I remember once entering my car in a Pride of Ownership at an MG show at Silverstone. I was assured a POO (as it was unfortunately known) was not as serious as a concourse d’elegance. However I turned up to find that others in my class had cleaned the inside of their bonnets with a toothbrush. I hadn’t even opened mine. So I abandoned the car and went to watch the racing. That was when my general aversion to the world of car polishers started. In my view it is far better to use your car as its maker intended – even if it gets a bit battered and dirty.

Lyon’s masterpiece..

It’s fair to say my cars are very rarely the best turned out in the paddock when I race. Of course one of the main problems is that I drive to venues and in summer that can mean a world of dead flies caked to the front. But at heart I would rather be tinkering with my tyres or engine rather than polishing the chrome. So I recently surprised myself by replying to an advert in Jaguar Driver looking for cars to go on display at Windsor Castle as part of the Inaugural Windsor Castle Concourse of Elegance (note the spelling – this is England you know) being held as part of the Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations.The cars invited to participate in the main Concourse were parked up in the Quadrangle of the Castle – a perfect setting. The Bentley and Jaguar Drivers clubs were invited to bring a car for each year of the Queen’s reign to be parked on Long Drive leading up to the Castle. I entered my wonderful Series 1 XJ12 and the old girl looked wonderfully patrician, on what was her own 40th jubilee, amongst the usual E types and Mk2 saloons.

Jaguar XJ12

I would like to say her shiny paintwork and detailed engine bay were the work of many hours of preparation. Well indeed they were – just not by me. I’m ashamed to say I paid someone else to do the work. Still, she looked good if not concourse. In fact I felt a definite pride in my ownership of her.

Others stirred by proprietary pride no doubt included the captains of industry, hedge fund millionaires and other plutocrats who owned the star cars up in the Castle. Whilst I prefer to see cars in motion, many of these stationary cars were indeed beautiful and it slowly dawned on me why people flock to Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. The most beautiful car in my mind was the 1931 Corsica bodied Daimler Double Six with a bonnet so long its radiator was practically in Hampshire. The most over the top (and frankly hideous) car was the one off  1925 Jonckheere Rolls Royce. Clever, wonderful attention to detail but undriveable with its long tail and appalling visibility.

RR Phantom Jonckheere Coupe

But the cars that caught the eye were those with patina. Two of the best were William Ainscough’s wonderful 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C, still resplendent in its original paint and Canadian Army (of occupation) formation insignia, and Nick Benwell’s faded yet glorious 1935  twin supercharged (gulp) Shelsley Frazer Nash. An interesting contrast was provided by two 1950’s Ferraris. The first, a heavily restored ex Fangio 290 MM Scaglietti Spider looked magnificent but also brand new. It could have been a replica. The second car, a 1957 Testarossa driven at various times by amongst others Collins, Hawthorn and Phil Hill was in paint decades old, still bore the number it last raced under and seemed to have beeb baptised in Castrol R. One was clearly a car for the polishers – the other for the drivers. I know which I preferred.

Even uglier from the front..

Star of the show for me – fabulous Corsica bodied Daimler Double Six

Alfa Romeo 8C

Ex Fangio Ferrari 290 MM

Testarossa!

Frazer Nash twin supercharged Shelsley

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