Motoring On: Great car clubs of Hong Kong
The opening scene from James Clavell’s quintessential Hong Kong novel, Noble House, is one for lovers of classic sports cars. Amid the backdrop of a raging typhoon, Jardine Matheson taipan Ian Dunross emerges from his home on The Peak, gets into his 1958 British military green MGB convertible and roars into the night. He negotiates the road’s twists and turns as he drives – post haste – to a secluded ferry terminal for a clandestine business meeting.
They didn’t have an MGB sports car club when Dunross made his iconic drive, but fair to say if there was, he would have been one of its most passionate members. Which brings us – albeit circuitously – to the topic of car clubs in Hong Kong. Enthusiasts of signature Morris Garages’ signature vintage sports car will be tickled pink to know that there is now an MG car club in the city. Several in fact, with the long-established MG Car Club among the most popular.
Another classic car with British origins is the Mini. This two-door, fuel-efficient compact vehicle was an icon of the sixties and featured prominently in the celebrated 1969 movie The Italian Job, which propelled the career of acting legend Michael Caine. Since its halcyon days in the sixties when it was originally manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (BMC), the Mini has endured a somewhat chequered time of it. BMC restructured to become British Leyland, which then morphed into the Rover Group. Falling in and out of favour over subsequent decades, manufacture of the Mini was taken out of British hands when the Rover Group was acquired by German automaker BMW.
The good news for lovers of the Mini is that the New Mini Club Hong Kong is alive and thriving. Boasting more than 5000 members on its Facebook page, anyone who owns a Mini or has plans to become the proud owner of one can become a member via the club’s Facebook page and “exchange first-hand car information, to know and understand the club more, increase the driving fun, and meet more car fans and friends who share the same interests”. There’s also a lively market on the page for the buying and selling of Minis in Hong Kong as well as tips on looking after your car and upcoming motoring events.
For anyone looking for something a little more turbo-charged, there’s the Hong Kong Mini Race Car Club. Founded in 1994, the club organises Mini races in South-east Asia and China. While the thrill of the chase is intoxicating the club also focuses on fun and safe racing.
One of the most active clubs in the city is the Classic Car Club of Hong Kong. Officially forming in 1989 – although unofficially motoring on long before that – the club boasts more than 600 members (and more than 6000 followers on Facebook), with over 1000 vintage and classic cars from the rip-roaring 1920s right through to the excessive 1980s. The thriving club has been voted ‘Club of the Year’ by the South China Morning Post, and anyone is welcome to join its expanding membership – the only proviso being that you are a genuine classic car enthusiast.
The club holds regular ‘Sunday Morning Drives’, where classic car enthusiasts can put their pride and joys through their paces while cruising the highways and byways of the New Territories and catch up with other members, where they can share stories and maintenance tips about their own vehicles. Annual car shows are also held where the best classic cars are honoured and there is the opportunity to participate in car parades. The club also actively participates in charitable activities such as visiting aged care homes and orphanages.
By all accounts, new members are most welcome. According to former club chairman and current regalia coordinator, Justin Liu, “I still remember when I first joined. I was extremely impressed with the diversity and friendliness of the members. No matter what classic car you drive, you are bound to make conversations and friends with fellow members. Now, close to a decade later, the club’s welcoming and diverse culture continues to flourish.”
The Collectors Car Club of Hong Kong is a small and friendly group with some wonderfully quaint and quirky vehicles – a niche that members proudly take out of their garages and let loose on the wider world. From vintage Volkswagens right through to stunning early models such as the 1928 Buggati, 1934 Plymouth convertible, 1939 MG TB, 1954 Rolls Royce Silver Dawn, 1954 Chevrolet 3100, a 1967 Lotus Super, as well as newer vehicles such as the 1989 AC Cobra and 2001 Hummer H1, to name but a few.
The club has been active since at least 2005 and has been holding regular Sunday morning drives to some of Hong Kong’s most picturesque spots, as well as breakfast and lunch catch-ups for members. Welcoming all-comers, it’s also an active group in terms of public welfare activities, and lending a hand to disadvantaged groups.
Listed here are some of the bigger and most interesting car clubs in Hong Kong. But really, whatever vintage or type of car you are passionate about, be it a Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, Beetles or even a Czech-made Skoda, there’s probably a car club out there for you – that a little digging will reveal. And it’s certainly a great way to have fun adventures and make new friends.
If you’re considering getting involved it’s worth checking in with individual clubs as to their current status. While many have continued – or commenced – engagement and events with their member base as we head back to some level of normality, some may have scaled back activity over the social distancing and restrictions brought about by the last two-and-a-half years. Hopefully it won’t be too long before all the clubs are back in full swing and the motors purring.