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Blenheim Castle, 3rd of September, 2015

The first stage if this week’s concours marathon is taken. The first weekend of September does not host less than three major European Concours at the same time. Starting early into the weekend was the annual Salon Privé followed by the Concours of Elegance in Holyrood House in Edinburgh and by the second premium French Concours at Chantilly.

For the 10th time the Salon Privé opened its doors and for the jubilee edition a new location was found with the Blenheim Castle at Woodstock about 1 hour outside of London. Built in the early 18th century for the Duke of Malborough and home of Winston Churchill in his youth the Palace does make a perfect location for a concours although one has to admit that the main building itself is far less integrated in the Concours than Sion House was in recent years. What did not change over the years is the concept of the event with a classic concours including an international jury in addition to a Supercar show were the latest sports cars are represented by the small and large manufacturers to the public. Held in a very noble ambience with appropriate dress code the Salon Privé is also a social event for the society of London.

After driving the Tour d´Elegance the day before the cars were lined up on the large green in front of the castle with the typical white tents and the different sponsor booths surrounding the main show field.

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 Just as in Sion park the new car show and the classics concours is separated giving the visitors the impression of visiting two events at the same time. Whereas at Sion parc the house itself was a natural barrier between the two fields at Blenheim the extended lunch and coffee area was set up in between. Part of the experience at the Salon Privé is the annual grilled lobster and the champagne from one of the main sponsors Pommery.

The concours featured 69 cars and bikes from different eras separated in 9 classes ranging from the prewar sports cars to a selection of Ferrari with Pininfarina Design. For several decades now the name Ferrari and Pininfarina are interlinked as most of the new Ferraris are clearly a Pininfarina design. But not just in this class one could see several Ferrari including the small early 206 GT Dino, the 250 GT Lusso of the later 365 GTS/4 but also in the class for open cars a 250 GT and 275 GTS Cabriolet or the wonderful 250 TDF alongside the SWB Berlinetta in the Gentlemen’s GT class. Especially the 250 TdF drew a lot of attention just finishing a superb restoration including a posh but most likely completely impractical red velvet interior. The TdF was lined up with the other class winners for the much awaited Best of Show award. Surprisingly not in the selection due to “only” a second in class was the 1938 Delahaye 135 MS from the Mullin collection. Although one of the highlights of every event and multiple concours winner the two-tone blue Delahaye had to leave first in class the black-white Lagonda V12 Cabriolet, also from a very prominent collection, the stable of Sir Anthony Bamford. But as the judges were convinced by the fresher restoration of the Lagonda the public only had eyes for the lines of the car and so the Delahaye won the first of the two main awards, the BoS by public Vote.

The judges had a longer discussion that followed the judging in the morning and most likely different opinions about the winners were exchanged over the lunch with the fresh lobster.
After reducing the choice to a final two cars the last car to enter the stage was the 1952 Jaguar XK120 Jabbeke named after the record run of Norman Dewis at the Beach of Jabbeke in Belgium.
Although not a concours car in the common sense with the modified standard Jaguar body including the bubble roof for the driver to reduce drag this very important car was well in the focus of many events in the past and finally got the recognition its history deserved with this Best of Show.

For today we have to leave it with this short report on this event as the weekend has a lot more to see with the opening of the Concours in Edinburgh today, the Bonhams auction on Saturday and the final concours of the weekend in Chantilly.
In the next weeks more images and most likely a closer look at some of the cars will follow

Text & images … Peter Singhof