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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After a hiatus of 50 years, April saw the return of the Goodwood members’ meeting. Intended originally for GRRC members only, disappointing ticket sales saw invitations extended to other motoring clubs and subscribers to various motoring magazines. The comparatively light crowds may have been disappointing for the Earl of March but they were fantastic for those who attended. Not having to force your way past crowds of bored wives and girlfriends was a welcome contrast to the Revival Meeting as was the lack of corporate sponsors.

The event was blessed with remarkable weather – warm bright sunshine in what was otherwise a wet and miserable spring. The sun, coupled with the lack of crowds created a relaxed atmosphere most unlike other Goodwood events. But the best thing about the event was seeing cars that most of us had never seen before. Wonderful though the Festival of Speed and Revival are, many of the top cars return year after year. Having gone to both events for nearly 20 years I am afraid I have become a little blasé about even the most expensive exotica. Embarrassingly, at the last Revival, I found myself spending more time looking at the cars in the car park than in the paddock.

It’s this overfamiliarity with the usual Goodwood fare which made the cars at the Members meeting so interesting. For the first time we were shown cars that raced after the date the circuit closed in 1966. Le Mans prototypes and Turbo Era F1 cars did demonstration laps whilst colourful 70s touring cars battled it out in full on races. It was fascinating stuff and I can only hope that the event is repeated in a similar format next year.

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In a previous post I mentioned my love of the Matra 670 that Graham Hill and Henri Pescarolo raced to victory at Le Mans in 1972. Imagine my delight when I found the very car at the members meeting. I also got to hear its V12 howl as it accelerated away from the chicane – something I had been longing to hear for years.

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The fantastic 70s touring car race is going to do wonders for the price of neglected 70s saloons. Dolly Sprint anyone?

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The Dolly Sprints below seem to have lost a little oil….

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Sports Car Heaven – Alfa leads Aston Martin and Jaguar C Type

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Jaguar Le Mans Prototypes exit the chicane

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Jaguar XJR8LM

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Martini Lancia Abarth 038 Delta S4 – this Group B rally car won the 1986 Monte Carlo Rally

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Group B Rally Renault 5 GT Turbo

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Prost and Lauda Turbo Era McLarens

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Beatrice team Haas Turbo Ford’s

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Visiting Rolls Royce Phantom with serpentine horn!

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Donald Campbell’s Jaguar XK150 Coupe – in Bluebird blue.

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The great Sir Stirling Moss checks out the 70s touring car grid. He drove touring cars in that period as an unsuccessful reprise to his career.

Rolls Royce Wraith, Geneva Motor Show, March 2013

Rolls Royce Wraith, Geneva Motor Show, March 2013

A few years ago I visited the Rolls Royce factory at Goodwood. It was hard not to be impressed by architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw’s futuristic semi subterranean building which looks more like a bond villain’s lair than a car factory. Hidden partially underground at the behest of the local planners it still manages to be light and airy. The quality of the construction matches the quality of the architecture – the plant truly is a triumph of British architectural, engineering and construction know how. Such a shame then that, on touring the interior, it soon became apparent that what was being built there were not Rolls Royces but BMWs.

At the time the range was limited to the huge slab sided Phantom. Not an unattractive car it is nevertheless designed and engineered in Munich, where the body and all the major components (engine, transmission, power train) are also made. The plant at Goodwood merely assembles the parts, and paints and trims out the shells. That’s not to say no craftsmanship is employed at Goodwood. The quality of finish on the trim, the leather working and marquetry is exceptional. But depressingly all the names of the managers of each of the key works stages (paint shop, assembly etc) are German.

A sporting Rolls?

A sporting Rolls?

Bit I suppose we must not grumble. At least the brand lives on in motor car manufacture and keeps Britons in jobs. Bit it is odd that when Jaguar are lambasted for being Indian owned and MG for being Chinese owned, there is far less criticism of RR and Bentley. Unlike Jaguar and MG, all modern Rolls’ and Bentley’s are largely designed and engineered overseas with little of the “clever” work or indeed manufacturing of the key components being undertaken in the UK. An MG 3 is more of a British car than a Rolls Royce Phantom.

A big Austrian tries a big German... Arnie gets the measure of the Wraith

A big Austrian tries a big German… Arnie gets the measure of the Wraith

Whilst the Phantom has sold well BMW have widened the range to include first the cheaper Ghost and now the fast backed Wraith. It’s clear the Wraith is intended to be a car driven by its owner rather than a chauffeur. It even has (shock) sporting pretensions. It has a shorter wheel base than the other cars in the range, firmer damping and an engine more powerful than that in a McLaren MP4-12c. I first saw the Wraith when it was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March. It’s a fantastic looking car – far more imposing than the Ghost on which it is based. There is even decent headroom in the back. If I was in the market for a super luxury German sports coupe I would buy one. But remember this is not really a Rolls. If you want a well engineered British made product worthy to wear the Rolls Royce badge you need to be in the market for aero engines…..

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Ghastly Ghost, compare with classy paint job behind