The 2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance Was A Watch & Car Enthusiast’s Wet Dream
— Updated on 20 March 2024

The 2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance Was A Watch & Car Enthusiast’s Wet Dream

— Updated on 20 March 2024

Australia’s car culture is unique.

Ask any international petrolhead to describe it and you’ll likely hear tales of charismatic, high-performance locally-built muscle cars from Holden and Ford, wheel to wheel at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama. Or utilitarian utes and station wagons cruising from beach to beach while hauling a surfboard or two in the back.

Hell, ask most Aussie petrolheads and this is probably what you’ll hear.

2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance

That being said, like most niche interests, you’ll invariably find a healthy crop of European sports cars — both modern and classic — tucked away here and often wheeled out to race at events such as the Targa Tasmania or proudly showcased for the 2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance, which graced the Harbour City earlier this month.

For the uninitiated, a Concours is a particular type of car meet where a panel of experts inspect vehicles for originality and bestow the most original examples with awards. Concours events have spawned an entire industry of specialist shops dedicated to working on classic cars to preserve originality.

2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance
The latest Omega Speedmaster ref. 3861.

Now in its sixth year — and the most impressive iteration to date — the Sydney Harbour Concours is on its way to joining the prestigious likes of California’s Pebble Beach Concours and Goodwood’s Style et Luxe (two of the largest annual occurrences in the global sportscar calendar), attracting historic cars previously unseen in this country.

Hosted on Cockatoo Island, a former convict prison and shipyard smack bang in the middle of Sydney Harbour, the irreplaceable cars taking part were shipped over to this UNESCO World Heritage Site via car ferry for the three-day celebration of cars, style, and luxury.

2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance
2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance

We might as well get it out of the way given it’s the car I’m sure you’ve been unable to tear your eyes away from: yes, that’s a Ferrari 250 LM taking centre stage. The last Ferrari to ever win Le Mans up until last year, the LM marked the end of the 250 platform — the cars responsible for Ferrari’s world-beating reputation and by far the most fought over in auction rooms to this day.

This LM has pedigree too — placing 2nd in the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans before being nabbed by Luigi Chinetti of NART (North American Racing Team) and campaigned at the 12 Hours of Reims; the 1,000 kilometres of the Nürburgring; countless races across North America and even in the Bahamas. The 250 LM truly is the peak of automotive royalty.

It’s events like the Sydney Harbour Concours where taste rises above all else and transcends details as trivial as price. And that’s also translated to the watches. Eccentric is certainly the way to put it with many enthusiast picks among the usual sea of Rolex Datejusts and modern Daytonas.

A father-son flaunted a perfectly preserved vintage 3.3-litre Porsche 911 993 Turbo in Guards Red while rocking a modern Zenith El Primero (on bracelet, no less) and the cleanest new-old-stock vintage Heuer Silverstone you’ll ever see, matching red strap to red dial and red shirt (and red Porsche).

2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance

Italian metal made a very healthy appearance at the 2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance with three incredible Dino 246 GTs lined up next to each other alongside a Lancia Flaminia Sport Zagato and, my personal highlight, Sergio Scaglione’s breathtakingly beautiful Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale.

As you’d expect, Italian watches made quite the splash as well. The dark blue dial, bezel and Nato strap of a Unimatic Modello Uno looked well at home on a young man’s wrist surrounded by Sydney’s deep blue harbour.

It’s not every day a full-exposed carbon fibre Pagani Huayra sits alongside the brand-new Singer DLS.

2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance
2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance

German metal was in equally good favour. Porsche fans drooled over a 911 991-generation Speedster in the enthusiast favourite Heritage Livery, a RUF 911 Turbo, and the surprising winner of the Ladies’ Choice Award, an extremely early 1951 356 Gmünd Cabriolet (note the split windscreen).

Porsche manufactured just eight of these in Gmünd, Austria, before setting up a permanent home in Stuttgart; this was the very genesis of Porsche’s sportscar philosophy we still see today.

2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance

Rolexes were the brand of choice seen on many wrists, though my highlight was definitely a gilt dial 1675 GMT with some awesome patina — a perfectly faded Pepsi bezel and pumpkin lume. Granted, vintage GMTs are most commonly seen on Oyster bracelets, but it’s a treat to see one dressed down on a battered leather strap.

2024 Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance

There’s a tight-knit community of military watch collectors in Sydney, though actually seeing an issued military watch in the wild is a rare occurrence; the Concours being the first time I’d ever seen one on wrist outside of a collectors gathering or vintage watch shop.

A gorgeous Royal Australian Navy-issued Lemania 15TL Monopusher Chronograph was something to be admired; the owner was even kind enough to take it off his wrist to show me the broad arrow stamp and issue number on the caseback.

No less than half an hour later, I spotted an early Royal Australian Airforce-issued CWC Chronograph on another enthusiast’s wrist. One is an anomaly, but two isn’t — military-issued air and sea coming together on Cockatoo Island.

Racing watches were also aplenty with a gaggle of Speedmasters on the wrist, a Heuer Autavia ‘Orange Boy’ floating around, and the quirky Autodromo Group B ‘Safari’ belonging to a very talented automotive photographer.

The young photographers brought the heat, some shooting the cars on 35mm film with their vintage Leicas and Canons while rocking a modern Hamilton Khaki Field, a 90s Seamaster 300 Professional, as well as the new Tudor Black Bay 54.

The 2024 edition may have concluded, though if you’re keen to get involved with next year’s Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance, hit the link below for all the details.

The author’s Bulova Accutron Spaceview T.

The team from Stash debuted their partnership with detailing legends Ammo NYC by detailing this Lamborghini Countach within an inch of its life on the island.

All colour photographs were captured on Fujipro 400H medium format film with a Hasselblad 500 C/M camera and Zeiss Planar 80mm lens.

All black and white photographs were captured on Ilford PanF 50+ 35mm film with a Leica M2 camera and Zeiss Biogon 35mm lens.

Instagram: @mrshepherdson

Subscribe to B.H. Magazine


Share the article