Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Constant Gardener and his Classic Cars

Click on photos to enlarge for a far better result

This Saturday the CCC was kindly invited to a classic car 'party' event at the Palac Rozalin, some 40 kms from the centre of Warsaw. Needless to say the weather was decidedly 'iffy' - damp, rather chilly and typically threatening autumnal skies. 10C falling to 8C in the evening.

It was an invitation only event by Pawel Molgo, President of the NAC company and owner of Palac Rozalin, a restored historic building used mainly as an entertainment venue. He has had a long and very interesting experience in motorsport - from the Monte Carlo Rallye Historique to 4 x 4 rallies in Morocco More about Paweł and his team:

On this occasion unfortunately very few members of the CCC turned out which is perfectly understandable given the short notice and weather - Michael Moran, Iain Batty,  Krzysztof Niewiadomski  and Grzegorz Grątkowski.  A real pity as it turned out be an amusing and well staged, surprisingly high class event with some rare cars perfectly restored, excellent food, wine and musical entertainment. Oh and more to the point and a sign of Polish hospitality it was free...

The Palac Rozalin, marquee and section of the car field early in the afternoon 

As might be expected among the 30 or so historic classics there was a predominance of various models of Mercedes Benz - half the field in fact.  At such events it would be helpful if participants put a small board or windscreen sign indicating the model of their car and its date of manufacture as a bare minimum of information. The owners were not standing with their cars to have a chat but out of the cold tucking into the Bavarian barbecue. 

We are not all experts on every marque! Accurately naming the various historic models of Mercedes is a task for a librarian in a Jorge Louis Borges short story. Perusing these unknown models has been a real education and a salutary lesson in refined Teutonic elegance which I had scarcely considered possible. The 'Adenauer' Mercedes line does not feature strongly in the UK and Australia where most of my classic car education took place.

German classics are by far the most sensible classic cars to own in Poland from the maintenance point of view - next to Jaguars which are also well serviced here. I counted at least four superbly restored Pagodas, a very fine 190 SL, a number of elegant two-door saloons, a 180 saloon, two 1950s period 300 saloons (one in a fabulous dark, metallic red) and a black 1957 300 SC coupe - for me one of the the most elegant cars in the show. BMW were represented by a sole 3.0 CSL. 

There was also a superbly restored Porsche 356 owned by Mr. Molgo, a Porsche 911 Carrera,  Roger Moore's The Saint car - a Volvo p1800 in a superb light blue metallic. My own heart was lost to an outstanding restored red First Generation Ford Thunderbird with whitewall tyres and stunning interior (the epitome of young love and Jane Mansfield sex on wheels 'Youth' - the glory of it!' so wrote Joseph Conrad), a 'mixed bag' prewar Rolls-Royce of which I have yet to identify the coachbuilder, my own rather out of period 1974 RR Silver Shadow (a most modest contribution among this collection of exotics but still an RR after all) and an uncompleted Maserati-Citroen. Jaguar were represented by a Series II E-Type, and XJS convertible, an XJ-Coupe and a 2.4 Mk II. There was also a Fiat Topolino saloon (I think).

The assembled cars from the balcony of the palace
As ever I will let the pictures and their captions do most of the talking.

The Porsche 356 (as if you didn't know!) The XKS Convertible to the left - a fine example

A few of the more interesting punters clearly moving into Goodwood Revival Mode at the Bavarian barbecue

The Maserati Citroen not completed or registered yet. Pawel Molgo must be a supreme masochist taking on the restoration of one of these!

The Ford T-Bird

One of the 1950s Mercedes 300 S in a stunning colour and fitted with a sunshine roof. 
A wonder to behold!

Mercedes 300 SC Coupe

Rozalin Palace

The neo-Renaissance villa of Rozalin itself is architecturally an important and historic building in Poland designed by Leonardo Marconi, son of the famous Henryk Marconi who designed so many important neo-Classical buildings in the country. The full detailed history can be read here in Polish and with automatic translator one can get a fair idea in English 

The highly romantic gardens at Palac Rozalin

Some team cars from Pawel Molgo's Rally Team  
The Rallye du Maroc vehicle


The Polski Fiat 125 in which Pawel Molgo took part in the Monte Carlo Rallye Historique and was well placed. On my first project in Poland in 1992 as a 'Team Car' I bought an excellent FSO 125p and was absolutely happy with it. Perfect for Polish conditions!
The trusty FSO 125p I first owned in Poland in 1992. Here is the car for 'Team Eurocentre' parked outside the remote Tartar mosque at Kruszyniany ca. 1992 when I was working on a project in Poland.  
Note the green 'IWA' registration plate (International Warszawa) a ploy by the authorities to assist thieves in possible rich pickings which they managed on a number of occasions! Tweed Donegal suits, Kielman shoes, vintage pens - that sort of thing. 
Most people hated the car but I thought it excellent for the Poland of that time.

A well known motoring magazine with a section called The Good, The Bad & The Ugly described the car:
FSO 125P

For: Quad headlamps
Against: Everything behind them

'On yer bike'
Your club chairman MM as part of a remarkable Tableau Vivant in the garden of Palac Rozalin.
Practising for when bankrupted by his classic car obsession
The superbly restored Volvo p1800
Interior at Palac Rozalin
Romeo et Julietta cigars with a cutter were nonchalantly left on the mantle for passing guests. That's what I call stylish hospitality!
(and I took full advantage)
The beautiful wrought-iron staircase balustrade at Palac Rozalin

Our colorful friend who to my mind bore a distinct resemblance to Auric Goldfinger about to set off on the 'mounted lawnmower race' over a timed course. Actually won by a lady 'who was very light' I am assured!

The 20/25 Rolls-Royce with an unknown body owned by the above gentleman aka Auric Goldfinger

Presentation of prizes in the marquee at the end of the evening for the various competitive events that took place (prizes were chain saws, leaf blowers and other gardening equipment manufactured by Pawel Molgo)
The prize for the most elegant car of the day went to our friend above and his Rolls-Royce. Certainly not the connoisseurs' choice in my opinion. For me it was the 1950s Mercedes 300 SC Coupe or the Volvo p1800.
Oh the T-Bird was excluded from the competition - it would have won hands down of course but the owner Pawel Molgo did not think it was cricket to enter it!
And so we wended our weary way home...
There was some dancing to 1950s and 1960s songs at the concluding party played by a rather glamorous violinist in gold and black accompanying the recordings. I shall spare you pictures of my geriatric shuffle. 

The day was very enjoyable, surprisingly so, and a terribly generous gesture on the part of the host.

So a big  thank-you Pawel from the CCC for your kind invitation!

Not a pleasant drive back to Warsaw in the dark through Janki in the heavy rain - also heavy traffic. Thank God I used my better judgement and resisted taking the MG TC. I would have been cleaning it for a week...

                                                                                                                                    Michael Moran

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Underneath the Arches at Stacja Mercedes, Warsaw

Click on photos to enlarge - superior result

The Cafe at Stacja Mercedes, Warsaw

The CCC was kindly invited to the last Coffee and Cars gathering of the season by Michal Antoni Wrobel, C0-founder of MOTORE the philosophy of which is best explained at 

The Stacja Mercedes venue is a new Mercedes temporary sales and publicity initiative best explained once again at:


I ignored the weather and its possible outcome completely and turned up to see a collection of state of the art modern and classic super-cars gathered under the arches of Poniatowski Bridge. Many were very fine BMW saloons but I also noticed a white Honda s2000, a very bling and Teutonic black Bentley Continental GT with only 7500 kms on the clock, an ivory 6 cylinder Jaguar XJS, the beautiful Paul Ayre blue Triumph TR 6 wearing its British Leyland badges with pride so perfect is the restoration, a Porsche Cayman, a Porsche Boxter, my own tiny jewel of a 1949 MG TC but standing out against all of these and my choice on the day a magnificently detailed red Ferrari 328 GTS. I almost bought one a couple of years ago but as is typical with me and classic car purchases - Captain Sensible -  I bottled out at the eleventh hour after considering the challenge of owning such a car in Poland. The present owner put me at my ease and if he ever decides to sell I hope I am at the top of the list!

The fascinating story of the purchase and driving experiences of this particular 328 and the Polish love of Ferraris is in a very interesting Road & Track article at:

The Ferrari 328 GTS 

From the CCC Paul Ayre, Michael Motz and Michael Moran attended the pleasant Sunday morning. I hope to have gathered in the 328 owner Przemyslaw as a new CCC member. Also an attractive young lady Marta Adamczyk who tells me 'petrol runs in my veins!'  This should lift the tone of this fledgling club chaps! She drives a Renault Megane R.S.

I sloped off to a spontaneous photo session of my car as part of an English classic cars feature in a Polish car magazine about 2.00, pm. near the National Stadium.  

Dashboard of my 1949 MG TC

Incidentally the Top Gear Live event last night  filled the stadium to capacity - 69,000 - which I hope confirms Jeremy, James and Richard in their immortality and stops them needling the populace with foolish and unimaginative jokes about bloody Polish plumbers! There is a true and well-informed passion for cars and Top Gear here. 

Why is it the many great Polish engineers, mathematicians,  engine designers, computer software innovators, entrepreneurs, doctors, sportsmen, pilots, superb women, brilliant aeronautical engineers and scientists are scarcely ever mentioned? 

Very tiresome - all Poles are not plumbers, cleaners or fruit pickers for goodness sake! 
'Oh, I had a Polish cleaner once. Excellent she was....' and comments of that absurd ilk litter English dinner parties.

How wonderful my civilized interest in cars can distract me at least for a few hours from the present oppressive barbaric  horrors in Kenya and Syria....respect for human life seems to me to be at an all time low since the Second World War...

My 1949 MG TC underneath the arches of the Poniatowski Bridge, Warsaw

                                                                                                                                        Michael Moran

Friday, 13 September 2013

Dinner at the Bristol Hotel Warsaw Thursday 12th September 2013

A slightly gloomy late-night scene outside the Bristol on 12th September 2013

The Chairman's 1949 MG TC
The weather was not particularly kind and  together with the large Polish four-day Trade Union protest action and various other labour demonstrations in Central Warsaw over demands for an increase in the minimum wage, objections to ‘junk contracts’, dissatisfaction with the new retirement age, health cover and various other things, a slight dampener was put on our proceedings. There were an estimated 120,000 demonstrators marching on Saturday September 14th.

Although the weather had cleared by five o'clock we felt it socially inappropriate to park our classic cars outside a luxury hotel as a sign of comparative affluence (if only they knew). Many Poles feel these protests are entirely politically motivated but  in many cities, towns and villages I have visited outside of Warsaw, Polish life has certainly not experienced  the  'miracle of regeneration' and the avoidance of recession often commented on in Western media. The 'trickle-down' effect of Warsaw economic centrism is not always clear. Many people outside of the capital (and even within it) struggle without a job, sufficient disposable income or the luxury of any car at all let alone a classic one. One cannot help but be sympathetic.

Detailed introductions were made by members to our three new Polish friends. I noticed that members defined themselves entirely through the cars they owned. An unapologetic and stimulating  character trait in these benighted times of constant attacks on male pride. Occupations were not mentioned which gave rise to lively objective discussions of subjects predominantly related to cars. Interesting that, rather like conversations in an English pub where the backgrounds and work of interlocutors are scarcely ever mentioned.  

The usual convivial evening ensued with a discussion of technical points and expression of the strong emotions generated by incidents of financial betrayal by mechanics. This was accompanied by conversation concerning the normal challenges of restoring, running and maintaining classic cars in Poland and elsewhere. Contact details for outstanding mechanics with reputations for reliability and honesty were exchanged. 

When registered in Poland, a classic car is classified as a 'moving historical object' and becomes at a stroke part of the nation's official cultural heritage. As such disposing of them later outside of Poland can be a bureaucratic nightmare

When I first began this process I thought through a mistranslation that the authorities were referring to me personally as a 'moving historical object'. Quite true of course and becoming increasingly historic by the minute! Oh, and not increasing much in value....

Conversation topics I overheard from my end of the table ranged from the seemingly inevitable and possibly misplaced concern men have with cars and their ability to attract women, through Polish widows hiding priceless classic car collections assembled by their sadly deceased husbands, the delivery of vegetables to Covent Garden in London via narrow gauge landed estate railways to the amusingly gauche nature of Australians such as myself, their concerns and accents. 

The distinct advantages of not being a one marque car club were heavily endorsed by the membership. 

Andy Fincham suggested in the future the possibility of a CCC Charity Meet where exciting short drives in our cars could be offered from the American Muscle Cars with V8 torque, vibration and thunderous sound to shall we say the pre-war design delights of the cart-suspension MG TC skipping about once beloved of Spitfire and Hurricane pilots.

There was an discussion agenda covered during an hiatus in the excellent dinner. 

         Discussion Agenda CCC Bristol Dinner 12/09/13

·     the future direction of the CCC
       No great concerns expressed here about the present direction of the club

·     recruitment of new CCC members in particular Polish enthusiasts
      Three new Polish members joined at this dinner thanks to Michael Motz. Needless to say we would like to attract more members. Current CCC Membership List is in the care of the Chairman to avoid confusion and fog

·     the nature of present club activities and further event suggestions
     It was decided that all members would be supplied with a current email membership list. They could then make individual suggestions for activities maintaining the energy of spontaneity and variety according to individual interests. We can make up our own individual 'Doodles' and suggest participation. Refer to Chairman for the most up to date mailing list.

·   mixture of cultural, social and technical activities similar to UK car club activities?
    Yes - to be decided as above by members according to specialty, interest and training

·     implementing a few club rules that cannot be too casual
       After the flurry of bromidic emails concerning dinner and other bookings, individual  responsibility for confirmation and prompt payment is now accepted by members  apart from Acts of God and force majeur

·  Continuation of Michael Moran as club chairman. Discussion of revolving the chairman each year or assistance with planning events  
     In view of his ownership of a modest model R-R it was decided unanimously that Michael Moran should remain Chairman until a new election at the September Dinner 2014.  Surely a victory of style over substance...discuss.

·    the logo and regalia
     Paul Ayre's excellent winged CCC logo was accepted unanimously. Financing and design of regalia to be discussed at the next dinner. 

                                          Casual Car Club Logo - Warsaw, Poland

The dinner concluded with a most interesting talk in brilliant, idiomatic English by Piotr R. Frankowski, the President and editor of the glamorous RAMP car and lifestyle magazine book (the latest format). He chose as his subject the great Polish Zborowski motor racing family. Count Louis Zborowski resembled in many ways a Polish Gatsby figure if that is not a contradiction in terms. A highly entertaining and informative lecture. Some illustrations from the talk are given below.

At the conclusion of the talk the questionable justification of the adoption of the title 'Count' by Louis Zborowski was raised, an uncomfortable moment in view of his heroic status in Poland. What bearing this subject of titles has on his fabulous sense of style, wealth, courage, engineering and driving ability was not at all clear to me. The great French writer Honore de Balzac was not entitled to the aristocratic 'de' he adopted but what of that bearing in mind his literary genius and gifts to us!

Click on photos to enlarge for best results

Piotr. R. Frankowski, President and editor of RAMP  magazine and our multi-talented  lecturer on the Zborowski family. Here snapped in serious mien in the rather more salubrious surroundings of Goodwood House at a Dinner and Summer Ball held on July 11th during the
2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed 

Palladian Higham Park at Bridge nr. Canterbury in Kent, home of the fabulously wealthy  'Count' Louis Zborowski . Mozart stayed here as a nine-year old. Jane Austen and Ian Fleming were both guests - two ends of the cultural spectrum there surely!

The Zborowski black-tie dinner
How I yearn for the style, post-war euphoria and spontaneity of the 1920s!
 Front row Lt. to Rt.  Vi (Count Luis Zborowski's wife), 'Count' Louis Zborowski (centre), Pixi Marix  and Captain Clive Gallop, who joined the legendary Bentley Boys but who worked with Zborowski in 1921 as a co-driver, driver and designer of the Chitty Bang Bang cars.
This picture was taken in January 1922 at the glamorous Hotel Negresco in Nice the night before they set off for Marseilles to drive cross the Sahara in
Chitty  II with a White Mercedes following carrying the luggage. The way it was done...

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang II with Vi in the passenger seat during the Sahara trip. Under the bonnet an 18.8  litre Benz Bz.IV aero engine

Chitty Bang Bang I at the Brooklands Easter Meeting 1921. Under the bonnet a 23 litre, 6 cylinder Maybach aero engine 
The wreck of the 1924 GP Mercedes in which Count Louis was killed at Monza in 1924
Our intrepid lecturer, President and editor of RAMP,  Piotr R. Frankowski, in an Alfa GTAm (Alleggerita Maggiorata)
on the Goodwood Hill at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Own this outstanding magazine/ book if you are Polish or fluent in Polish! Available in 180  EMPIK stores

OMG She's naked!

Photograph by the equally brilliant Creative Director of RAMP and CCC Member Blazej Zulawski

For more on Louis Zborowski and the Chitty Bang Bangs see the Brooklands Society Website

This link is also quite interesting on the history of the car and house following Zborowski's death - James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Chitty Bang Bang and Tristram Shandy all feature in some way! 

I was so engrossed in the evening and the lecture I entirely forgot to take photographs of the assembled company as I usually do.  Sorry.

For the record there were 13 of us at dinner: 

Michael Motz; Patryk Kruk; Marcin Kruk; Marcin Zientara; Andy Fincham; Neil Crook; Richard Berkeley; Iain Batty; David O'Driscoll; Ian Booth; Paul Ayre; Blazej Zulawski; Michael Moran and Piotr R. Frankowski.

If you have a classic car in Poland or are simply an enthusiast and wish to join the CCC contact:

                                                                                                                          Michael Moran
                                                                                                                          CCC Club Chairman

Monday, 9 September 2013

Bacon Butties, Brews and Spanners

CCC cars gathered outside Neil Crook's place near Warsaw. Foreground is the superb Triumph TR 6 owned by Paul Ayre. Middle row Lt. to Rt. Iain Batty's fine Jaguar XJ Supersport, Blazej Zulawski's Series 1 E-Type convertible, Iain Booth's E Type Series 11 2+2 coupe. Just visible at the back is the blue Ford Mustang belonging to Michael (or Jan) Motz and Michael Moran's black 1949 MG TC and the tip of a red Fiat Maluch

At last a Sunday of perfect weather for the CCC when something had been arranged! 

We have had far too many disappointments this season so far. We decided to meet for a general 'Natter' (without the 'Noggin' - Polish rules on driving with alcohol in the bloodstream being severe these days - an irrelevance for many drivers in this anti-authoritarian country who ignore rules at our peril).  So it was bacon butties (bacon and eggs in a bun) with much tea and sympathy, classic car owners being the masochists they are.

One of our members Neil Crook lives at picturesque Sulejowek about 35 kms from the centre of Warsaw. Nearby he has an attractive converted barn with various classic cars in various stages of restoration .  

The drive from Warsaw is through a very lovely heavily forested area with particularly friendly and uninhibited local people as I found when I got lost on a Polish detour centered on railway crossing works. A Polish detour or Objazd  is like no other on the planet generally re-routing one through Dresden or Minsk. Members took their classics and I in some trepidation took the 1949 MG TC. The solid prewar designed cart suspension, turbocharged Polish drivers and road surfaces are a challenge both to one's back anatomy, stomach and ability to control uncontrollable panic.

Neil generously played the part of 'Mine Host' and chef particularly well although the BBC were not present on this occasion for the TV series. The conversation veered from the comparative microscopic costs of repairs in Poland compared to the UK (although from some some reports Polish mechanics are fast learning the tricks of  another variety of CCC namely Classic Car Capitalism), bringing a Lotus Elan to Poland, driving Ferraris in Brittany, beautiful Bentleys transformed by dodgy dealers into monster toys and of course that staple of men when gathered convivially together, what make of car best attracts the ladies and why. 

It is some time since I thought about that subject and looking in the mirror of a morning I notice drawbacks vastly more significant than the marque of my car. I must say though driving home after this event, beautiful Polish girls cycling with the long tanned legs of late summer, nether regions sort of sheathed in tiny shorts (a wonderful, welcome and common sight in Poland in summer), shouted appreciative remarks to the old geezer in the TC.  Well we all need our dreams. 'Polish women - the best legs in Europe!' a journalist once enthusiastically commented to me at a diplomatic function.

As ever, here are some photos of what turned out to be a very pleasant morning and afternoon with important car information exchanged.

Click on photos to enlarge - far superior rendition

CCC members in animated conversation gathered around the bacon buttie tea table

Our host Neil Crook skeptically hearing news of available Ferraris at rock-bottom prices. The high technology implements of his breakfast trade at back left

Paul Ayre (TR 6) and Ian Booth (E-Type) arrive at the barn
The Motz 1969 Ford Mustang
CCC members admiring some exotica within...a bottle of champagne is the prize for accurate identification of all visible cars

     The Maserati Indy America - a runner and star of the show

Maserati Indy America dashboard
Superb dashboard on the Alfa Romeo 2000 GT Veloce

Instrument panel on the Maserati Quattroporte III

A very pleasant day of car natter for the CCC, common ground where Poles and Englishmen can meet and chat about a subject mercifully detached from party politics, religious extremism, property prices, health and hospitals.....refreshing I must say.

If you own a classic car or are simply a classic car enthusiast, live in Poland and would like to join our Warsaw Club you can email me as the Chairman: Michael Moran 

Goodbye!  A typical Polish bicycle girl on a rather typical Polish pavement