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

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It’s unlikely that Stuttgart was an attractive city even before its drastic remodelling by the RAF and USAAF,  so finding myself in an airport hotel on the outskirts of town was not a major drawback.  In fact it was very convenient for my first stop in Stuttgart, the Retro Classics show at the smart new conference centre by the airport. One of the big German classic car shows,  it has suffered in the past from being held on the same weekend as Techno Classica Essen, the biggest of the lot. This year it was held on a different weekend and that no doubt helped to explain the thousands of neatly dressed enthusiasts who joined me at 9am outside the doors before opening.

The show was a cracker taking up seven large halls and featuring an exceptional collection of vehicles on show and on sale. An excellent autojumble occupied one hall, another was devoted to the Mercedes-Benz Club and another was themed on American cars.  One of the other halls featured smaller clubs, with everything from Tatra owners to the Rover Owners Club of Stuttgart. You have to be pretty keen on Longbridge’s finest to be in a Rover club in the City of Porsche and Mercedes Benz.  The MG Car Club of Germany had a nice selection of cars on display including a fine K3.

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MG K3

Many of the halls were given over to restoration businesses focussing particularly on Mercedes Pagodas and early Porsche 911’s.  Scores of those particular car were on display in various stages of restoration.  The finished products were truly stunning – better than new and with a better than new price tag. 100,000 Euros plus seemed to be the going rate for a restored Pagoda.

Lots of pristine Pagodas

Lots of pristine Pagodas

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…and 911’s – this is a 911S

Stuttgart marks featured strongly amongst the cars dealers had brought to sell. In amongst the German iron there were some interesting alternatives. This smart 1958 Fiat Abarth Sestiere Coupe had patina (!) but was Mille Miglia eligible and was priced at 43,500 Euros.

Fiat Abarth Sisterie

Fiat Abarth Sestiere

Manufacturers were also present. Opel brought along their new Adam hatchback to show with a smart rallying Opel Kadett from the seventies. In fact it was the fortieth anniversary of the Kadett, a car that looks so much nicer than its Vauxhall sibling, the execrable Chevette.

Opel Kadett

Opel Kadett

Amongst the more unusual cars on display was a Messerschmitt KR bubble car driven by a propeller. Not quite a ME 109 – but a KR200!

Achtung! Messerschmitt!

Achtung! Messerschmitt!

The most attractive cars on display were the Horchs brought to the show by Audi Heritage. I had not realised that the now defunct mark was the predecessor of Audi. In fact Audi is Latin for “horch” which means “hear” in English. The 1937 Horch Sportcabriolet stood out in particular with a level of opulence equivalent to any contemporary Mercedes Benz.

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1937 Horch Sportcabriolet

All in all a fantastic show. If you have an understanding partner, combine it with a weekend visit to the Stuttgart car museums, especially if you like German cars.