Tag Archives: Concours of Elegance

image_pdfimage_print

Ferrari at the Castle

A late summer day spent at Blenheim Palace for Salon Privé was followed 24 hours later by a grey autumnal day, also in the company of fantastic cars, this time the venue was Windsor Castle. The reason for this was attending the 2016 Concours of Elegance, repeating its visit to Berkshire back in 2012. Using my Ferrari test what was the level of the show?

 

In a word, sublime. This Ecurie Francorchamps Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Competizione aka Daytona is typical of the rare and authentic gathering of Maranello’s finest seen in the Upper Ward. Chassis 16425 was the final Competition Daytona to built, car number five in 1973 and number fifteen overall. Jacques Swaters was the customer and, as was his tradition, his Ferrari was painted in a distinctive yellow or Giallo Fly.

The Daytona raced in two major international events in ’73, Spa 1000Kms, finishing 12th overall in the hands of Teddy Pilette and Richard Bond. A month later Bond shared a run to 20th place in the Le Mans 24 Hours with Jean-Claude Andruet.

The Daytona made its way across the English Channel where it has resided ever since, running in national events, usually with Mike Salmon driving. It is believed to be the only unrestored Competizione Daytona and is almost completely the same as it was leaving the factory.

Not all the 60 cars on display were completely unfamiliar to me, this unique Ferrari Testarossa Spider was built for none other than Gianni Agnelli, the President of Fiat, on the occasion of his 20th anniversary at the helm of the Italian industrial empire.

Indeed I had encountered this special car back in February at the Rétromobile and wrote about at the TIME

The Testarossa Spider was by no means the only car that was specially made for Agnelli by Ferrari. In 1955 he commissioned this famous Ferrari 375 America that made its first appearance at the Turin Show. The nose resembled a Facel Vega, the A-pillar is tilted forward, there are fins on the rear deck and a transparent panel in the roof.

Add in a red-green paint job and you have a striking car that attracts admiration when seen in person.

Almost as rare as the Testarossa Spider is this beast, the 288 GTO Evoluzione, dating from 1986. Just six of these fearsome contraptions were built by Michelotto in anticipation of the FIA Group B regulations being applied to the tracks as well as the forests. My previous POST gives a fuller account of why the FIA cancelled their own regulations leaving the Porsche 961 and the 288 GTO Evoluzione with nowhere to play, though the Porsche did make two appearances at Le Mans in ’96 and ’97.

Actually, according to Joe Sackey, the MAN when it comes to the 288 GTO, Ferrari dropped the 288 from the Evolution model so it should be referred to as GTO Evoluzione but hardly anyone pays attention to that.

The figures for the GTO Evoluzione are staggering considering what the opposition were doing at that point 30 years ago. Power of 650bhp meant accelerating 0-60mph in just 4 seconds and a top speed of 229.9mph was quoted, Mamma Mia!

Perhaps the most important role that the GTO Evoluzione played was in acting as a test mule for the F40 that would be launched the following year. To see one of these elusive wonders of the Maranello World in the flesh is truly impressive.

There are few cars that have an entire book dedicated to them, much less by a historian as respected as Doug Nye, but Ferrari 250 GT SWB, chassis #2119, is one of such a select group. The Ferrari was delivered to Rob Walker and Dick Wilkins in mid-1960 and Stirling Moss was scheduled to drive it at the Goodwood Tourist Trophy in August. This despite not being fully recovered from his serious injuries sustained in the Belgian Grand Prix two months earlier. Moss ignored the pain and put on a fantastic show to crush the opposition, with the performance passing into legend as Moss turned on the car’s radio to hear the BBC commentary on his race.

In an earlier book about the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, Nye found that Moss was really enthusiastic about the car. “It was quite surprising how good it was – a really comfortable Grand Touring car; with good brakes, a super engine and crisp gearbox, and unusual in that it would not lift its inside rear wheel despite that old-fashioned live axle……. quiet difficult to fault, in fact.”

Moss took two further victories that season and #2119 was sold on to Tommy Sopwith’s Equipe Endeavour who scored another three wins in 1961, with promising new-boy and future Ferrari Grand Prix driver, Mike Parkes, behind the wheel.

Several well-known owners followed for the Ferrari such as Neil Corner and Sir Antony Bamford till in 2014 #2119 was acquired by Ross Brawn, the legendary engineer who was an integral part of the successes of the Schumacher era at Ferrari. Subsequently Brawn ran a team under his own name and won the Formula One World Championships in 2009. Brawn GP was then purchased by Mercedes-Benz and has formed the foundation for their tremendously successful team that currently dominates F1.

For Brawn #2119 is a dream come true. “When #2119 came up for sale I decided it was such a unique car that I had have it as well; I had to muster everything I could to buy it. To me it’s as aesthetically perfect as you can get for a sports racing car of that era. The historical connection means a lot to me because when I drive it I think of Stirling.”

The Ferrari 250 GTO succeeded the SWB as Ferrari’s GT standard bearer and has now become the most valuable and desired car in the world. Just 39 examples were built and #3729 was ordered by John Coombs, the Jaguar dealer from Guildford, who was a prominent driver and entrant in the ’50s and ’60s.

The line up of drivers who got behind the wheel in the ’62 to ’64 seasons was pretty special, Graham Hill (in the year that he won his first World Championship) , Roy Salvadori, Richie Ginther, Mike Parkes and Jack Sears. A second place in the ’62 Goodwood Tourist Trophy, courtesy of Graham Hill, would be the highlight of #3729’s career.

Somewhere along the way #3729 was repainted red but the current owner had the distinctive off-white colour restored recently, and it is much the better for this.

A decade before the GTO, Ferrari were turning out very competitive racers such as this Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale Coupé. It proudly sports number 52 as running under that designation it finished first in the 1953 Coppa InterEuropa held at Monza and driven by the Ferrari agent for Milan, Franco Cornacchia.

A few weeks later #0237EU scored a class win in the Bologna-Raticosa Hillclimb. Subsequently the 212 was sold on to Venezuela and then to the USA, finally returning to Europe in 1986, since then it has become a regular in the historic racing scene.

Ferrari was not just about racing, the line of fast and luxurious Gran Turismos became another thread of the legend of Maranello. The Ferrari 500 Superfast has been compared to the Bugatti Royale and in the Tanner/Nye master-work Ferrari it was described as; “This was the ultimate in front-engined Ferraris for those who like the Rolls-Royce touch with their performance.” 

The 500 Superfast was popular with royalty, The Shah of Iran ordered two, the Aga Khan and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands each had one. Other notable owners that give the Rolls-Royce reference such substance included, Gunter Sachs, Otis Chandler, Barbara Hutton and Peter Sellers. It remains one of the most sought-after Ferraris.

One very special Ferrari that was on display at Windsor Castle is this gorgeous 250 GT SWB California Spider. What makes this example unique is that the first owner from Milan specified it with right-hand drive and it is the only example of the 57 cars built with this configuration. He wanted to race the car and felt that RHD would be the optimal arrangement.  In fact he did compete in just one race, the Trofeo Pacor in ’62, finishing 5th.

Although the California Spider was not intended for competition both the LWB and SWB variants did race at a range of venues including Le Mans, Sebring and Targa Florio as well as club events and hill climbs. The best result for the SWB brigade was 12th overall for Allen Newman, Gaston Andry and Robert Publicker in the 1961 12 Hours of Sebring, widely regarded as the toughest endurance race of them all.

The 250 GT SWB California Spider attracted many owners from the creative arts, in France these included Alain Delon, Roger Vadim and Brigitte Bardot, Johnny Halliday and François Sagan. In the US Bob Hope, James Coburn, Barbara Hershey and Ralph Lauren all have enjoyed the pleasures of driving the California Spider. The jaw-dropping good looks and almost perfect proportions will have appealed to these stars of stage and screen, that and it being a Ferrari.

The Concours of Elegance has passed my Ferrari test with flying colours, the question is what will we find when the circus assembles again at Hampton Court Palace 1-3 September? My advice is to grab a ticket and go along, it is truly one of the great motoring displays.

Finally, on behalf of all who toil at DDC Towers, may I wish our readers a happy and healthy 2017.

John Brooks, January 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elegance Was Expected

Now in it’s fifth incarnation the Concours of Elegance returns to its birthplace, Windsor Castle. More about this fabulous event in detail later this month………..but for now a gallery to illustrate a Friday well spent.

John Brooks, September 2016

Across the Borderline

 

2015 JB General

The Concours of Elegance celebrated its fourth edition, this time it headed north, way north, to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. Continuing with the theme of holding the Concours at Royal Palaces, Holyroodhouse is one of the Official Royal Residences, like Windsor Castle where the first Concours was held.

_DSC4699

 

The link with the Royal family is an important one and the interface between the two worlds is Prince Michael of Kent, the Queen’s cousin, and a genuine motoring enthusiast. Above is the Prince enjoying the delights of a Mercedes Simplex 60hp. One element of the Concours of Elegance that sets it apart from most other events of a similar nature is that it is non­-commercial and raises money for designated charities, in 2014 over $500,000 was split amongst various deserving causes.

_DSC5243

 

Another point of difference is that the Concours is restricted to just 60 cars, the first event was part of the celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, hence the number 60, and this salute has been continued in the following events.

2015 JB General
So we have a location that is regal, now we need the cars…………I have already looked at Maranello’s contribution to the party, what else was in Scotland to admire? Rather a lot actually, almost too much to contain in a single feature, so I will confine myself to my personal favourites, other visitors would come up with a different selection, that is part of the attraction of such shows.

_DSC4371
In common with many of the best events on the Concours circuit a tour is organised before the main event. This gives the owners and others an opportunity to witness the cars doing what they were designed to do before they have to pose on the automotive catwalk. The Highlands of Scotland provided a dramatic and romantic backdrop, fit for such a car as the LaFerrari.

2015 JB General
Approaching the Palace of Holywoodhouse, which dates back to 1128, the first treasure encountered was a more much contemporary display from McLaren Automotive, Woking’s finest now firmly established in the world of super and hyper cars.

2015 JB General

Almost the first stand found in the grounds was a salute to the First Man of Scottish Motor Sport, Sir Jackie Stewart and the three cars that carried him to three Formula One World Championships in five seasons.

image005
Sir Jackie is a tireless supporter of charities and good causes and much in demand by international corporations as an ambassador. He was only at Edinburgh for the one day as he was flying off to Monza to drive the BRM that had, fifty years ago, given him the first Grand Prix victory of his career. Motor Sport and racing drivers have much to thank Sir Jackie for, his campaign to make racing safer did not make him popular at the time in some circles, but without his contribution the sport would possibly have struggled to survive.

2015 JB General
It would be inconceivable to consider motor sport in Scotland without reference to the great Ecurie Ecosse team. In Edinburgh there was an almost full turn out of the cars that this outfit has fielded down the decades. In 1956 and 1957 they won the Le Mans 24 Hours outright, the Long Nose Jaguar D Type on show finished second in ’57 with Ninian Sanderson and John Lawrence driving.

2015 JB General

The team faded during the 60’s but were revived in the 80’s taking the C2 class in the 1986 FIA World Sportscar Championship, largely due to a series of fine performances in the Ecosse C286 Rover by Ray Mallock and Marc Duez, in the car above.

2015 JB General

 

More Scottish motor sport legends were present in the form of three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti. Dario is an arch-enthusiast and a top bloke. His contribution to the show was bring the 1964 Lotus Cortina that Jim Clark used to win the British Touring Car Championship. Clark is widely regarded to be one of the greatest drivers ever, on a par with Fangio or Moss. His death in 1968 at Hockenheim was a turning point and major motivator in Sir Jackie’s safety campaign. As the top Ferrari driver of the time, Chris Amon, declared when asked about Clark’s death. “If it could happen to him, what chance do the rest of us have? I think we all felt that. It seemed like we’d lost our leader.”

EdinburghConcours-4

I looked at Ferrari’s contribution to the Concours in my earlier post but there were a few close links to Maranello that I excluded. The Touring Berlinetta Lusso is based on the Ferrari F12 and will be pretty exclusive as only five examples are to be built. I admired this Italian beauty earlier at the Geneva Salon.

2015 JB General

 

Another classic on the lawn with a strong Ferrari element is the rally supercar of the 70’s, the Lancia Stratos. Even 40 years on it is a dramatic statement based on a design from Carrozzeria Bertone who would go on to build the car at their plant at Grugliasco. We have encountered the main movers behind this project before, Nuncio Bertone and Marcello Gandini with engineering input from Gianpaulo Dallara, when considering the early days of Lamborghini and the Muira at their Museum………. HERE in fact. Ferrari’s contribution was the 2.4 litre V6 engine found in the 246 Dino. The Stratos went on to win the World Rally Championship from 1974 to 1976 and enjoyed many other competition successes, it is a sporting icon by any standard.

2015 JB General

 

Lamborghini also had a presence in Edinburgh, a 1970 Miura S in original orange is one of only 24 right-hand drive examples built, it is simply stunning in the early Autumn sunshine. Of course there was also a Countach LP5000S that is in the opening photograph, vibrant in white exterior and interior.

2015 JB General

 

Another mid-­engined classic with a connection to Lamborghini is this fabulous BMW M1. Based on a design by Giorgetto Guigiaro, the chassis was from Lamborghini who were scheduled to build the car. However the Italian company was in one of its periods of financial turmoil so missed the contracted delivery dates. Munich pulled out and engaged Baur to complete the task. And to make matters worse plans to race in the World Sportscar Championship were thwarted by a FISA rule change. Someone in BMW had the brainwave of having a one make series, Procar, which would support Grand Prix with the F1 stars acting as guests driving race­ prepared M1s ……………it was a huge success and accelerated the market’s perception of BMW as builders of “The Ultimate Driving Machine”.

2015 JB General

 

Another product of the almost endless Italian talent when it come to styling is this concept car, the Ghia Spider G230S Prototipo. Back in 1966 it was one of the stars of the Barcelona Motor Show and was an attempt by Ghia to interest Fiat in a convertible version of their 2300 model. A similar car was produced later, the Ghia 450SS was Chrysler powered, but was not a commercial success.

2015 JB General

 

One of the earliest of Maserati’s road cars is this A6G 2000 Coupé styled by Zagato. This was a “thinly-disguised racer for the road” with an eye-catching front grill and graphics, stripped out to save weight with an aluminium body. The 2 litre engine was beginning to be perceived as under-powered and the following year the Trident launched its first big road car success with the 3500 GT, with an engine nearly twice the size.

2015 JB General

 

One of Zagato’s finest and most famous creations in almost a century of trading is the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato which has iconic status amongst followers of the English marque. John Ogier’s Essex Racing Stable with assistance from the Aston Martin factory entered “1 VEV” and “2 VEV” in the 1961 Le Mans 24 Hours, both cars retired early in the race with head-gasket failure. “2 VEV” was heavily crashed at Spa later in the year, having been loaned to Equipe National Belge at the request of Aston Martin. It was rebuilt only to be wrecked again in ’63 at Goodwood. Following a road crash in 1993 it was restored to original specification and now appears on at special events such as Aston Martin’s centenary celebrations.

2015 JB General

 

The Aston Martin DB4 GT was also the platform for this Bertone take on the car. Once again the work of Giorgetto Giugiaro this excercise nicknamed “The Jet” was the sensation of the 1960 Geneva Salon. The last of the DB4 GT production run was the basis for this extraordinary vision.

2015 JB General
The final choice of my best in show is not even an entrant in the Concours of Elegance but is Series 1 Land Rover that was a gift from the company to Sir Winston Churchill on the occasion of his 80th Birthday. It is quite the antidote to all the rich fare at the Concours, more in keeping with my own motoring level.

image010

 

The Concours of Elegance held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse was a grand affair in keeping with the previous events, the quality of the cars on show was fantastic, the biggest challenge is the keep up the standard in twelve months time, I hope to be there to judge.

John Brooks, February 2016

Photography by the author, additional images copyright and courtesy of Concours of Elegance.