The Concours of Elegance, presented by A. Lange & Söhne, is celebrating its most memorable running yet, as the first international concours d’elegance event in over six months welcomed the most incredible line-up of collector cars ever gathered in the UK. The ‘Best in Show’ award, voted by the owners of these cars, went to the Porsche 917 KH driven to victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours race in 1970 – Porsche’s first win at the event.
The quality of the cars this year was more spectacular than ever, thanks to the commitment of the event’s Steering Committee and car curation team. Greeting visitors as they emerged from Henry VIII’s former home and into the Fountain Gardens was a special Ford vs. Ferrari display, paying homage to some of Le Mans 24 Hours’ most famous racers. Among them was a Ford GT40, a Ferrari 250 LM, 365 P2 and a stunning Ferrari 250 GTO. And that’s even before reaching the main line-up of concours vehicles.
The Best in Show-winning 1969 Porsche 917 KH, was a crowd favourite throughout the event, with its imposing design and incredible backstory. In 1970, Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood drove this very same 917 KH (short-tail) with start number 23 and in the world-famous red-white Salzburg design to the first of (so far) 19 overall wins for Porsche at the circuit. The 917 was Porsche’s first time in the league of immensely powerful, large-capacity racing cars. Its 580bhp 4.5-litre 12-cylinder engine set new standards, and is still legendary today. In a fortuitous coincidence, the winner of the event’s all-new ‘Junior Concours, sponsored by The Little Car Company’ Best in Show prize went to a petrol-powered three-quarter scale replica of this very car, named victorious against 10 other scale children’s classics.
Awards were also given out for different classes and eras. Once more judged by the owners of the Main Concours cars, the winners included the very first production Land Rover – making its debut following an enormously detailed restoration – and an Alfa Romeo 6C 1750, famed for its Mille Miglia win in the 1920s.
Outside of the main Concours of Elegance cars, nearly 1000 other models parked at Hampton Court Palace for the weekend, including a collection of Future Classics, from a Porsche 911 Reimagined by Singer to a Bentley Continental GT No.1 Edition. Despite the quality on display, there could really only be one winner: the Aston Martin Victor. This one-off commission is the most powerful road-legal naturally aspirated Aston Martin has ever produced, boasting 836bhp. With styling inspired by the 1980s Vantage, the mechanicals are thoroughly modern, comprised of race-ready powertrain and chassis components and lightweight carbon fibre.
Also on display were some of the finest examples from the UK’s most prestigious car clubs, as part of the Club Trophy presented by the Royal Automobile Club and supported by Classic & Sports Car. A panel of expert judges, including HRH Prince Michael of Kent and Classic and Sports Car editor, Alastair Clements, deemed a Messerschmitt KR200 to be the best on display. Powered by a two stroke 191cc Fichtel & Sachs engine that produces a modest 9bhp, the Messerschmitt wasn’t the most powerful car in the Concours, but its charming design and excellent condition won over the judges. It will now take its place among the main concours cars for the Concours of Elegance 2021, which is already scheduled to take place from 3-5 September, as part of a special tenth running of the event.
The Car Club displays, sponsored by Classic & Sports Car, formed a line-up of individual marques around the perimeter of the Garden, including the Jenson Owners’ Club, Alvis Owners’ Club, XK Club, E-type Club and more. Each day the Classic & Sports Car editorial team picked their favourite, awarding a Lotus Eclat – owned by its current custodian for more than 30 years – and a Jaguar XK120 Roadster, finished in a striking bronze. This very same XK120 also caught the eye of the Jaguar Trophy judges, winning the top prize from a line-up of gathered E-types, XKs and more.
On Sunday 6th September, the Concours of Elegance welcomed in a line-up of distinguished Bentley models throughout the ages, each competing for the event’s Bentley Trophy. A judging panel, led by Giles Crickmay of Frank Dale & Stepsons, picked out a Bentley 4.25-Litre Streamlined Drophead Coupé, first owned by Bentley Boy and one-time Bentley Chairman Woolf Barnato. Presented in near-perfect condition, the body is said to be finished in the colour of Barnato’s wife’s favourite dress.
Newly introduced for this year’s event was the Bridge of Weir Leather Design Award, picked by a committee of automotive designers gathered by the Scottish company. The stunning 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Coupe by Gangloff, with its unique body and black over purple paintwork was recognised by the judges for its outstanding design and innovation.
Gooding & Company also hosted its first sale outside of the USA at the Concours of Elegance, with a display of the lots hosted within the Tudor Courtyard of the Palace. One of the most significant vehicle collections ever gathered for sale was crowned by a Bugatti Type 59 from 1934, previously owned by King Leopold. In a record-breaking sale, this highly original car set the highest price ever for a Bugatti at auction, achieving £9,535,000. A Type 35C sold for £3,935,000 and a Type 57S Atalante for £7,855,000, setting respective records for these models. The auction also included the highest price ever for a Vauxhall 30-98 and the highest price ever for a Miura, as the SV Speciale sold for £3,207,000.
The main vehicle features were complemented by line-ups from the world’s greatest classic car specialists and car manufacturers, many of whom were displaying cars at the event for the first time. Aston Martin showcased its latest range, as well as the debut of the one-off Victor, while Ineos paraded its all-new Grenadier with a collection of rugged off-road legends. Jaguar Classic presented its continuation D-type in a bespoke two-tone colour scheme while, at the other end of the spectrum, Lotus was display its all-electric EVIJA hypercar and Brabham showcased its racing car for the road, the BT62R.
Outside of the automotive displays, Concours of Elegance was an occasion of pure luxury, with champagne provided by Charles Heidsieck, picnics by Fortnum & Mason, live stage interviews with Chubb Insurance, hosted by Jodie Kidd and a collection of art, jewellery and fashion displays. Presenting Partner, A. Lange & Söhne, showcased some of its latest intricate timepieces, including the Lange 1 Time Zone.
The full list of awards:
Best in Show – 1969 Porsche 917 KH
Pre-1915s – 1904 Fiat Type 24/32
1920s – 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750
1930s – 1930 Bentley 4.5-Litre ‘Blower’ by Gurney Nutting
1940s – 1948 Land Rover Model 80 #001
1950s – 1958 BMW 507
1960s – 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Clienti
Post-1970s –1970 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona
The Royal Automobile Club Trophy – Messerschmitt KR200
Jaguar Trophy – 1950 Jaguar XK120 Roadster
Bentley Trophy – 1926 Bentley 4.25-Litre by Mulliner
The Junior Concours – Porsche 917
The Bridge of Weir Design Award – Bugatti Type 57 Atalante by Gangloff
Future Classics – Aston Martin Victor
Classic & Sports Car Club Display Award – Saturday: Jaguar XK120 Roadster
Classic & Sports Car Pre-90 Car Park Award – Saturday: Iso Grifo
Report by concoursofelegance.co.uk