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Syon Park, London 4th - 6th of September

For the 8th consecutive year the Salon Privé was held in London, again during the first week of September. After the last edition of the Louis Vuitton Concours d´Elegance at the prestigious Hurlingham Club the Salon Privé was launched in 2006 as a luxury car show best comparable with the Quail Motorsport Gathering on the other side of the Atlantic in August during the Monterey Car Week. Spread over three days the garden party combines the luxury life of modern supercars, accessories and food with the classic concept of a concours d’Elegance. Over the following years the Salon Privé established itself as premium event that attracts the small and major manufacturers to show their latest toys in the elegant surrounding of the British Countryside as the event moved three years ago to the Syon Park outside central London. Just 7 miles from the financial and touristic capital centre Syon House combines an idyllic park ideal for the glamorous set-up with the good transport connections of the nearby Heathrow Airport.

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With the move also a new date was found from the high season in July to the late summer/early autumn in the first week of September. Divided in three themes the three days feature the Concours sponsored by Chubb Insurance on Wednesday, the elegant Boodles Ladies´ Day and the final Audemars Piquet Super Car Friday. Just after the debut of the Windsor Castle Concours and this year successive St. James´s Concours of Elegance the week again featured two major events nearby and after a visit of St. James the day before we visited the Salon Privé on Friday. Unfortunately the weather changed from to perfect late summer days to the typical British autumn with an overcast sky and rain for most of the day. To do justice to the theme of the day several Supercars were unveiled well-covered by the media in the morning although they were certainly present the days before as well. In an own class of modern concepts & prototypes some of them were located just to the right at the entrance of the concours lawn on the back side of the house whereas most of the moderns were located in front of the 15th century building. Amongst the exhibits was the new Spyker B6 Venator and the Icona Vulcano but also the Ford Evos Concept that was shown last year at the Villa d´Este. More common were the known supercars from Pagani, Ferrari, Porsche, Bugatti and even Koenigsegg that were presented in a parade in the afternoon in front of Syon House. As the weather improved over the day not few visitors took the opportunity to buy the so-called tea time tickets giving access in the afternoon as the parade was well visited. The spectators of the three days have chosen the Pagani Huayra as the most stylish Hyper Car; the new Dutch Vencer Sarthe was voted the most sensational of them.

More interesting was the concours field with about 70 cars in 9 classic car classes plus two motorbike classes featuring some great machinery. Three classes were reserved to the common themes of the year with the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911 and Lamborghini and the centenary of Aston Martin. Being not just a classic car show the class of Porsche 911 span more time into the present than most of the other events this year. Typically ranging from the early 901 model the display span 3 decades with the most sportive variants of the 1970s with the 911 S in 2.2 and 2.4 litre versions, the most iconic 911 2.7 RS to the 1995 993 Clubsport/RSR.

Lamborghini started 50 years ago with the 350/400 GT model before the legendary Miura took the marque into the major league. Intended as a small series in the early stage Ferruccio Lamborghini himself was surprised by the success of the Miura with a production of 474 examples plus a roadster; in London one of the Super Veloce versions could be seen. Following the Miura was the Countach with its typical 1970s design without any curves, rarely seen is the LM002, the Lamborghini SUV of 1990, long before this type of cars became popular.

Double the age is Aston Martin this year, after several Centenary events and classes on different concours a few new models could be seen at the Salon Privé. One of the few concours debuts in London was the 1932 Aston Martin works team car. Chassis LM9 was one of the factory entries at the Le Mans 1932 when Aston Martin won the team challenge although LM9 did not finish. The two seater with a pointed tail featured the V-shape radiator that was kept for the better known Ulster models. LM9 came back to Le Mans in private hands the following year winning its class making this one of the most important pre-war Astons with top finish and two appearances at La Sarthe.

One of the most important Aston Martin is the 1961 DB4 GT Zagato known by its registration number “2VEV”. Being a lightweight version of the Zagato it has a very thin aluminium panel and therefore is not really suitable for road rallies and after a crash years ago it was not used in historic races anymore as well so 2VEV was rarely seen in public for some years. Now in the centenary the iconic car made several appearances at the Villa d´Este and the two Centenary Meetings at Brands Hatch and Kensington Gardens. Two nice convertibles were shown from the DB4 and DB5 series, both in stylish dark blue, the yellow DBS from “The Persuaders” was recognised by most of the visitors. The class was won by a green V8 Vantage.

The Class A of Pre-War Motoring featured a Bugatti Type 38 Coupé Fiacre with a back case covered in cow skin, a Mercedes-Benz 500 K Cabriolet A and a duo of Rolls Royce including the class winning 1929 Phantom I Tourer.

The post war competition class featured several interesting cars from Ferrari, Jaguar, Ford and McLaren. Four Ferrari included the 166 Inter with Scaglietti Body (its second body fitted in 1955) in well preserved condition including the original snake skin interior. The others were a 212/225 Inter Vignale Coupe and the 365 GTB/C in Maranello Concessionaires livery. Unfortunately the fourth Ferrari was not seen that Friday as the owner decided not to show up due to the bad weather. As the concours started with the judging and the award ceremony on the first day it seems that there was not enough motivations to some of the owners to come on a rainy Friday as several of the cars were not uncovered during the day or did not even show up (like the Ferrari 500 Mondial). Presumable because of the St. James concours at the same date the award show was antedated to the first day before some of the owners spend the next days in central London as several collectors had cars in both shows. As this was unfair to the paying spectators on Friday the organizers should think about this timetable at future events.

Also in this class was the Jaguar D-Type from the Laidlaw-Collection that was for sale the following Monday at the RM sale, just a few meter further was the Ecurie Ecosse transporter that will be for sale as well in December at Bonhams London Sale. The class was won be the famous Lightweight Jaguar E-Type, the Silver Lindner Nocker model that was restored back to its former glory recently.

One class was reserved to open cars ranging from a Bentley 4 ½ Litre VdP, an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Lungo with Le Mans Body to a Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider. Chassis 1203GT was presented in stylish maroon colour and was awarded Best of Show by the international Jury.

It was joined in the winners display by the Ferrari 250 GT Lusso once owned by Steve McQueen himself, the brown Lusso was already displayed in 2008 at the Salon Privé.

So at the end of the weekend one could debate whether it is a good idea to have two major events nearby at the same date. It might be good for international visitors as they could visit both in one go but the two events also fight for attention. The change in the timetable at the Salon Privé showed that this already had some consequences this year and unfortunately the weather did not support this new format. It will be interesting to see weather on of the two concours will change their date to avoid the overlap next year.

Report & images ... Peter Singhof www.ClassicCarPhotography.de