Finding Heaven In Hong Kong
A Twist Of Fate

Occasionally, I do like to sit back and take a look at where I am, where I’ve come from and how it all happened. I’m sure most people have that moment of reflection at some point in time. Thinking things like, ‘I could be living in Cambodia right now if my alarm had been working that morning’, or ‘man, if I didn’t feel like a pepperoni pizza that day, I would have never realised my love for the Fiat Multipla.’ It’s like looking at the branches of a tree and seeing how each seemingly inconsequential moment and decision in the past has created new branches, all culminating in you sitting right where you are at this very moment.

I had to have a quiet chuckle to myself when pondering this exact thing as I stood in front of a nondescript door in downtown Hong Kong recently.

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The door belonged to Blackbird Automotive, something you’d only be aware of if you knew to look for the subtle ‘B’, next to one of many security cameras, suspended a few meters above. Blackbird caters to a very select group of clientele, buying, selling, restoring and servicing the most desirable cars in Hong Kong – and I was about to get an exclusive look inside.

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How, you might ask? Well, that brings me back to my tree, and tracing those branches all the way back to meeting and working with a guy named Frank Liew over a decade ago. Back in those days, Frank used to be one of the kings of the New Zealand show car scene and I was just getting my start in the industry, working for the same magazines and TV shows that he did. Eventually, Frank left NZ for Hong Kong, where he began working for creative agency Silly Thing.

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From there, Frank was involved in helping set up a new business for the discerning car enthusiast, Blackbird Automotive with company founder TK Mak, which includes a quarterly publication entitled Blackbird Automotive Journal. 

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That’s Frank on the right, standing next to our own Taryn Croucher.

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It was an obvious, if somewhat ambitious jump to translate the ethos and style of the magazine into a physical shop – a dreamland filled with incredible machinery – aimed to service Hong Kong’s more affluent enthusiasts. I had seen snippets of this place occasionally surface from Frank on my news feed over the past year or so, and after looking at flights and realising I could potentially stopover in Hong Kong on the way back to Europe earlier this year, I reached out to Frank, who agreed to show Speedhunters the entire operation.

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First, we took a look upstairs, where Blackbird Automotive Journal is produced and the creative agency holds office. To be honest, whilst walking around and meeting all the staff, all I could think was ‘I wish this office was my bedroom.’ Incredibly detailed scale models lined every wall…

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Along with a heap of Star Wars memorabilia like this original-run promotional poster for the first film.

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Everywhere I turned there was something interesting to look at – like this diorama of Niki Lauda’s near-fatal crash at the Nürburgring back in 1976.

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Or this incredibly detailed scale Ferrari V12 by Italian craftsmen Terzo Dalia, just another piece of a seemingly endless collection of interesting items. But that was nothing compared to what awaited us back down on the ground floor…

The Most Beautiful Workshop
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I’ve been to a lot of workshops in my years as an automotive journalist, but I’ve never seen anything like this. It was, for lack of a better term, a beautiful sight. This is Blackbird Heritage Motorworks, where all the hands-on work with clients’ cars take place.

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A clinically clean expanse unfolded before me as I walked through the door; a modern, crisp sea of stark whites, greys and blacks that would be something you’d more likely see in a home design magazine. Pristine workbenches, perfectly stocked toolboxes and spotless hoists in every direction.

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The greyscale was interrupted in the best way possible by a sea of mostly Ferrari red, with the odd splash of black, blue and silver. A treasure trove of rare and exclusive automotive beauties just waiting for me to salivate over.

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Among the crowd of customer and inventory cars sat a couple of sleek Daytonas…

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Two F40s and an F50…

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Plus a plethora of other rare and desirable machines – mostly from Ferrari but with a few oddballs thrown in that were equally as interesting.

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There was also a room set aside specifically for restoration. During my visit, a 964 was undergoing a ground-up resto for a customer.

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The Heritage Motorworks site is run by Willen Ip, who Frank refers to as “our workshop manager/guru/grand master/knower-of-everything.” Willen has 40 years experience working with Ferraris, and Porsches before that.

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Like the offices up above, every surface of the workshop is covered in something interesting. From vintage posters, to a selection of Amalgam Fine Model cars, to genuine body shell parts…

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Clockwise from top left: a 512M body raced all over Europe; an ex-NART (Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team) 512S rear body shell; the nose cone from Michele Alboreto’s Ferrari F1/86 Formula 1 car from the 1986 season; and finally, one of Alain Prost’s F1 bodies next to a body campaigned by Jean Alesi. Believe it or not, this was just a small selection of the genuine parts adorning the walls.

The Diamonds Among The Gems
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Yes, all the cars at Blackbird were beautiful, but even among all this greatness, some still shone brighter than the rest. My first pick would have to be this incredible jet-back Enzo.

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It’s funny, I never really had all that much appreciation for the Enzo – the front end and its beak-like design treatment just never sat well with me… But in person, and in black? That changes everything.

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Standing next to the car, you get an appreciation for just how low and wide it is. Its purposeful shapes that turned me off back in 2002 when it was released now seemed somehow perfect.

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Willen actually needed to move the car while we were there, so we were lucky enough to have our eardrums destroyed by the absolutely thunderous F140B V12 as it fired up.

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Although the majority of the cars at Blackbird carried the prancing horse badge, I have to admit that two of my favourite machines bore a different, slightly more Germanic coat of arms. First, perhaps the most incredibly cool of all vintage road-going Porsches: a genuine 1973 2.7 RS Lightweight Carrera.

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Owned by German rally ace Heinz-Walter Schewe from new, the RS competed in the Lombard RAC World Championship in ’74 and ’75 and took victory in the German Rally Championship in ’76 before being retired the next year. Schewe kept the car for the next 40 years, and it was recently completely restored to original specifications and is now for sale.

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I love everything about this car, especially that Gulf blue paint – the factory colour from new.

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My second favourite piece of Stuttgart magic comes via California, the home of Singer Vehicle Design. This is the first Porsche 964 reimagined by Singer that I’ve seen in person, and I have to say it’s all in the details.

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This particular example was produced by Singer for one of Blackbird’s local Hong Kong customers, and the unique colour and the nickel-plated touches just work so well.

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Now onto the really special stuff, which is a funny thing to write when talking about a space jammed with F40s, an F50 and plenty of other rare exotica. Let me introduce you to #1030, a Ferrari 512M that debuted at the 1970 Spa 1000km race with none other than Derek Bell behind the wheel. This was the only yellow example out of the 26 512Ms produced.

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According to Derek, this was the car the converted him from formula racing to sports car racing, and he then went on to win no less than five Le Mans races later in his career.

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This machine was also used for the filming of Steve McQueen’s Le Mans movie after one of the cast 512Ms burned down during production. It was temporarily painted red, before going back to yellow after filming wrapped up.

The 512M is featured on the cover of Blackbird’s latest journal, and was recently shipped over to the UK for the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where Derek was able to give it some death up the hill. The event was chronicled in this beautiful film by Blackbird, seen for the first time here on Speedhunters. We’ll be posting part two of this film, which features Bell’s screaming run up the hill, when it’s released late next week.

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Lastly, sandwiched tightly between a F40 and an F50, sat this silver Ferrari 275 GTB/4. Sure, this UK-new, right-hand drive grand tourer didn’t have an amazing back-story like the 512/M, but you just can’t go past just how damn sexy it is.

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Currently, the 3.3-litre V12-powered coupe would fetch somewhere around the 4.5 million dollar mark if it went up for auction.

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I know I’m not supposed to say things like this about such a beauty, but can you just imagine how amazing this car would look low on some wider, more aggressive wheels?

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After lingering for what probably amounted to an unnecessarily long time, we eventually had to say our goodbyes, to leave this Shangri-La and head back out into the bustling metropolis that is Hong Kong.

I have to admit that my time at Blackbird has given me a whole new appreciation for Ferrari and all it stands for. And now, writing this and thinking about these cars and the artistry, the stories and the soul behind them all, I feel a little silly for dismissing Ferrari as easily as I have in the past. Sure, I’ve always admired the Italian icon, but perhaps due to the entry price point, or even the type of people I saw driving them, I never paid too much attention. Blackbird Heritage Motorworks has taught me just how ignorant I was, and from now on, Enzo and his legacy have a new life-long fan.

A big thanks to Frank and the entire team at Blackbird for allowing us a peak inside their amazing facility – it was truly inspirational! Check out Blackbird Automotive on Facebook and Instagram if you’d like to see more.

Peter Kelly
Editor-in-Chief
Instagram: speedhunters_pedey
pedey@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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91 comments

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1
deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

Im covered in goosebumps.. There is only one king at the throne and it can only be Ferrari. Even if i dont like the styling of their latest cars, even if they arent the best in f1 in the past couple of years..
That company gives us more than cars.

4
contestedground

I've always been a huge admirer of Derek Bell, as a racer and a sportsman. That generation of sportscar drivers – Bell, Ickx, Ludwig, Wolleck, Perscarolo, and the rest – had a certain something about them. Fantastic car and a wonderful backstory from the man himself.

I'm sure I can bring myself to agree with you on the 275GTB, though. A set of Boranis, maybe, but more modern wheels would give pause for thought!

5
ChristopherAnderson1

I'm not generally a Ferrari fan (F40 aside), but damn.

6

I hope I'm some how related to this other Mak...

7

Hate to be pedantic, but the Porsche have the original prancing horse logo badge .. if legend is to be believed

8

Hate to be pedantic, but the Porsche have the original prancing horse logo badge .. if legend is to be believed

9
ChristopherAnderson1

@Dave Ferrari is generally believed to have first used their Scuderia Ferrari logo on a racing Alfa in 1932, after the design was suggested to Enzo in 1923 by the mother of a WW1 ace.

Porsche's logo was designed at the behest of Max Hoffman. According to Porsche NA, it was designed by Ferry Porsche on a napkin in a New York restaurant. Porsche Germany says it was designed by an engineer named Franz Reimspeiss. Either way, that was in 1951, 19 years after Ferrari supposedly began using the Cavallino.

10
ChristopherAnderson1

@Dave Ferrari is generally believed to have first used their Scuderia Ferrari logo on a racing Alfa in 1932, after the design was suggested to Enzo in 1923 by the mother of a WW1 ace.

Porsche's logo was designed at the behest of Max Hoffman. According to Porsche NA, it was designed by Ferry Porsche on a napkin in a New York restaurant. Porsche Germany says it was designed by an engineer named Franz Reimspeiss. Either way, that was in 1951, 19 years after Ferrari supposedly began using the Cavallino.

11
90nissanS13@my350z

Ohh man, this is an art museum. I love the Enzo.

12
90nissanS13@my350z

I agree. And it's painful watching the silver arrows dominate F1.

13

I know that the arms on those two-post lifts lock into retainers, but I'll never get comfortable with hanging one car in space above another like that.

14

Statement of the month!! "Now onto the really special stuff..." haha. Brilliant Peter

15

Statement of the month!! "Now onto the really special stuff..." haha. Brilliant Peter

16

"I know I’m not supposed to say things like this about such a beauty, but can you just imagine how amazing this car would look low on some wider, more aggressive wheels?" 


Peter, I find that I am at a similar point in life. Still immature enough to want to strip vehicles apart to make handle and do what I want it to; mature enough to know that doing such things to such icons would be blasphemy. However, an extra set of period correct wheels with a couple extra inches in width and a set of proper replacement springs just an inch or two lower, I don't think could hurt too much. As long as you keep the originals.

17

There is a good chance that silver GTB/4 is the same one painted at my old place of employment around 7 years ago.

18

Budd19 I would go so far as to say, by all means. It's a mere 20 bolts, and when you want to take the car somewhere that originality is desired, BZZZZRT!! BBZZZRT!! off the new wheels go, and on with the OEMs. Haters can pay to do what they want to their own :)

19

how I imagine my house will look like in 20 years...... first up, I need a house

20

F50 has always had a special place in my heart. Awesome find!

21

Budd19 Too true, something like you suggested certainly wouldn't hurt, but for some reason, I'd still be hesitant about doing it to something worth nearly 5 million... With that said, I guess I'd also be very hesitant to even drive the car at all, let alone change anything on it.

22

Budd19 Too true, something like you suggested certainly wouldn't hurt, but for some reason, I'd still be hesitant about doing it to something worth nearly 5 million... With that said, I guess I'd also be very hesitant to even drive the car at all, let alone change anything on it.

23

Budd19 Actually, someone needs to photoshop this, ASAP.

24

gundanium2002 Maybe he's been keeping a few secrets from you then? ;)

25

ChristopherAnderson1 I was exactly the same before visiting this place, it's changed my whole point of view on Ferrari.

26

contestedground Borranis would be a great choice!

27

deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87 Agreed!

28

Peter_Kelly Budd19

Yes please!!!!

May i suggest Enkei RS05RRs in sparkle silver and/or matte gunmetal for the street and


for a "period look" the wheels from Derek Bell's Ferrari 512M in bronze.

29

I guess it's all relative to what you're used to - but I would never feel comfortable parking an Enzo under a hoisted car.

30

Good write up Peddy! Keep bringing is the exclusive stuff!!! Nic :)

31

Mouth watering, great article!
Although what impressed me the most is somebody using the words love and Fiat Multipla in the same sentence! @_@

32

koko san Thanks, it was a real challenge!

33

vroomtothetomb Peter_Kelly Budd19

34

Peter_Kelly vroomtothetomb Budd19 Yeah, thats working for me. Now if I only had five mill sitting around.

35

Awesome post.

While the Singer is nice, the original RS is even nicer!

36

Budd19 Peter_Kelly vroomtothetomb I'm about to jump on a plane so didn't have time to find some wheels, but if someone else want's a crack, have at it! Already looks great with the drop...

37
Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Humana humana humana

38

Peter_Kelly Budd19 vroomtothetomb so sexyyy. what a difference a couple inches makes huh? : D

39

Speedhunters saw this story today, fricken awesome pics! What a place! Blackbird getting it done right!! !

40

Peter_Kelly Budd19 vroomtothetomb In my world this would actually INCREASE the value by at least 2 mil haha! Now, somebody, anybody-how about those wheelssss?

41

Peter_Kelly Budd19 vroomtothetomb Same wheels... Too big?

42

How is one's salivary glands supposed to work when you take tours like this?

43

How is one's salivary glands supposed to work when you take tours like this?

44
deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

Enzo Ferrari used that horse on his ww1 warplane, as a luck talisman.

45
deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

Enzo Ferrari used that horse on his ww1 warplane, as a luck talisman.

46
deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

Lets try te37 :p

47
deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

Lets try te37 :p

48
Fabrice Carpentier

deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

Its exactly the same horse

A german war plane coming from stuttgart had this horse on it.  It was downed by italian ace BARACCA.

Then Baracca took this horse as a trophy and painted it on his plane.... and was never downed. 

After the war his wife gave this lucky charm to Enzo......

And the Scuderia story begun....

49
Fabrice Carpentier

deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

The porsche logo
- in the middle : stuttgart's horse
- next: bade wurtenberg's symbol ( the 3 deer "woods")
- next black/yellow/red stripes: german's flag colors

50
Gianluca FairladyZ

The want is strong in this one! While scrolling trough this post there was just one song in my backhead... "killing me softly"... Such nice cars.. :D

51

Frank is my hero. The real King of Auto Salon ;)

52

Totally didn't see that LEGO Yoda coming lol

53

For Me:
1. F40
2. GT3 911 (991)
3. Singer Porsche 964
..
..
..
..
x. Land RoverMan!!! I'm not too sure, that F430 Challenge Stradale looks like a sinister weapon, maybe my list is all wrong then

54

Never knew about this place, wow! I'm from HK and never knew how many of these elegant machines exist here.

55

deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87  Killin' 'em!! 
Even though I'm a fat tire man, this style works perfertly in a modern, pro tourer, VIP way (maybe more dish hehe).
Not too many stanced 275 GTB's to compare it too, right? Thanks!!!

56

It's more like a museum rather than a workshop!

57
Speedhunters_Bryn

A. Mazing. Lovely article, urgh, envy just kicked in.

58

A Ferrari and Star wars Fan.  My kind of people.

59

Fantastic feature and these blackbird guys are the best ! Thanks for doing them justice

60

I've been following blackbird on Instagram for a while now, so cool to see what they're all about. Thanks for another great article Speedhunters!

61

I've been following blackbird on Instagram for a while now, so cool to see what they're all about. Thanks for another great article Speedhunters!

62

This blow my mind,   Cars and star war stuff.  mind blown!

63

This blow my mind,   Cars and star war stuff.  mind blown!

64

singervehicles Thanks for the retweet, this is pure visual car porn for any enthusiast!

65

vroomtothetombIs this what you had in mind? Just a quick Photoshop job.

66

@portraitmac vroomtothetomb Wow insane! I wouldn't be putting big wheels on it myself, but it definitely transforms the car in an interesting way!

67

Nosrac That's the point haha!

68

Gianluca FairladyZ If you had to pick just one Gianluca?

69

Mahfoodh Assuming they were all street legal, I'd have to go: 512M, F40 and Carrera RS, with the Enzo following closely behind.

70

@portraitmac vroomtothetomb 
Now that's quite a transform. I would say changin the original steelies is a sin, but for the sake of curiosity may you install some retro nostalgic design wheels, how about Fuchs FP1 wheels, or the stock F40 wheels, that would make it more appropriate than multi spole modern day design

71

@portraitmac vroomtothetomb
YES!YES!YES! Bellisima! You guys are awesomee!!!!

72

Mahfoodh vroomtothetomb check out worker bee's rendition further down in the comments. He made the original steelies bigger and it's just as stunning!

73

Mahfoodh vroomtothetomb check out worker bee's rendition further down in the comments. He made the original steelies bigger and it's just as stunning!

74

vroomtothetomb deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87 worker bee 
Ohh, that's more like it. I guess my dreams are a bit wilder now, I want a red GTB with F40 wheels.....
thanks mate for the reference!

75

vroomtothetomb deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87 worker bee 
Ohh, that's more like it. I guess my dreams are a bit wilder now, I want a red GTB with F40 wheels.....
thanks mate for the reference!

76
Gianluca FairladyZ

Peter_Kelly Gianluca FairladyZ  Pedey, from the bottom of my heart, F40!

77

Next time you're in HKG, you need to drop out to Luk Keng on a Sunday, and have a gafe & gaap beng beside the road and enjoy these passing by at -moderate- speed...

78
deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

Imagine a stanced 250gto. Heh

79

Mahfoodh vroomtothetomb Here's another quickie with F40 wheels...with tires not quite so low profile.

80

just beautiful!!!

81

just beautiful!!!

82

Fan-Bleeding-Tastic place and article! I would get such a massive sensory-overload if I were actually in this place, I probably need physical assistance to walk out

83
lockedoutofacount

I got the rare privilege to actually see the F40LM challenge car FXXK and Laferrari (as well as many other icons) when I went to Italy for my class trip and photos won't ever do the car any justice you actually have to find one in person to understand the elegance of the car

84
lockedoutofacount

I got the rare privilege to actually see the F40LM challenge car FXXK and Laferrari (as well as many other icons) when I went to Italy for my class trip and photos won't ever do the car any justice you actually have to find one in person to understand the elegance of the car

85

Another excellent article....this is what keeps people come back to you guys day-in and day-out.  A pleasure to read AND look at.

86

Another excellent article....this is what keeps people come back to you guys day-in and day-out.  A pleasure to read AND look at.

87

Another excellent article....this is what keeps people come back to you guys day-in and day-out.  A pleasure to read AND look at.

88

this is like the ultimate petrol head man cave!!

89

Static Stance Sorry for the late reply, but thank you very much for the positive feedback!

90

What about if your alarm was working that day? Are you coming to Cambodia?

91

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