• brgmultimedia


Images and information courtesy of Salon Prive

This year’s Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance presented by AXA attracted a record 93 entries, encompassing more than a century of automotive history via some of the most beautiful and coveted cars from around the world. Everything from a 1904 Napier to a 2020 McLaren Senna GTR LM was represented in the magnificent grounds of Blenheim Palace on Wednesday 23 September, with the 17 classes comprising a total of 77 cars and 16 motorbikes.

Recognised as the most prestigious such event in the UK, Salon Privé is a partner concours of The Peninsula Classic Best of the Best Award. The jury was led by Ed Gilbertson and Italian historian Adolfo Orsi, made up of some of the world’s most experienced and knowledgeable ICJAG judges. Among those who painstakingly scrutinised the cars were Raoul San Giorgi – technical curator of the respected Louwman Museum and Tony Willis – Ferrari expert and owner of the Maranello Concessionaires archive. They were joined by Marcus Willis of Girardo & Co and Audi stalwart David Ingram among others.

A sensational Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Zagato that was raced by Scuderia Ferrari during the 1930s has won the coveted Best of Show award at this year’s event. The Italian beauty boasts an enviable competition history, having won the Coppa Principe di Piemonte in July 1932 in the hands of none other than Tazio Nuvolari. The ‘Flying Mantuan’ also drove it in the prestigious Klausenrennen hillclimb that year.

Andrew Bagley, Salon Privé Concours Chairman, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have awarded this year’s Best of Show to Ian Livingstone’s 1931 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Spider by Zagato. It acted as one of the Alfa Romeo works racing team cars, and at that time none other than Enzo Ferrari was responsible for the factory race team and development of the cars. The team was known as Scuderia Ferrari and that explains the familiar Cavallino Rampante (Prancing Horse) insignia on the bonnet.

“The very characteristic roar comes from a supercharged 2.3-litre engine with almost 180bhp that combines two four-cylinder blocks into an inline eight-cylinder engine. The Alfa Romeo had received the Zagato Spider body in 1932, but when Tazio Nuvolari took it out for the first race he didn’t like the shape of the driver’s door and had it cut out.

“The car, which is still in full Monza configuration, scored several race wins with Nuvolari at the wheel and is one of the most important racing Alfa Romeos. It is a true supercar of its era and we were thrilled the ICJAG judges bestowed this hugely important racing car with the overall Best of Show.”

The grounds of Blenheim Palace were graced by some of the most elegant and significant cars from across automotive history as the Concours d’Elégance attracted a record entry. The panel of specialist ICJAG judges presented Best of Show Runner-up to the famous Ferrari 166MM Touring Barchetta that won the Mille Miglia and Le Mans 24 Hours in 1949. This car also topped the Post-War Sports Racers class, In 1949 won the Mille Miglia in the hands of Clemente Biondetti and Ettore Salani, and the Le Mans 24 Hours courtesy of Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsdon. Chassis 0008M remains the only car to have won both of those famous events in the same year.

New for this year was an award for Most Exceptional Design. Named in honour of Sir Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim Palace, the Churchill Cup was judged by some of the most respected automotive designers in the world, including Marek Reichman of Aston Martin, Stefan Sielaff of Bentley, Russell Carr of Lotus, Louis de Fabribeckers of Touring Superleggera and Julian Thompson of Jaguar to name just a few.

They selected a 1933 Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet ‘Bocca’ – one of only a handful of cars that were styled by Mario Revelli di Beaumont for Lancia dealer Ernesto Bocca. With its sweeping wings and sculpted tail section, it’s little wonder this highly original example captured the imagination of the judges. It was also presented with the Most Elegant award.

Given the spectacular venue, it was only fitting that His Grace the 12th Duke of Marlborough selected his favourite car. His award went to a 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT that had been raced in historics events before being restored to original specification picked up the Duke of Marlborough car award.

Salon Privé Chairman Andrew Bagley, meanwhile, chose to present the Chairman’s Award to a Ford GT40. Chassis number 1034 is the fourth of only 31 MkI road cars built, and the first to be delivered to a private owner – the three previous examples having been retained by Ford. It has recently been carefully and sympathetically restored to its unique period-correct specification.

Twenty-five years since the McLaren F1 (seen here in Harrods livery) won the Le Mans 24 Hours on its debut at La Sarthe, a Class was dedicated to the Gordon Murray-designed hypercar and there was more McLaren success when a 1997 F1 GTR long-tail picked up the People’s Choice award. Chassis 28R was raced in the FIA GT Championship by GTC Gulf Team Davidoff and was the last of the F1 GTRs to be built.

Two legendary sports racing cars from the 1950s were honoured via two of the judges’ special prizes. An ex-Equipe Nationale Belge Ferrari 500 TRC that won its class at Le Mans in 1957, and which has long been campaigned in historic events courtesy of David Cottingham, won the Passione Corsa Award, while the Preservation Award was presented to a delightfully patinated and the most original Jaguar D-type in existence today. Chassis number XKD509 was raced in America when it was new, and is now a remarkably original ‘time warp’ survivor.

A sublime selection of machinery made up the pre-war classes, and the Veterans At The Palace group was topped by a 1919 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. Built in the marque’s Springfield, Massachusetts factory, the car played a starring role in the 1974 film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, which starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.

#SalonPrivé Chairman Andrew Bagley said: “Every year, we welcome the world’s greatest cars to #BlenheimPalace, and 2020 was no exception. The finest marques in automotive history were represented in the Concours d’Elégance – our chosen specialists and marque experts really had their work cut out with the judging process, and the winners represent the very best of the international classic-car scene.”