June 22, 2012, 6:00 AM
TORONTO, ON – It was Fantasyland on Father’s Day as thousands of spectators jammed the city’s high-end "Mink Mile" to dream and drool over 160 stylish entries in the third annual Yorkville Exotic Car Show.
Exotics are common fare in Yorkville, which transitioned from a hippie haven in the '60s to Toronto's "Rodeo Drive" 20 years later. But never so many all at once.
The display, estimated to be valued at about $16 million, ranged from pristine vintage models to modern, ultra high-performance sports machines; from a mega-buck McLaren supercar to a couple of original Minis in mint condition; all parked with precision along a red carpet that stretched along Bloor St. from Bay to Avenue Rd. It was like a car museum, but outdoors in the heart of Toronto.
This mix of cars with panache and a classy shopping district is a perfect blend. A couple of sleek Lamborghinis or a row of scarlet Ferraris fit right in with the area’s chic designer outlets and their elegant clientele. This is no playground for muscle cars and hot rods – save them for the local cruise night.
No, these are the cars you dreamed about as a kid, the ones you’ll buy if you ever win the lottery.
There were more Ferraris and Porsches displayed there than you’d likely see on the street in a lifetime. A few Lamborghinis wowed onlookers, as did a group of Aston Martins, ranging from classics to the latest models.
A girlfriend posed for her beau beside a sexy dream machine; a co-operative wife snapped a photo of her hubby looking longingly at a car he knows he’ll never be able to afford. Even youngsters darted from one shiny exotic to another, dragging along their parents as they started to build dreams of their own.
If to lust is a sin, there were thousands on Bloor St. this day in need of redemption.
Phil Downe is the founder of this classy show, which started two years ago with a couple of car clubs and 60 exotics. Last year, the number of cars participating hit the 100-mark, with four clubs signing on. This year, 10 clubs from throughout southern Ontario joined the festivities, bumping the car count to a record 160.
The clubs represented such marques as Porsche, Ferrari, TVR, Shelby Cobra (celebrating the 50th anniversary of the American-bred sports car), Bentley and Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Corvette, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini and MG. And if an entry didn’t fit any of those categories, there was also an Open class.
The idea for the show started percolating in Downe’s mind a few years ago. At the time, he was a director of a local Porsche club and realized that when the club members got together for an event, usually held in some remote venue outside the city, it was little more that an opportunity for the members to praise each other on how well they’d polished their Porsches. He convinced his colleagues the group needed to do something more meaningful.
"It’s a goal of any car club to try and foster good will, to do something for the community, to give something back," said Downe. By bringing a number of clubs together in one place, he believed such an event could be meaningful, to have an impact on the community.
As a Yorkville resident, he couldn’t think of a better place to stage the event. "Come down here on any Saturday or Sunday night and you’ll see incredible cars. It’s the epicentre of the car culture in Canada, so what better place to hold a car show?"
The response from the public and support from sponsors has proven Downe’s decision was sound. The event is also making an important impact on the community, raising a record $30,000 this year for Prostate Cancer Canada.
This charity has a special meaning for Downe, especially on Father’s Day, as his dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His late father’s experience with the disease made them both keenly aware of the need for more public education, as well as more research into the treatment of prostate cancer. He hopes the contributions from the Yorkville show will help see those goals fulfilled.
Downe noted the show wouldn’t happen without backing from the Bloor-Yorkville business improvement association. Downe said the organization’s connections with city hall is a valuable asset, but the financial support the Bloor-Yorkville BIA gives the event is even more vital – it provides about 75% of the funding for the event’s six-figure budget.
The show also had support this year from Petro Canada’s Ultra 94 premium fuel brand as the title sponsor. Six other major sponsors – four gold-level supporters (Porsche, OnWall Solutions, Grand Touring Automobiles and Chaz Yorkville condominiums) and two silver backers (Porsche Design and McLaren Toronto) – helped the event achieve its success.
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