We Run This Town: Sydney Style

In every corner of the globe, car enthusiasts have adopted a shared ritual. The formula is simple: a carpark, coffee vendor and a handful of freshly-cleaned automobiles.


Australia is no exception, and this past Sunday I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and made an early beeline towards the suburb of Terrey Hills, about a half hour north of Sydney City. How do you know you’re heading in the right direction? Well, sights like this when you’re crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge are a pretty good indication!


No mistaking it – this was our spot! The convoy of cars slowed to a crawl as eager eyes scanned for prime parking positions.


Although there are several similar events held regularly across the wider Sydney area, without a doubt it is this event hosted by Cavallino Ristorante that draws the largest and most varied congregation of cars.


I’ve been to three such meets here in the past 10 or so months, and without fail the event has grown larger on every occasion. The T-intersection in front of the Cavallino carpark has always remained the hub of the chaos, however.


Honestly, finding cool cars here isn’t much of a challenge. Imagine a quiet, leafy town that is completely nondescript apart from the fact that everyone who lives there is a mad car enthusiast, and you’re close to what the little suburb of Terrey Hills looks like on the first Sunday of the month.


Unlike most of the American events I’ve read about on these very pages, there’s no huge company carpark here – just a very loose interpretation of the parking regulations!


Another great aspect of this event is the sheer diversity of the cars in attendance. Americana cruises past JDM-styled racers rubbing shoulders with classic Euros.


Anyone who knows me knows that I have a big soft spot for retro European quirkiness, and this extremely handsome Saab 900 Turbo with its three spoke alloys and ducktail certainly tickled my fancy.


It was a treat to see these two performance-oriented interpretations of the Mini parked alongside one another. The model is all grown-up and serious now, but would you choose the refined big brother or the little hoodlum?


Here’s something you don’t see everyday: a modified Fiat 124 Coupe. The front end may have been consumed by a ridiculously large intercooler, but I was really loving this rear three-quarter angle. I can only assume the rear was tubbed to swallow those massive split rims!


Another for the ‘rarely seen in Australia’ binder: this very original and handsome STI 22B. Only five of these widebody coupes were officially imported into Australia, the original owners having a choice between this blue/gold combo and… well… you could only get it in blue and gold.


I didn’t know it at the time, but between snapping this photo and writing this story I was treated to a very, very fast ride-along in a brand spanking new (less than 100km on the clock!) Huracan through what is arguably the best driving road in the Greater Sydney region. It was an experience I’ll not soon forget. But I digress, you can check out my Instagram if you want to see more.


I don’t believe in true perfection, but this has to be close. Air-cooled Porsches do tend to over-index at the Cavallino event, but personally I think the owners are just trying to rub it in my face that (much like a house in Sydney) I will never be able to afford one.


On that note, it’s great to see the humble Porsche 944 getting a bit more love these days. Who knows, maybe even these water-cooled heathens will ride the retro-Porsche asset appreciation wave. This writer certainly hopes so, there’s one in his garage…


Several manufacturers have cottoned-on to the popularity of the event and begun to bring out their own unique vehicles – such as this Jaguar F-Type R Coupé, which has had the rear hatch modified solely for the purpose of carting overpriced bicycles around. A little sacrilegious maybe, but preferable to a roof rack.


A local BMW dealership also brought out the i8 for some customer prospecting. It’s certainly eye-catching, but that front end is far too fussy for my liking.


Our two-wheeled friends arrived and left in packs, no doubt off in search of some twisted tarmac nestled in the nearby hills. Or maybe another cafe…

A Few Favourites

The task of selecting a few stand-out rides for a closer look was bloody tough (such is the life of a Speedhunter), but I couldn’t go past this Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II. Between the screaming inline four and a bodykit that makes an M3 from the same era look pedestrian, this is the car that I would’ve taken home if given the chance.


Check out the adjustable gurney flap mounted on the boot lid, not to mention the spoiler above it, and the one on the rear window. Legend says a BMW executive exclaimed upon seeing the Evolution II spoiler, ‘if that thing works, we need a new wind tunnel!’ They got a new wind tunnel soon after.


Back in 1989 the Evolution was available from the factory with variable-height suspension which could be activated via a switch on the centre console.


What is black, has plenty of aero add-ons and was a factory performance special? Although this Skyline GT-R shares some traits with the 190E, the level of performance is on another dimension thanks to tinkering by Nissan engineers at the end of the R34’s production.


The N1 engine has true racing credentials and I have a sneaking suspicion that this RB26 has slightly more than the 206kW (280PS) Nissan advertised back in the day.


Also from the Nissan camp was this stunning Datsun 1600 looking better screwed together than the day it rolled off the production line.


Unless I’m mistaken, Enkei supplied the period-correct wheels, which were hiding an upgraded brake package. Nicely done.


To wrap up this little Spotlight session, I bring you the cleanest AE86 I’ve seen outside of a museum. In Levin notchback form the similarities to the Trueno hatch of Initial D fame are harder to spot, but thankfully the Watanabe wheels and panda paint scheme take care of that.


Not a crack to be seen on the dash, and a few touches of personalisation in the form of a dished Sparco wheel and updated headunit. What a lovely place to be – especially with the optional Levin rain shields keeping your spotless interior trim dry.

Parting Thoughts

Cavallino Cars & Coffee is one of those events that really manages to hit that sweet spot of exclusivity and accessibility. You can feel welcome arriving in a ’90s hot hatch but are always guaranteed that there will be something amazing to pore over around every corner.


I mentioned earlier that the diversity of attending cars is what really makes this event worth coming back to. There aren’t too many meets where an extremely original 2nd-gen CR-X…


…can rub shoulders with an aluminium-shelled GT40 replica, while both garnering an equal level of respect.


I do really hope that the organisers find a way to deal with the ever increasing number of cars rolling in, and give Sydney’s car enthusiasts a reason to get up early on Sundays for many years to come.


Really, what more could you want from such an event? Delicious pizza? Well, you won’t believe me but they have that too…

Blake Jones
Instagram: blaketjones

Cutting Room Floor


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More pictures of that Fiat 124!!!! That thing looks awesome, I've never even seen that car before.


and right near the end in the background is a red Falcon sedan that is still at least as awesome as anything else there.


The Levin notchback looks superb, because simplicity is best.


The restaurant's car park is getting a bit full though. Wonder if they can move to say St Ives show ground.
Probably means that a small entrance fee might apply (compulsory coffee?) but that's the only place I can think of to house all the cars in the area.


vrex well, that entirely depends on if it is an original or fake. An original GTHO would be something to see.


Fuck yeah. I might take my evo to one of the melbourne ones.


I bet they all had a blast down McCarrs Creek road after that!


So much win in this article.
The variety of cars, the photos and the write up are all top notch. So many unique examples in there.

Great stuff Blake!


Aren't the wheels on the Datsun ssr mkII's?


@serbanium http://www.turbo124.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=6747
I am pretty sure it was at the Auto Italia Canberra nearly 10 years ago


Sweet Selection!
The last pic of chapter 1- anyone know what kind of bike that is?
More Fiat 124 Coupe Please!!


This photography is almost humbling, like this album was taken 10 years ago or something. Not sure what it is exactly, but there's a certain charm about this car show and the style of photography. A+


That Datto is incredibly nice, any idea what was under the bonnet? Please tell me it was something carb fed!


I don't like 911's, but I do like those Sport Classics and what Porsche did with them!!!

Looks very hap-hazard(spelling?), not very well set up....needs more car park, less street and dirt.


YipMing And there lies the problem......when events like this get too big, move, charge, the dickheads come, so do the police and then they're ruined.

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

I've been saying for a while, Sydney just may have one of the best street scenes in the world at the moment. This story is sweet, but is just a small section of what sydney can offer. Looking forward to see what's next Blake! (Harrys?) :-)


Chris 'Haffy' Hafner Um, what? Doubt it, and I'm an Aussie, so I'm all for liking to think that might be true, but it isn't.


Good to see this stuff get a decent wrap. How about more Saab's on Speedhunters? I reckon I might just know that black Aero (CJV-01...) from the Saab Club many years ago.
These are a great car to tinker with, either the older 900 or 9000 style, with easy upgrades from or including the original turbo. Mine (now long gone had 250kw & 320Nm at the wheels with an exhaust and some minor tinkering. Not bad for a 2l I reckon).


No pics of Chris Vella rocket bunny CLK ?
Awesome right up by the way. I cant wait for the next one


smithadamb Thanks, glad you enjoyed the article! I really appreciate the feedback.


very nice coverage , but one correction , the wheels on the Datsun are Speedstar racing MKII . comon... this is speedhunters


VitaminZ Right you are... I had them confused with the Apache II, no doubt based off the Speedstars.


Chris 'Haffy' Hafner Thanks Chris! I've been meaning to check out Harry's for a while now.


johnbezt Thanks for the kind words John.


Blake Jones no worries man , i guess its easy to get mixed up on those two , thanks for bringing this coverage anyways , great stuff

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Events almost every second night, with different cars all the time. Which city you from mate, because it sounds like your a little jelly.


awesome coverage and pics.
hope you have a drive story with the hurracan coming; some killer shots in ur IG feed.


I always get giddy when I see 190e coverage.


Could that 124 and this one be the same car?  Can't be many of them around!



And not a stanced or bagged car to offend the eye. 
Amazing post, diggin that red CRX and the 190e, love those cars!


kphillips9936  Sydney roads are too crap and the law to strict to be able to get away with the stanced look.


Great read Blake Jones. Looks like Ill have to wake up early one Sunday and take the FT86 for a drive. Some truly drool worthy cars there!


BT180 kphillips9936 Ah, good to know.


Brilliant!!! Coverage of arguably the best event in Sydney, thanks Blake Jones !


So much awesome in this post!


Perfect, but Mercedes its EVO I with EVO II kit


I make the trip out to Cavallinos each month for this meet, I absolutely love the eclectic mix of cars & the chilled out attitude of everyone in attendance. All walks of life, all different passions in car choice, not there is not judgement just mutual appreciation.
The April meet I took my e30 which recently received an m30b35 swap & was anxious about taking it along its nowhere near as clean as the other cars in attendance. But what I got was congrats & compliments, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.


only bike to make it in. IM FAMOUS MAAAAAAAAAAAA.


GREAT pictures, but the writing comes off like you're trying too hard to fit in.


C&C continues to go from strength to strength. I love the diversity....where else can you see a Kombi next to a Lambo next to Brock Commodore?!


I love them old Saab turbo's, but that old VW splitty at the end, WOW the patina, stunning! Wallpaper downloaded. Cheers


dauer Weren't all Evo's LHD anyway? That one looks RHD. So it would be just an Evo II kitted 190E.


MarkHawwa I was just going to send you a msg asking did you go. Thought it looked like your rugged face and TON


Hey Speedhunters, can you do a car feature on Gramps from MCM




What's the story behind that VW camper? Is that the original paintwork and stencilling?


It's nice to see a Datsun in Australia that's NOT on Simmons wheels.


Great to see some coverage. I'm there every month, rain hail or shine. Totally worth it, even though I usually work until 10pm on Sundays after it.

Gianluca FairladyZ

More pics of the FIAT 124 Please :)!!!


Justin Challis i was expecting a lot more simmons-equipped cars to be honest


Gianluca FairladyZ So much like in this comment!!! Please share more! That thing is tits


The 22b, CRX and r34 would make nice additions to my garage. Wait, I dont have a garage.


dauer CEL400 is correct.  all 1004 Evos (1 and 2) were LHD only.  Thw wing mirror configuration and a very close look at the first picture shows this car to be an EvoII replica and not a factory Evo.


That looks like a fun even with great variety. I am sure this must be the most images I've saved as Desktops for an event coverage, really beautiful photography!

It's almost strange how good looking that CRX is, the 190E and the VW bus are just super cool... etc... If you have anymore photos of the 22B you'd like the share, I wouldn't object!


That 190e Evo 2 just makes it for me. Love eveything about that car


I love how many RX-7's are lurking in the background.


Love the cappuchino. The car not the coffee


Thanks Doomas! I live not too far from Brighton myself and know exactly what you're talking about - the GTHO's are almost as numerous as the C63 AMGs...


Hahaha..too true.
and fatboys.
Again,congrats for being our rep on speedhunters.


Some really cool cars there!

Pete the perfect pilot

You missed the Mazda rxs......! Some in background, but none mentioned. Definitely an oversight!


That Evo II...


You just might be my new fav photographer here! Definitely makes me want to save my pennies and start a project...


meant positive ofcourse


Thats really cool, looks like the suzuki cappuccino sees regular track or drift days. Its cool to see with an imported car


That P on the back of the R8 means learner driver does it not?? Ridiculous.


TyeSabean  'Provisional' licence. But yeah, only just out of their learners.


Chris 'Haffy' Hafner Not "jelly" at all player.....doesn't matter where I'm from, but there's events every 2nd night in every city around the world. You need to travel a little more.


Sorry to be that guy but i think the datsun 1600 is on ssr mk2's haha


Agreed. 900 turbo 16s was my first car, and I still miss it ;.(
Nicely written piece, Mr Jones, thank you.


"through what is arguably the best driving road in the Greater Sydney region"
which road might that have been?  West Head Road in particular (which is great for high powered cars), or Liberator General San Martin Drive (which has tighter corners).  
Or perhaps even the top section of McCarrs Ck Road (a lot of this road was totally re surfaced to a very high quality, right after Prime Minister Tony Abbott got elected, as he is/was one of those pedal powered menaces using that stretch of road :) )
I grew up in the area, and in the early 2000's loved thrashing my E30 all around here, I had NP passes every year.
Last year I even had some surreal sensory flash back whilst driving the roads again; I could smell the delicious, distinctive "early" E30 smell!


"through what is arguably the best driving road in the Greater Sydney region"
which road might that have been?  West Head Road in particular (which is great for high powered cars), or Liberator General San Martin Drive (which has tighter corners).  
Or perhaps even the top section of McCarrs Ck Road (a lot of this road was totally re surfaced to a very high quality, right after Prime Minister Tony Abbott got elected, as he is/was one of those pedal powered menaces using that stretch of road :) )
I grew up in the area, and in the early 2000's loved thrashing my E30 all around here, I had NP passes every year.
Last year I even had some surreal sensory flash back whilst driving the roads again; I could smell the delicious, distinctive "early" E30 smell!


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