concourse d’elegance


The relocation of high end show Salon Prive from London to Blenheim in Oxfordshire made it a considerably less convenient event to attend. When attending in the past an afternoon ticket usually sufficed as that wasn’t enough to see or do to justify a whole day ticket. This year only full day tickets were available at a considerable price save for general entry public tickets at the weekend. As it was the Brighton Speed Trials that weekend I decided to give Salon Prive a miss this year. I’ll be interested to see what people thought of the change of venue and format.

A pair of Dinos, one a spider. I can remember when they were sold for £30,000 and people replaced the Dino badges with Ferrari badges for the added cache! A nice car they seem ridiculously overpriced now.

Nick Benwell’s Lovely patinated supercharged Frazer Nash Shelsley. A regular attendee on the concours circuit it is always great to see it out and about.

The cars parked up in front of the RAC Club House at Woodcote Park

Ferraris a plenty – a brace each of 275s and 550s and a Daytona. Bentley Continental in the fore ground.

A feature of Salon Prive is a tour of some of the concours cars from the RAC Club at Woodcote Park near Epsom to the site of the event. I went along for breakfast to see the cars taking part in the tour before they left Woodcote Park. There weren’t that many but it was an interesting selection of vehicles.

In recent years the RAC has arranged for Regent Street, in the heart of London’s West End, to be shut to traffic on the Saturday before the London to Brighton veteran car run.

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Regent Street Motor Show – Veteran Car Concourse D’Elegance

 

The focus of the show was a Concourse D’elegance for some of the veteran cars taking part in the run. It presented a good opportunity for members of the public to get close to the beautiful old crocs without the need to get up at dawn on the Sunday to watch them depart from London for the coast.

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Genevieve, a 1904 Darracq, and star of the eponymous 1953 film that was arguably responsible for firing the enthusiasm of the public for old cars.

 

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Wood, brass and steel. The beauty of a veteran car.

 

It was a busy event so it was surprising so few manufacturers displayed any of their cars. Apart from Tesla, only Renault and BMW attended with their current electric cars, a Zoe and an I3.

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A nicely patinated Healey Silverstone. Not pretty but very fast for its time.

 

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A neat solution for the spare tyre which doubles as a bumper!

 

The concours of elegance which have been held for the last three years at various royal palaces have emerged as the premier concourse d’elegance in the UK. The first event at Windsor Castle in 2012 was a great success. Last year’s event at St James’s Palace was also good though a rather less grand affair. This year’s event at Hampton Court Palace was the best yet. Held in the grounds of Henry VIII’s palace on the banks of the River Thames, this year’s event was blessed with good weather and a fantastic turnout of world-class cars. Indeed many of the cars in the concourse had been shipped across the Atlantic direct from Pebble Beach. As in previous years, the premier motoring clubs in the UK were invited to enter 50 cars each for a supporting show. I entered my MG SV with the Royal Automobile Club.  Having become an established feature of the London motoring scene next year’s event will be held at Holyrood House in Edinburgh, the Queens official home in Scotland. Whilst this will undoubtedly provide grand surroundings and whilst Edinburgh is a fine city, I wonder whether there will be a sufficiently large market to support an event of this nature. We will find out next year.

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1933 MG K3 under close examination.

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Lord Bamford’s gorgeous 1933 razor edge Rolls Royce Phantom II Continental. The one off coupe coachwork was carried out by Freestone & Webb. Lord Bamford showed the same car at Salon Prive and the Goodwood Revival the following weekend. Well you would, wouldn’t you?

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Epitome of 50’s sports cars, 1957 Ferrari 250 TDF GT Scaglietti Corsa Berlinetta.

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Old and new. 1896 Lutzmann Victoria and 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari.

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The Aston Martin Owners Club brought a fine selection of DB4’s and 5’s.

 

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Jaguar XK120 Jabbeke Coupe. This modified XK120 was built to claim back the Land Speed Record, which it did at Jabbeke in Belguim in 1953 at a speed of 172 mph in the hands of legendary Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis.

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This immaculate Ferrari 275 deservedly won best in show from amongst the club entered cars.

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This one off Zagato Jaguar XK140 was built after its Italian owner (and friend of the Zagato family) bent the original body in a crash. Zagato hoped that Jaguar might order further cars but they did not. It is much better looking than an XK 140!

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A car that attracted lots of attention was this barn find 1934 Frazer Nash. It belonged to an RAF officer and remained in his ownership until the current owner purchased it recently following the first owner’s death. Shabby but with oodles of patina, the current owner was asking for views on whether to restore it or not. I think its best to get the mechanicals sorted but leave the body as is. Its only original once!

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By contrast, here is a similar restored Frazer Nash. It looks brand new.

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Another view of the beautiful Zagato Jaguar XK140 Coupe.

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Patina..

 

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The Beast looking good – compare the lines with the Ferrari 550 Maranello behind.

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Old Beauty

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MG SV on show

I first attended Salon Prive last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Held in the beautiful grounds of the Duke of Northumberland’s London home, Syon House in West London,  the event is billed as an upscale concourse d’elegance and motoring lifestyle show. Running from Wednesday to Friday it is targeted at the well-heeled corporate hospitality market and the price of a daily ticket (including Lobster lunch..) reflects that. I attended last year on an afternoon ticket only which I was able to buy at a discount due to membership of a motoring club. At less than half the cost of a full day ticket it was good value for money as whilst I only had four hours at the show this turned out to be more than enough time to see what there was and the price included a good quality free afternoon tea and an unlimited bar! So this year I again opted for an afternoon ticket only and was not disappointed.

Being a top end event a number of prestige manufactures were present showing their latest cars including Ferrari and Lamborghini. Two La Ferraris were on show, one in red and the other, belonging to Jay Kay, in a lurid shade of green. There was also a stunning one off Ferrai F12 open top roadster. Ferrari would not reveal who the car was built for but it certainly seems to me that they made a better job of it than they did on the bespoke Ferrari 458 they built for Eric Clapton last year.

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Jay Kay’s lurid green La Ferrari. The interior is that colour too..

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Gorgeous bespoke Ferrari F12 Open Top Roadster for an anonymous client

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Contrast with Eric Clapton’s bespoke Ferrari 458 – actually less good looking than the standard car. Photo taken at St James Concours of Elegance 2013.

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The F12 looks stunning from all angles. I love the retro themed bubbles behind each seat.

Below are some other notable cars from the event.

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The concours included a whole class of D Type Jaguars (celebrating their 60th anniversary). One of them won overall and many made an appearance at Goodwood a week later for a spectacular all D Type race.

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Unusual Zagato Rover 2000. The only one and very striking.

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Senor Pagani attended the event which showcased his cars. Here he is admiring a very yellow Jaguar XJ220.

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Fantastic Art Deco front end of a Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A

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More interesting coachbuilding, this time Superleggera’s take on a future Mini roadster. A very nice design indeed.

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Another of Jay Kay’s cars, beautiful modern coach built body on a Bentley R Type chassis. Yours for £500k. He was trying to flog this car at Essen (see below). No takers yet which is a shame. Its stunning looking.

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Red La Ferrari. I think the McLaren P1 looks better.

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This is Jaguar designer Ian Callum’s take on the Mark 2 Jag. I’m afraid it did nothing for me. I do not see the point of taking an old car and making it modern.

Monterey Motoring Week in California is famous for its array of top quality international motoring events, all packed into one week in August. Centred on the world-famous Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance there are numerous other shows, both formal and informal, together with classic and vintage racing at Laguna Seca. Apart from the lucky few able to travel to California in August, European motoring enthusiasts have not been able to experience anything similar. All that now looks to be changing with what seems to be the emergence of a “London Motoring Week” each September. In fact it is more of a “South East Motoring Week” as it encompasses events across London, Sussex, Surrey and further afield.

The undoubted highlight of London Motoring Week is the incomparable Goodwood Revival Meeting. This has been running every September since 1998. So successful and dominant is it that now other events are beginning to cluster around it. The week before the Revival sees the Salon Prive concourse and motoring lifestyle show at Syon House in London, closely followed by the Hampton Court Concourse of Elegance, The Beaulieu International Autojumble, The Brighton Speed Trials and the increasingly popular Shere Hillclimb in Surrey.

With so many fabulous events crammed into a very short space of time, motoring enthusiasts can find that difficult decisions need to be made as to which events to attend. This year I was lucky enough to attend the Revival, Salon Prive , Hampton Court and the Shere Hillclimb. I unfortunately had to turn down a place at the Brighton Speed Trials due the clash with Hampton Court and Shere.  A great shame is this year’s Speed Trials was the first to be held since the event was reinstated following a successful campaign to stop the Green dominated Brighton City Council banning it.  Reports on all the events I attended will be added shortly.

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La Ferrari and Bespoke F12 Ferrari at Salon Prive 2014

One of my highlights of the Windsor Castle Concourse of Elegance was Nick Benwell’s fabulous Frazer Nash Shelsley twin supercharged chain drive sportscar (see my blog entry below). It was therefore great to see the car featured in March’s copy of Classic and Sports Car. The car was built for shareholder and sales director A F Fane who raced it with great success in the UK and abroad before the war. It was the last of the chain drive Frazer Nash sports cars and the ultimate of the breed. Whist Fane was sadly killed in his Spitfire during the war the car survived and has been through only three other owners since.

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Best Drive of 2012

Undoubtedly the long drive up from Lands End to John O’Groats as part of this year’s LE JoG. Even though I navigated, rather than drove, most of it.. Whizzing around Goodwood in the McLaren MP4 after a tour of the MTC comes a close second.

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You take the high road..

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Best Car of 2012

I have seen many fine cars this year, at The Festival of Speed, Goodwood Revival, various events with McLaren, at Brooklands, Crystal Palace and on the London to Brighton run. The fabulous collection of Auto Unions at the Goodwood Revival was particularly memorable but the most stunning car I saw was the Daimler Double Six at the Windsor Castle Concourse of Elegance. just look at the lines and that long long bonnet!

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

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

Best Motoring Event Attended 2012

The Goodwood Revival is always amazing and one of the motoring high points of my year. For racing thrills and passionate crowds the newly competitive British GP at Silverstone is a must for all UK petrol heads. The London to Brighton run is always fascinating and the Classic Motor Show at the NEC was a great season closer. But my top event for 2012 was the Windsor Castle Concourse of Elegance. I am not usually one for car polishers but the collection of cars brought together at the Queen’s weekend home was stunning. Even my wife and kids found it interesting, which is saying something!

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Her Maj’s Roller even interested the kids..

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Achtung! Auto Unions!

Best Motoring Event in which Participated 2012

LE JoG – no question.

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Hero of 2012

Of our current crop of F1 drivers Vettel, now the youngest triple F1 Champion, stands out. If he had been less temperamental when faced with adversity then maybe he would have crept to the top of my list. As it was I think Alonso gave him a great run for his money in a clearly inferior car. Hamilton also showed some of the genius that seemed lacking from his driving in 2011. And that strange petulant streak that marred many of his performances last year was largely absent. Just look at his reaction when Hulkenberg’s rash lunge robbed him of victory at Inerlagos. But my hero of 2012 is former F1 driver and Double Champ Car Champion, Alex Zanardi. Not only did he magnificently overcome the horrific loss of his legs in a racing accident in 2001 to go on to a successful Touring Car career, he now has a fistful of Paralympic medals to add to his trophy cabinet. Winning two golds and a team silver at the age of 45 in a sport he only took up two years ago, is particularly impressive.  And the venue for his most emotional success (Gold in the Hand Cycling Road Race)? Brands Hatch of course – where his highest previous finish was a second in a F3000 race in 1991.  What a remarkable and inspirational man!

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