The Amazing Hidden Showrooms And Garages Of Melbourne

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Following all the cars I saw on the road in Melbourne and beyond, I had some time to kill after the Pagani rally wrapped up. So in between sightseeing and visiting some art galleries, I went around some of the showrooms in the city. As great as it was to see some of the local culture out in the wild, the best stuff are always hidden inside showrooms. It’s just a matter of finding them.

I had a basic idea of where to go from what I’d seen on the internet before this trip. By which I mean a quick scroll through Instagram on various car pages based in Melbourne. Swan Street in Richmond seemed to be the place to go, it was literally just a whole road full of car dealers. Most were operated by Zagame Automotive Group. If there’s a car you want to buy chances are these people sell it.

It’s almost offensive how many brands they have under them. There’s Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Audi, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Lotus, Abarth, Fiat, and Morgan. Did someone say monopoly?

But what brought me to the Zagame showrooms, and to an extent to Melbourne in the first place, was the latest addition to their portfolio. Above the new Aston Martin and Rolls Royce showroom is the first official Pagani showroom in Australia.

This exposed-carbon Huayra Roadster is first Pagani to be officially offered in this country, with an eye-watering asking price of 5.5 million Aussie dollars. I’m no economist but that sounds like a ridiculous amount of money.

But hey, they wouldn’t open up a dealership there if they knew there’s no demand right? Either way, it’s always nice to have some one-on-one time to check out one of these cars in closer detail.

The Rolls-Royce part of the showroom is said to be one of the biggest in the world. At any given point there’s around six to eight Rolls-Royces on display, however because the opening party for the Pagani showroom was held the night before they were cleared out to make space.

Downstairs was the Aston part of the showroom which had the usual Vantages, Vanquish, and DB11s. But there was one car that stood out for me; the blue and orange GT12 which was easily the best looking GT12 I’ve seen.

Next door was the Ferrari and Maserati showroom. From previous experience Ferrari showrooms like turning peasants away or telling them to not take photos inside but everyone at Zagame were very welcoming. They also had some great cars on display to coincide with the F1 weekend.

There was a lovely right-hand drive Ferrari Daytona to greet visitors as they walked in through the main doors. Other highlights include a dark blue Ferrari 365BB, a Ferrari F12tdf, and a 599 GTO. A week earlier they had a rather special Enzo, but that had already left by the time I got there.

As if that wasn’t enough Ferrari madness, just 10 minutes walk from the Zagame Ferrari showroom was a place called Maranello Motorsports. I only came across this by pure accident on my way to Dutton Garage around the corner. I noticed something in the corner of my eye which prompted me knocking on the door.

Mark Coffey, the Managing Director at Maranello Motorsports, was kind enough to show me around their workshop and storage area. When they’re not racing in the Australian GT Championship with their 488 GT3, they’re the go-to specialists in servicing and maintaining Ferraris and Maseratis for both road and track. What got my attention were the three cars they had lined up on display by the service area.

On the left was a Ferrari 250 GTO Series II recreation, in the middle was a pearl white Ferrari FXX, and on the right lived a Ferrari F40 GTE. These cars were being held on consignment by local owners but Mark said chances are these cars will find new homes overseas.

Mark said a lot of cars that go through Maranello Motorsports end up overseas. Europe, America, and Hong Kong in particular are the markets he deals with the most.

Mark knows what he’s talking about. He’s been in the business for 25 years and had some interesting stories to share. He was one of the first to register a McLaren F1 in Australia. Usually left-hand drive cars aren’t allowed to be registered but with the F1 having a central driving position it made things complicated.

In Hong Kong, for example, because the gear stick is positioned to the right of the driver it’s considered a left-hand drive car. But Mark found the steering column was slightly positioned to the right side of the car, which he argued made it road legal and got the F1 registered.

I could’ve spent all afternoon at his workshop listening to all the stories he had to tell and admiring the cars he had in storage and on display. But it onwards to the next stop, Dutton Garage. Possibly the most well-known dealer in Melbourne, Dutton have expanded greatly over the last couple of years. Their use of social media has definitely helped.

The Dutton company, in one form or another, has been around since 1911. Their current showroom was completed 3 years ago but was designed to recreate the atmosphere of their original showroom. Walking in there was a feeling like I’d gone into a museum. Certainly, the cars they had on display was very much of museum quality.

I was expecting them to have a few nice cars, but not to this extent. It was easily one of the best showrooms I’ve been to.

My mind didn’t where to begin processing all the cars that were there. The Rosso Dino Ferrari Daytona with the Plexiglass headlights was a nice start, only 1 of 35 original right-hand drive cars delivered in the UK Other Ferraris included a stunning dark blue Daytona Competizione, a 550 Barchetta, a 575M SuperAmerica, a pair of Berlinetta Boxers, and a 512M with a Cornes sticker from Japan.

It wasn’t all Ferraris. There were Porsches galore, too. From the most desirable 996s including a GT2 and a GT3 RS to a gorgeous Paint-To-Sample British Racing Green 993 Turbo. But arguably it was the Porsche 906 displayed slap bang in the middle that was the highlight.

Dutton has purchasers all over the world to buy the best quality cars for its clientele made up of local and overseas buyers. As Australians become richer, demand of these blue chip cars increases. Most Australian buyers still favor modern supercars like the Lamborghini Aventador SV and Porsche GT3s, which conveniently they also sell, but there are a select few who want irreplaceable classics to add to their collections.

What made Dutton special, along with every other showroom I visited in Melbourne, was how friendly it was. There’s a cafe in the middle of showroom should you need to quench your thirst after drooling all over the cars they have. During my time there speaking with the staff at Dutton, people were walking in and out just to look at the cars.

Families with kids are frequent visitors to the showroom. Certainly, there’s nowhere else in Melbourne people will be able to see some of the cars in here. It’s great to see Dutton sharing these cars with everyone. With most showrooms being so friendly and welcoming, no wonder people still care about cars there.

My last stop in Melbourne before flying back to Tokyo was the Fox Classic Car Museum. It’s only open three days a week; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday so plan ahead but it’s well worth a visit. Located at the Queen’s Warehouse in the new hip and trendy Docklands area in Melbourne, it’s a truly unique museum.

What started out as a former Customs building and where Australia’s first bank notes were printed, it now houses 50 of Lindsay Fox’s car collection. Fox made is fortune with his trucking and logistics company, which naturally meant purchasing a bunch of exotic cars. Apparently he has more at his homes, as one does.

There’s a small entrance fee, but all proceeds go to charity. The volunteers in the museum were more than happy to guide you through the cars and two floors of museum space.

It quickly becomes obvious Fox loves his Benzes. In the entrance there are two Mercedes 600 limousines, the burgundy 600 being an ex-Ringo Starr car. There’s also a SLR Roadster and 722 GT one-make series racer. I also saw my first SLR Stirling Moss, famously Fox has 4 of the 75 limited production cars.

Other obscure Mercedes in the collection was a W220 S600 Pullman and a first-generation A38 AMG. Back before the A45 AMG, Mercedes dabbled with the idea of a hot A-Class. Before turbocharging was the go-to solution, they decided to give the A190 a second engine placed conveniently underneath the boot floor. The result was a 250 HP hot hatch, of which only four were ever produced. One of them is here as a friendly reminder of the sense of humor Mercedes had in the 90s.

The only other manufacturer to feature as prominently as Mercedes in the Fox museum is Ferrari. Usually there’d be a 288 GTO on display but that was out. Instead I had to make do with a F40, F50, and that special Enzo I mentioned earlier. The infamous “yellow roof” Enzo was made to match the company colors of Lindsay Fox’s trucks.

Upstairs were more classic cars on display including a Mercedes 300SL Roadster, lots of British cars, and of course Porsches. The usual rarities were there such as a 959, 550 Spyder, and 718 RSK. But what caught my eye was the 911 SC which was later converted to a prototype development car for the 959 Dakar project.

It’s nowhere near the other showrooms but is easy enough to get to by train or car. It’s well worth a trip to see this crazy collection of cars you probably wouldn’t even get to see in other countries. Yeah, there’s a lack of classic Aussie cars but it’s not like you’re not not going to see any on the road.

Plus it’s for charity, so it’d almost be rude not to go.