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Hampton Court Concours of Elegance blog

 

Ian Cushway profile Image

By Ian Cushway, 11th September 2020

 

Courting success!

 

Highlights from Hampton Court's spectacular Concours of Elegance

 

Being the first international concours d'elegance for over six months, the palace air was electric as the first historic cars slowly crunched their way over the pale sand gravel at the picturesque Hampton Court Palace for the weekend spectacular on 3-5 September.

On display were some of the rarest, most desirable collector cars ever gathered on UK soil, as well as a number of UK debuts – including the tough as nails Ineos Grenadier, the slinky Brabham BT62R and the totally one-off commission Aston Martin Victor.

 

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Credit: Photo by Tim Scott

 

Making an entrance
Greeting visitors as they entered the famous Fountain Gardens was an impressive Ford vs Ferrari display, paying homage to some of Le Mans 24 Hours' most famous racers. Among them, a Ford GT40, Ferrari 250 LM, 365 P2 and a stunning Ferrari 250 GTO. Still on the Le Mans theme, elsewhere there was a line-up of the McLaren F1 GTRs that triumphed at the 24-hour spectacular in 1995. And if you like F1 cars, you'd have marvelled at the display of hand-picked championship-winning examples that had gathered in celebration of 70 years of F1.

 

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Credit: Photo by Moss Europe Ltd

 

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Credit: Photo by Moss Europe Ltd

 

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Credit: Photo by Moss Europe Ltd

 

Concours eye-catchers
Needless to say, highlights from the showcase of Concours entries are too numerous to mention, but a couple of vehicles caught our eye. The graceful lines of a red and black 1934 MG PA reminded us of the golden era of this manufacturer, while we were fascinated by the 1955 'HWM 1' Jaguar on display. We're more accustomed to seeing that car in action at the Freddie March Memorial Trophy at the Goodwood Revival. Oh, and we couldn't help but take a long and appreciative look around UJB 140, the 1959 Works Healey built by the factory for use in the 1960 Sebring 12 Hours. It was one of four cars and served as a spare before passing into private ownership.

 

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Credit: Photo by Tim Scott

 

Popular Porsche
The Best in Show accolade, an award voted for by the car owners themselves, was given to an imposing Porsche 917 KH still dressed in its distinctive red-white Salzburg livery – it's the one that was driven to victory at Le Mans by Hans Hermann and Richard Attwood in 1970. Remarkably, it was Porsche's first win at the event, but not its last, with 19 overall victories to date at the event for Porsche.

 

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Credit: Photo by Tim Scott

 

First Landie
Awards were also given out for different classes and eras with winners including the very first production Land Rover, making its debut after a painstaking two-year nut and bolt restoration. It was built in 1948 and was meant for King George VI but remained within Land Rover instead. Unbelievably, its latter years were spent rusting away on a Northumberland farm!

 

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Credit: Photo by Tim Scott

 

Victorious Victor
Outside of the main Concours of Elegance cars, nearly 1000 other rare and desirable vehicles lined up in the grounds of the Palace, including a collection of Future Classics – the winner, unsurprisingly, being the one-of-a-kind Aston Martin Victor. Despite taking some of its design cues from a 1980s Vantage it features bang up to date mechanicals, with a race-ready V12 powertrain and lots of carbon fibre used throughout. With an impressive 836bhp on tap, it's the most powerful road legal naturally-aspirated Aston ever produced.

 

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Credit: Photo by Tim Scott

 

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Credit: Photo by Moss Europe Ltd

 

Clubbing together
Car clubs were at Hampton in large numbers, including the E-type Club, the XK Club and many more. Among the latter, a stunning bronze Jaguar XK120 Roadster took top honours in the Jaguar Trophy, as well as catching the eye of judges from Classic & Sports Car magazine who also gave it an award alongside a Lotus Eclat.

 

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Credit: Photo by Tim Scott

 

Bentley Boys
Sunday's visitors were treated to a line-up of distinguished Bentley's through the ages, with judges picking out a 1936 Bentley 4.25-Litre Drophead Coupé, formerly owned by Bentley Boy Woolf Barnato as the overall winner. With its unique Mulliner streamlined body and concealed hood, reportedly it was painted silver blue to match the colour of Barnato's wife's favourite dress. The car has been fully restored but kept as original as possible.

 

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Credit: Photo by Tim Scott

 

Better by design
Now, we all appreciate lovely design and new for this year was a competition judged by a committee of automotive designers gathered together by Scottish firm Bridge of Weir Leather, manufacturers of leather for the automotive industry. A 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Coupe by Gangloff with its unique styling and exquisite black and purple paint work was deemed the most outstanding. Lovely isn't she?

 

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Credit: Photo by Mathieu Heurault

 

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Credit: Photo by Mathieu Heurault

 

Record-breaking auction
As if all this wasn't enough, the highlight of the weekend for many was the 'Passion of a Lifetime' auction by Gooding & Company, the firm's first ever UK sale. Set in the elegant surroundings of the Tudor Courtyard, with viewers from 73 different nations tuning in to bid, the star of the sale was a unique Bugatti Type 59 dating from 1934, once owned by King Leopold III of Belgium no less. Breaking all records for cars from that manufacturer, bidding stopped at an eye-watering £9,535,000. The crowds were equally entertained by a fierce bidding war which erupted over a gorgeous-looking 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV Speciale which sold for £3,207,000.

 

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Credit: Photo by Moss Europe Ltd

 

A display of power
The MG XPower SV Owners Club were out in force, a rare sight indeed with only 82 examples having been produced between 2003 and 2005. The British-Italian muscle car designed by Peter Stevens certainly looked at home amongst the other exotic metal.

With the weather being kind all weekend, and the smell of classic cars in the air, the Concours of Elegance was a very welcome return to car shows. Here's to hoping that 2021 will bring a return to the usual schedule of shows, meets, rallies and races all over the world.

 

 

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