte curves and raunchy attributes of their ‘mechanical mistresses’. One WAG says stoically, “I suppose it could be worse…if he was a golfer or yachting fanatic, he’d disappear for hours on end and I’d hardly see him at all. And I don’t know what I’d do if he was into train-spotting.”
While men will forever be boys, the girls have established a sorority all of their own within this male bastion, with most female camp followers now regarding the CCC as an opportunity to forge new friendships that transcend cultures and national boundaries. This is nothing less than a mirror image of the entente cordiale that exists between the male membership.
Established on solid bedrock of Anglo-German zeal, the technical terminology relating to camshafts, track-rod ends and independent rear suspension may occasionally get mangled in the translation, but the lubricant of warm, clubbable fellowship never becomes clogged up in the works.
“I can think of plenty of worse ways to spend a Sunday in Mallorca,” admits another WAG.
Discover the traditional town of Andratx, its weekly market, one of the island’s best modern art galleries, and good restaurants. Highly recommended visit! […] Andratx
The CCC was born in 1997, the midwives being a group of classic car enthusiasts based in Andratx. Its membership has expanded considerably since and there is a growing interest amongst Spanish owners, as evidenced by the impressive string of collectable cars in the group’s stable. The core value and common denominator is the type of vehicle sought and bought. So forget ultra exotic thoroughbreds, such as Bugattis, Facel Vegas, Lamborghinis and other aristocratic works of auto art that are more likely to figure at a Bonham’s auction or in a heritage museum.
Concentrate, instead, on production types circa the 1960s. MG models such as the B, GT, C and Midget, spring to mind, as do Austin Healeys and Lancia Beta Coupes. Even the occasional stately Rolls, recherché Citroen saloon or a US Ford pick-up, more at home on the long, straight prairie turnpikes of America’s Mid-West than snaking Mallorcan byways, make the grade. Such marques are not only more affordable, but they are eminently durable and the availability of replacement parts is rarely a headache. All are excellent examples from an age when motoring was a pleasure rather than a chore and each vehicle has been tenderly restored to something approaching its original state.
So, for a relatively modest investment of, say, between 12,000 and 20,000 euros, joining the ranks of the island’s classic car enthusiasts isn’t an incitement to bankruptcy and nor does such an outlay lessen the romance of owning a motor whose prime was 40 years or more ago. Apart from the obvious attractions of fun, pride and passion, there are manifest reasons for making the investment. “Men like to fix things – it’s a challenge,” insists Club president Jorge, surveying his pristine, red MGB roadster. “So is keeping the car in prime condition.”
Peter, owner of an iconic Jaguar XK120 and an MG Midget, has a more quixotic reason. “I am reliving the misspent youth I dreamed of, but couldn’t afford when I was young,” he says, recalling how his GB£10 Austin gave him as much street cred as a traffic cone, when compared to the MGBs, Triumph TR4s and Lotus Elans that zipped along the lanes around his Lancashire home four decades passed. Rupert shares a similar sense of nostalgia, born of financial hardship. “My parents sent me to America in 1964 and left me with $60 to buy a car,” he recalls. “I had to spend my time scouring the scrap yards to buy bits and pieces to make it go, but it gave me an appreciation of what motor vehicles were all about and it’s never left me.”
Being a member of the CCC has its privileges, too. The club’s principle aims are to unite friends of classic automobiles, to further the conservation and collection of these cherished examples from the halcyon days of motoring and to organize rallies. But its remit stretches much further. Affiliated to the Federación Española de Vehículos Antiguos (FEVA) – the sole representative in Spain of the Fédération Internationale des Vehicules Anciens (FIVA) – the club provides expert help in overcoming the red tape the Spanish authorities place in the way of would-be classic car owners. It’s able to tap into a veritable mine of information on import rules, changes of ownership regulations and it can help expedite all the complex certification necessary to apply for ‘H’ plate matriculation, which single out classics from modern motors.
The club also compiles a database of local engineers, proven sufficiently specialist to repair and invigorate cars that otherwise would have been consigned to the scrap heap of motoring history. “We think it’s important to keep alive the magic of cars from a bygone age for other generations to see and admire,” explains Jorge. “And, at the same time, it’s terrific fun.”
The CCC welcomes everyone interested in classic automobiles and owning one and there’s a wealth of information on their website, www.ccc-mallorca.com.