Tag Archives: Salon Privé

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Blue & Orange

There is an odd feeling evident in London over the past two months. The Olympic Effect, usually heavy on cost and light on return, has changed the way Londoners react to each other, pockets of civility have broken out, a new found confidence in the national identity. Whether this will last is anyone’s guess, perhaps the feelgood atmosphere will fade as the autumn slips into winter. It would be nice to think that the Games really will have a legacy.

As if in harmony with the wider world, on the motoring front it is as if London has taken to impersonating the Monterey Peninsula, during the Pebble Beach Concours week. In the past seven days those of us who are into fine automobiles and the like, have had several birthdays and Christmases all come at once. Kicking off the week was Chelsea Auto Legends, then on Wednesday I toddled over to Syon Park for the 2012 Salon Privé, then the past two days were spent marvelling at the Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance. I defy anyone to match the sheer quality of the cars on show, truly one is fortunate to be in this part of the world right now.

So rich and varied has the content been at the latter two events I consider it almost impossible to produce a single blog post that would do justice to the story. So for the next week or so I will take elements that caught my eye and try and bring them to life for the readers.

In the past two years one of the most significant additions to the historic sportscar scene has been the ROFGO Collection. Put together for a private collector by Duncan Hamilton & Co., the central theme that runs through it is that the cars included were sponsored by Gulf Oil, so plenty of icons to choose from.

The collection was the centrepiece display for the 2012 Salon Privé and certainly did the event and location justice.

Oldest car in the collection is the Mirage M1, winner of the 1967 Spa 1000 Kilometres, a race that put Jacky Ickx on the map and established his reputation for being special in the wet. If your local track is Spa then………………

This Mirage was the first to wear the colours of Blue and Orange, a sponsorship deal that was arranged between team owner John Wyer and Gulf Oil VP and sportscar nut, Grady Davis. The funding enabled John Wyer to form JWAutomotive with John Willment. He then recruited John Horsman, David Yorke and Ermano Cuoghi to create one of motorsport’s legendary outfits.

Next on the lawn was the Mirage BRM M2, not one of the cars to trouble the record books and probably the worst to come out of JWAutomotive. Unreliable and with wayward handling, the scale of disaster was disguised in the wake of the double triumph for the team at Le Mans in 1968 and 1969 utilising the venerable GT40. Porsche were on the horizon with the 917, this canine could be quietly forgotten.

The stuff of legends, a simple recipe. Take the coolest guy on the planet, the coolest car of almost any time, the greatest race of them all, season with an insane Hollywood budget and cook at high pressure for several months, final result is immortality.

“A lot of people go through life doing things badly. Racing’s important to men who do it well. When you’re racing, it… it’s life. Anything that happens before or after… is just waiting.”

Steve McQueen, Gulf Porsche 917 and Le Mans, what more needs to be said?

An unmistakable profile, the Porsche 908/3, a clear signal of Porsche’s determination to pound the opposition into dust. Problems with the 917 at Nürburgring or on the Targa Florio? Well run the 908/3 instead.

JWAutomotive had an involvement with a German manufacturer a whole year before signing their deal with Porsche. They acquired a Mercedes transporter in 1969 and at Salon Privé the ROFGO Collection showed off their restored truck for the first time in public. Speaking with the collection’s chief mechanic, Ted Higgins, we both agreed that it would be very cool to use this to take the cars to the next Le Mans Classic, though whether Ted would play Michael Delaney or Tommy Hopkins, was open to question.

In 1969 Gulf Oil also backed a couple of Formula One teams, so it was no real surprise to find a Brabham BT26 on the lawn.

The other famous association between Gulf Oil and motorsport some 40 years ago was with McLaren, whether in Formula One with the M14A.

Or in Can-Am as illustrated by the M20, truly giants roamed the earth during that brief era……….

Gulf Oil all but disappeared after the take over by Chevron Oil in 1984, but the brand still existed in the UK. A relaunch of the company in 1991 included a plan to tap into the enthusiasm of British Le Mans’ fans. So in 1994 Gulf were back at Le Sarthe.

Not only was Gulf blue back, but so too was 1971 Gulf Porsche 917 driver, Derek Bell. Five time victor at La Sarthe, including in a Gulf Mirage in 1975, Bell was the ideal ambassador for the brand and still quick enough to be second fastest overall in Qualifying. The Kremer K8 was a development of the Porsche 962.

 

The next step was to reunite with the other famous racing marque, McLaren.

In 1995 and 1996, Blue & Orange were reunited on a pair of F1 GTR’s resulting in many race victories and the 1996 BPR Endurance Series titles for Ray Bellm and James Weaver.

1997 saw the launch of the FIA GT Championship, with the Gulf liveried longtail F1 GTRs.

And one of the greatest endurance racers of them all, the Audi R8 also sported Blue & Orange in 2001.

Paul Belmondo brought the colours back to Le Mans in 2006 with his Courage C65.

Since that time another icon of the motoring world, Aston Martin has turned Blue & Orange. A DBR9……………

Then back as a prototype on the Lola Aston Martin LM P1

The ROFGO Collection is fantastic, Automotive art of the highest order. Even more fortunate is the willingness of the owner to share his treasures with the rest of us, not a cheap enterprise. It was a highly polished jewel at the centre of the 2012 Salon Privé, in total harmony with the ethos of the event.

John Brooks, September 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Gentleman’s Relish

As the dog days of summer and scandals drag on, there is little to cheer us. However today I am pleased to announce that my old friend, John Elwin, has agreed to contribute to DoubleDeClutch. Here is his first post, with his reflections on the recent Salon Privé.

SALON PRIVÉ

The 6th Luxury Super Car Event & Concours de’Elegance

22-24 June 2011, Syon Park, London


After five years at the Hurlingham Club, Salon Privé moved out to Syon Park, home to the Duke of Northumberland, where 200 acres of parkland – remarkably less than 10 miles from central London – afforded rather more space for this expanding show.

Arrive in Style

The rather exclusive event caters for those who want to inspect the latest in upmarket machinery whilst downing a glass or two of Pommery Champagne before enjoying an excellent lunch.

Italian Jobs

And some of the bolides on offer might well have looked more attractive after a glass or two of bubbly! A Bentley with yellow wheels, anyone?

Aston Extremes

Aston Martin brought along the latest Mirage and their new city car, the Cygnet. Sir Stirling Moss has apparently ordered one, so it’s sure to catch on.

A Maybach, allegedly

Rolls Royce showed a bespoke Phantom, but the behemoth from Goodwood is a relatively common sight in comparison with the Maybach – now that does have rarity appeal.

The New Old Jensen Interceptor

It was good to see some of Britain’s smallest of artisan manufacturers holding their own against the established names. Eagle E-Types were capturing a lot of attention with their E-Type Speedster, a discretely different take on the British icon which is celebrating it’s 50th birthday this year (in case you hadn’t heard…). Making a return to the scene is the Jensen Interceptor, Steve Bannister’s company now remanufacturing this 1970’s superstar. Starting with a tired original Jensen International Automotive restore and re-engineer to a bespoke specification – the car on show, painted in a Lamborghini lavender colour was powered by a 492bhp Chevy V8. There are plans for a GT Coupe based on the drop-top Interceptor. Drawings have been found for what would have been Jensen’s next model before the original company went out of business.

Hennessey Venom GT – not an eco car

Bearing little or no allegiance to the past is the Hennessey Venom GT. Loosely based on the Lotus Exige but clothed in full carbon composite bodywork it too is V8 powered but this one pumps out 1200bhp and reputedly can do the 0-60mph dash in 2.5-seconds before hurtling on to 275 mph, that should be enough to upset the eco-fascists! It’s in marked contrast to the similarly Lotus-based but very different Tesla.

House Guests

Almost ignored, but taking up the prime position in front of the house, was an incredible collection of Porsche Group C cars, no less than seven 956’s and eight 962’s.  This represents the full spectrum, from the original Rothmans 956 that debuted at Silverstone in 1982 and won that years’ Le Mans 24 hours in the hands of Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx, through to the ultimate interpretation, Jim Busby’s specially commissioned Miller car that scored the last Daytona 24-hour race win for Stuttgart’s finest in 1989. Derek Bell once again was one of the drivers, joined this time by Bob Wollek and John Andretti. (Editor’s note: Porsche fetishists, of which there are many, will surely remind us that the Kremer K8 Spyder that won the race in 1995 was based on a Porsche 962. Is it a Porsche? Debate and discuss. Then there is the small matter of The Racer’s Group triumph at the 2003 race in a 911………finest? Not a 911?)

Brun Porsche

The rest of the collection, pulled together over a ten-year period, included other works cars such as the Shell Dunlop versions, Walter Brun’s Repsol liveried machine, the last-ever factory built 962 which came within 15 minutes of stealing a Le Mans win away from the TWR Jaguar oufit. (Editor’s Note: The Brun car was in second place when it retired, the Brundle/Cobb/Nielsen Jaguar had led the race for 13 hours. It was no less heart breaking to see Jesus Pareja stopping at Mulsanne Corner and no less unjust.) Also represented were successful privateer British teams such as Richard Lloyd Racing and John Fitzpatrick, the former in particular highly modifying its cars in an effort to find an advantage.

Taxi for Il Duce?

A walk around the side of the house revealed the concours where everything from Mussolini’s Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo (it took top prize) to the Sir Norman Fowler’s 1934 Dymaxion 4 were to be found, the latter put together by the ever versatile Crosthwaite & Gardiner.

Nicely patinated Don Lee Special

Attracting almost as much attention but in totally unrestored condition was the Alfa Tipo ‘Don Lee Special’.

Lambo’s latest

RM Auctions were in charge of the Thursday evening sale with a large number of primarily Aston Martin, Jaguar and Rolls Royce lots on offer.

And finally.. tailpiece

An interesting day out with an opportunity to look at some rare, interesting and unusual machinery in pleasant surroundings and not too crowded – presumably there are not so many well-heeled bankers with bonuses burning a hole in their pockets now!

Smoking on the Grass

John Elwin, July 2011