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F1 WORLD CHAMPION 1959, 1960, 1966

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Situated in a relaxed pocket of seaside Melbourne suburb Sandringham, Brooklands Classic Cars has been a haven for classic car enthusiasts for 10 years.  Adam Davis recently had the chance to chat with company owner, Paul Sabine.

It’s funny how all stress seems to fade away from the mind when one who has a passion for classic automobiles pulls up outside Brooklands.  Take a wander through the well-presented sales area and drink it all in, the shapes and atmosphere of an era passed coming to the forefront.  Your imagination picks for you a different story as you admire each model.  Aston Martin, Maserati, Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar, they are all here, ready to be savoured for those with the will and the way.  After several minutes of daydreaming, I look up and notice that owner of the family-run affair Paul Sabine is in the office, and he beckons me into his office to so talk about his business.

Paul Sabine is vastly experienced in the automotive world, helping to start the Mercedes Benz car club of Victoria in the early 70’s after being part of the MG car club and enjoying their motoring events, at one stage holding the record at the Morwell hill climb.  The Aston Martin Owners Club also appealed, and he quickly moved up through the ranks there, becoming the Australian representative on the AMOC Committee of Management (UK).   He created Tickford car sales in 1979, Aston’s being his main business,  also running the Melbourne Classic Car Show between 1985 and 1989.  As auction director role with Shannons Paul was instrumental in developing the Grand Prix Auction when the Formula 1 circus moved to Albert Park.  Finally, he branched out with former business partner Murray Richards to establish Brooklands in 1996.

The main thrust of Brooklands continues to be Aston Martin sales, along with the extensive parts division specialising in the British marque.  Talking with Paul, you realise that Aston’s are more than a way of life for him- they are clearly a passion.  His previous business, Tickford sales, was established in 1979 primarily as an Aston sales exercise, and when I ask him which car he most regrets selling, he assumes a look that says as much as his words. The unequivocal reply is “The DB4 GT”.  Sold in 1989, and a misty green in colour, a photo sits proudly on the wall of his office.

From a clients perspective, dealing in classics is done at a more relaxed pace.  This is unlike a lot of new car dealerships, where eager salesman can cause potential buyers to lose interest in their quest to meet a quota.  In this light, Paul sees himself as a provider of information and stock rather than a salesman.  The car’s character generally does a lot of the talking for itself, and the buyers are generally enthusiasts who have some idea of what they want.  Paul’s experience allows him to compliment the car’s character by providing the extra information the enthusiast may require.  It is a method that makes the process much more inviting to the client.

We step out of the office to peruse the current stock.  Sharing space with the usual Aston’s are an eclectic selection of Gran Turismo (in the true sense of the phrase, we aren’t talking Playstation here!) and touring cars.  Asked about his current stars, Paul ponders for a moment, then states that they are all stars in their own way.  He feels that each classic has its own special appeal to its own audience.  Warming to the subject, Paul then cites the 1965 white Alfa 2600 coupe, the 1966 red Corvette Stingray and the 1973 E-Type Jag roadster specifically, which sums up the wonderful diversity of cars available at Brooklands.

Continuing the tour, I note a white Maserati Mistral with a Ford V8 snuggled under the bonnet.  Long knowing that conversions such as these are a source of constant debate among purists, I ask Paul what his thoughts are.

“I don’t have a problem with it, provided it is done right,” is his quick response.  “One has to consider that many of these types of cars would be off the road completely if this was not an option.  Not everyone can afford the cost of a Ferrari or Maserati rebuild and would rather not have to sell up or take the car off the road.  As long as it is done with empathy, then it is fine.”

When asked about the company and it’s future, Paul feels that it will simply be a case of more of the same.  “There will always be a market for quality classics, and supply in Australia is scarce.”  Brooklands will gradually introduce newer cars as time goes by, but he believes that introducing these into the business won’t happen for a while, “A lot of ugly cars were made between 1975-1985!” is his opinion. 

A lot of the classics currently in Australia are cars that have had a restoration done a few years ago, but can be bought and enjoyed now, and this is the market that Paul garners most of his sales from.  American cars are increasingly seen in the sales area, and some Mustangs are arriving soon for restoration work.  It is also clear in chatting with Paul that he has a passion for the brutish V8’s; “When the racing Astons I drove got too expensive to keep competitive my son Cameron wanted me to get a V8” he says with a grin.  Anyone who was at Phillip Island for the recent classic event had the chance to witness Paul in his 427ci Vette pounding down the main straight to victory in his category.  He also plans to take it up to Historic Winton, the big block surely less suited to the twists of the North East Victorian race track than the sweeps of the Island.  Will Paul get it to the front? Come up on 27-28 May and find out!

I concluded my time at Brooklands with another sweep of the stock, to re-ignite the imagination in preparation for the drive home in my modern car.  How the visit made me wish for wire wheels, a snarling engine and a real leather interior, I am sure you will understand.

Thanks to Paul Sabine for taking the time to talk with us.  More information on Brooklands, including a current stock listing, can be obtained by visiting their excellent website-

                                                                            - Written by Adam Davis


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