If you follow Formula One, you will have seen that the Renault team recently changed their name to Alpine. This is an old brand that has recently been reintroduced by the company. I popped down to Exotics@RTC recently to see what was showing up and came across a pair of Alpines of differing vintages. One was a new one to me but the younger example did seem rather familiar. I guess I must have seen them in the UK when I was younger.
A few people were hanging around them but I thought they weren’t getting the attention that they deserved. Exotics@RTC has a never ending supply of McLarens, Ferraris, Porsches and Lambos but these were something that definitely deserved the title exotic.
The improvement in the pandemic in our region has meant that certain gatherings that were cancelled last year have been able to restart. That includes the Exotics@RTC car gatherings in Redmond. The first of the year that I was able to attend had a German theme to it. The theme days do not exclude other car types but they provide a focus to the theme cars and give them pride of place within the center. The other cars are out in the parking lot.
It won’t surprise you to learn that there were plenty of Porsche and Audi vehicles on display. Mercedes was also represented but not in such large numbers. There were some nice old Porsches to be seen including a pair on display which are owned by a father son team – the son being a neighbor of ours. I was really pleased to see a nice selection of older BMWs and a Z1 which I recall from my teen years. I had assumed the Audis would be more around the R8s (and there were a few of them) but to see a Quattro from the rallying era was a cool addition.
I had ridden down to Redmond on my bike so I wasn’t carrying heavy gear with me. I went with the M6 which shows how useful it is for such a situation. It is nice and compact plus, it has the folding screen which is great for getting low or high angle shots. Waiting for people to move out of shot is always problematic in this events but they have as much right to be there as I do so I either wait a long time or just accept that the shot will be more cluttered than ideal.
I hope to get down there a lot more this season and see what they have to offer and what fun cars show up. I will also share a few of the non-German cars from this day in another post to come.
One of my regular bike routes takes me over the hills between Redmond and Bellevue on the SR520 bike trail. This parallels the highway and provides a good route to get to the lake (although the climbs can be a bit tiring on the legs). As you get up to the highest point on the crossing, you pass a new footbridge. The light rail system is being extended to Redmond and there is going to be a station up here by the Microsoft campus. Part of the construction is a new footbridge across the highway to allow passengers to also access the campus on the other side of the road.
The bridge is being finished up at the moment so isn’t open for use – the light rail will open to this location in 2023. It is well advanced though. They have some interesting artwork decorating the interior of the bridge. I stopped to get some shots of it while out on a ride. You might suggest I needed a rest after making the climb but there is not evidence to support that hypothesis!
A sunny afternoon was a good time for a ride since such nice days are likely to be in short supply before too long. I didn’t feel like pushing myself up nasty climbs on such a lovely day so went for miles rather than climbing feet and took the trail down the Sammammish River and on down through Marymoor Park and alongside Lake Sammammish. As I went through Marymoor park on my outbound leg, I noticed what initially appeared to be a couple of plows alongside the trail. I decided to check them out on the return leg.
When I came back, I realized that, far from being farming implements (albeit on a small scale), they were actually sculptures of dragons. A pair of them, presumably taking flight? I was glad I waited until the return journey because the sun was that bit lower and the light a bit warmer. That did make it a bit more tricky to keep my shadow out of the shots but I just about managed.
It is around this time of year that the Exotics@RTC should be starting up again. Of course, with everything on lock-down, that is not happening at this point. Consequently, I thought I might go back to the last meeting of 2019 which I paid a visit to. It wasn’t a big gathering but, with it being the last one to take place (I think weather scrubbed some later meets), it was the final run out to Redmond for some of the cars and their owners. Here is a selection of shots of the fine machines that showed up.
During the Italian car day at Exotics@RTC, all of the focus was on the selection of cars inside the mall area. I did take some time to wander out in to the parking lot to see what other cars had shown up that day and hadn’t been “worthy” of a spot inside. As I was strolling around, something unusual showed up. I had no idea what it was but it was clearly pretty old. As it pulled to a halt, we got a chance to take a look around.
It was an Alfa Romeo C6. I asked the guy driving it why he was outside when this would clearly have been something that would have got a prime spot. He wasn’t bothered about all of that sort of thing and was happy to roll up when he wanted and to have those outside check the car out. The restoration had been undertaken in the UK and I imagine it hadn’t been cheap judging by the condition of the vehicle. It had that swoops look that cars of its era sometimes had and was a fantastic looking machine. If I had gone out earlier in my visit, I would have missed it completely!
The Exotics@RTC team have a number of special days throughout the season and I figured the Italian Car Special was probably one worth taking a look at. I wasn’t mistaken. Unlike the normal meets that take place out in the parking lot, this one was centered in the shopping mall itself. The atrium was filled with Italian cars of many marques. This even included Lamborghini tractors!
It will come as little surprise to know that the prancing horse was on display in large numbers. The centerpiece of the display was a a pair of La Ferraris – one with a roof and one open topped – with an Enzo and an F40. This was quite a valuable selection to have in the middle and it seemed rather funny how so many expensive cars were barely getting any attention as a result of the focus on this foursome. Alfas were also on show and there were some older Fiats that were clearly trimmed for rally activities.
As a young kid growing up in the 70s watching Bond movies, the Lotus Esprit that became a SAM launching submarine made a big impact on me.The next movie also had an Esprit, this time in turbo form, but it got blown up very quickly and a 2CV was the “star” of that movie which did not please me at all.My love for the Esprit was born and it continued through the Turbo SE and to the V8.It had another movie appearance in Pretty Woman although I suspect only a few of us watching were impressed.
A V8 example showed up at Redmond.I got chatting to the owner, a Brit as it turned out.He had owned a Turbo in the UK and then bought the V8 after he moved to the US.Apparently, only about 70 were sold in the US and maybe half of them are still in use.I loved checking it out and talking with him about the car.It also reminded me of one that used to live in South Kensington when I lived there so I dug out the old negative scan and that one is included here too.What a great looking car.A shame the gearbox was never able to accommodate the power the engine had potentially on offer.
Exotics@RTC brings plenty of jazzy cars including lots of McLarens as I posted here. The one car I was hoping to see at some point was a Senna.I figured with all of the IT cash floating around the area, one was bound to appear at some point.I rode my bike down to Redmond to have a look one Saturday.My jersey only had small pockets so I left all cameras behind except my phone.Guess what car showed up as soon as I had no proper camera?
I didn’t see it initially.All I saw was a large crowd of people around one car.This is always a sign of something special and there, within the crowds, was a black car with a huge rear wing.The Senna had arrived.Getting clean shots of it was almost impossible given the number of people milling around but the wide angle lens on the phone was a benefit for once as it meant you could get closer and grab some shots.Quite a mean looking machine and one I might have to save up a bit in order to buy.
Exotics@RTC does attract many types of vehicles. Neither of these little vehicles will be competing for the attention of the Lambos or McLarens but they still get a few people checking them out. Hard to believe vehicles so small have ever been sold in the US. They would fit in the trunk of some older cars or could go in the back of a large minivan! Kind of interesting all the same.