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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.