Arriving on Friday morning for the set-up of the cars the first that could be seen was an increase of the
sponsor tents around the car display area, German watch maker Lange&Söhne even built an entire temporary
building to welcome their guests and a further display of their watches just next to the classic cars.
Furthermore the former “owner’s day” with a quiet private atmosphere became a public day with tickets on
sale so the numbers of people was clearly up well before the cars arrived. Although we are in a Bentley year
with the centenary going on it was again (like in Goodwood) Aston Martin to leave a big mark at the event.
Celebrating the collaboration with coachbuilder Zagato in joint efforts they were able to set up a display with
every single example of the Milanese design on the cars from AM ranging from the legendary DB4 GT Zagato
to the latest range of the Vanquish in the different body forms. While people were waiting for the entrants to
arrive in groups and set up on their designated spots the parade of the Zagato Astons brought some pastime.
Finally at about 11am the 60 cars entered the field and journalists and spotters assembled at the driveway to
see the cars coming in with a decent background without disturbing tents. It was funny to see the different
interest of the attending photographers when the cars arrived as the younger Instagram generation was
insheer excitement when the McLarens P1 and F1 arrived whereas the more seasoned concours
attendants were more attracted by the potential show winners. The field was led by Gregor Fisken in a very
original Jaguar D-Type followed by the group of Bentley. Many of these cars just made it over the Atlantic from
their latest adventure at Pebble Beach including the oldest Bentley ever delivered to a customer, the 3 Litre
chassis number 3 with its polished alloy body. Not only is this a rare survivor of the early history but it also
has a link to James Bond. It is known that in the early Bond books James was actually driving Bentley and
although the Bentley was replaced with the famous Aston Martin DB5 in the movies it was the son of the
owner of this very first delivered 3 litre, Desmond Llewelyn, who would become famous as Q.
Going on in the Bentley history it was the 3 Litre chassis 141 that was the first Bentley to race in Le Mans in
private hands of John Duff. Although W.O.Bentley was not keen in seeing his car on the 24h torture he and
his works test driver Frank Clement joined in for the first edition and after seeing the challenge and the
possible PR effect W.O.Bentley would never miss another edition until the takeover by Rolls-Royce resulting
in 5 victories. Most famous was the works entry of the Speed Six giving “Old No.1” a double victory in 1929
and 1930. After a very colorful life with several changes the car actually today is an 8 Litre racer in the
Brooklands configuration, in Hampton Court it was again joined by its sister car Old No.3 as well as Bruce
McCaw’s second treasure, the Gurney Nutting Sportsman Coupe widely known as the Blue Train Bentley.
It is very common fact that W.O.Bentley was never a fan of Supercharging and so the actual Blowers were
built by Tim Birkin, two of the Birkin Blowers were in London, the car of Bentley Motors themselves and the
single seater that was missing in Pebble last month. What is less known that there was actually a
supercharged Bentley built by the works service well before the Blower made their appearance as a single 3
Litre was developed, the red unicorn was present as well.
Looking at the potential show stoppers it certainly was a trio of French designed cars that drew a lot of
attention with the big names of the Concours Circus Bugatti, Delahaye and Delage, potential class
and BoS winners all over the world. Peter Mullin brought the Delage D8-120 Cabriolet whose Chapron body
was prominently featured in the movie “An American in Paris”. A very well-known car the two-tone maroon
body attracted a lot of attention. Chapron also bodied the Delahaye 175 S but the lines on this one seemed
more flamboyant than those on the Delage. Last but not least a Bugatti was admired and people did not seem
the care that it actually is a rebodied. The Shah of Persia had this design on his car as seen in the Petersen
Museum in Los Angeles and the car on show was rebodied in the same VanVooren design after losing its
Talking about originality the was nothing coming close to the 1911 Lancia Delta that was neglected for
decades and is just brought back to a running condition. Not few looked at the rotten interior and were
wondering what a car like this does on a show field but as a great reference for what the cars were built like in
those years it was great to see as was the Diatto a Clément.
So coming to the highlight and most likely the headline of most of the press releases and articles about
Hampton Court is the quintet of Touring Superleggera Ferrari. No less than 4 166 MM Barchettas and a 212
Export Berlinetta were on display directly in front of the main building. After having a meeting with a drive to
the Brooklands museum the cars arrived in Hampton Court and were surrounded the whole day by people.
Rarely does one see several of them on one place and after the Monaco Concours several weeks back this
was the second chance to look at this amount, an equal display might have only been possible in Pebble
Beach in the past.
So London in September is certainly well worth a visit with both the Concours in Hampton Court and the
Salon Privé only an hour away. Thursday saw the opening of the Salon Privé, Saturday the change to the
Bentley Display from the former Concours cars and today finally a world record in association with the
Bentley Drivers Club when about 1300 Bentleys are expected to be placed at Blenheim. We will report later
on that and leave you now with some impressions of the first of the two events this weekend.
Report & images ... Peter Singhof