LONDON CONCOURS 2020
With thanks to Thorough Events and Influence Associates for images and information
The London Concours, presented by luxury watchmakers Montres Breguet, was held in intermittent pouring rain on August 19th but thankfully in bright sunshine for all of the following day, which allowed viewers to view a superb selection of cars on what could well be the most expensive patch of real estate greenery in the world, the lawn of the Honourable Artillery Company’s historic building, which is surrounded by modern skyscrapers right in the middle of the City of London’s financial district.
Taking centre stage was a special display of the 2019 ‘Best in Show’ winner; a stunning green Jaguar C-Type. Concours guests were able to savour the details of a car that appeared at the Monaco Grand Prix, driven by Tommy Wisdom, and which was later raced by Stirling Moss, who drove it for much of his 1952 season. It was presented at the London Concours in its original livery from the 1953 Mille Miglia.
The Jaguar C-Type’s beautiful lines were the creation of Jaguar designer, Malcolm Sayer, and it was powered by the company’s famously long-legged and long-lived 3442cc ‘straight six’ with twin overhead camshafts for the in-line six-cylinder engine that powered all Jaguar cars for more than twenty years on into the 1970s.
It brought major success to Britain in a period when both Formula One and sports car racing first seemed to be the preserve of Italian manufacturers like Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. In 1951 the C-Type was victorious in the Le Mans 24 Hours race – then, as now, the most important sports car race in the world. Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead were the drivers on that momentous morale boosting occasion for Britain in the post-WWII austerity years and the country rejoiced again in 1953 when Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt triumphed once more at Le Mans.
A young Stirling Moss was also famously linked to the Jaguar C-Type. On his 21st birthday weekend in 1951 he drove one to victory in the Ulster TT on Northern Ireland’s Dundrod road circuit and in 1952 partnered Peter Whitehead to win the Reims 12 Hours race,
This Jaguar C-Type was Best in Show in 2019 and was honoured with a special display in 2020
BEST IN SHOW 2020
This year’s show featured a great selection of rare models from other marques as diverse as Facel Vega and Ferrari, the latter being represented by various of the V12-engined classics as well as a stunning line up of V6 Ferrari Dinos.
And it was a Ferrari that was voted by the judges as the 2020 ‘Best in Show’ award winner – a Ferrari 330GTS in striking red (what else could it have been?) paintwork. Naturally, the car also took the class award in the Convertibles category.
This Ferrari 330GTS was voted ‘Best in Show’ 2020. It also won The Convertibles class award
The convertible version of the 330 GTC coupe, the GTS was first presented at the Paris Motor Show in October 1966. It had the same V12 running gear as the 330 GTC coupé which, in turn, was developed from the four-litre engine designed for the 400 Superamerica.
Pininfarina came up with a clean and elegant design which proved an immediate hit with the marque’s admirers. The GTS helped Ferrari consolidate its reputation for building high-performance, luxury open sports cars, aided, of course by its 240km/h (145mph) top speed.
The big V12-powered cars were always the focus of the Ferrari range throughout the nineteen-fifties and ‘sixties. In fact, when the company brought out a 2-litre V6 rear-engine coupe in 1957 it was not even graced with the Ferrari name. Instead it was called the Dino – in honour of Enzo Ferrari’s son Alfredo (or ‘Alfredino’ in the familiar diminutive) who tragically died young
Nowadays, by virtue of their striking looks and their perforrnance to match, the Dinos from the period of their build between 1957 and 1976 (when the Dino branding was retired) are rightfully regarded as true Ferraris and there was a sizeable line-up of them at the London Concours.
Ferrari Dinos on parade on the Honourable Artillery Company lawn
Three major marques were featured in depth at the show, Aston Martin being the first of them, Beauty, craft and art are three elements that the company holds itself to and it has always aspired to create the most accomplished automotive art in the world – which is no doubt why James Bond, the world’s greatest secret agent, drives one! Having survived two world wars and multiple bankruptcies, the marque has consistently stuck to its three core elements and created some true motoring icons in the process such as the DB2, DB5 and limited-edition ultra-high performance models like the One-77 and Vulcan among them.
Voted best in the Aston Martin class at the London Concours was a DB2 coupe, typical of the stylish sports model that was sold by Aston Martin from May 1950 through to April 1953. This had a comparatively advanced dual overhead-cam 2.6 litre engine with its six cylinders inline, This engine had been designed by W.O. Bentley for Lagonda’s planned post-war revival and Aston Martin owner, David Brown, actually also purchased the Lagonda company so that he could use the straight six engine in the production version of the DB2 in place of the pushrod straight four with which early racing and prototype models had been equipped. The DB2 was available as a closed, two-door, two-seater coupé which Aston Martin called a sports saloon, and later also as a drophead coupé convertible as well as the ‘occasional four seater’ DB2/4.
This DB2 coupe was voted best of the Aston Martins on display
Imagine a tractor manufacturer taking on Ferrari! But so begins the story of Lamborghini, the second of the featured marques at the London Concours, At its inception, Ferruccio Lamborghini tasked his engineering team with developing a more powerful, more usable range of Italian sports cars than those produced in Maranello. From that simple mantra, some of the most beautiful performance cars ever have emerged; the Miura, the Diablo and on to more modern performance legends like the Aventador SVJ – all named for fighting bulls. There is a good reason why Lamborghini’s nickname is The Raging Bull…
The London Concours brought together some of the finest models ever built by Lamborghini in its Great Marques: Lamborghini display. From tractor manufacturer to global performance car powerhouse, 66 years of fine Italian design, engineering and innovation was exemplified by 10 representatives from the Sant’Agata-based company.
The first production Lamborghini, the 350 GT, was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 1964. It was designed by Ferruccio Lamborghini and Carlo Andeloni, the owner of Carrozzeria Touring, and produced in a secret area of the Lamborghini tractor factory by Giampaolo Dallara and Paolo Stanzani. Although the 350 was a success, Ferruccio disliked the noisiness of the differential and the imprecision of the car’s ZF gearbox. He commissioned new gearboxes and differentials locally in the Bologna area, and installed a larger, 3,929 cc V12 engine.
And so the 400 GT 2+2 was born, a four-seater supercar in its day, as was its immediate successor, the Espada of 1968, which took the name of the sword used by matadors to kill the bull at the end of the bullfighting ritual. This was the first car that linked Lamborghini’s cars to bullfighting, though all subsequent ones honoured the bulls rather than the weapon used to despatch them.
The Espada was designed by Marcello Gandini at the Bertone styling centre, drawing cues from his Bertone show car of 1967, the Lamborghini Marzal, It was a four-seater GT car and, during its ten years in production (through three separate series) there were 1,217 examples produced, This made it the most numerous and longest-running Lamborghini model until the expansion of Countach production in the mid-1980s.
The Espada was certainly one of the most significant Lamborghinis as its long run in production guaranteed the financial stability of the company at the time. It was fitting, therefore, that an Espada was chosen as the winner of the London Concours Lamborghini class award,
The Lamborghini Espada was a four-seater supercar from the late 1960s and 1970s
At the same time as the Espada, came one of the most iconic and beautiful performance cars ever built: the Lamborghini Miura, another of Marcello Gandini’s styling icons of the 1970s. Its steel spaceframe chassis had been designed by Gianpaulo Dallara (who had been impressed by the GT40 of 1964), and the mid-mounted V12 by Giotto Bizzarrini, both formerly with Ferrari and Maserati. So flexible was the V12 that it could pull away in top gear and go all the way to 172mph. The suspension was all independent, with double wishbones and coil/damper units, helping create one of the finest handling cars of its time.
Also on display was the ‘poster car’ of a generation – the Countach. Powered by a 455bhp 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine, fed by six Weber downdraft carburettors and coupled to a five-speed manual transmission, the car’s dramatic styling led to its name. Unlike the Miura and Espada, there is no bullfighting link. In fact, “Countach” is a somewhat profane Italian expression of surprised admiration! Quite probably the car’s name was coined as soon as Marcello Gandini’s final design sketches were revealed!
From the Countach stemmed further raucous V12 supercars from Lamborghini, including the Diablo, the Murcielago and the Aventador. London Concours gathered examples of each, including the extreme Aventador SVJ and Diablo SV, and it was a Diablo, another Gandini design, which took the Supercar class award.
The Lamborghini Diablo which took the supercar award was another Marcello Gandini design
Lancia may no longer be the brightest spark in the automotive landscape, but it was once known as perhaps the most innovative manufacturer in the world. The Lambda, for example, was the first car to be fitted with a monocoque chassis, while the Aurelia was the first car to be fitted with a full-production V6 engine as well as independent front suspension. Then Lancia went on to dominate international rallying and remains to this day that class of motorsport’s most successful manufacturer, statistically speaking, with its Stratos, 037 and Delta models.
Lancia was first founded in 1906 by Vincenzo Lancia, a pilot, engineer, racing driver and former Fiat employee. Under his leadership, Lancia production began in 1906, with the Tipo 51, before the car that really secured Lancia’s reputation for innovation and engineering excellence arrived in 1922: the Lancia Lambda.
The Lancia Lambda of 1922 was one of the most innovative cars of its time
The earliest car in the London Concours Lancia Legends line-up, the Lambda featured the first monocoque chassis, radical independent, vertical, coil-type sliding pillars and a never-before-seen four-cylinder engine with a narrow V. On top of that, it featured an aluminium engine block and brakes on all four wheels. In 1922, and indeed throughout the 1920s, nothing else on the road even came close in terms of technology.
That spirit of innovation continued into the 1950s, building on Vincenzo Lancia’s original drive for excellence in design and construction, with the Aurelia. The Aurelia, initially launched in 1950 as a four door pillarless saloon, became the world’s first production car powered by a V6 engine. A year later the Aurelia B20GT Coupe was launched, finding immediate success with a second-place finish overall in the 1951 Mille Miglia..
Perhaps one of Lancia’s most beautiful creations, with a helping hand from Pininfarina, is the Aurelia B24 Spider. Using a fourth-generation Aurelia B20GT shortened platform, the B24 Spider is pure Lancia: sophisticated four-speed transaxle, responsive worm and sector steering, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes (mounted inboard at the rear) and all-round independent suspension. Built in limited numbers, the B24 Spider was produced for just one year (1955), and a mere 240 examples rolled off the production line, of which 59 were right-hand drive.
The Lancia Aurelia B20 Coupe (above) and B24 Spyder (below)
The Lancia Flaminia with coachwork by Zagato
The Flaminia that succeeded the Aurelia was a further development of the front-engined V6, rear transaxle theme. Bodied in four distinct styles, it was the Zagato variant that delivered the most powerful performance and arguably the most desirable styling.
The final Zagato iteration was the Super Sport, featuring heavily revised bodywork, and boasting three 40 DCN Weber carburettors mounted on a strengthened 2.8-litre version of the V6 engine, producing 152bhp. It also featured all-independent front suspension and disc brakes all round. Only 150 examples were produced, one of which was at the London Concours.
THE LANCIA RALLY CARS
No celebration of Lancia would be complete without a focus on the brand’s enormous rallying successes throughout the decades. At the London Concours, visitors were able to see a Delta Integrale, derivatives of which won the World Rally Championship a record six times in a row.
When it was launched in 1979, the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed Lancia Delta was conceived as a four-door hatchback economy car on a front-wheel-drive platform with a single overhead-camshaft Fiat-based engine making about 84 horsepower. but by 1986, ‘hot hatches’ were all the rage and the Lancia Delta HF 4WD had arrived. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter twin-cam, four-cylinder engine, this version made a respectable 163 horsepower and, Lancia decided the production Delta HF 4WD would be homologated for the 1987 WRC season. After winning its maiden WRC season outright, Lancia developed the Delta HF 4WD into the fabled Delta HF Integrale for 1988, with permanent all-wheel drive and engine modifications to achieve 182 horsepower in road going trim.
The competition version won the 1988 WRC title but Delta development did not stand still. In 1989 came the Delta HF Integrale 16v. True to its name, a 16-valve head and other modifications increased power again and won Lancia its third WRC title in a row, with a fourth and fifth to come in 1991 and ’92.
Towards the end of 1991, Lancia released what would come to be known as the Delta HF Integrale “Evoluzione” but discontinued its factory rally team. A new exhaust system, stronger steering rack, larger brakes, and reworked suspension for the Evo were amongst the changes that made the car even more capable. In the hands of privateer Italian racing team Jolly Club, the Evo version won the Lancia Delta its sixth and final consecutive WRC manufacturer’s title.
THE STRATOS AND THE O37
Other models were on show at the London Concours which had won Lancia WRC titles in previous years – notably the Stratos GT4 which revolutionised rallying in the mid-1970s and the 037 which holds the honour of being the very last rear-wheel-drive car to win the World Rally Championship - with drivers Walter Röhrl and Markku Alen in 1983.
The Lancia 037 was loosely based on the Lancia Montecarlo road car but shared only the center section with all other body panels and mechanical parts being significantly different. Steel subframes were used fore and aft of the 037's central section and most of the body panels were made from Kevlar.
The mid-engine layout of the Montecarlo was retained, but the engine was turned 90 degrees from transverse to longitudinal positioning. This allowed greater freedom in the design of the suspension while also moving engine weight forward.
Unlike its predecessor, the V6-powered Lancia Stratos HF, the first 037s had a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder supercharged engine that was based on the long stroke twin cam engine which powered earlier Fiat Abarth 131 rally cars. The 16-valve head (four valves per cylinder) was carried over from the Abarth but the original two carburetors were replaced by a single large Weber carburetor in early models and later with fuel injection.
Lancia also chose a supercharger over a turbocharger to eliminate turbo lag and improve throttle response. Initially, power was quoted at 265 bhp but was increased to 280 bhp. The final Evolution model's engine generated 325 bhp after a capacity increase to 2.1 litres.
In view of Lancia’s rallying success, it was no surprise that the honour of taking the Best in Class award for the Lancias on display in the London show went to a rally car. Not the Delta nor the 037 but to an example of the car which preceded them - the Stratos GT4.
The Stratos was one of the most successful rally cars during the 1970s and early 1980s and it started a new era in rallying as it was the first car designed from a clean sheet of paper exclusively for this kind of competition. Previously all rally cars had been based on existing road models from the various competing manufacturers,
This Stratos rally car (above) won the special Lancia class award at the London Concours.
The three leading men behind the entire Stratos rallying project were Lancia team manager Cesare Fiorio, British racer/engineer Mike Parkes and factory rally driver Sandro Munari, with Bertone's Designer Marcello Gandini (famous for his Lamborghini designs) taking a personal interest in designing and producing the bodywork.
Production of the 500 cars required for homologation in the FIA’s international Group 4 rally competition commenced in 1973 and the Stratos was homologated for the 1974 World Rally Championship season. The Ferrari Dino V6 engine which powered the Stratos was in fact phased out in 1974 but 500 engines - among the last examples built - were delivered to Lancia and were FIA-homologated for use in its rally car.
And the Stratos was a hugely successful rally car indeed, winning the World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975 and 1976. Not only that, but it was also a leading contender in long distance sports car racing, winning the 1974 Targa Florio, five times the Tour de France Automobile and three editions of the Giro d'Italia during the mid to late 1970s.
The automotive world is cut-throat; some manufacturers can find great success in the industry, only to disappear years later following a run of bad luck. The Lost Marques class at the London Concours was a celebration of some of those car makers now resigned to the pages of history. On display were the likes of Amphicar, DeLorean, Frazer-Nash, Jensen, Rover, De Tomaso and more but the Best in Class went to a French coach-built beauty – the Facel Vega,
The stunning Facel Vega that took the honours in the Lost Marques class.
After World War II, the Facel company (which had been an aircraft industry sub-contractor pre-war) began to make short-run special bodies, such as coupés or cabriolets, for French manufacturers including Simca, Ford, Panhard and Delahaye. Though initially successful, Facel closed its factory in October 1964 after approximately 2,900 cars of all models had been hand-built in the company’s short life span. The beautiful big sports saloon at the London Concours was built in 1961.
The reason for the company’s demise was that unitary bodies without a chassis became general for mass-produced cars in the 1950s and Facel lost its big customers as a result. It therefore set about designing and making its own complete cars, using engines made by Chrysler, Volvo and Austin and the company became famous for its luxurious high-performance saloons – in particular the Vega model using the big Chrysler V8 which sold to the rich and famous including Hollywood stars and European royals. Unfortunately, fame and fortune do not necessarily go together and Facel could not sell enough of its high-priced cars to make the business profitable.
HOT ROD RACERS
The unique type of highly modified car familiarly known as a ‘hot rod’ was an American phenomenon that began in the late 1940s and became a cult that is still massively popular today. It has even spread to the UK and the Vintage Hot Rod Association had a representative display of these cars on the lawn at the London Concours.
Hot rods in the USA famously race in speed trials in locations such as the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and the El Mirage dry lake in California, The VHRA have created their own speed trials on the beach at Pendine in West Wales, where world records were set in the 1920s, and the winner of the Hot Rod class at the Concours was a side-valve ‘flathead’ Ford V8-powered closed-cockpit ‘streamliner’ of the type that could undoubtedly be found speeding across the sands whether in Wales or the American West.
The cockpit canopy for this hot rod ‘streamliner’ can be seen behind the car’s rear wheel
THE 2021 LONDON CONCOURS WILL RUN FROM JUNE 9TH-11TH AND WILL INCLUDE A NEW ‘SUPERCAR FRIDAY’ FEATURE.