Manila Sports Car Club’s
Gathering of the Faithful 2006
Sunday, January 8, 2006
What a day we had yesterday! After our regular meeting we had been invited to the Manila Sports Car Club’s annual “Gathering of the Faithful” event. The “Gathering of the Faithful” is what the Manila Sports Car Club (MSCC) calls their event that gathers Manila’s finest sports cars and shares them with fellow sports car enthusiasts. The last time, this event was held at the outdoor promenade of the Rockwell Powerplant Mall. Ordinarily the event is open to the public, like the last one at Rockwell. This year however, probably because of logistical and security concerns, it was an invitational event. As such, it was held in Ortigas at the open parking lot of the headquarters of the San Miguel Corporation, the principal sponsor of the event.
Our plan was to hang around the Polo club parking lot after our regular breakfast monthly meeting until 10am, then drive on down to Ortigas to the event in a convoy of Miata’s. But it seemed like the event was already starting there at the Polo Club parking lot since many MSCC guys chose it as their assembly point to convoy to the event. Our member Joe La’o had brought his pristine, fastback, Corvette Stingray to the meeting and we were already oohing and ahhhing over it. Most especially Chem whose been trying, for a considerable period of time, to persuade Joe to sell the car to him, but they just can’t seem to agree on the price. Then Giles Puno comes around and tells us that there’s a Ford GT parked at the next lot, and since hardly any of us have seen that car other than in pictures, we all trooped up the hill to the next parking lot.
The Ford GT, Ford’s modern day iteration of its successful and all conquering Sebring and LeMans endurance racer, winner in ’66, ’67, ’68 and ’69 – it is gorgeous. Its mid-mounted V8, 330cid, DOHC, all aluminum, supercharged engine sits underneath a glass cover for everyone to see. Truly awesome and jaw-dropping, most of us were at a loss for words. Except for Greg, who, as he was focusing his phone camera on the engine with its supercharger sitting on top of it, declares “meron ako nyan!” Takes another pic of the aluminum fuel lid up front and again says “meron din ako nyan!” Then turns to me and jokingly asks “may idle droop din kaya sya?”, in reference to the ubiquitous idle-droop problem that plagues most supercharged Miata’s. Absolutely hilarious this fellow Greg is.
Then a Ferrari Maranello arrives and as it parks, the driver treats himself to wonderfully intoxicating revving sounds from his Ferrari V12 engine. Today’s modern ultra-high-performance factory prepared street engines are just an absolute joy to listen to. So smooth, muted by mufflers, yet still sounding like the true exotics that they are. If ever there was an engine that genuinely epitomized the “vroom” sound, this Ferrari V12 in the Maranello – IS IT! And that’s just with two throttle bodies, one on each engine bank. Imagine if the factory had gone to the trouble of fitting individual throttle bodies to each of those cylinders.
There was the Ford GT, the Maranello, a new BMW E46 M3, a horde of 911’s in various iterations, and what does Ricci Jimenez ogle at and drool about? – a Nissan Silvia S14, fully decked out drift style. Maganda nga naman talaga, pero … - ewan ko ba jan!
We decide to head on out to the main event at Ortigas and troop down to our cars to assemble the convoy. As we’re walking, I notice that Chem is in serious thought and by the look on his face, I just know that he’s gotta have one of these cool toys and that the kids in his school are most likely in for another tuition fee hike come next school year (just kidding Chem!) On the road, the traffic is relatively heavy, but moving, and we’re forced to weave in and out between the slower cars – nothing that the Miata’s torque and agility cannot handle.
As our convoy of Miata’s arrive at the San Miguel headquarters, our principal sponsor is there waiting for the arrival of his guests. I take our president Jojo with me so that we can personally extend our gratitude and appreciation for the privilege of being invited to such an event. The man is very gracious and in return thanks us for coming to the event. In the middle of the display is his personal Mercedes Benz 300SL “Gullwing”, in maroon, which is in absolute showroom condition. This is the only car in his collection that he chooses to share with us today. I can only hope that he’s willing to share his other cars in the future, because his collection of classics and sports cars is one of the best.
The Ford GT arrives and is prominently displayed near the 300SL. It’s opened up so that everyone can see its engine and interior. Even the main man is impressed and says “maganda!”
Then a white Porsche 993 arrives with the full GT2 body kit, flares, wings and all. And it is very loud! Constantly revving its open exhaust engine as if its engine has trouble holding onto idling speed and continues pumping on the gas as it maneuvers into a parking slot at the center of the display. When the owner gets out, we learn from him that it is a 993RSR, a factory prepared LeMans racer in brand new condition. Its owner is one of our hosts and was proudly extolling the cars virtues in fascinating detail. He proclaims to our principal host, “Ito boss, maski marami kang pera di mo ‘to mabibili. There are only sixteen in the world that are left.” The main man inspects the car’s interior and comments, “aba eh puro roll bar na pala loob nito eh”, “pangkarera po ito boss. Fully lightened ang kaha, mga bintana sa tabi at sa likod plastic na. May onboard pneumatic jack system na pag sinaksakan ng hangin tataas buong koche para mapalitan mga gulong! 380hp may restrictor pa sa intake sa lagay na yan. Ang transmission nya straight-cut gears – walang synchronizer. Bumibili ako sa factory ng ganito wala na daw. Buti na lang may kilala ako’ng Hapon na nagbebenta ng koleksyon nya. Yung Hapon na yun pati sa factory representatives ayaw ipakita mga koche nya – sa ‘kin lang!”
A very special car indeed this particular 993RSR is.
The other cars prominently on display at the center of the event were indeed all very special but there were other cars that were just as special but unfortunately were in the periphery of the event. Like this Lancia Stratos:
And an original Shelby Cobra 427 in black. Carlitos Carmona was also there with his blue Michel replica Cobra. Both of these cars were sporting the personal signature of Carrol Shelby on their glove compartment doors which the owners probably got when Carrol Shelby came to the Philippines and attended an MSCC meeting. I took the opportunity to take note of the differences, if any, between an original Cobra and a replica. The bodies were perhaps identical, but I really couldn’t tell because the two cars were side by side only briefly. Jerry Jiao and I were discussing the two cars, and he feels that there’re also differences in the way the two cars stand, which is probably because of differences in suspension components and settings, I really couldn’t tell, but Jerry is a very learned enthusiast whose observations and opinions I give considerable weight. But the difference that is most certainly glaring would be the wheels. The original Cobra is wearing its original equipment Halibrand knock-off wheels in magnesium, while the replicas are made by Compomotive. The design of the centers are the same, but the replicas are secured by standard five lug nuts, while the originals are secured by knock-off spinners. The width and the offsets are also radically different and the originals look like they’re far wider with much meatier tires and with a lower offset number that provide them that deep dish look. In short, the original looks much meaner.
There was also a white, early 70’s Toyota Celica with the full TRD treatment, front and rear spoilers and the 13inch Tosco magnesium wheels. This car is immaculate and pictures do not do it justice. It also has a rear underbody spoiler which I’ve never seen on this kind of car but which I’m told is period correct and were available from TRD at the time. The only other car that I’ve seen with a similarly designed underbody spoiler was the Porsche 944 Turbo from the late 80’s.
But then came a Ferrari F430 in red, and when it came it was rumored that it was for sale. One of our well-heeled hosts quickly took the opportunity to test it out. He got in and revved that engine for all to hear. He was revving that beautiful engine to redline as it’s meant to be. This was a much different sound from the V12 in the Maranello – more taught, on edge and highly strung. I prefer the sound of the twelve, but this was no less thrilling to hear. An absolutely beautiful ripping sound. The car was then taken for a drive, at first the guy was gunning the engine around the parking lot, but the lot just does not have the room to stretch out that engine. They then took it out onto the streets but somehow I doubt if they had much success testing the car out during the Sunday mall-traffic in that area. When the car returned and as it was sitting cooling, Dale Dominado and I were looking at the exhaust system at the rear of the engine bay and he comments that the welds aren’t very nice considering the pedigree of the car. And I agree, I’ve seen much better on the aftermarket exhaust systems meant for Japanese cars that have that sideways stacked coins look. This Ferrari exhaust did not have that, although the outer shell of its muffler was in gleaming stainless steel engraved with the “Ferrari” logo. I guess you could change it out to a titanium exhaust when you have the means to purchase such a car. But then again why should you have to modify? … ahhh forget about it! The day’s too good to complain about such things.
A day like this is far better than any car show. In a car show, although the cars are beautiful and in immaculate condition, the cars are static. These cars are used and used by their owners as they were meant to be driven – HARD! Hardly any of these cars were garage queens. And in a car show you rarely ever see a car being started up with the engine revved up to redline for all to hear. The only thing more that I could probably wish for is for an event like this to be held at Batangas Racing Circuit where the cars can be run on the track.
This was a relatively large gathering of enthusiasts, there was the MSCC and our Miata Club, the BMW Motorcycle Club, the Ducati club, C! Magazine and their staff of editors were there, the MR2 club was also there
Prior to the event, ChitoF and I were wondering if beer would be served considering the event started in the late morning. When we arrived I took one look at the drink station and indeed you could have as much of and any beverage from the vast selection of products of San Miguel, including beer. They even had Japanese Kirin beer available.
And as you walked around looking at the cars there were pretty Magnolia promo girls serving cups of ice cream just to cool you down under the mid-day sun.
At the rate that these beautiful cars were coming in, I didn’t think that these guys were interested in eating at all. I heard that lunch had been prepared for two hundred persons. But when lunch was served, the line was endless. It was nothing short of a feast, two lechons, one at each end of the buffet table, while the long buffet table had an endless array of delectable Filipino dishes.
Ordinarily, a Manila Sports Car Club meeting only lasts for a couple of hours every month on a Sunday morning. And if you’ve ever been to one, there’re a lot of cars with not much time to take them all in with detail. Today was different, you virtually had almost the entire day to look at these cars. Hence, while sitting at our table during lunch I was looking out at the lot and saw the tail of a Jaguar XK-E and noticed that the lines of that rear end was just profoundly exquisite. While drinking our respective beers ChitoF tells me that to his eyes the Jag’s rear end had the sex appeal of the firm and perfectly rounded backside of a young woman, and that he found a similar appeal in the lines of the Miata rear end. I just had to take a picture.
Eventually the milling around the cars ceased and people settled down at their tables bantering about cars and old times. At around 4pm, with the sun coming down our host bid farewell to his guests and climbed into his Gullwing and drove off. At this point our club also disbanded and left for their respective destinations and that finished off the day.
Again, the Miata Club and its members wish to extend their heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the Manila Sports Car Club and our hosts and sponsors for the day. It was certainly a privilege for us to join and attend the “Gathering of the Faithful 2006”. We had an absolutely wonderful time!
9 January 2006