Eye Candy! - Fox Classic Car Collection

By: Dave Morley, Photography by: Coventry Studios

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There are car museums and there are car museums. This is the latter, and the bloke who own it invites you to come and take a look

Eye Candy! - Fox Classic Car Collection
New and old classics fill the museum

We’ve all been to car museums, right? Some are the work of committees, others reflect the often off-beat passion of a single individual. Some are the result of well-funded museum trusts with plenty of money to splash around, others come together on a shoestring budget, even if their display depth and quality suggest otherwise.


Auto beauty from all eras, everywhere.

But what happens when a single Aussie bloke – albeit a hugely passionate one – cashed up enough to buy any car he wanted, decides that his own personal collection deserves to be shown to the public? This is what happens. Welcome to trucking magnate Lindsay Fox’s toy-box. And you are welcome, because Lindsay wants you to see it and enjoy it.

Called the Fox Classic Car Collection, this gathering of the automotive clans represents some of the most storied makes and models ever to be assembled in one place. There are cars of which only a handful exist anywhere in the world, others so rare in Australia they can be counted on one finger. Some are the raciest four-wheelers ever to grace a starting grid, others are super-deluxo trinkets made for the planet’s richest and most powerful.


But they all have one thing in common: You can visit them for the price of a coffee and a sandwich. Oh, and all profits go to charity. No losers here.

Unique Cars recently got an invite to take a peek at the collection for ourselves. I did a  hamstring getting to the car.

Actually, what you see at the Docklands-based Fox Collection in downtown Melbourne is about half of Lindsay Fox’s current collection. Some are permanent displays at the centre, others will rotate through over time to be replaced by other cars that haven’t been seen at the museum yet.


If there’s a theme, it’s probably that the cars are high-end exotics and/or super low-mileage cars, some of which are showing only delivery miles and still have the factory plastic protective covers on doors and seats. Originality is also a theme here.

You can see for yourself the depth of quality here, but we decided we’d pick out Unique Cars’ top five anyway. Which, as usual, turned in to a riot as editor Ange, Uncle Phil and yours truly argued the toss over what we’d drive away in. So here we go (in no particular order):

Porsche RS Spyder

Maybe you think you’ve seen one of these once. Maybe. But it’s a fair chance the one you spotted was a replica. That’s because Porsche only built 90 of them between 1953 and 1956, and this is one of those.


1955 Porsche 550/1500 RS Spyder has a close build number to the James Dean car.

With a tube-chassis, mid-engine and drop-dead gorgeous looks, the 550 absolutely dominated the small-capacity classes in motorsport around the world at the time and for many years later. In fact, it won its very first race at the Nurburgring in 1953. It also claimed the chocolates in famous races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Carrera Panamericana and the Targa Florio.


And this isn’t just a swoopy Volkswagen, either. No, the 550 used the four-camshaft version of the Porsche air-cooled four-cylinder, with the cams driven by bevel shafts and an output of about 110 horsepower. Oh, and something like 80 hours to assemble by a trained tech.



Want to know something spooky? This very car is just one production number off the 550 that James Dean was driving when he went to his reward, way back in September 1955.

Lexus LFA

Better known for its luxury cars than outright supercars, Lexus still managed to apply all its considerable skills when it came time to develop the LFA. But the LFA is also a story of false starts and the brand effectively binned a decade’s worth of design and development when it was decided the prototype was too heavy to be a convincing supercar. So, it was back to the drawing board to redesign the body in carbon fibre, even though the original design had called for aluminium.


Jeremy Clarkson called it, the best car ... in the world.

The end result was a carbon-fibre tub design, a la Formula 1 (which Toyota was messing around in at the time, happily tearing up cubic dollars). But it was arguably the V10 engine that has emerged as the car’s highlight.



With 4.8 litres to work with and not a turbocharger or supercharger to be seen, the engine is a genuine spine-tingler. Of course, it wasn’t just the noise it made, the 412kW driving through a six-speed clutchless manual was also some kind of sensation.


If anything, the styling of the LFA downplays the athleticism inherent in the design, but from the driver’s seat, it’s impossible to hear or see anything that isn’t perfect.

Mercedes-Benz 540K

The massive, three-tonne Benz 540K is as much a statement of intent as it ever was transport. Germany was on the rise as an industrial superpower, and the people in control wanted you to know it. 


The Mercedes-Benz 540K is globally sought after, and one of three in the country.

Using a 5.4-litre straight-8 engine, the monster ran twin carburettors and a crank-driven supercharger that could be manually engaged or automatically pulled in when you floored the throttle. And while the rest of the world was trundling along with three forward gears, the 540K had four as standard and five optionally. Vacuum assisted brakes was another ahead-of-its-time touch.


And it wasn’t all chrome and glitter, either; the 540K actually subscribed to motor racing technology, trading in the previous model’s girder chassis for an oval-section tube frame. It was lighter, but still a big lump of a thing.


Clearly, of course, this was a car for millionaires and dictators. Hermann Goering was one customer. Enough said. 

Ferrari 288 GTO

If you dig the Ferrari F40 (and there’s one of those on display at the Fox Collection, too) then you need to pay respect to its daddy, this car, the 288 GTO. Although it was based on the bodyshell of the 308, the idea of calling it a GTO meant it had to have the stomp to back that up.


Desirable duo, Ferrari F40 and 288 GTO, finished in signature Rosso.

The solution to that back in 1984 was to turbocharge the V8 engine in line with what was happening in Formula 1. However, that caused a few packaging problems when it came time to measure up the 308 bodyshell and the way that car mounted its engine and gearbox. Instead of the transverse mounted engine-gearbox unit of the 308, the use of those twin turbos meant that the engine had to be swung 90-degrees and mounted longitudinally with the gearbox behind it.


In turn, that meant that the wheelbase had to be extended. It was worth all the effort, of course, as the dry-sumped 2.9-litre mill (which became the F40 powerplant) shunted out 294kW at a time when that was truly epic stuff.


The body was not-so-subtly modified, too, with a deep front spoiler, rear lip and bulging guards to accept the 16x8 and 16x10 Speedline alloys and Pirelli rubber.


The 288 GTO continues to live in the F40’s shadow, but really, it’s just as important a car and shows the lengths a carmaker will go to get the result it wants.

Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evo 2

A less controversial Benz in the Fox Collection is this one; a 190E 2.5-16 Evo 2. This was the homologation version of the 190E that allowed Mercedes-Benz to compete in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) a series that has produced some of the most hectic motor racing ever seen. (Actually, the car was initially imagined as a rally car, but the dominance of the AWD Audi Quattros put that idea to the sword.)


The Evo II had the UC staff drooling.

Cosworth was approached to design a race engine and, using the 190E’s bottom end, came up with a 16-valve cylinder head in alloy, a dry sump and mechanical fuel-injection. For the road-going homologation cars, the engine was switched back to wet sump and Bosch fuel-injection was substituted. Even so, it made an honest 136kW in road trim and revved all the way to 7000rpm thanks to its over-square design.


The body kit is pretty wild when seen against the rather staid 190E body, and that giant rear spoiler could only be a product of the 1980s.


If this lot has whet your appetite for a bit of exotica, the Fox Classic Car Collection is located in a gorgeous, historic building (which was once a customs warehouse, then a postage-stamp and note-printing works) at 749 to 755 Collins Street in the Docklands, Victoria. It’s open to the public on Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays and can be hired for private events.

Entry will cost you $16.50 for adults, $9.50 for a concession ticket and $39.50 for a family of two adults and two kids. And best of all, all proceeds go to charity.

Check out the website at www.foxcollection.org.au 

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