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Hampton Court Palace Concours of Elegance, 05 – 07 September, 2014

What was intended as a once in a lifetime opportunity was so successful amongst the collectors that the organizers decided to make this an annual events. Rather than looking for one new location (as Windsor Castle was not available for an annual Concours) the event is intended to do a tour through the royal palaces so after the rather small St. James house near Buckingham Palace last year the concours moved on to Hampton Court in 2014. Built in the Tudor style during the 16th century this palace in south west of London was used as a royal residence for about two hundred years prior to Buckingham Palace and is today mainly a tourist attraction and with its large gardens this is more than suitable for the presentation of the cars.

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What did not change over the three years is the amount of cars and the date on the first weekend of September. Together with the Salon Privé this makes London well worth a visit in these days and with the rescheduled RM Auction to the following day there is very much to see. Starting with the owners’ day and a very small tour (actually just a drive around the estate) the cars were set up on Friday morning behind the main building. Although the 60 cars are divided in 17 different classes the event is not a concours in the common sense as there is no international jury that takes a very close look at the history and the restoration of the single cars to hand over class award but the entrants themselves choose the best amongst them for the prestigious Pullman Trophy to follow the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta of this year’s Pebble Beach winner Jon Shirley and the famous “Blue Train” Bentley Speed Six of Bruce McCaw. Also different from other events was the fact that the cars were not sorted by class on the gravel pathways making this a colourful mix of cars from different ears spanning from the 1896 Lutzman to the latest Ferrari Supercar, the LaFerrari.

As the line-up was very strong again it is difficult to take out some highlights as most of the cars had an interesting story to tell and to look into all of them would break the mould but a few still have to be mentioned.

Hampton Court was especially strong on the sporting side as not few classes featured the race cars of different eras starting with the Talman Class of the racing pioneers. More than 100 years old was the Bugatti 5 Litre Chain Drive originally raced by Ettore Bugatti himself already featuring the horseshoe radiator that became synonymous for the following decades of the marque from Molsheim. But not just large engined racers took the tracks in Europe before the war competing for overall victories but also smaller displacement classes could be seen on tracks like Brooklands as the 1.5 Litre Alvis or the even smaller supercharged Amilcar Voiturettes. One can imagine these small racers in handicap races against the various Bentley or the two White Elephants as seen in London this day. In an own class a pair of Supercharged Mercedes-Benz 710 SS were displayed, both of them with very prominent owners and lots of patina from a race bettered life. The First car is known by its registration number “UW302” as the race car of no less than Rudolf Caracciola who is more than anyone else connected to the white elephants. In this very same car he won the 1929 RAC Trophy before the car was sold to Earl Howe who was competing in the 1930 TT with this car against the second 710 SS on show, the ex. Malcolm Campbell with the famous registration “GP10”. These both Mercedes racers belong to well-known collectors of the supercharged cars with the three-pointed star but rarely are they seen standing side by side, especially in Great Britain where they both had their greatest success.

Out of competition were the opponents of these days during long distance races with the famous double Le Mans winning Bentley Speed Six “Old Number One” and the Supercharged Birkin Team Car 4 ½ Litre brought to Hampton Court by Bentley Motors. But both Mercedes and Bentley were certainly not just raced but also carried some nice coachwork on the street cars. Both Bentley and Mercedes had some very nice convertibles on the field including a very original typical Vanden Plas bodied 4 ½ Litre. Back in the days these were the cheapest bodies in the program and the fabric body was especially suited for the flexible ladder frames that tended to crack the steel or aluminium coachwork. Certainly not intended to last for 90 years few of them survived in original condition and with all the Le Mans replica bodies around an original fabric tourer is very special. Another design on the same chassis was the less known Martin Walter DHC that showed very elegant lines on the two-seater with additional dickey seats in the back.

Mercedes-Benz on the other side was represented by two 680S, one coach built by Erdmann&Rossi and the other on by Saoutchik, the very same car that won Pebble Beach in 2012 and was sold at the same place a year later to its present owner, Craig McCaw. Craig and his two brothers John and Bruce are supporters of the event for all the years and their cars are always among the highlights of the concours, this year two very special Ferrari were shown by them aside the Mercedes.

In the racing class no less than five Ferrari were shown aside a single Aston Martin DB4 GT entrant. Maybe most important was the 315S, the very last winner of the Mille Miglia in the hands of Piero Taruffi and therefore the last example of the big Ferrari front engined sports car. With the end of the Mille Miglia due to the tragic accidents also the new 3-litre restriction was introduced in the World Sportscar Championship and with the raise of the 250 Series the history of the 315/335S and the 375MM ended (at least in Europe). The MM winning 315S was rarely seen after its jubilee run in the 2007 Mille Miglia storico in the hands of Taruffi’ s daughter and to see it in London in the garden was worth the trip alone.

Just on the other side of the field was the very special 340/375MM. After being enlarged to the 375 Plus specification it was entered as a factory team car at the Nürburgring where its won the 1000km before going over the Atlantic to be entered by Luigi Chinetti in the Carrera Panamericana were it reappeared a year later in the hands of Phil Hill and the American racing colours it features today.

The class furthermore featured three cars from the 250 series including a 14 louvre TdF with Mille Miglia history and a 250 GT SWB Sefac Hot Rod that ran at the Tour de France and Targa Florio.

But not just the Berlinettas were raced as very few of the convertibles feature some race history as well. Today the California Spider is better known for being among the most expensive convertibles of this era but the car in London (2383GT) even features some successes in airfield races in Germany being an alloy competition version.

The oldest of the Ferrari racers was the 166 MM Touring Barchetta (0010M) of this year’s Pebble Beach and Windsor Castle overall winner Jon Shirley. As many other racing Ferrari this small Barchetta is restored to the specification of its biggest success, the win at the Spa 24h in 1949 in the hands of Chinetti and Lucas.

As mentioned earlier not just old cars are displayed as the field also has a few newer examples to show like the Aston martin DBR9, a McLaren F1, an Ferrari 599 Aperta and the LaFerrari, maybe to attract also a younger public to these sort of events just as the Salon Privé does with its special show field.

Certainly these cars are no serious contender for the Best of Show award that is given at the end of the event to the choice of the entrants. This year the Pullman Trophy went to Arturo Keller’s sensational Alfa Romeo 6C1750 “Flying Star” by Touring. Few cars on the field had such a presence as the crème white Spider. The car was seen at the Villa D´Este seven years ago where it won the Coppa D´Oro, the public choice at the Grand Hotel and when looking under the front fenders one could see with the stone chips that this car is actually used and that it is not a trailer queen. It even featured the badge of a Ladies Rally a few months ago showing that Mrs. Keller loves to drive the car as well.

At the end of the weekend one has to say that this was again a superb edition of the London Concours and that the Hampton Court Palace suited much better to the cars than the narrow garden of St. James. Especially when comparing with the big shows in the US the ambience is much more appealing than a golf course, the limited number of cars also guarantees a high quality of the entrants every year.

Unfortunately the Hampton Court had to share the weekend with the new Concours in Chantilly near Paris organized by Peter Auto. As this is an entire new event it certainly took away some of the collectors seen in previous years in London as a new event always attracts those who might have seen all other events before. Another downside in London is the duration of three full days and as there is no judging and parading there is not a big supporting program for the entrants and as these successful collectors rarely have time an one-day concours with “proper” competition might be more appealing. As most likely the British and the French Concours will clash again next year one has to see the development, after the very successful Chantilly debut even more regular entrants of Windsor/St. James and Hampton Court might miss the next edition that is said to go north to the Scottish residence of the Royal family in Edinburgh. One can be curious what the first of the concours outside London will look like but certainly the city of Edinburgh and the castle overlooking the old town are well worth a visit.

Text & Images ... Peter Singhof

Hampton Court Palace Concours Awards
The Pullman Trophy for ‘Best of Show’

1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring ‘Flying Star’

The AIG Private Clients Award for The Most Historically Significant Car
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Alloy” Gullwing Coupé

The Pol Roger Award for the Most Elegant Gentleman or Lady Driver
Sonja Schaefer driving the 1929 Mercedes-Benz 680 S Saoutchik Torpedo Roadster

The William & Son Award for the Most Elegant British Motor Car
1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone & Webb Coupé

The RM Auctions Award for the Most Innovative Car of its Era
1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept

The Royal Automobile Club Spirit of Motoring Award
1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster

The Connolly Award for the Most Elegant Interior
1936 Bugatti T57 Paul Née Pillarless Coupé 1938

The Autoglym Elegant Design Award
Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupé

Bettes Class – The Modern Motorcar
Cibber Class – Simply Swift
Daubeney Class – Designed for Destiny
Floris Class – Motoring Myths
Gumley Class – Luxury Express
Kent Class – Setting the Standard
Laguerre Class – Masterful Machines
Maiano Class – Supreme Style
Marot Class – Sensational Sisters
Plukenet Class – Power, Purpose & Poise
Skelton Class – The Art of Winning
Talman Class – Pioneers with Pace
Thornhill Class – Blistering Beauties
Tijou Class – Rare & Rapid
Vanbrugh Class – Racing Certainties
Verrio Class – Red Hot Racers
Wren Class – Winsome Winners
01 1896 Lutzmann Victoria „Vis-a-Vis“ Four Seater Tourer
02 1902 Panhard et Levassor Tonneau
03 1904 Oldsmobile Model N „French Front“ Touring Runabout
04 1909 Mercedes 135HP Kettenwagen
05 1922 Rolls-Toyce Silver Ghost Barker Tourer
06 1912 Bugatti 5 Litre Chain Drive s/n 471
07 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy Grand Prix Car
08 1924 Alvis 200 Miles Race Car
09 1925 Vauxhall 30/98 Velox
10 1925 Bentley 3 Litre Vanden Plas Speed Model s/n DE1212
11 1926 Delage GL Labourdette Skiff
12 1926 Steyr VI Sport Tourenwagen
13 1927 Bugatti Type 43 Grand Sport s/n 43208
14 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680 S Saoutchik Torpedo Roadster s/n 35949
15 1928 Amilcar C6 Voiturette
16 1928 Bentley 4 ½ Litre Vanden Plas Tourer s/n RL3427
17 1929 Bentley 4 ½ Litre Martin Walter Drophead Coupe s/n HP3405
18 1929 Mercedes-Benz 680S Erdman & Rossi
19 1929 Mercedes-Benz 710 SS Grand Prix „UW302“
20 1930 Mercedes-Benz 710 SS Rennsport „GP10“
21 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring „Flying Star“ s/n 10814341
22 1933 MG K3 Magnette
23 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone&Webb Coupe
24 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza s/n 2211120/SF28
25 1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster
26 1934 Fiat 508S Balilla
27 1936 Duesenberg Model J Rollston Victoria Coupe
28 1936 Bugatti T57 Paul Née Pillarless Coupé s/n 57397
29 1936 Bugatti T57 Atalante Cabriolet s/n 57428
30 1937 BMW 328 Sports
31 1938 Maserati Tipo 8CTF s/n 3031
32 1938 Talbot-Lago T150 C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupe s/n 90112
33 1949 1949 Bristol 402 Drophead Coupé
34 1949 Frazer Nash High Speed Competition Model
35 1949 Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta s/n 0010M
36 1952 Jaguar XK120 „Jabbeke“
37 1953 Bentley R-Type Mulliner Drophead Coupé
38 1953 Siata 8V 208 CS Bertone Spider Corsa
39 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Vignale Spider s/n 0286AM
40 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental Drophead Coupé
41 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Mille Miglia
42 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 B Pininfarina Coupé
43 1957 Ferrari 250 TdF GT Scaglietti Corsa Berlinetta s/n 0683GT
44 1957 Jaguar XK140 Zagato
45 1957 Ferrari 315 S Scaglietti Spyder s/n 0684
46 1959 Aston Martin DB4GT Lightweight s/n DB4GT/0124/R
47 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB Competizione s/n 2383GT
48 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB SEFAC „Hot Rod“ s/n 2807GT
49 1964 Iso Bizzarini A3C
50 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Vantage Shooting Brake
51 1967 Ford GT40
52 1968 Iso-Griffo GL350 SL
53 1969 AMC Bizzarrini AMX/3
54 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept
55 1974 Porsche 911 RSR 2.14 Turbo
56 1985 Lancia Delta S4 Corse
57 1994 McLaren F1
58 2005 Aston Martin DBR9
59 2010 Ferrari 599 SA Aperta s/n 183747
60 2014 LaFerrari s/n 204745
Bentley 4 1/2 Litre SC Birkin Team Cars s/n HB3403
Bentley Speed Six "Old Number One" s/n LB2332
Reading the Programme
Shelby 289 Competition Cobra s/n CSX2430 of the RM Auction
Ferrari 250 GT TdF s/n 0563GT of the RM Auction
Jaguar XKSS