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London, 22-25 September, 2020

The 2020 edition of the Salon Privé Concours d’Elegance presented by AXA, was probably the largest and lengthiest motoring gathering in the United Kingdom since the introduction of the various, and constantly changing, social distancing regulations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As with many events, travel restrictions from a number of countries resulted in some cancellation of entries, but despite this the organisers still put together a broad ranging field of cars and motorcycles. The later September date, as opposed to the normal first weekend of the month, chosen because of the aforementioned pandemic and lockdown in the months preceding the show, meant that the vagaries of the British weather were more prevalent over the course of the show. This ranged from pleasantly warm late summer sun on the Tuesday for the tour, through sporadic rain on the main concours day, the Wednesday, to a cooler but brighter Thursday for Ladies Day, then bright sunshine but very chilly and blustery winds for the final two days.

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The event started with its traditional tour through the byways of the beautiful countryside for which the Cotswolds area is famous, together with its quaint villages and small towns, starting from Blenheim Palace and ending with lunch at The Bear, in Woodstock. In the afternoon participants had the opportunity to see the unveiling of Numerous premieres on the manufacturer stands around the perimeter of the show field. These included the world premiere of Touring’s Superleggera Aero 3, which uses a Ferrari F12 as its motive base.

The cars entered in the concours provided a truly broad spectrum of both road and race machinery, on both two and four wheels, ranging from a towering 1904 Napier L49 to Classics of the Future, that class being won by a 2006 Pagani Zonda F Roadster. Along the way there was a 1919 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, which was built in the marque’s Springfield, Massachusetts factory, and which played a starring role in the 1974 film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Then there was the actual 1936 SS Jaguar 100 that was used as the basis for a Matchbox scale model, whilst 110 years of Alfa Romeo history was celebrated with a dedicated category that was won by an ex-Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Zagato, driven in period by the legendary Italian racing driver Tazio Nuvolari. Amongst the post-war examples there was the 1949 Le Mans race winning Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta, the unique Ferrari 166 MM/53 Pinin Farina Berlinetta, together with a very art deco 1960 Citroen ID19 LeParis by Henri Chapron. The class winners and runners-up were announced during the Wednesday afternoon, with the Best of Show award being, chosen from the class winners, held over until Boodles Ladies day on the Thursday. After 24 hours of suspense for the class winning entrants, all was revealed during the afternoon, when the 1931 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Zagato of Ian Livingstone took the coveted award, beating the 1949 Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta by a hair’s breadth.

For the Friday the main concours cars had departed and been replaced by those entered in the Masters part of the event, the theme for this year being the “Evolution of the Supercar”, spanning from the sixties to the new millennium, with a class for each of the five decades. For this part of the concours the main judging was done by the owners of the cars themselves, with additional awards from the Duke of Marlborough and the Chairman. At the end of the day the Owners’ Choice Award went to a 1979 BMW M1 resplendent in red, with Duke of Marlborough choosing a white Lotus Esprit Turbo HC from 1987, whilst the Chairman opted for silver 1997 Ferrari F50.

The final day of the gathering was on the Saturday for Masters Day, when eight prestigious car clubs, namely Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren and Porsche, assembled their finery on the lawns to the rear of the main concours field, jointly bringing some 1100 cars to display in their respective areas. Each marque had awards for the Manufacturer’s and Secretary’s choice prizes, deliberated by an independent panel, the results of which are appended below.

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As noted at the beginning of the article, it was probably the largest and lengthiest motoring event in England this year, and given all the uncertainties over seemingly forever changing restrictions, all credit must go to the organisers for putting on a splendid show, and also to all the entrants and trade supporters for their resilience and belief that it was going to take place – congratulations to all!

Text by Keith Bluemel
Images by Keith Bluemel and Andreas Meiniger

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