What better way is there than a prestigious car rally to share one’s passion with like-minded individuals whilst making new friends?
The mid-October rally (October 13-15) that recently took place in the Alentejo provided the opportunity to do so, bringing together no less than a wide variety of 127 classic cars.
Now in its 28th year, the ‘48 Horas Alentejo’ showcased a great number of collector cars much to the delight of the locals in the towns where the vehicles were displayed during the weekend stopovers.
British and European marques were well represented along with American, Japanese, Swedish and even Portuguese (1989 UMM) marques, many of which are rarely seen on public roads these days.
The most collectable was a mouth-watering, rare, right-hand drive 1960 Ferrari 250 SWB, and the oldest was a 1931 Ford model A roadster.
But the one that came furthest was undeniably a 1957 Mercedes 220S from New Zealand. Elizabeth and Fred Smits, the glob-trotting owners, were very pleased to participate before heading off to Morocco on their round-the-world tour.
Organised jointly by ‘Portugal Classic’ and ‘Clube Português de Automoveis Antigos’, this annual rally in October consistently aims to promote the Alentejo in its calendar of social, cultural and sports-related events. This goal would not be possible without support from the regional Turismo do Alentejo e Ribatejo office and six town halls where stopovers took place: Beja, Alvito, Moura, Portel, Serpa and Vidigueira. Among the equally indispensable sponsors were Porsche and Raposeira who together contributed to the prestige of the event.
Starting point of the rally was on Friday in Beja where crews were based for the two nights in three hotels. Participants were greeted at the Beja Parque hotel with a coupe of Raposeira sparkling wine.
A rally plaque, roadbook, detailed programme and touristic information were also handed out to each crew plus ID passes and personalised polo shirts for everyone.
Driving was on open public roads, and in a bid to satisfy everyone’s tastes, crews had the choice between a competitive formula involving classification in 20 timed stages or a touristic formula to serve those wishing to take in the scenery at a more leisurely pace.
That evening, a reception and dinner was held at the Beja Air Force base where Porsche dealer José Barros Rodrigues presented his latest book on a Portuguese marque, Marlei. Books were then graciously offered to all the crews.
On the Saturday, the programme featured visits to Serpa and Moura where lunch was served, followed by two boat tours of the Alqueva dam (from Amieira marina) for the 285 participants. Wine tasting at Casa das Talhas in Vidigueira was the last halt before heading back to Beja for dinner at Pousada convent.
On Sunday, the last of four weekend stages included grape-tasting at Vale da Rosa before crossing Odivelas dam. Lunch was programmed at Pousada Castelo de Alvito once prize-giving was over and done with.
To quote organiser Luís Brito, if rallies are to continue into the future, classic car owners must anticipate today by allowing the younger generation to participate. Luís insists on the need for families to allow their offspring to drive their classic cars as the best way for transmitting their passion.
From my personal experience, the investment aspect of purchasing a classic vehicle or sportscar is not to be neglected. Since 1980, I have owned many sportscars resulting in even more friendships worldwide.
A collector car isn’t necessarily a heavy investment and what better example than Victor Júlio’s 1972 Lancia Fulvia that participated. This model, IMO, continues to offer one of the best-value-for-money deals on the classic car market – in the €20,000-25,000 bracket.
For many, it was a five-hour trip home for those residing in the north whereas the 577 km round trip from Carvoeiro took us three hours. And our 1992 Morgan roadster had the top down throughout the weekend.
By DOUGLAS HALLAWELL
Photos: BERNARDO LÚCIO