In the count­down to this year’s In­ter­mar­que Concours, we take a look at the show’s St Valen­tine’s Day theme and find out what’s in store for vis­i­tors to New Zealand’s premier clas­sic car event

New Zealand Classic Car - - News: Basis Events Diary - Words: David Burke-kennedy Pho­tos: Newzealand­clas­s­ic­car ar­chives

ou’re never too old to fall in love — es­pe­cially if your life has been a se­ries of pro­mis­cu­ous affairs with one car af­ter an­other, and you’ve racked up a high mileage. It may even be that you look like the one you love — ac­cord­ing to Aus­trian re­searchers Stefan St­ie­gar and Martin Vo­racek of the Univer­sity of Vi­enna.

About a year ago, they dis­cov­ered that many own­ers ac­tu­ally look like their cars, or, at least, their car grilles. Dogs can also look like their owner’s cars — prob­a­bly very ap­pro­pri­ate if the car is a dog!

Whether those find­ings are valid, you can de­cide for your­self in the ro­man­tic St Valen­tine’s Day sur­round­ings of the 43rd Eller­slie In­ter­mar­que Concours & Clas­sic Car Show at Eller­slie Race­course — that’s Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 14, if you’ve for­got­ten the date.

Look at some of the old-timers at the show — then talk to their own­ers. Is there a far­away look and mys­te­ri­ous smile as they re­call some of their mis­spent youth on four wheels? Was there ever go­ing to be an­other love like the first, or the ones that fol­lowed, or what they cher­ish now?

Does this all sound a bit like some­one you know — or, more likely, see in the wing mir­ror?

You’re not alone — around a third of car own­ers have a love af­fair with their car, ac­cord­ing to var­i­ous Amer­i­can sur­veys. Men are sig­nif­i­cantly more likely than women to have ‘ro­man­tic’ feel­ings for their wheels.

Per­son­al­ity plus

Many car en­thu­si­asts are faith­ful to one brand — and one-eyed about it. Oth­ers may keep a few mar­ques on the side.

Cer­tainly, many peo­ple see their cars as ex­ten­sions of them­selves — al­though baby boomers are less likely than, say, mil­len­ni­als to have a pet name for their ve­hi­cle.

But do we re­ally look like our cars? Does the owner of an Alfa, Jaguar, or Porsche look like one? Do you look like the front of your Brad­ford, Bent­ley, VW, Jeep, or Mus­tang?

Many stud­ies show that most of us see cars’ fronts as be­ing like hu­man faces, and at­tribute per­son­al­i­ties to them based on th­ese ‘faces’. And, ac­cord­ing to our Aus­trian re­searchers, we tend to buy cars whose grilles and headlights make them look a bit like us.

Their study, printed in the Swiss Jour­nal of Psy­chol­ogy, was based on pho­tos of 30 peo­ple and their cars. Some

160 par­tic­i­pants were asked to choose from a range of pho­tos of likely own­ers. The re­searchers used only cars that the own­ers had se­lected them­selves, rather than re­ceived as gifts or in­her­ited. The real owner was in­vari­ably cho­sen most fre­quently.

It’s one of many stud­ies that show we tend to sub­con­sciously treat our cars like peo­ple, and not just be­cause we some­times name them and spoil them. Re­search back in 2012 showed that car en­thu­si­asts use the same part of the brain to re­mem­ber cars’ looks as they do hu­man faces.

Clas­sic love story

That brings us back to the face of the Eller­slie show and its theme for Valen­tine’s Day, which is, very ap­pro­pri­ately, ‘Love Story’.

Many of the 75 par­tic­i­pat­ing car clubs will in­ter­pret that to com­pete for the Clas­sic Cover In­sur­ance Best Club Dis­play Award.

The MG Car Club, for ex­am­ple, will re­flect the mar­que’s “love of speed”, while an­other club is ru­moured to be fea­tur­ing mem­bers who look like their cars — though it’s un­cer­tain whether that in­cludes their rear ends as well as front grilles.

Unique or out­stand­ing cars un­af­fil­i­ated to a club or not part of a club dis­play — but which un­doubt­edly will still look like their own­ers — will fea­ture in a new area called the ‘Pad­dock’. You just turn up on the day and dis­play your own spe­cial car. Ar­rive early, as space op­por­tu­ni­ties are lim­ited.

Vis­i­tors should al­low the whole day to see the 800 or so clas­sics on dis­play along with the lat­est pres­tige and per­for­mance mod­els from lead­ing deal­er­ships. There’s more love­able heavy metal here than at any other event in this part of the world.

Clas­sic show­case

As you prob­a­bly know by now, the concours show­cases the as­ton­ish­ing skills of our in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed ve­hi­cle restora­tion in­dus­try. Some of their best work, worth multi-mil­lions of dol­lars, com­petes at Eller­slie in our equiv­a­lent of the US’S renowned Peb­ble Beach com­pe­ti­tion — the

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