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Salon Privé Concours d’Élégance, 30 August 2023

Now in its 18th year, the Salon Privé concours occupies the exclusive first two days of a four-day event held annually at Blenheim Palace near Woodstock, Oxfordshire. It’s the UK’s only such event to be judged by members of the International Chief Judges Advisory Group (ICJAG) who focus on three factors – originality, authenticity and condition. The third day is ‘Ladies’ Day’ and Saturday, the final day, is ‘Club Trophy’ day when attention turns to car clubs and a more public presence. In recent years, a London version of Salon Privé has also been held in spring at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

Cars taking part in the concours are displayed around the Blenheim lawns, mingling with the wares of top automotive and luxury brands with a high level of ‘hospitality’ available throughout the day from sponsors such as Aviva, Boodles, Boeing Business Jets and, notably, Pommery Champagne.

Anniversaries are always popular and this year Salon Privé celebrated 75 years of Porsche – with a separate class for the Porsche 356 ‘where it all began’ – 60 years of Lamborghini, 100 years of Le Mans and 110 of Aston Martin. Each afternoon, cars are paraded in front of the audience and judges and, on the second day, the winner of Best in Show, chosen from the class winners, is announced.

Here are some of the cars…

1934 Alvis Speed 20 SB Three-Position Drophead Coupé by Vanden Plas, one of only 36 four-seat tourers built by Vanden Plas on an SB chassis. Originally supplied by Charles Follett of Mayfair to Francis Fernau, a lawyer who later became a clerk to the Privy Council


1959 BMW 507 Series II Roadster, runner-up in the class for Post-War Open cars


1907 Renault Type AI 35/45HP, one of ten cars commissioned from Renault and based on their 1906 French GP winner by American Willie K Vanderbilt and thought to have been driven by Louis Ruffolovitch in the 1907 Brighton Beach (USA) 24 Hours race. It won the Veteran and Pioneers class at Blenheim


First thought – why would you do that to an Aston Martin DB5? Second thought – if you have to drive an estate car or shooting brake, what could be better than a DB5 Aston Martin version?


In previous years, Salon Privé has featured a group of cars united only by their colour. After red and silver, this year it was the Yellow Collection led by the Ferrari 250LM, chassis 6313, which finished second at Le Mans in 1965 when owned by the Belgian team, Ecurie Francorchamps


The 100 Years of Le Mans display included the Rothmans Porsche 962 which started the 1986 race from pole position driven by Jochen Mass, Bob Wollek and Vern Schuppan before crashing out of the race following an oil spill


Furlonger Specialist Cars had an innovative way of convincing Bugatti Veyron owners that servicing their cars requires specialist knowledge such as theirs


A 1953 Siata Daina Sport by Bertone, one of two examples of the marque in this year’s competition


This 1923 Triumph 10/20 by Regent Carriage Company, reportedly the oldest Triumph in existence, took second prize in the Veteran &  Pioneers class


Oldest car in the competition and winner of the show’s Spirit Award, the Margaret Bagley Trophy, was this 1900 Bardon Type A Tonneau. It is powered by a single cylinder engine with two opposing pistons displacing a total of 1216cc each with its own crankshaft and flywheel connected in turn to a 3-speed sliding gear transmission and double chain final drive


Magnificent Alvis Speed 25 SC by Offord & Sons won the Pre-War British Open Cars class


Winner of the Post-War Closed Cars class was Steven Bruno’s 1952 Lancia Aurelia 2000 BS2 Coupé by Vignale


The Ferrari 250LM by Pininfarina again, seen returning from the winners parade having won the Sports Racers class


The top award of Best in Show went to the Bugatti Type 57S by Corsica owned by Lord Anthony Bamford who entrusted Clark & Carter Restorations with completion of the restoration begun in 1969 by Bill Turnbull the car’s former owner and a chief engineer at Bamford’s JCB company


Runner-up to Best in Show went to this 1951 Ferrari 212 Export by Vignale on whose stand at the 1951 Torino Auto Show it was shown as the best of the seven 212 coupés bodied by the coachbuilder. Exported to USA in 1953, it was ‘lost’ until its current owner acquired and restored it


The winning Bugatti with its prizes surrounded by the judges


Report, photos and captions by Peter McFadyen. See his website:

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