Salon Privé 2017
The spectacular setting of Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, played host to the 12th edition of the Salon Privé gathering for the 3rd successive year. It is hard to imagine a more appropriate setting and backdrop to what is an impressive garden party in the heart of rural England, with lobster, Pommery Champagne and a quintessential English afternoon tea de rigeur. This year the event was expanded to four days, or five if one counts the driving tour through the Cotswolds for participants on the Wednesday. The premier part of the gathering is the Chubb Insurance Concours d’Elégance on the Thursday, followed by Boodles Ladies Day on the Friday, with a new event included on the Saturday, Concours Masters, with the weekend coming to a close on the Sunday with the inaugural Blenheim Classic & Supercar show, which incorporated the 3rd running of the Pirelli Prestige & Performance competition. The new Concours Masters event on the Saturday will feature a different theme every year, and this year it was a tribute to the 70th anniversary of Ferrari.
Chubb Insurance Concours d’Elégance
There international judging team was headed by Derek Bell MBE, and included Frank Stephenson former Design Director at Ferrari and more recently at McLaren, Fabio Filippini, recently Chief Creative Officer at Pininfarina, and Giles Taylor, Director of Design at Rolls Royce Motorcars, whilst the motorcycles had their own dedicated judging team. There were a total of ten classes including three for motorcycles, encompassing a wide variety of the history of the automobile, with the earliest being classes D and G, for “Graceful Pre-War Motoring” and “Luxury in Motion Pre-War Rolls Royce”, respectively. The other car classes were “Best of British at Blenheim Palace”, “50s & 60s Curvaceous Coupés”, “Riviera Cruising” and “Evolution of the Supercar Pin-Ups”, and “Classic Sports Racers Against the Stopwatch to 1965”. The Best in Show award went to the spectacular Pininfarina designed 1960 Alfa Romeo 6C 3000CM Superflow IV concept car (MAIN PHOTO ABOVE), with a Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, chassis # 3115 GT, finishing as runner-up, having won the “Riviera Cruising” class. Ferrari models picked up three major awards, the public vote People’s Choice award went to a 365 GTS4 “Daytona Spider”, chassis # 15969, whilst the Duke of Marlborough’s Award went to the 250 GT TdF Berlinetta, chassis # 0895 GT, and the Chairman’s Award went to the 275 GTB, chassis # 07009, of Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman.
Tribute to Ferrari’s 70th Anniversary Concours d’Elégance
For this concours the organisers wanted to make it more of a celebration event, with an enjoyable and convivial day being the prime mover. Thus the judging was more subjective, rather than objective as in the main Chubb Concours on the Thursday. This made it a more relaxed day for participants and judges alike. That said, there were plenty of cars for the latter teams to get through during the course of the morning. The weather also did its bit to add sparkle to the occasion, with bright warm sunshine being the order of the day. The Ferraris occupied the same concours lawn as used for the Chubb concours on the Thursday, and Boodles Ladies Day on the Friday. Therefore participants and visitors had the same facilities and vendor displays to investigate when not looking at the concours cars, including a lobster lunch, together with plentiful Pommery Champagne, followed by a traditional English afternoon tea, to satisfy the inner needs.
As with the Chubb Insurance Concours d’Elégance on the Thursday, the chief judge was five times Le Mans winner Derek Bell MBE. He recalled his period as a Ferrari driver in the late sixties in an entertaining question and answer session at a gala dinner, held in the Great Hall of Blenheim Palace on the Friday evening preceding the concours. Amongst his judging team were a couple of noted celebrity petrol heads, the model Yasmin Le Bon, and the bassist for the band Coldplay, Guy Berryman, whose 275 GTB had won the Chairman’s Award in the Chubb concours. Other members of the team included Simone Schedoni, CEO of Schedoni s.r.l., the renowned Modenese leather company, and supplier of fitted luggage to Ferrari for 40 years, and who now supply bespoke fitted luggage to many of the world’s leading supercar manufacturers. There was also another well known Modenese name in the team, Roberto Brandoli, whose restoration shop, started by his father Egidio in 1980, after 17 years working for Sergio Scaglietti, is one of the best known and most highly respected in the Ferrari world.
There were some fifty plus Ferraris entered in the concours, ranging from the oldest known example resident in the UK, a 166 Inter Touring Coupé, chassis # 0017 S, from 1949, to the first LaFerrari Aperta officially imported into the UK in 2017, chassis # 221705, thus the models on display spanned almost the whole production period of the company. Within the number were a 1991 642 F1 car, chassis # 124, which unfortunately couldn’t be started, otherwise it would have undoubtedly won the “Sinfonia Award” for the most strident exhaust note, which narrowly went to the splendid 575M GTC, chassis # 2220, from 2004, from the almost equally raucous and splendid 365 GTB4/C, chassis # 15681, from 1972.
As a bonus, within the number were a few cars not normally seen in the UK, with a quartet of visitors from the USA en route to the Ferrari 70th Anniversary gathering in Maranello. These were a 342 America PF Coupé, chassis # 0246 AL, a 250 Europa Vignale Coupé, chassis # 0295 EU, a 250 GT TdF Berlinetta, chassis # 0895 GT, and a 400 SA PF Aerodinamico Coupé, chassis # 2841 SA. There was also the US owned 2017 Chubb Insurance Concours Best of Show winning 500 TR, chassis # 0614 MDTR, in attendance, which featured on the main event programme cover, with the owner being presented with the artwork during the award presentations.
Blenheim Palace Classic & Supercar Concours, incorporating the Pirelli Prestige & Performance Competition
The final day of the Salon Privé gathering at Blenheim Palace was billed as the Blenheim Palace Classic & Supercar Show, which featured the Pirelli Prestige & Performance Competition. Unfortunately after the previous three days of predominantly fine, warm and sunny weather, the Sunday dawned grey and overcast, which soon turned into an almost persistent light rain for the rest of the day. Despite the miserable weather, there was a massive turnout of spectators for the event, so much so that the traffic in the town of Woodstock, and on the approach roads, became gridlocked during the morning.
The main show comprised of eighty classic, super and hypercars (the epithet for the current crop of ultra high performance cars) entered in the concours, which was held in the splendid surroundings of the Great Court of the Palace. The cars were divided into eight classes, and ranged from the Stradale class with likes of a Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 and a Peugeot 205 T16, through a Porsche GT class, a Lamborghini Scissor Door class, which included the Centenario, and on through to what was probably the main attraction for most visitors, the Hypercar class, due to the rarity and value of the cars on display. These included an Aston Martin Vulcan, a Bugatti Chiron, a Ferrari LaFerrari, a Koenigsegg One:1, a McLaren P1, and the Italdesign Zerouno in the line-up. There was a unique example of a Bizzarrini project in the Super Roadsters class, a Ferrari Testarossa based concept car, on chassis # 75001, called the BZ-2001from 1992. This was the prototype for a US project, which was to have eventually featured a Bizzarrini designed chassis and a 7 litre V8 engine, but as is so often the case with projects of great magnitude the money ran out, and the BZ-2001 remains as a unique reminder of what might have been. There was also a Ferrari F40 class to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the iconic model.
Apart from the cars in the main show there was a massive presence by the Ferrari Owners’ Club, together with further exotic car displays by Pistonheads, Supercar Driver and a number of trade exhibitors on the lawns fronting the Great Court. As one would expect, given the inclement weather, there were a few “no shows”, but there was still a massive presence of some of the rarest and most expensive cars in the world, which made it all worthwhile for the large number of visitors that descended on Blenheim Palace for the event. The Pirelli Best of Show Award, presented by Pirelli’s Matteo Barbieri, went to a 1978 Lamborghini Countach LP400S, whilst the People’s Choice Award went to a 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Roadster.
All Photos by Keith Bluemel