At a time back in 2016 when a collection of ‘barn find’ Brough Superiors comprising little more than a lorry load of rusty parts was fetching a record £700,000+ at a Bonhams UK auction, one of the most famous examples of the marque re-surfaced as the centrepiece motorcycle exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.

That bike was none other than George Brough’s own Brough Superior racer, the side-valve JAP-engined machine that he affectionately christened ‘Old Bill’ after a cartoon character from the years of World War One that remained hugely popular even up until the second World War more than twenty years later.

The “Old Bill’ cartoon took a wry look at life in the World War One trenches

Bruce Bairnsfeather’s cartoon creation was a cynical and long suffering old soldier who maintained a doggedly humorous and ironic outlook on life in the trenches and who truly helped keep up the morale of both servicemen and the general public in the toughest of times and situations. George Brough obviously saw a parallel between the ‘Old Bill’ character and the toughness and reliability of the bike that won him no less than 51 sprint events in a row!

Brough’s personal competition career began in the first decade of the 20th century. More than ten years before he began to build his own motorcycles in 1919, George was winning trials and sprint races on bikes built by his father William Brough. These also carried the Brough name, but without the 'Superior' tag.

In fact, many people consider the father's engineering superior to his son's, as he built his own engines - something George never did successfully. Small wonder that, once George had trademarked his own bikes as Brough Superior, William is said to have sarcastically remarked “Then I suppose mine are to be known as Brough Inferior!”

George, however, did eventually establish his bikes as ‘superior’ – at least in terms of public perception. Essentially he did so by dint of his salesmanship, his ability to write persuasive advertising copy and his even more impressive ability to generally choose the best available components to be assembled into motorcycles that as a whole were perceived by the public to be better than the sum of their parts.

In fact, that was not the case with the Mark One Brough Superior which George rode in competition during the first years that his company was in operation. The pre-WW1 type engine in the Mk1 had not proved fast enough in sprints and hill climbs and the bike was also clumsy to handle.

So, for 1922 George built a lighter, lower model with a highly tuned 976cc side-valve JAP vee-twin that was nicknamed ‘Spit and Polish’ due to the clinically clean state in which it was maintained.

The frame of the new bike was so light that it needed additional strengthening struts from the bottom of the front down tube back to the rear wheel spindle to keep it from twisting in the middle as a torque reaction to hard acceleration off the start line! And the engine that produced this kind of power was developed by none other than Bert le Vack, the famous JAP tuner, Brooklands rider and record breaker, who was known as the “Wizard of Brooklands”.

After a brief spell with Indian, Le Vack moved to J.A. Prestwich in Tottenham in North London. He was responsible for development of their high powered JAP V-twin engines and, on the 6th of July 1924 he used the power of one of these to good effect and set a new World Motorcycle Speed Record at on the long, arrow-straight highway at Arpajon in north-western France at 119.05 mph. 

That engine powered a Brough Superior motorcycle and he returned five years later, again with a Brough, to raise the record to 129.00mph. Forming the association with Le Vack was another example of George Brough’s unerring eye for making use of whatever, or in this case whoever, was needed to make his bikes ‘Superior’.

J.A. Prestwich closed down their racing department in 1930 and Le Vack moved on, first to New Hudson and then to Motosacoche in Switzerland. He was tragically killed testing one of the Swiss company’s machines in 1931.

In its Le Vack tuned form, with lightened crankshaft and flywheel assembly plus specially modified valve gear and ports, the rebuilt ‘Spit and Polish’ Brough was re-named ‘Old Bill’ and George Brough himself set out to prove its capabilities around the banked track at Brooklands.

He did so, but his track racing career was short and sweet. He won a five lap experts scratch race around the Surrey speedbowl’s bankings and in a subsequent outing there is reputed to have lapped at over 100mph before the beaded-edge front tyre left the wheel rim at full chat and Brough ended the race without his machine – but, also thankfully, without serious injury.

That crash wrote off the front end, so the bike was rebuilt with new Webb girder forks and a drum brake and re-named ‘Old Bill’. George Brough and ‘Old Bill’ carried on racing in sprints rather than repeat his experience on the Brooklands banking. And throughout 1922 and 1923 that combination of bike and rider scored an amazing 51 wins in succession before the pair once again parted company as they crossed the line separately at the end of a sprint course! This time ‘Old Bill’ fared better than George, who spent several weeks getting over some severe ‘gravel rash’.

George Brough on ‘Old Bill’ back in the day

After that experience, George gave up racing to concentrate on expanding his business and the reputation of his Brough Superiors through the following two decades. And the lessons learned on ‘Old Bill’ in terms of performance and handling were incorporated into the first of Brough Superior’s overhead valve Super Sport models – the JAP-powered SS80 which was introduced in 1923.

'Old Bill' itself was stripped of its racing bits such as the lightweight crankshaft, the specially ported cylinders and the extra frame struts. It was rebuilt as a road bike and kept as the factory ‘workhorse’ rather than racehorse it had once been.

During World War Two, the bike was somehow damaged and was purchased in that state post-war by Brough Superior enthusiast (and later the founder of the Vintage Motorcycle Club), ‘Titch’ Allen. With the help and advice of George Brough himself and the Brough plant manager Ike Webb, Titch restored ‘Old Bill’ into a machine that closely resembled the one in its famous 1922/23 racing trim.  

On Titch’s death, ownership of 'Old Bill' passed on to his son Roger, who sadly lost his life in a motorcycle accident at the Isle of Man in 1992.  Roger's widow then allowed the bike to be put on display at the Nottingham Industrial Museum until it went to auction by H&H and sold for £291,200 on October 4th, 2012 – at that time a world record price for a Brough Superior. It surpassed the previous mark of £280,000 set by the sale of an SS100 two years earlier and an indication of the rocketing interest in George Brough’s ‘Superiors’ is the fact that only two years prior to that, in 2008, the highest sale price achieved for a Brough (another overhead valve SS100) had been £166,500!

Now the selling price of ‘Old Bill’ has also been surpassed. An SS100 Alpine Grand Sport sold for £315,000 at the Bonhams Stafford Show auction in November 2014 and in April this year (2016) even that mark was eclipsed by the £331,000 paid by a German collector at another Bonhams Stafford Show auction for a Brough 800cc four-cylinder (it used an Austin Seven car engine) sidecar hauler with twin rear wheels. The final one to be tracked down out of only eight ever made, this Model BS4 ‘barn find’ was obviously rare in the extreme. But it was also incomplete, rusty and desperately in need of renovation.

So what would the now pristine ‘Old Bill’ fetch if offered for auction today? Who knows? For now, just be thankful that the American collector who bought it in that 2012 auction still owned it in 2016 and was prepared to loan it to one of the world’s most-visited auto museums so that it could still be admired by motorcycle enthusiasts who made the trip there to see it.


The London Concours, presented by Montres Breguet, will gather a collection of the most beautiful and innovative soft-tops ever, paying special attention to the 1960s. Showcasing the likes of the Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 330 GTS, Alfa Romeo Junior Spider and Aston Martin DB2, it’s no wonder this class is known as Convertibles: The Golden Era.

Clockwise from top left: Ferrari 330GTS, Jaguar E-Type, Fiat Dino, Aston Martin DB2

Taking place from 19-20 August, the #LondonConcours –  set to be the UK’s first major automotive event since February – will gather these elegant cars and nearly 100 others into the Honourable Artillery Company HQ –  a five-acre oasis of green nestled among the tall buildings of the City of London.

Below are just a few of the highlights that will be on the lawn:

Aston Martin DB2 Drophead Coupé

With an advanced twin overhead-cam 2.6-litre straight-six and a lightweight tubular chassis, the DB2 was the latest in a lineage of sporting Aston Martins. Designed initially as a coupé, Aston Martin did produce just six DB2 DHCs in the First Sanction run. The First Sanction cars are those with three-piece front grilles, bumper strips and side extractor grilles. The example at London Concours was bought in 1950 by Prince Bertil of Sweden, a good personal friend of David Brown, then owner of #AstonMartin.

Ferrari 330 GTS

The replacement to the 275 GTS, the 330 GTS was designed to be an elegant, open-top, V-12 grand tourer for Ferrari’s best customers. In short, it was designed to be the finest open-top automotive experience money could buy. While 598 330 GTCs (the coupé variant) were built in total, only 99 of the 330 GTSs would leave the factory gates by the time GTS production concluded in 1968, making the convertible a real rarity.

Jaguar E-Type Roadster 3.8

The E-Type’s looks were sensational, and it quickly became a symbol of the 1960s. Thanks to its unbeatable combination of price and performance, offering a top speed of close to 150mph (241km/h) at little more than £2000, it was an instant success, particularly in the vital American market. The early example on display at London Concours is powered by the 3.8-litre XK engine.

Fiat Dino Spider

Known as a Ferrari in disguise, the Fiat Dino Spider was powered by the same engine as Ferrari’s Dino. It was a way of homologating the new all-alloy V6 Dino engine to make it eligible for Formula 2 – with Ferrari’s limited production numbers they couldn’t do it alone. This early car was 415th out of the 500 cars needed for homologation and – as all Spiders were – features an elegant body designed by Pininfarina. Acceleration from 0-60mph took just seven seconds and the top speed stood at 130mph.

In total seven curated classes will be on display at the London Concours, including ‘The Pursuit of Speed’, ‘Lancia Legends’, ‘Era of the Supercar’, ‘The Speed of Sand’ and ‘The Lost Marques. A special celebration display of the #FerrariDino will see 10 examples gathered, each in a different factory-original colour.


A sensational trio of early Ferraris has been confirmed for this year’s Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance by AXA and includes perhaps the most significant car in the Italian marque’s illustrious history.

The 166MM that will grace the lawns of Blenheim Palace scored two famous victories during 1949, and in doing so it helped to create the Ferrari legend. In April of that year, the works-entered chassis 0008M won the Mille Miglia in the hands of Clemente Biondetti and Ettore Salani. Then, two months later, Lord Selsdon and Luigi Chinetti took it to victory in the world’s most high-profile motor race – the Le Mans 24 Hours. It remains the only car to have won both of those prestigious and gruelling events in the same year.

The historic 166MM will be joined by another of the very earliest Ferraris – a 1948 166 Inter Coupé, chassis number 0015S. This Touring-bodied beauty was displayed at the 1949 Geneva Salon and retains its original jewel-like 1995cc V12 engine. Completing the trio is a 1952 Vignale-bodied 212/225 Export that boasts significant period competition history.

This 1948 166 Inter coupe with body by Touring of Milan is one of the earliest Ferraris in existence

This Ferrari 166MM won the Mille Miglia and the Le Mans 24Hrs in the space of just two months in1949!

Ferrari has a history of success in the Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance, and last year collected more class awards than any other marque courtesy of such iconic models as the 250 GT LWB California Spyder and the 250 GT SWB. In 2020, Maranello’s finest will join some of the most coveted motor cars in the world, with the entry encompassing everything from a 1904 Napier to a 2019 McLaren Senna. All will be judged remotely to the very highest standards by the International Chief Judge Advisory Group (ICJAG) via the pioneering use of live-streaming. Specialist ICJAG Field Managers will be on-site and will be available to coordinate and answer questions from entrants and judges.

Ferraris are also bound to feature prominently within Friday’s Salon Privé Masters by Pirelli and Lockton. This year, the event celebrates the evolution of the supercar, from the dawn of the genre in the 1960s to the technological wonders of the 21st century. Ferrari models set to take part both in the Masters and the Concours d’Elégance include mid-engined V8s such as the 308, 328 and 355, the front-engined V12 599, and supercars in the form of the F50 and the landmark F40.

The Ferrari Owners’ Club of Great Britain is an official supporter of Salon Privé, and on Saturday more than 1000 cars will converge on the South Lawn and battle it out for the coveted Club Trophy. Classic and modern greats from Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche and many more will be attempting to steal the spotlight from Ferrari’s finest.

Bringing the story right up to date, Ferrari will be showcasing its latest models during Salon Privé Week. The all-new Ferrari Roma continues a long tradition of sublime GT cars from Maranello, and features a front-mid-mounted turbocharged V8 engine giving more than 600bhp. Test drives will be available for clients who have pre-registered with their local official dealer.

The Roma is the latest from Ferrari and will be at Salon Prive in September

The Ferrari Roma will be displayed alongside the SF90 Stradale – named for the 90th anniversary of Scuderia Ferrari – the 812 GTS and the F8 Spider.

Salon Privé Director David Bagley said: “We’re incredibly excited to welcome the most famous name in automotive history to Blenheim Palace. Few marques inspire the sort of devotion that Ferrari does, and the cars that we’ll have on show – from the earliest racers to the very latest road cars – are sure to quicken the pulse of any enthusiast.”


Motorcycles play a key role in the Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance presented by AXA, and the event attracts owners and enthusiasts from around the world. This year will be no different and is set to include two classes for two-wheeled machinery when the event returns to #BlenheimPalace in September.

Several fantastic motorcycles have already been confirmed for the prestigious concours, including a rare and valuable 1974 Ducati 750SS ‘Green Frame’. One of only 401 produced, all of which were hand-built and overseen by technical boss Fabio Taglioni, this particular example was sourced from Spain by its current owner and returned to the UK for a full restoration. Together with a 1976 750SS by Newton Engineering and 1975 900SS that have also been entered, it completes a full set of iconic round and square-case #Ducati v-twin motorcycles. It will be the first time three examples of this kind have been exhibited together in the UK.

“The Motorcycle display will showcase the best that design and engineering have given us,” said Anthony Godin, who, along with Mike Jackson, is part of the selection committee who will have the difficult task of judging The Exceptional Motorcycles and Exceptional Competition Motorcycles categories, “visitors will get to see the great Café Racers of the 1950s and ’60s, to Choppers from the 1970s and wacky racers from the 1980s.”

The experts from the International Chief Judge Advisory Group will perform their duties on a ‘virtual’ basis on 23 September, with all bikes being meticulously inspected and class awards decided upon. The class winners and runners-up are selected by the jury, while the top prize, Most Spectacular Motorbike, is chosen by the Duke of Marlborough himself.

The Ducati 750SS revived the company’s fortunes when they were at a very low ebb indeed in 1974

Presided over by Ed Gilbertson (President of the Jury) and Adolfo Orsi (Chief Judge), the jury consists of specialists from different areas of the motorbike world. International restorer and collector Somer Hooker will be joined by Henry Cole – television presenter and CEO of Gladstone Motorbikes. Journalist and concours judge Dennis Frost will also be casting his expert eye over proceedings, and the four-strong panel is completed by commentator and former Grand Prix motorcycle racer Steve Parrish.

“Salon Privé is always an amazing event in an unbeatable location,” said Parrish. “This year’s line-up promises to be spectacular, and I can’t wait to meet the owners and builders so that we can have a good chat about their exquisite machines.”

The Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance presented by AXA takes place on Wednesday, and all trophies will be presented at the Motorbike Awards Ceremony on Thursday with judges, owners, press, members of the #SalonPrivé team and the Duke of Marlborough present. Previous class victors have included motorcycle special builder extraordinaire, Allen Millyard.

Concours Chairman Andrew Bagley said: “Now in our 15th year, the Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance presented by AXA has an enviable reputation for attracting best-of-breed motorcycles and motorcars. The motorcycle entrants are a particularly enthusiastic bunch who will happily regale the history and provenance of their cherished machines, and we are delighted that they continue to support the event as they do.”

Elsewhere on the lawns of Blenheim Palace, legendary Italian marque MV Agusta will be making its Salon Privé debut via UK partner Krazy Horse. The latest models will be on display, including the retro-look Superveloce and the Brutale 1000RR – the world’s most powerful ‘naked’ motorcycle. They will be joined by the Dragster SCS and the Rush concept ’bike as the manufacturer celebrates its 75th anniversary. Founded in 1945 by Count Domenico Agusta, it won its first World Championship in 1952 in the 125cc class, and by the time it withdrew from racing in 1976, it had won 270 Grands Prix and 38 World Riders’ Championships with great names such as Giacomo Agostini, John Surtees and Mike Hailwood.

A brand-new British manufacturer, Langen Motorcycles, is set to officially launch at Salon Privé and will be showing off its beautifully engineered 2 Stroke, which was inspired by the ‘ton up’ Café Racers of the 1950s. #LangenMotorcycles will be joined by celebrated Bolton-based manufacturer CCM Motorcycles, which was founded by Alan Clews in 1971 and has gained a reputation for creating the most unique hand-crafted ’bikes in the industry.

Sales Director David Bagley said: “We’re delighted to welcome Langen and CCM to Blenheim Palace – two British manufacturers that will be showcasing unbelievable feats of engineering. With MV Agusta also attending the event for the first time, motorcycle enthusiasts are assured of a mouth-watering display of machinery. Their focus on quality is something that reflects the ethos of the whole Salon Privé week.”


Varese, July 16, 2020 - MV Agusta is announcing the official launch of Monaco Design Studio, specialised in the design of unique, one off models for the brand’s most demanding clientele. The Studio stemmed from Monaco’s long established MV Agusta dealership, which catered to the very special, affluent and international clientele of the Principality. It offered complete personalisation of the brand’s most prestigious models, creating unique pieces of Motorcycle Art for the exclusive enjoyment of their proud, passionate owners. One such owner is Formula One World Championship challenger, Valteri Bottas of the Mercedes Benz team.

The MV Agusta Monaco Design Group principals with the Valteri Bottas bike. From left to right they are Kazahitu Shimizu, Virginio Ferrari and Alexandre Dauly.

Three-time Italian champion and World champion Virginio Ferrari, founder and owner of the Studio, has a long history of friendship and collaboration with MV Agusta. In 1994 he established Virginio Ferrari Racing, which in 1998 became the official MV Agusta importer in the Principality, now also in the nearby Alpes Maritimes Department. Second in command to Ferrari from the beginning, engineering wizard Kazuhito Shimizu was the MV brand’s technical leader in France. Designer Alexandre Dauly joined the group in 2013.

Timur Sardarov, CEO MV Agusta Motor S.p.A., commented “If there had to be one place where to take MV Agusta’s prestige and exclusivity one step further, it had to be Monaco, and Virginio Ferrari had to be the man at the helm. The launch of the Monaco Design Studio is only the due official recognition of Virginio’s extraordinary work in all these years. He and his team deserve every success in this exclusive venture.”

Virginio Ferrari, founder and owner of the Monaco Design Studio, said "In the mind of every biker, we find a desire for the personalisation of their motorcycle, so that it gets even closer to their absolute ideal. Over one hundred MV Agusta one offs prepared by us for customers from all walks of life under the guidance of our designer Alexandre Dauly, have proven us right.”


The British Motor Museum reopened its doors on 4 July on a Friday to Monday basis. Following great support from visitors the Museum is delighted to announce that from 1 August, it will now be open every day of the week throughout August, with shows scheduled until November.

The Museum has been awarded the ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry charter mark by VisitEngland which means everything is in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. Numbers are limited per day, with pre-booking a timed arrival slot essential. This also includes those with annual passes. There are 10am, 11am, 12noon and 1pm slots available. Once at the Museum visitors can stay as long as they wish until closing.

To adhere to the Covid guidelines the Museum has had to make a few changes to the visitor experience which are detailed on the welcome back web page at The Museum has received some very positive feedback from visitors about the measures it has in place and how safe people feel about their visit. There is still plenty to see and do with over 300 British historical cars to explore. The outdoor play area is also open for younger visitors who need to let off some steam and the ever popular science shows will also be running 4 days a week!

The Museum’s Café has registered for the Government’s ‘Eat out to Help out’ scheme. Those visiting the Café on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday can get a discount of up to 50% when eating or drinking soft drinks, with a maximum discount of £10 per person.

With outside gatherings given the go ahead by the Government, the Museum has decided to host as many of its events as possible. With safety in mind, the shows will be more informal gatherings, with reduced numbers.

The Classic and Vintage Commercial Show will now be a Classic Commercial Vehicle Gathering which will take place on 8 & 9 August with outdoor display parking and a smaller outdoor trade area. The indoor trade and model area will be much reduced with only approximately 10 out of the usual 160 tables exhibiting. Camping will be available on the Friday and Saturday nights. Entry will be by advance entry form or advance ticket only and existing entries will be carried forward.

The #EV Electric Vehicles Festival will be going ahead on the 8 August on the Southern Arena. Attendees to the #EV Festival will also be able to view the Classic Commercial Vehicle Gathering and vice versa.

Yakushi Car Club will now meet on 15 August and the Old Ford Rally will take place on 23 August with a small arena along with a commentator and a singing group. The Buses Festival was originally planned for 23 August but has unfortunately been postponed until 21 August 2021.

September kicks off with a newly announced Jaguars at Gaydon’ event on 5 September. Billed as a friendly, informal gathering for all #Jaguar fans, owners and enthusiasts alike, it will feature hundreds of Jaguar cars and celebrate the XJS Club's national day.

The National Metro & Mini Show and BMC & Leyland Show will take place on 6 September and the Great British Model Railway Show on 7 & 8 November.

Mogfest, the Morgan Owners gathering which was due to take place on 26 September, has been postponed to 10 July 2021 as has the Retro Truck show which will now take place on 11 & 12 September 2021.

Tom Caren, Show Manager at the #BritishMotorMuseum stated “Whilst we’ve had to make further changes to our shows, we are delighted that we are now able to bring motoring enthusiasts together at our newly formatted informal gatherings. It has been encouraging that we have had so much support and we would urge any club looking to organise an outside gathering to get in touch about using us as an approved venue.”

The Museum will continue to monitor the Government advice and keep visitors informed of any changes. In line with the Museum’s new policy, all visitors and exhibitors to any of the gatherings or events must pre-book tickets and provide contact details so the Museum can fulfil its NHS Test and Trace commitment.

Tickets bought for any of the shows original dates are valid for the new dates and refunds are available for those no longer able to attend. The deadline for refund requests is one week before the event. Please contact or phone 01926 649649. Tickets to the gatherings also include entry to the Museum & Collections Centre. To find out more about the British Motor Museum please visit the website at


Shelsley Walsh kicked off competitive hill climbing in 2020 with the Summer Spree weekend over July 25th and 26th giving drivers and fans two very different ways of enjoying the event through being on track and with people watching worldwide a first ever live webcast stream from the hill as no actual onsite spectators were allowed.

Sean Gould won on both days with his best time of 23.61 seconds coming on Sunday afternoon as he did 153mph over the finish line in his stunning Gould GR59 with a 700bhp Judd V8 in the back. Three time British Champion Trevor Willis was hot on his heels with a 24.27 while Alex Summers had just 1070cc in his DJ Firehawk to battle the V8s but was flat out all the way to the Esses near the end of the climb and posted a 25.17 second run. However it was the innovation of live webcast streaming that captured people’s hearts as the event was held behind closed doors but the Midland Automobile Club, who run #ShelsleyWalsh, still delivered the action to its members and fans who would otherwise have been trackside. 

Viewers from Spain, Tasmania, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Singapore, USA and all around the UK tuned in, even including a viewer on a yacht off the coast of Cornwall and a fan on an oil tanker in the middle of the South China Sea. The reach was reminiscent of the BBC Empire Service on radio in the 1930s that also broadcast worldwide from Shelsley back then – an indication of how important the venue was to motor racing followers in those days. All the action from both 2020 days can be viewed on the Shelsley Walsh YouTube and Facebook pages. Picture in this feature are courtesy of Tom Gay and the Shelsley Walsh Instagram library.


The 2020 Concours of Elegance will take place from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 September at Hampton Court Palace. The Concours of Elegance began at Windsor Castle in 2012, before moving to St James’s Palace in 2013, Hampton Court Palace in 2014 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (Her Majesty The Queen’s official residence in Scotland) in 2015 before returning to Windsor Castle in 2016 and Hampton Court Palace in 2017.

The Concours of Elegance will once again bring together a selection of 60 of the rarest cars from around the world – many of which will never have been seen before in the UK. Many of the Concours cars will also take part in a two-day driving tour in the days running up to the main Concours event. Uniquely, the Concours of Elegance winner isn’t selected by a panel of judges but by the Owners of the cars themselves. Each participant is asked to vote on the other models on display to decide which car is considered to be the ‘Best of Show’.

Complementing the Concours of Elegance will be displays of hundreds of other fine motor cars, including entrants to The Club Trophy. Now in its seventh year, The Club Trophy sees some of the UK’s most prestigious car clubs offering up their finest examples to an independent panel of judges. The winning Club Trophy car will secure a place in the following year’s main Concours of Elegance event.


Prince Michael of Kent is a keen ‘hands on’ motoring enthusiast. As well as being President of The Royal Automobile Club, he is an Honorary Member of the Bentley Drivers’ Club and the British Racing Drivers’ Club.

In 2013, Prince Michael drove the mighty 1933 Napier-Railton 24 litre Special from The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace to the 2013 Concours of Elegance at St James’s.


Recently dramatised for the silver screen, the epic battle between Ford and Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966 will be retold for visitors of the Concours of Elegance with an all-new display. A gathering of the GT40s that famously took on the Prancing Horse – and won – will line-up alongside the Ferrari racing cars that were beaten, including the 250 LM, 330 P3 and 275 GTB Competizione. One of motorsport’s most famous upsets will be played out with genuine vehicles of the time, allowing guests to experience all the visceral thrills of these out-and-out racers.


As pre-event planning continues, more and more rare cars are being added to the list of those due to be displayed at #HamptonCourt in September.

Aston Martin Cloverleaf

The chassis no. 1926 produced in 1923 is one of the oldest road-going production Aston Martin models in existence. Only 57 ‘Bamford and Martin’ Aston Martins were made in total and it’s estimated that fewer than 16 examples still exist around the world, in one form or another. Lionel Martin’s own Cloverleaf was scrapped in the 1930s. This machine is almost identical to Lionel Martin’s own Cloverleaf and took 2nd place at Aston Hill in1924. XR1981was competitively driven until the end of the 1960s, in the course of which it won the prestigious St John Horsfall Trophy race at #Silverstone in 1969. It then languished in the family garage, unused for nearly 40 years, before undergoing a five-year restoration that brought the car to its current condition.

Williams FW15C

Nineteen ninety-three was the year F1 went hi-tech and the car that did it better than anything else was this Adrian Newey-designed masterpiece. The V10-powered FW15C featured semi-automatic transmission, traction control, power steering, anti-lock brakes, telemetry and, most controversially, hydraulically-controlled active suspension, this latter innovation banned for 1994. In 1993, though, not much could catch the FW15C and Alain Prost cruised to his fourth World Drivers’ title ahead of Ayrton Senna. Third place in the championship that year in FW15C chassis 02 was a young British driver, Damon Hill.

Porsche 356 America Roadster

This is not technically a Speedster, but the Type 540 –known more commonly as the America Roadster–started the idea. The air-cooled, 1.5-litre flat-four produces 70 horsepower, which may not sound like much until you realize that in 1953 the regular 356 produced just 40. Not to be confused with the 356 Speedster—that came later and cost two-thirds the price—America Roadsters were not a commercial success.  U.S. importer Max Hoffman convinced Porsche it needed a lightweight convertible to compete with the best from Jaguar. But the production methods used to create the America Roadster’s aluminium body proved to be too expensive, and in 1952 #Porsche built only 17 units before its discontinuation in 1953.

Ferrari Dino 206 SP

As is well known, Ferrari was challenged by Ford at Le Mans in the mid-’60s and responded with a series of Sports Prototypes; the 330P-series. Early in February of 1966 Ferrari introduced the 4-litre 330P3 to the press in Maranello, alongside the smaller all-new Dino 206SP. It was Ferrari’s intention to build 50 of these smaller V6 cars to qualify them for homologation as two-litre Group Four sports cars. For various reasons that never happened and only 17 of these cars were created, including this example here, which raced at the 1000km of Nurburgring and the 12 Hours of Sebring.


This year’s ‘Centrepiece Display’ at Hampton Court will be a spectacular line-up celebrating one of the most astonishing motorsport feats of all time. In 1995 at the Le Mans 24 Hours race, a cavalcade of McLaren F1 GTRs stormed home to finish 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th, in one of the most dominant performances ever. It was made all the more special because the F1 GTR sports car, although so named to honour of the company’s World Champion Grand Prix cars, was essentially a road car competing against vehicles that had been designed from the ground-up for endurance racing.

The Hampton Court Concours of Elegance’s centerpiece display, which will commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the McLaren Le Mans success, is reserved only for the most extraordinary vehicles or astonishing motoring feats. In the past it has included a celebration of the Jaguar D-Type’s 1-2-3-4-6 finish at Le Mans. But, arguably, the McLaren F1 GTR’s achievement is all the more remarkable, not least because a motorsport-ready #McLaren F1 was never part of the production plan.

The McLaren F1 GTR was an afterthought, demanded by F1 road car customers that wanted to take their cars racing. To that end, the F1 GTR began testing in February 1995, with the Le Mans 24 Hours race only 5 months away, where it would be competing against not only modified production cars but prototype vehicles designed specifically for endurance racing. Unfazed, the F1 GTR swept to victory in one of the most comprehensive motorsport victories of all time, taking four of the top five places overall and the top four GT1 places. The achievement shouldn’t be understated; with only very few modifications to the road car, the F1 GTR beat many vehicles specifically designed and engineered for the track, in a race that takes in a whole season’s worth of racing in just 24 hours.

All five McLaren F1 GTR finishers from that race will be parked side-by-side at Concours of Elegance 2020; the winning Kokusal Kaihatsu Racing car, the third-place Harrods-liveried car of Andy Wallace, Derek Bell and Justin Bell, the fourth-place Gulf Racing F1 GTR, the Giroix Racing Team F1 GTR that finished fifth and the 13th-place Société BBA Compétition car.

Andrew Evans, Concours of Elegance Director, said: “The Concours of Elegance is all about shining a light on the most astonishing stories and creations in the motoring world, and bringing them to one of the world’s most beautiful palaces for our visitors to enjoy. Arguably there’s no more emotive story than that of the F1 GTR; a car that no one expected anything of which then went on to one of the most convincing victories ever seen at the world’s hardest motor race. We’re excited to bring these amazing vehicles together in 2020, but it really is just one small part of a very carefully curated selection of special features and world-class automobiles set for our event.”

The 2020 event will cement Concours of Elegance’s global reputation for gathering the finest cars in the world in one of the UK’s most stunning settings; the Fountain Gardens of Hampton Court Palace. With the gracious support of Concours of Elegance patron, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, no other UK motoring event offers the same prestige.

Once again, more than 60 of the finest cars ever built will gather in the event’s Main Concours, celebrating the finest innovations in design, performance and technology stretching right back to the invention of the motorcar. Each of these cars is invited to attend by the event’s Steering Committee, and even securing a place is deemed a prodigious achievement, such is the quality of the cars on display.

Concours of Elegance will also bring together a number of other displays and special features, curated to the very highest standards, to create three days of automotive and luxury celebration, including around 1,000 motoring greats of all types and ages. During 2019, for example, the event gathered one of every single Aston Martin Zagato variant ever produced and hosted around 50 significant Jaguars as part of the Jaguar Trophy.


Modena-based ARES Design has announced that four of its hand-built vehicles will make their UK debuts at the prestigious Salon Privé, to be held in the historic surroundings of Blenheim Palace on the 23 – 26 September 2020.

The stunning Panther ProgettoUno supercar (below) will be presented alongside ARES Design’s sumptuous Bentley Mulsanne Coupé and a brace of its two-wheeled creations; the BMW-based Café Racer and Scrambler motorbikes.

Taking centre stage will be the Panther ProgettoUno, a guaranteed show-stopper and the first model of the company’s Legends Reborn programme, which re-imagines iconic cars marrying authentic design and state-of-the-art technology and Italian handicraft.

With its sleek, streamlined carbon fibre bodywork, the Panther ProgettoUno’s evocative design takes its inspiration from the iconic 1970s Pantera. Stunning on the outside with its aggressive stance its performance underpins its flawless framework, with 650 horsepower pushing the car to 100 km/h in just 3.1 seconds and a top speed of over 325 km/h.

While the Panther displays all the style and performance cues of the supercar elite, the ARES Design Coupé for Bentley Mulsanne epitomises the spirit of luxury driving. Using cutting-edge 21st-century techniques, the luxury coachbuilder chose the four-door Mulsanne as the basis for this ultimate creation of a Bentley Coupé for the modern era. The re-imagined beauty sports a significantly more graceful roof line, and its stunning good looks, coupled with the sumptuous interior details will give visitors the chance to experience the ultimate in bespoke luxury.

In addition, ARES Design will be showcasing its two motorcycles. Beautifully customised, the BMW RnineT Scrambler and the Café Racer; both visually stunning and a tribute to ARES Design’s attention to detail and bespoke craftsmanship.

Co-founder Dany Bahar commented: “We are really looking forward to attending this year’s Salon Privé, especially after all the uncertainty of recent months. It will be a great opportunity for admirers to encounter ARES Design. ARES is a brand that you need to experience personally and superb gatherings like Salon Privé gives us a great opportunity to meet everyone and show off our creations in the historic surroundings of Blenheim Palace.”

Director David Bagley said: “We’re delighted to welcome ARES Design to Salon Privé where they will present four spectacular UK debuts. The style and craftmanship of their products are exquisite and it’s thrilling to see modern-day reimagined, interpretations of classics such as the De Tomaso Pantera on the lawns of Blenheim Palace. The intimacy and exclusivity of our event provides premium OEMs and Coachbuilders with a unique opportunity to unveil their latest models to a select audience and the addition of a dedicated Press Day this year will be pivotal in delivering global media coverage for brands such as ARES. In recent years, more and more brands have turned to Salon Privé to launch new models and we were thrilled with the 11 new models we presented in 2019. With nearly double that number this year, the future of Salon Privé as a launch platform for the premium Automotive sector is looking very promising.”

The ARES BMW RnineT Scrambler (above) and Café Racer will both be on display at Salon Prive

Guests will be able to explore and admire vehicles from some of the leading brands in luxury and performance motoring, from Alpine to Zenvo who will be revealing its TSR-S hypercar for the very first time. Manufacturers from around the world will be attending, including Aston Martin, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, McLaren, Rolls-Royce and more.

LONDON - BRIGHTON VETERAN CAR RUN GETS THE GREEN LIGHT The Royal Automobile Club has announced that the RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run will be going ahead on Sunday 1 November 2020. Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Club, explains: “It gives the Club enormous pleasure to be announcing this news and it’s wonderful that we are able to use the traditional London to Brighton route.

“The event will commence with a rolling start on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace and we wish every participant an unforgettable drive to Madeira Drive on the Brighton seafront. It’s now full steam ahead to prepare for this year. I very much look forward to welcoming everyone in November and commemorating the original 1896 Run that was such a challenge for those pioneer motorists in Victorian times.”

Maarten ten Holder, Executive Vice President and Head of Europe of RM Sotheby’s said: “It’s such fantastic news that the 2020 run will take place in November, in what is RM Sotheby’s first year as the title sponsor. We are excited to partner with such an iconic event and, of course, we very much hope that our auction sale in London, which coincides with the London to Brighton run, will be the first actual ‘live’ sale that we can conduct in Europe since the Corona Virus pandemic hit.”

For full details of this year's London to Brighton Run visit:

Setting off down the Mall with Buckingham Palace in the background

Out through the Admiralty Arch

Passing the Royal Pavilion at Brighton on the way to the journey’s end

As is well known, Ferrari was challenged by Ford at Le Mans in the mid-’60s and responded with a series of Sports Prototypes; the 330P-series. Early in February of 1966 Ferrari introduced the 4-litre 330P3 to the press in Maranello, alongside the smaller all-new Dino 206SP. It was Ferrari’s intention to build 50 of these smaller V6 cars to qualify them for homologation as two-litre Group 4 sports cars. For various reasons that never happened and only 17 of these cars were created, including this example here, which raced at the 1000km of Nurburgring and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

MCLAREN F1 GTR LE MANS 24 HOURS CELEBRATION This year’s ‘Centrepiece Display’ is a spectacular line-up celebrating one of the most astonishing motorsport feats of all time. In 1995 at the Le Mans 24 Hours race, a cavalcade of McLaren F1 GTRs stormed home to finish 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th, in one of the most dominant performances ever. It was made all the more special because the F1 was essentially a road car competing against vehicles that had been designed from the ground-up for endurance racing. Each of the five cars will park side-by-side for the duration of the event.

FROM THE FEATURE FILES - Items of interest from the BRG back catalogue of photographs and features.

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is the legacy left to the world’s car enthusiasts by Robert E. Petersen, founder of Hot Rod Magazine. No surprise, therefore, that hot rods and custom cars always feature strongly amongst the vehicles on display in the several main exhibition galleries that cover three upper level floors. And we should add that there are many more rarities down in the underground Petersen ‘vault’ – either undergoing renovation or awaiting their turn to go on show upstairs!

The museum, which re-opened in December 2015 after a $90-million renovation, has a stunning exterior design, with a massive metal ribbon framework over the entire building, the lines of which were inspired by custom car styling. It has since become one of the architectural icons of the LA area.

Part of the Petersen’s original mission was to present Southern California car culture to the world, and the spirit of that mission was present in its Customs and Concepts galleries for the newly re-opened museum. They featured manufacturer concept cars and a high-quality selection of the best of the varying styles of vehicles that typified the custom car culture, ranging from classic roadsters to low-riders.


One of the most famous of these was the ‘32 Ford Roadster originally modified and ‘hot rodded’ in 1944 by Doane Spencer. Special features included the first split windshield ever fitted to a 1932 Ford and big Lincoln brakes modified to include cooling scoops.

That was because the car was built to be raced for 1000 miles on public roads across Mexico in the early 1950s Carrera Panamericana. With this race in mind, an extra cross-member was added to the chassis for rigidity and exhaust pipes were channeled through the side frame rails to improve ground clearance. The car has since been the subject of a superb restoration but the original entrant plaque from the ‘La Carrera’ race has been fitted to the car’s dashboard as a reminder of its racing heritage.


Also among the world’s most influential early customs was Bob Hirohata’s 1951 Mercury, which was restyled for him by George and Sam Barris in 1952.

Its chopped top, gently sloping “B” pillars and creative adaptation of trim parts from other makes of cars combined to give it a distinctive look that cemented the Barris brothers’ place in customizing history. Their skills were, of course, soon recognized by the Hollywood film industry and George will always be remembered as the creator of such legendary cars as those for the Batman, Pink Panther, Munsters and many more memorable movies and TV shows.


Based on a production 1948 Cadillac Sedanette fastback and inspired by Japanese movie monsters, ‘CadZZilla’ was one of many custom cars commissioned by Billy F Gibbons, guitarist for the rock band ZZ Top. Built by the late Boyd Coddington, the striking saloon is powered by a massive 500 cubic-inch V-8 Cadillac engine.


Built from the ground up over a two-year period, the 1933 Ford roadster ‘Possessed’ was built by Scott’s Hot Rods and won the prestigious America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award at the 2010 Grand National Roadster Show. In the Petersen gallery it sat raised on a lift so that visitors could get a close look at its superb construction.

Alongside it on another lift is the 1964 Chevrolet Impala ‘Sinful Sin’ created by Luis Lemus in the classic low-rider style. 1964 Impalas are considered ideal for lowering and customizing because of their already-low stance and iconic body shape.

This car features a stock 1987 Corvette engine largely plated in chrome. The multi-coloured, multi-layered paint job extends through the whole car including the chassis, wheel wells, and custom interior – all of which can be seen in detail thanks to the lift display. The dramatic look earned the low-rider an ‘Outstanding Use of Color and Design’ award at the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show.


Not to be in any way confused with the Carroll Shelby cars that came along a decade later, the Cobra on display was one of only two custom sports cars built by brothers Wally and Harry Hansen for the 1955 Petersen Motorama show.

It featured a hand-built fiberglass body mounted on a specially engineered chassis and an Oldsmobile Rocket 88 engine that enabled the car to accelerate from a standstill to approximately 90 miles per hour in the quarter mile.


Concept cars are the major manufacturer’s customs – and are obviously rare as they are almost always ‘one-offs’. There were three of these rarities in the Petersen’s opening ‘concept gallery’ – all from the ‘big is beautiful’ days of the 1950s.

The 1955 Biscayne X-37 was built by Chevrolet to showcase its new “Turbo-Fire” V-8 engine and innovative features such as a panoramic windshield, rear suicide doors and swiveling front seats. Its futuristic styling cues would influence subsequent General Motors vehicles, including the Corvette, Corvair and Riviera. After being rescued from a Michigan junkyard, this concept car underwent a 22-year ground-up restoration and was reintroduced to the public in 2010.

The Chevrolet Biscayne manufacturer concept car

While GM styling remained in house in the USA, many of the Chrysler Corporation “dream cars” of the period, like the sporty Plymouth Explorer from 1959 were bodied by Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, Italy. Somewhat paradoxically, the Ghia styling house was acquired by Ford in later years.

Italian design influences can be seen in the Plymouth Explorer styled by Ghia

Meanwhile, back then in the mid-fifties, the Ford Motor Company was doing its own thing. The group’s 1955 Mercury ‘Beldone’ D-528 was designed and built back home in Detroit. It was constructed specifically to test advanced concepts in safety, lighting, air conditioning, and frame design. Its hinged rear fender bulges were functional, for example, concealing a spare tyre on one side and a petrol tank on the other.

The Mercury Beldone showcased some interesting items, like the functional rear wing bulges

Although the total number of cars in the three main Petersen galleries is always constrained by the space available it is always a genuinely representative selection and the cars are always famous within their sphere of interest. In fact, a visit to the museum is one for which you should allow several hours. Especially if you take one of the guided tours of ‘the vault’ that are available as an extra.

Even a car as famous as the Larry Erickson-designed and Boyd Coddington-built Aluma Coupe was down in the Petersen ‘overspill’ vault at the time of our visit for this feature!

And a tour of the vault is something you should definitely plan on doing, as you never know what surprises may be in store. Even the late Boyd Coddington’s famous Aluma Coupe was anonymously sitting down there when we visited! The ground-breaking aerodynamic coupe was built by Boyd from sketches by Larry Erickson, the former GM and Ford designer who also penned the CadZZilla concept for Boyd. On its first public showing, the Aluma Coupe wowed the fans at the New York Auto Show. When we made our tour of the Petersen Museum vault it sat patiently in the shadows awaiting its promotion to the main galleries upstairs. Not only that there were a half a dozen winners of the Grand National Roadster Show’s ‘America’s Most Beautiful Roadster’ award also down there ‘below stairs’ waiting for their turn on parade!

There are ever changing exhibitions at the Petersen Automotive Museum, so for more information, including the special guided tours of the vault (on which no cameras are allowed, by the way) visit the website a