The first Concours of Elegance to take place in the UK was in 2012. It was held in the grounds of Windsor Castle, and was billed as one of many celebrations of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. As well as receiving the Royal blessing for the location, with the Concours cars themselves – 60 carefully selected models from the dawn of motoring to more recent times – a number of vehicles from the Royal Collection were also included. Lengthy lines of Car Club cars, mostly from prestige British marques such as Aston-Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Daimler and Rolls-Royce lined both sides of the Long Walk almost as far as the eye could see. The event was a great success, so it was no surprise that it was declared not long afterwards that it would be repeated. But to add some variety, it would move to another Royal Palace. And so, in 2013, the venue was St James Palace, in the heart of London, just down The Mall from Buckingham Palace. The format was very similar and it was even better received, so for 2014, it was off to Hampton Court for a third Concours. In 2015, the Concours moved north, and was held at the Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh. Despite my best intentions, logistics conspired against attending that one, which was a shame, as I had really enjoyed the first three Concours. I was pleased that the 2016 venue was announced, in celebration of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday, to be back at Windsor Castle, as one issue that this three day event has is that it clashes with the compelling (if much more costly) Salon Prive, and I was really keen to attend both. I managed to achieve my goal, with a Saturday spent at Salon Prive, at Blenheim Palace, and then on the Sunday, it was off to Windsor Castle for this event, before heading out of the country the following day, on much-needed vacation. The two events may both contain lots of utterly droolsome cars, but they are really quite different in character, and so although the diary overlap is to be regretted, if you get the chance, you really do need to go to them both. Here are the highlights from my day at the Concours.
Although there is plenty to see that is outside the zone for which you have to pay, it is the collection of cars in the Concours which are the heart of the event. As in previous years, the emphasis is on quality and not quantity. Accordingly, there are just 60 cars included, which does not sound like a lot. But these are all very special cars. Many of them are extremely rare and in a lot of cases one-offs, and the sort of car that you just won’t get the chance to see very often, if ever again, so to do them justice, you should expect to spend plenty of time in the inner courtyard where these cars were carefully positioned, taking in their full splendour. Things had actually started for the lucky owners or custodians of these cars as early as the Tuesday before the event, with the Great West Tour leaving Ellenborough Park in Cheltenham taking in Prescott Hill Climb, Raglan Castle and Sandhurst Military Academy before finishing at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor Great Park on the Thursday, The cars then all paraded down the Long Walk through Windsor Great Park entering Cambridge Gate at the Castle in time for the 9:30am event opening on the Friday morning. That must have been a very impressive sight, as when I saw them, all carefully positioned, it was clear that a stunning and very varied array had once again been selected. I’ve included the full list of cars, though a couple were absent on the day I visited, and I believe my camera missed a couple of them.
1895 Benz Velo ‘Comfortable’
1898 Panhard-Levassor Two-Seater 8hp ‘Paris-Amsterdam Racing Car’
1900 Daimler 6hp
This splendid car belongs to Her Majesty. It was bought new by her ancestor, King Edward VII. He was the very first Royal to ride in an automobile, and this Daimler was the very first Royal motorcar.
1908 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Barker Roi des Belges
1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Shapiro-Schebera Skiff
1924 Hispano-Suiza ‘Rabassada’
1924 Aston-Martin Bamford and Martin Side Valve Boat Tail Tourer
1928 Mercedes-Benz 630 Saoutchik Sedanca de Ville
1928 Bentley 4½ litre Team Car ‘YW 5758’
1929 Mercedes-Benz SS 27/140/200 PS Tourer ex-Sultan of Johor
1929 Bentley 4½ litre Short Chassis Vanden Plas Open Sports Tourer
1929 Bentley Speed Six Saoutchik Drophead Coupé
1929 Isotta-Fraschini Cesare Sala Sedanca de Ville
1930 Bentley Speed-Six Vanden Plas Tourer ‘Old Number 2’
Bentley Speed Six ‘Old No 2’, chassis number HM2868, is one of the finest and most original works Bentleys in existence today. It formed part of a now-famous trio know as Old No.1, 2 and 3. Old No. 2 was built by Bentley specifically to compete in the iconic and commercially important 1930 Le Mans race in which, driven by Bentley Boys Dick Watney and Frank Clement, it came second, behind stable mate ‘Old No 1’. Both are Speed Six models, using an engine which in many respects was ahead of its time. Drawing upon experience gained from working at the Great Northern Railway and designing airplane engines, Walter Owen Bentley included such characteristics as aluminium pistons, dry-sump lubrication, twin spark ignition and an advanced valve-train in his engines. Prior to entering the Le Mans race Old No. 2 had conclusively won the then famous Brooklands Double Twelve of 1930, this time driven by Bentley financier, chairman and Bentley Boy, Woolf “Babe” Barnato.In 2004 Old No. 2 was acquired by a noted collector and custodian of historic motor cars who commissioned renowned Bentley restorer Graham Moss of R C Moss to undertake a methodical, no expense spared conservation of this historic motor car. A primary of the conservation was to make it as near as possible to its 1930 specification whilst keeping it physically as original as possible.
1931 Alfa Romeo 8c 2300 Zagato Spyder Chassis No. 52
The Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 of the early 1930s was the most successful racing car of its period. Launched in 1931 as an evolution of the 6C 1750 GS, it was the last evolution of the “Alfa Romeo 6C” project, initiated in the middle of the 1920s by the great engineer Vittorio Jano. The Carrozzeria Zagato became the best partner for Alfa Romeo in building the success for its important range of racing cars. The partnership began with the Alfa works cars bodied by Zagato in the second half of the 1920s and then, in the following decades, was followed by the incredible victories with the new Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Zagato (and its subsequent evolutions), brought to racing by Scuderia Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari, inspirer, founder and sports director of the official racing team’s works cars of Biscione, had selected Zagato as a technical partner because of its specialisation in creating light and aerodynamic racing bodies, inspired by aeronautics. The Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Zagato, in different versions (two-seater Spider “Corto, four-seater Tipo Le Mans Tourer and Tipo Monza), dominated the most important races of the period (among them the Mille Miglia of 1933, the 24 of Le Mans of 1931 and 1932, the Targa Florio and 24 Hours of Spa). Based on documentation, however, two chassis received coupé bodies to be made into fast and elegant sports cars for road driving.
1931 Bentley 8 Litre Corsica Tourer ‘UL 7’
1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Viotti Coupé
Registered on 10 June 1933, this 8C 2300 was sold to a dealer acting on behalf of Arthur Fox, for Brian Lewis to drive at that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it finished in third place. It appears that the Brits were not prepared to keep the car and pay duty, as it was sent back to Italy following the race. At some point the Touring body was replaced with the fabulous Viotti coachwork, which gave it a look more like that of the newer 8C-2900s, and would have been an attempt to make the car more saleable. Vittorio Viotti, born in 1900, had served an apprenticeship at Fiat before branching out on his own, with a bespoke fabrication service for wealthy clients. His main focus was on Fiat and Lancia, and during the 1930s, he produced several spectacular streamlined coupes. It is not known who commissioned this particular car, but its new owner, Francesco Piroda proudly showed it off at concours events in Italy. In 1936, it was sold to Scipione Farabolini, and it started a new life in Italian Somaliland, where it took part in various local competitions. When the British displaced the Italians from this territory, the car’s owner apparently became the ‘guest’ of King George for the duration, and the car was stored on chocks until he was released. It was “found” by the British Army during the war and Alfa historian, Simon Moore, would later track down some of the surviving officers who recalled the car, one of whom noted that an Italian mechanic, Frank Maschetti, a former test driver for the Milano factory, was asked to revive the supercharged engine, so that by 1942, the car could be taken on a new road near Mombassa, in Kenya, with officer Stevens and his superior, Major Terry Owen, experiencing 100 mph for the first tine. Owen later purchased the car from its then owner, a French lady called Mrs Ellis. The car was resprayed from what Owens described as ‘mushy pea’ green to metallic silver-blue. Shortly thereafter, the shelter that housed the Alfa collapsed on it after a herd of elephants knocked it down. Fortunately, the only damage was a dent to the roof and a few scratches. The car then came back to the UK with Major Owens and it was stored at his parent’s house in Stevenage for many years. In 1964, it was sold to Guy Griffiths. The car was rarely seen, but it did feature in Autocar’s Christmas Special Issue in 1966, though the late Ronald Barker who wrote about it was not impressed by the rebody, calling it a “race horse harnessed to a brewer’s dray”. In 1995, Penny Woodley, Guy Griffiths’ daughter auctioned the car off. With the wooden part of the body frame completely rotten, the new owner, John Bentley, had a Yorkshire specialist remove the Viotti body and recreate the Touring le Mans design, which was painted bright red. Fortunately the Alfa was acquired in 1991 by the present owner, Arturo Keller, in whose care it has been restored to its former Viotti-bodied glory. A truly spectacular car!
1932 Frazer-Nash TT Replica
1933 Jaguar SS I Coupé
Prior to its debut at the 1931 London Motor Show, Jaguar founder William Lyons took out an advertisement in Autocar that read: ‘The SS is the new name of a new car that’s going to thrill the hearts of the motoring public and the trade alike. It’s something new… different… better!’ Designed by the Standard Swallow Coach Building Company on a chassis and engine built by the Standard Motor Company, the SS1 wowed the crowds and quickly established itself as a vehicle with the glamour of an Alvis or a Bentley but at much lower cost. it debuted as a coupé, but several different body styles were quickly added to the line-up. Manufactured on 13 February 1933, this particular SS1 was then dispatched to Henly’s Ltd in London on 15 April where it was purchased by a Mr E M Bowden. Four years later it was sold to Betty Foley of Portsmouth, who is cousin to the present owner Michael Jewell. Betty used the SS1 regularly until 1963 when, after it had been stored in her garage for ten years, Michael bought it from her for £325. He dry-stored it until March 2001 when he decided to have it totally restored. It was transported to Wildae Restorations of Braunton in North Devon, where it was stripped to the last nut and bolt and painstakingly rebuilt to concours condition over eight years. It was brought home in the late summer of 2009 and has won several events – including the Jaguar Drivers’ Club SS concours in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015. It has since been barred to give other owners a chance. It has also been exhibited at NEC classic car shows and it took part in last year’s Concours of Elegance held at Edinburgh’s Palace of Holyroodhouse, where it won both the RAC club trophy and the inaugural Jaguar Trophy.
1933 Alfa Romeo 1750 GS 6C Figoni Coupé
First introduced to the world at the 1929 Rome Motor Show, the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 was a replacement for the 6C 1500, with largely the same technical details apart from a larger engine. It wasn’t until 1933 that this particular coachbuilt Figoni version appeared, at Joseph Figoni’s home show, the Paris Motor Show. With the graceful teardrop body, it certainly doesn’t look like a thoroughbred racing car but this car has an impressive motorsport history. The coupé body you see here was replaced by a lightweight open top body for a stint of racing, including a class win at Le Mans in 1935, and a sixth-place finish overall. Soon the Figoni body was to be refitted, as it is today. Since then, this 6C 1750 has been restored twice, after a first restoration attempt – with the car finished in two-tone blue – wasn’t deemed successful. Today it wears its original black and white colour scheme, and has been showcased at some of the world’s finest concours events, including Pebble Beach.
1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Gurney Nutting 2 Door Sports Coupé
1934 Audi Front UW 225 Erdmann & Rossi Cabriolet
The 1933 Front UW Roadster was the first Audi to be launched after the formation of the Auto Union group, which brought together Audi, Horch, Wanderer and DKW in 1932. It features an all-aluminium six-cylinder engine under the bonnet, while its roadster body is a unique creation of Berlin coachbuilders Erdmann & Rossi.
1934 Packard Twelve Dietrich Stationary Coupé
1935 Hispano-Suiza K6 Brandone Cabriolet
The elegantly designed Hispano Suiza K6 Cabriolet was introduced in 1935 as a replacement for the popular H6 model, which counted celebrities and royalty among its loyal customer base. Thankfully, though, the K6 was just as luxurious and stylish as its predecessor, featuring a 125bhp 5.2-litre inline six-cylinder engine. Paired up to a three-speed manual gearbox, the K6 was said to cruise comfortably at 80mph – this at a time when many cars struggled to even reach 80mph. The car’s construction was no less impressive, featuring lightweight alloys in the engine and an innovative four-wheel braking system featuring servo-assisted mechanical drum brakes. This particular K6 features bodywork by French firm Carrosserie Brandone; a coachbuilder with a particular talent for producing elegant convertibles. The car remained in France until the ’50s when it headed to America, and was subtly redesigned. More recently, though, this K6 Convertible has had a full restoration to original condition.
1935 Aston Martin Ulster Competition Sports Mark II ‘CMC 614’
Older of the two Aston Martin models in the Concours was this Ulster Competition. Built in 1935, one of only 21 production Ulsters, this particular example of the works racer has competed in over one hundred races throughout its past nine decades, making it one of the most extensively raced Aston Martins in existence. It’s raced every year since 1935 – aside from the years of WWII – with this two-seater powered by a 1.5-litre engine, allowing it to reach speeds of up to 100mph. Among its incredible racing background, this Ulster has competed at the 1935 Mille Miglia, finished eighth at the 1935 Le Mans 24 Hours and finished first in class at the Targa Abruzzo.
1936 Bugatti Type 57S Corsica Roadster
1936 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Thrupp & Maberly Four-Seater Sports Tourer
This Rolls-Royce Phantom III Thrupp & Maberley is one of only thee roadsters built on the Phantom III chassis. It features unique Thrupp & Maberley coachwork and was originally commissioned for the Shal of Bopal in 1936.
1937 Adler Rennlimousine Competition Coupé
1937 Bugatti Type 57S Corsica Cabriolet
1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A
The Mercedes-Benz 540 K was arguably the most important car offered by the brand during the 1930s, since its predecessor, the 500 K. A development of that very car, the 540 K was powered by an engine that lay at the root of its designated number – a 5.4-litre supercharged straight-eight. Developed as flagship of the Mercedes-Benz range, it featured a Roots-type supercharger which was engaged when the accelerator pedal was pushed to the very end of its travel. A thoroughly proven system, but in effect the 540 K was the last supercharged production Mercedes until much more recently. First shown at the Paris Motor Show in 1936, the 540 K was billed as offering impeccable performance, comfort and style. It was built with fine paintwork, brightly polished metal and the finest hardwoods and leather. The engine produced 115PS without the supercharger and 180PS with it activated, allowing for a top speed approaching 110mph. Mercedes labelled the stunning 540K ‘the car for the connoisseur’ when it was released in the late 1930s, and it certainly lived up to its billing.
1938 Hispano-Suiza H6C Dubonnet Xenia
This incredible one-off Hispano-Suiza H6C Dubonnet Xenia was fitted with stunning art deco, aircraft-inspired bodywork and clever parallel sliding doors by coahcbuilders, Saoutchik was developed by André Dubonnet, an inventor, racing driver and World War One fighter pilot. Dubonnet chose an H6 Hispano-Suiza engine for his creation, and commissioned Jean Andreau to design the incredible, streamlined body. Jacques Saoutchik then brought the design to life, featuring curved glass, sliding doors and a panoramic windscreen. The Xenia was hidden away during WW2 but reappeared in 1946 for the reopening of the Saint Cloud Tunnel in Paris. These days, it belongs to famous collector Peter Mullen, and is usually to be found at his museum in Oxnard, California, or at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, but he had it shipped over to the UK for this event.
1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Pourtout Coupé
The Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Pourtout Coupé is arguably one of the finest aerodynamic designs ever. Only a handful of cars were finished with this incredible ‘Pourtout’ coachwork designed by Georges Paulin and built by Marcel Pourtout, but it wasn’t designed to just look great – this car actually raced. It was campaigned after World War II by Pierre Boncompagni, winning a number of hillclimbs and placing fourth at the legendary Montlhery circuit. That’s because underneath the gorgeous bodywork was a 4-litre inline-six engine with an aluminium head, and independent front suspension. In the 1960s this car was sold to a new buyer in the US, and later to Hong Kong in the 2000s before undergoing a full restoration to the condition in its today. Since its restoration the Pourtout has won awards at both the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and 2015 Chantilly event.
1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Touring Coupé
1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Saoutchik Grand Sport Cabriolet
1949 Aston Martin DB2 Prototype ‘UMC 272’
This car, UMC272, is the Aston Martin DB2 Prototype, and is arguably the car that inspired all Aston Martin designs of the future. A real piece of Aston Martin history, it was only the fourth chassis built, the second six-cylinder version and for the start of its life was the personal transport of David Brown ‘DB’ himself. However, in 1950 it was put to the racetrack, with an entry into the Targa Florio and an impressive fourth-place finish at the Coppa Intereuropa at Monza. An accident later that year would see the car repaired and sold, from which time it remained very much under the radar until 2010. Recently restored and finished in the same deep red paint it first wore, this unique piece of history showcases Aston Martin design cues that exist to this day – though the three-bar grille and raised ride height were subsequently dropped.
1952 Porsche 356 America Roadster
1952 Jaguar XK120 Ghia Supersonic
Much as aircraft design influenced the automobiles of the 1920s, the emerging aerospace industry and rocket technology influenced styling of the early 1950s. With supersonic speeds finally achieved, it was natural that an automobile would emerge dubbed the Supersonic—and that it would come out of Italy, the forefront of worldwide automotive styling at the time. The Supersonic was created by Ghia designer Giovanni Savonuzzi and originally appeared on a Conrero-tuned Alfa Romeo 1900 entered in the 1953 Mille Miglia. Its ultra-streamlined curves, appearing to have been stretched in aluminium over a chassis, would be copied on a small run of Fiat 8V chassis, an Aston Martin, and no fewer than three Jaguar XK120s. Upon completion of this particular car it was exhibited at both the Paris and London shows in 1954, and it also took part in the concours d’elegance competitions in Montreux and Cannes. As of today, it is one of just two of these stunning XK120 Supersonic models left in existence. Though this car is unique as the only one accommodating three 2-barrel Weber carburettors, rather than the standard twin SUs, and enabling the engine to produce some 220 bhp.
1952 Cunningham C3 Vignale Coupé
Just 19 of these were made
1952 Ferrari 212 Export Vignale Coupé
1953 Fiat 8V Rapi Berlinetta
1953 Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale Coupé
1953 Bentley R-Type Continental H.J. Mulliner ‘Fastback’ Sports Saloon
1954 Jaguar D Type
1955 Ferrari 375 America Pinin Farina Coupé Speciale ex-Gianni Agnelli
Originally commissioned by Fiat patriarch (and two-tone paint scheme connoisseur) Gianni Agnelli, this green-and-burgundy Ferrari 375 was curiously clothed with one-off coachwork courtesy of Pinin Farina, which was supposedly instructed to ‘create a Ferrari unlike any other Ferrari’. Using an imposing vertical grille, expansive glass roof and bold rear buttresses, it did just that. It made its debut at the 1955 Turin Show. More recently the car had a 100 point class victory at Pebble Beach in 20013. It is currently owned by Jack Thomas, who has had the car for a number of years.
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SC Pininfarina Coupé
Of the many and varied associations PininFarina has enjoyed over the decades, one the least well known must surely be that with Mercedes-Benz. But in the mid 1950s the famous Turin-based carrozzeria created two one-off four-seater coupes based on the underpinnings of the Mercedes- Benz 300 series. The first of the pair, the 300B, was unveiled in 1955 and succeeded in looking both Germanic and Italian. The car was handsome and certainly wouldn’t have looked out of place as a production model, and yet clearly the team at PininFarina wasn’t completely satisfied: at the Turin Motor Show a year later the company revealed the 300SC, the car seen here, a clear evolution of its stablemate but with more of the little touches of design flair that we’ve come to expect from PininFarina. In 1956 Batista ‘pinin’ Farina still ruled the company that bore his name, but his son, Sergio Pininfarina (the family surname and company name were legally changed in 1961), was deeply involved in both Mercedes-Benz projects. Sergio explains the desire to have a second try: ‘always my father and myself had great respect for the Mercedes-Benz tradition and for the Mercedes-Benz prestige. this was one of the rare occasions when you design an automobile to express your feelings. to pay a compliment. Mercedes-Benz was one of the most famous, most noticed European firms, so you can understand how important it was for us to make a special design on this famous chassis.’
1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Pinin Farina Coupé Speciale #0407GT
When the doors to the 1953 Paris Salon opened, it marked a new dawn for Ferrari, as this was the event where the company introduced its first road-going model to bear the 250 badge. The 250 was Ferrari’s first true gran turismo, and it was dressed in the Pinin Farina design that would come to be known as the “Ferrari look,” forever intertwining the 250 with the passionate men of Maranello and Turin. Design cues created by the Ferrari-Pinin Farina partnership, like a long, low hood and oval radiator, continue to appear on Ferrari models of the present day. It was this design that has, for decades, embodied the spirit of cruising through the French Riviera, cocooning occupants and luggage in luxury while effortlessly eating up miles. Offered here is the ultimate example of the “Ferrari look,” the sixth of eight custom-bodied 250 Europa GT chassis. Defined by its long nose, short rear deck, and gently sloping roof, design cues that are still evident in Ferraris of today, it is easily distinguishable as a one-off that has several unique features that visually set it apart from other Ferraris of the time. Its nose was elongated and lowered, the fender tips were pulled out, and it did not receive the typical Pininfarina egg crate front grille. Dual fog lamps were placed in the new grille opening, with the centre of the grille being adorned with a large Cavallino Rampante. This particular car was also equipped with vertically mounted taillights, which were larger than other 250 Europa GTs, and dual rear windshield wipers, which was an interesting and rare option for any automobile of this era.
1956 Maserati Tipo 200s Barchetta #2408
1958 Ferrari 250 GT Pinin Farina Series I Cabriolet
1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT
1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione
Sir Stirling Moss is without doubt one of Britain’s best racing drivers, and it was he who piloted this Ferrari 250 GT SWB to victory no fewer than three times including, famously, his 1960 victory at Goodwood where he switched on the radio mid-way through to listen to the race commentary. Under the bonnet of the Ferrari 250 GT SWB – which was the 39th model built – is a 3.0-litre V12 engine which develops around 300bhp, allowing for a 0-60mph time of 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 152mph. The Ferrari was built in August 1960 with Moss winning the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood race track later in the month, during which, Moss covererd 108 laps in three hours, averaging 85mph. It was the first time Ferrari had won the Tourist Trophy but the team then went on to win the race over the next three years, too. You can no doubt appreciate the beauty of the 250 GT in isolation, but with incredible stories and victories like these forever tied to this car, it becomes a very special piece of history.
1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato
1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spyder RHD
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO ex-Graham Hill
The Ferrari 250 GTO is one of the most recognisable and revered cars in the world, but some are a little more special than others. This particular 250 GTO was raced at Goodwood in 1962 by Graham Hill, where it finished second overall. At that time painted in Bianco, the car went on to have many more racing successes throughout the ‘60s before being resprayed red. In 1967 this car was fitted with the 3.0-litre V12 engine from a 250 GTE 2+2 but since being acquired by its latest owner, it has been restored to original specification. Ferrari Classiche installed an ‘original’ engine block, and just this year the car was unveiled in its Bianco paintjob with the race number ‘10’.
1962 Facel Vega HK 2
Introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1961, the Facel-Vega Facel II utilised the HK500 chassis, but added a completely new coupé body to the mix. At the time of its unveil it was marketed as the fastest four-seater coupé in the world. The top speed was billed as 150mph when paired with the four-speed manual gearbox – only this version had 390hp, with the three-speed automatic version putting out 355hp. As a result those buying the automatic-equipped car had to make do with a top speed of 135mph. This particular car is one-of-71 of the more expensive manual cars, making it incredibly rare. In its time the Facel II was not only one of the fastest cars, but also one of the fastest accelerating – in fact it was quicker from 0-60mph than the Aston Martin DB4 and Mercedes 300SL Gullwing. But with the performance came a particularly high price-tag – this car cost about 50 per cent more than one of its contemporaries, the Talbot Lago 4.5-litre Grand Sport. It remains one of the greatest – and one of the last – big French coupés built after Facel-Vega began to produce smaller sports cars shortly after – a decision that led to the company’s bankruptcy not too long after.
1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight ex-Roy Salvadori
1964 Ferrari 500 Superfast
This 500 Superfast has been described by some as ‘the Rolls-Royce of Ferraris’ and often compared with the Bugatti Royale in terms of its eminence within the Ferrari range. The 500 Superfast was very pretty, very fast and very, very expensive. Designed and then coachbuilt by Pininfarina, this lithe, coupé-only Ferrari was twice the price of its 275 GTB stablemate. with just 36 produced (of which 34 survive today), the 500 Superfast was rare as well as costly, and its buyers were categorised as ‘sovereigns, performers and great industrialists’; the shah of Iran, Peter Sellers and the Aga Khan were Superfast owners, which goes to prove the point. The Superfast lived up to its name, its 5.0-litre V12 engine giving it breathtaking performance for its day, with a claimed top speed in excess of 170mph. and it was reputedly capable of hitting 100mph in second gear. Ferrari revealed the glamorous 500 Superfast at the Geneva Motor Show in the spring of 1964. The car seen here, serial number 5981 SF and the fourth Superfast to be built, was also employed to wow 1964’s European motor show crowds, doing duty on Pininfarina’s stand in both Paris and Turin.
1964 Porsche 911 Monte Carlo Rally 1965
1966 Radford Mini de Ville GT George Harrison’s Mini
Built by London-based coachbuilders, Radford, the Mini De Ville GT was essentially a bespoke and more luxurious variant of the ubiquitous Mini Cooper and Cooper S. This particularly colourful example has an incredible history, having been gifted to Beatle, George Harrison, and featuring in the Fab 4’s Magical Mystery Tour. Despite the current paint job, it was originally delivered to Harrison in metallic black and with bespoke touches like Volkswagen taillights, rally-style fog lights and a full-length sunroof. One of four Radford Minis delivered to The Beatles, this car was then painted bright red and finished with “Tantra Art” symbols. It was then that Harrison’s Mini appeared in ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, before being gifted to Eric Clapton. Clapton eventually gave the Radford Mini back to George Harrison, although the ‘Tantra Art’ was long gone and never fully recorded. As it stands today, the paintwork was recreated from footage taken from Magical Mystery Tour and some period photographs.
1972 Lamborghini Countach LP400 ‘Periscopio’
This is an early Countach, sometimes referred to as a “Periscopio”, only 150 of which were made. It is generally viewed as the most desirable Countach ever made, thanks to the purity of the styling. It gets its name from its periscope-like rear-view mirror. Power comes from a 4.0-litre V12 engine with 375bhp. This one belongs to well known Swiss-based dealer Simon Kidson. This ‘Periscopio’ was first ordered by Gianfranco Innocenti to replace his Miura, but as the Italian restorers recently discovered, the factory gave him a previous customer’s order with a quick red repaint over the green. Kidston has returned it to the bold original green.
1972 Ferrari Daytona 365 GTB/4 LM, ex-Ecurie Francorchamps
This car, #16425, was completed in early 1973, the last of just 15 factory built Competition Daytonas, one of five ultimate “Series III” specification cars and one of just two RHD examples built. It was supplied new to Ecurie Francorchamps who ran the car at the 1973 Spa 1000 Kms and the iconic Le Mans 24 hours where it was piloted by Teddy Pilette and Richard “Bondini” Bond where they finished this arduous event with a very creditable result. Following its season in 1973 it was returned to the factory, freshened up and sold by Ecurie Francorchamps to England where it was raced by Robbie Gordon. In 1976 the car passed into the hands of an owner that would retain the car for 40 years when he swapped it for a 250 GT SWB and a 400 Superamerica Aerodynamico; and he campaigned the car in events across the UK for a number of years with his works driver being Mike Salmon. The car was put into long term storage in 1984 and has been seen seldomly since, being in the care of DK since 1993. During 2016, following a period of 20 years without running, the car has been sympathetically recommissioned by DK and shows a genuine 17,000 miles from new on the speedo. It has been returned to its 1973 Le Mans livery. This car is thought to be the only unrestored example of a factory Competition Daytona left and is indeed the last factory-built road-registered from new Competition Ferrari.
1986 Ferrari Testarossa Spider Valeo
Although there were a few other open-topped Testarossa models made, with the Sultan of Brunei owning at least two of them, they were unofficial conversions, though in some cases they were produced by Pininfarina, but this the only factory-built Testarossa convertible ever made. It was specially created for Gianno Agnelli, who had something of a soft spot for open-topped cars, after he commissioned it to celebrate his 20 years in charge of Fiat. It was built entirely in-house at Ferrari. Mechanically, it is identical to the closed-roof production Testarossa, and the inside is like the standard car, as well. Most of the changes were associated with the design to create a smooth ope-topped look, and unlike some roof-off jobs, this one has been handled well, with the distinctive sides merging into the vast rear panel and the white hood. One other feature is a button which retracts the clutch pedal, bringing into play a mechanical actuator instead, a system developed for Lancia rally cars some years earlier, and which was fitted to a small number of Mondials. This feature was also applied to Agnelli’s F40. Silver was chosen as the colour as it links – using its abbreviation in the periodic table of Ag to the first two letters of his surname. There are some special, and quite discrete blue stripes on the car, too. Agnelli kept it until his death in 2003, at which time it passed to a friend with whom he used to play poker. It came up for auction earlier this year, at the Artcurial sale at Retromobile in Paris, so it was good to see it again.
1987 Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione
This 288 GTO Evoluzione is one of four that were built, and is regarded as the precursor to the F40. It was built for Group B, before the racing class was banned – making it one of the wildest racing cars to never have raced.
1988 Peugeot Oxia Prototype
The incredible Peugeot Oxia prototype was being shown in the UK for the first time in 25 years. Back in the late ’80s, Peugeot was on a bit of a roll. They had just finished off their bonkers Group B program with the winning mid-engined 205 T16, they were dominating long-distance rally raids and Pikes Peak, and their engines were powering the fastest endurance racecars to ever lap Le Mans. The decision was taken to create a GT concept car to express this sporting success. The result was the Oxia designed by Gérard Welter (exterior) and Paul Bracq (interior). It had a drag coefficient of 0.32 and was powered by a transversally mounted mid twin-turbo 2,849 cc V6 petrol engine producing a whopping 670 horsepower at an ear-splitting 8200 rpm. And a top speed of over 200 miles per hour. To maximise the performance available it was equipped with a permanent four-wheel-drive system, four-wheel steering, a six-speed gearbox, electronically controlled axle differentials and automatic tyre pressure monitors.
2012 Aston Martin V12 Zagato
2016 Alfa Romeo Touring Superleggera Disco Volante Spyder
This Touring Superleggera Disco Volante Spyder, one of seven to be produced, is based on the Alfa Romeo 8C Spider, powered by a 4.7-litre V8 engine. The design is inspired by the C52 Disco Volante of the ‘50s.
Unlike most concours d’elegance events, the Concours of Elegance Best of Show isn’t picked by judges– instead the owners of the cars vote for their favourite. This year the Dubonnet Xenia was the stand-out winner, followed by the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Viotti Coupé. The Hispano-Suiza was also a favourite with the public, having won the Classic Driver Public Choice award.
Joining the 60 Concours cars were 5 vehicles from the Royal Collection including a couple of very special cars that are still “working”, in active service with the Royal Family, carrying Her Majesty and members of the Royal Family about some of their duties. You don’t often get the chance to see these cars close up, so they were quite a crowd puller. Oldest of the vehicles were an 1800s Ascot Landau by Hooper and the 1842 ‘Ivory Mounted’ Phaeton by Barker, reminder of a largely bygone era, though ceremonial occasions do still see carriages like these in use.
The cars were the coachbuilt 1977 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI ‘High Top’ State Limousine, produced to mark the Silver Jubilee that year and the 2002 Bentley State Saloon by Mulliner that was produced in honour of the Golden Jubilee.
BRITISH CAR TIMELINE
Between the marquee erected for ticket and security checks and the courtyard where the Concours were on show, there were a number of other displays, none of them that substantial, at least on the day of my visit. One of these was an array of historically significant British cars, with what had been deemed the most revolutionary British car from each of the decades of Her Majesty The Queen’s life. The line up was planned to start with the Bentley 3 Litre and take in icons like the Land Rover Series I, Mini and McLaren F1. Not all of them were present on the Sunday, with the McLaren’s absence a particular disappointment, These are the ones which were present which were caught by my camera:
This is the first MM Series Morris Minor to come down the production line in 1948.
Another “first”, and also dating from 1948, is “Huey”, the Series 1 Land Rover that takes its nckname from its plate of HUE166. After the Second World War, steel was in short supply and Rover needed it to build cars. However, the government demanded guarantees of overseas sales to boost the country’s battered economy before supplies would be forthcoming. Wilks envisiged a “stopgap model”, one that appealed to foreign markets and would fill the company coffers. He and his brother Spencer (Rover’s managing director) owned a farm on Anglesey where their families would holiday. Here they used a war-surplus Willys Jeep, but they soon found weaknesses in its design and Maurice reasoned they could do better. While some work was going on at the farmhouse, the Wilks family stayed in a hamlet called Wern-y-Wylan, where a single-lane track takes visitors down to the vast sands of Red Wharf Bay. Maurice and Spencer walked out towards the ocean, talking about the idea and sketched a basic design for a new vehicle in the damp sand. It would offer the benefits of a tractor with on-road useability. It would be a Rover for the land. A Land Rover. They bought another Jeep and fitted it with a Rover engine and gearbox. It worked. Then they commissioned a prototype known as the “Centre Steer” due to its centrally mounted steering column. This was far too complex so the idea was shelved and the car dismantled. The drawing in the sand was the design used for the Centre Steer but subtle changes were brought in for the next prototype – the car seen here. Much debate rages about Huey’s provenance. Some claim he’s actually the first “production” car, built after an initial batch of 48 prototypes, but Land Rover’s technical communications manager, Roger Crathorne, is adamant. “Huey is the first of the prototypes, no doubt,” he tells me. “His chassis number is LR1 and the comprehensive records we hold tell the whole story. HUE 166 rolled out of the factory on March 11, 1948.” Roger joined Land Rover as an engineer in 1963 and has never left, so if anyone should know. Chassis number three was the one that impressed visitors to the Amsterdam motor show on April 30, 1948. It was innovative in that it offered permanent four-wheel drive, a power take-off (PTO) at the rear to run farm equipment and it had three front seats. It was a practical, genuine all-rounder, the like of which hadn’t been seen before. Production commenced in June, with Rover still viewing the 450 model as nothing but a short-term fix. Bert Gosling, 85, was there at the beginning and recalls the early days with great fondness: “The only tools we had were those on the shop floor: hammers, saws, simple folding presses. The designs were all sketched on scraps of paper – they didn’t even have measurements on them and we were told to make what we could but without press tools. We made them up as we went along and none of those first cars was identical.” Ironically, given that the Land Rover was born from a desire to secure supplies of steel, the car was (and still is) mostly made from aluminium alloy – a metal plentiful in supply thanks to its use in aircraft manufacture during the war. The Land Rover’s bulkhead was made from steel for strength, as was its chassis, but the rest was aluminium alloy – no doubt the reason why so many old Land Rovers have survived to this day. Within a month of building the vehicles for paying customers, it was obvious Rover had a major hit on its hands and production was ramped up from 100 vehicles a week to 500. Since then almost two million of these “stopgap” models have been built and sold, with an estimated 65 per cent of all examples still in use. The reason for its success, reckons Crathorne, is obvious: “A Land Rover, unlike any other vehicle, gives its occupants a sense of adventure. You really do feel as though you could go anywhere. It’s a classless vehicle, too,” he adds, “and is equally at home in the urban jungle or in the wilds of Borneo. Land Rovers give their occupants an enormous sense of well-being.” Another reason for Land Rover’s success is that while the brand has diversified with a range of vehicles from the humble Defender and Freelander to the ubiquitous Discovery and the upmarket Range Rover, the marque produced vehicles that defined a class. None has ever been compromised when it comes to off-road ability – something that cannot be said for their rivals.
Third of the British icons was this Morris Mini Minor, dating from 1959, and the first off the production line at Cowley. At launch, there were Austin Se7en models built at Longbridge and the Morris version – identical in all but grille and badging – made in Cowley, and there was a certain amount of rivalry between the two plants. It is not the oldest Mini, as there are factory records that on 3rd of April 1959, foreman Albert Green hand built two Austin Minis at Longbridge 101 and 102. It is not known how long these took or when they were started but it marked the very first day the Mini as we know it entered production. With two more Austin’s being made on the 4th May, one on the 5th May, one on the 14th and a further 13 on the 15th these are the first 19 Longbridge Austin Se7ens made. Recorded Cowley production of the Morris Mini-Minor started with 101, this car, 621 AOK, on 8th May 1959 with a further 9 cars all recorded as being made on that day. Cowley built 602,817 Minis from 1959 to 1968, before production was moved to Longbridge. This car, painted in Old English White was never sold, and these days is usually to be found at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon, where you will also see the Minor.
1926 RACE CARS
Another feature which should have been interesting, but did not quite come off was one which promised us a collection of the surviving race cars from the 1926 Brooklands Grand Prix, the equivalent of what we would think of as Formula 1 cars of the era. Pre-event publicity suggested that four of those cars survive, driven in period by legends like Malcolm Campbell and Henry Segrave, but sadly, there was next to nothing to see, with just a chassis of a yet to be restored Alvis and this Delage on show.
As well as a number of stalls offering food and drink, including a rather novel looking barbecue which seemed to be inside the shell of a classic VW, there were other entertainments, and this troup of Charleston Dancers caught my eye and were sufficiently compelling to cause me to pause until the end of their act. They were really rather good.
CAR CLUBS and DEALERS
Starting from the gates at the end of the Long Walk, was an area for Car Clubs and Dealers. Different Car Clubs featured on each day, so one disadvantage of only visiting on one of the three days of the event was that you were inevitably going to miss those cars which had featured on the other two days, so when I read of 1000 such cars on show. you needed to attend all the days to see them. Even so, there was lots to see in this area of the event, accessible even to those without tickets, and no doubt many people out for a stroll in Windsor Great Park would have taken full advantage and got a free showing of some glorious cars,
This is a 6C 2500SS, the last of the 6C range. First introduced in 1938, this was designed as a road car. A few hundred 6C 2500s were built from 1940 to 1945. Postwar, the first new Alfa model was the 1946 6C 2500 Freccia d’Oro (Golden Arrow), of which 680 were built through 1951, with bodies by Alfa. The 2500 had enlarged engine compared to the predecessor model, this Vittorio Jano designed double overhead cam engine was available either one or three Weber carburettors. The triple carburettor version was used in the top of line SS (Super Sport) version. The 2443 cc engine was mounted to a steel ladder frame chassis, which was offered with three wheelbase lengths: 128.0 in on the Turismo, 118.1 in on the Sport and 106.3 in on the Super Sport. Various coachbuilders made their own versions of the 2500, but most of the bodyworks was made by Touring of Milan. The Tipo 256 was a racing version of 2500 made eight copies between 1939 and 1940 for Mille Miglia and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was made as Spider (convertible) and Berlinetta (coupe) Touring bodystyles. With power of 125 bhp it could achieve a top speed of 120 mph. It was sold to wealthy customers like King Farouk, Alì Khan, Rita Hayworth, Tyrone Power, and Prince Rainier. The 2500 was one of the most expensive cars available at its own time. The last 6C was produced in 1952, and was replaced by the much cheaper1900.
On the Friday, the featured marque had been Aston-Martin, and a panel of expert judges, including HRH Prince Michael of Kent, chose a pristine Aston Martin ‘Clover Leaf’ as the Club Trophy winner, granting it a much-coveted spot in the main Concours of Elegance event next year. There were just a couple of Astons that I came across in the parking area allocated to Car Clubs, which included a new Vanquish Volante and a classic DB4.
Inside the ticket area, a new DB11 was generating a lot of interest, This would doubtless be the first chance for many to see this significant car, which sets the future direction for Aston Martin and the ambitious plan that Andy Palmer, CEO, has for the marque, in advance of customer cars reaching their owners, something which will happen in the next few weeks.
Well known Aston specialist dealer, Nicholas Mee had a small selection of older models on show. Most spectacular of these was a 2002 Vantage V600 Le Mans car. Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999, the Le Mans model, an edition of just 40 cars was announced to commemorate the companies outright victory at the Le Mans 24 hour race, 40 years prior in 1959. With unique bodywork and interior appointments, the Le Mans edition cars were the last of the fully Aston Martin designed, engineered, developed and craftsmen built cars, to emerge from the renowned and now closed Newport Pagnell factory. With the revised bonnet styling, blanked radiator grille, enlarged wing vents to the body and unique interior appointments as well as the superior and jewel like instrumentation, the Le Mans edition is arguably the most handsome and purposefully styled of the Vantage V8s created. Fitted with the factories V600 upgrades to the engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and aerodynamics this model, one of just 40 built represented the ultimate incarnation of the Aston Martin V8 engined cars produced over 29 years, between 1970 and 1999 when production ceased. This original Left Hand Drive car ordered by AM Swiss dealers Keller, was supplied to its first owner via Aston Martin Paris. Finished in Bowland Black with Ivory and Charcoal hide interior, it has covered just 4,000 kilometres from new and is in an outstanding condition in every respect. Referred to frequently as the quintessential ‘Brute in a Suit’ the Le Mans V600 remains to this day, one of the most powerful Aston Martins ever built. A bona fide collectors car, the blue chip investment label, attached to the Le Mans model is arrived at, by virtue of its outstanding performance, comfort, quality and rarity. It is also extremely rapid!
Also in the display was an immaculate 1988 V8 Coupe and a couple more DB4 models.
On my chosen day, the Sunday, Bentley was the featured marque and there were long lines of these prestigious motor cars, with over 100 models present, ranging from classic 3 litre models of the 1930s right up to a newly plated 66 model which could have only been on the road for 4 days. There was great variety here, and even these cars were being judged, as I came across a group of people including well-known journalist Steve Cropley, with clip boards, making detailed notes, trying to select winners. An almost impossible task, I would have thought, as most of the cars were immaculate. In the end, in the pre-1965 class it was a pristine Bentley 3 Litre that took home the trophy, while in the post-1965 class was awarded to an immaculately maintained Bentley Azure.
Oldest of the models present were a number of the 3 and 4.5 litre cars that were produced in the 1920s and which epitomise the classic Bentley to many people. The 3 Litre was the company’s first model, first shown in 1919 and made available to customers’ coachbuilders from 1921 to 1929. It was conceived for racing. The Bentley was very much larger than the 1368 cc Bugattis that dominated racing at the time, but double the size of engine and strength compensated for the extra weight. The 4000 lb (1800 kg) car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924, with drivers John Duff and Frank Clement, and again in 1927, this time in Super Sports form, with drivers S. C. H. “Sammy” Davis and Dudley Benjafield. Its weight, size, and speed prompted Ettore Bugatti to call it “the fastest lorry in the world.” The 3 Litre was delivered as a running chassis to the coachbuilder of the buyer’s choice. Bentley referred many customers to their near neighbour Vanden Plas for bodies. Dealers might order a short cost-saving run of identical bodies to their own distinctive design. Most bodies took the simplest and cheapest form, tourers, but as it was all “custom” coachwork there was plenty of variation. The 2,996 cc straight-4 engine was designed by ex-Royal Flying Corps engineer Clive Gallop and was technically very advanced for its time. It was one of the first production car engines with 4 valves per cylinder, dry-sump lubrication and an overhead camshaft. The four valve SOHC Hemi design, with a bevel-geared shaft drive for the camshaft, was based on the pre-war 1914 Mercedes Daimler M93654 racing engine. Just before the outbreak of the war Mercedes had placed one of the winning Grand Prix cars in their London showroom in Long Acre. At the suggestion of W.O. Bentley, then being commissioned in the Royal Naval Air Service, the vehicle was confiscated in 1915 by the British army, dismantled at Rolls-Royce and subjected to scrutiny. A notable difference to both the Mercedes and the aero engines was the cast-iron monobloc design, and the fully Aluminium enclosed camshaft, which greatly contributed to its durability. But having the valve-head and block in one-piece made for a complicated and labour intensive casting and machining. This was a feature shared during that time by the Bugattis which the car was later to compete with. The engine was also among the first with two spark plugs per cylinder, pent-roof combustion chambers, and twin carburettors. It was extremely undersquare, optimised for low-end torque, with a bore of 80 mm (3.1 in) and a stroke of 149 mm (5.9 in). Untuned power output was around 70 hp, allowing the 3 Litre to reach 80 mph. he Speed Model could reach 90 mph; the Super Sports could exceed 100 mph. A four-speed gearbox was fitted. Only the rear wheels had brakes until 1924, when four-wheel brakes were introduced. There were three main variants of the 3 litre and they became known by the colours commonly used on the radiator badge. There was a definite rule controlling badge colours but astonishingly it has since been established that given “special circumstances” the factory would indeed supply a “wrong” colour. Blue label was the standard model with 117.5 in wheelbase from 1921 to 1929 or long 130.0 in wheelbase from 1923 to 1929. The Red label used a 5.3:1 high compression engine in the 117.5 in wheelbase chassis and was made from 1924 to 1929. The Green label was made between 1924 and 1929 and was the high performance model with 6.3:1 compression ratio and short 108 in wheelbase chassis. 100 mph performance was guaranteed. As well as 3 Experimental cars, Bentley produced 1088 examples of the 3 litre, and the Speed Model numbered 513 and there were 18 Super Sports.
Bentley replaced the 3 Litre with a more powerful car by increasing its engine displacement to 4.5 litres. As before, Bentley supplied an engine and chassis and it was up to the buyer to arrange for their new chassis to be fitted with one of a number of body styles, most of which were saloons or tourers. Very few have survived with their four-seater coachwork intact. WO Bentley had found that success in motorsport was great publicity for the brand, and he was particularly attracted to the 2 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, the inaugural running of which took place 26–27 May 1923, attracting many drivers, mostly French. There were two foreign competitors in the first race, Frank Clement and Canadian John Duff, the latter winning the 1924 competition in his personal car, a Bentley 3 Litre. This success helped Bentley sell cars, but was not repeated, so ater two years without success, Bentley convened a group of wealthy British men, “united by their love of insouciance, elegant tailoring, and a need for speed,” to renew Bentley’s success. Both drivers and mechanics, these men, later nicknamed the “Bentley Boys”, drove Bentley automobiles to victory in several races between 1927 and 1931, including four consecutive wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and forged the brands reputation. It was within this context that, in 1927, Bentley developed the Bentley 4½ Litre. Two cylinders were removed from the 6½ Litre model, reducing the displacement to 4.4 litres. At the time, the 3 Litre and the 6½ Litre were already available, but the 3 Litre was an outdated, under-powered model and the 6½ Litre’s image was tarnished by poor tyre performance. Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, described as “the greatest British driver of his day” by W. O. Bentley, was one of the Bentley Boys. He refused to adhere strictly to Bentley’s assertion that increasing displacement is always preferable to forced induction. Birkin, aided by a former Bentley mechanic, decided to produce a series of five supercharged models for the competition at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; thus the 4½ litre Blower Bentley was born. The first supercharged Bentley had been a 3-litre FR5189 which had been supercharged at the Cricklewood factory in the winter of 1926/7. The Bentley Blower No.1 was officially presented in 1929 at the British International Motor Show at Olympia, London. The 55 copies were built to comply with 24 Hours of Le Mans regulations. Birkin arranged for the construction of the supercharged cars having received approval from Bentley chairman and majority shareholder Woolf Barnato and financing from wealthy horse racing enthusiast Dorothy Paget. Development and construction of the supercharged Bentleys was done in a workshop in Welwyn by Amherst Villiers, who also provided the superchargers. W.O. Bentley was hostile to forced induction and believed that “to supercharge a Bentley engine was to pervert its design and corrupt its performance.” However, having lost control of the company he founded to Barnato, he could not halt Birkin’s project. Although the Bentley 4½ Litre was heavy, weighing 1,625 kg (3,583 lb), and spacious, with a length of 172 in and a wheelbase of 130.0 in, it remained well-balanced and steered nimbly. The manual transmission, however, required skill, as its four gears were unsynchronised. The robustness of the 4½ Litre’s latticed chassis, made of steel and reinforced with ties, was needed to support the heavy cast iron inline-four engine. The engine was “resolutely modern” for the time. The displacement was 4,398 cc. Two SU carburettors and dual ignition with Bosch magnetos were fitted. The engine produced 110 hp for the touring model and 130 hp for the racing model. The engine speed was limited to 4,000 rpm. A single overhead camshaft actuated four valves per cylinder, inclined at 30 degrees. This was a technically advanced design at a time where most cars used only two valves per cylinder. The camshaft was driven by bevel gears on a vertical shaft at the front of the engine, as on the 3 Litre engine. The essential difference between the Bentley 4½ Litre and the Blower was the addition of a Roots-type supercharger to the Blower engine by engineer Amherst Villiers, who had also produced the supercharger. W. O. Bentley, as chief engineer of the company he had founded, refused to allow the engine to be modified to incorporate the supercharger. As a result, the supercharger was placed at the end of the crankshaft, in front of the radiator. This gave the Blower Bentley an easily recognisable appearance and also increased the car’s understeer due to the additional weight at the front. A guard protected the two carburettors located at the compressor intake. Similar protection was used, both in the 4½ Litre and the Blower, for the fuel tank at the rear, because a flying stone punctured the 3 Litre of Frank Clement and John Duff during the first 24 Hours of Le Mans, which contributed to their defeat. The crankshaft, pistons and lubrication system were special to the Blower engine. It produced 175 hp at 3,500 rpm for the touring model and 240 hp at 4,200 rpm for the racing version, which was more power than the Bentley 6½ Litre developed. Between 1927 and 1931 the Bentley 4½ Litre competed in several competitions, primarily the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first was the Old Mother Gun at the 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven as a prototype before production. Favoured to win, it instead crashed and did not finish. Its performance was sufficient for Bentley to decide to start production and deliver the first models the same year. Far from being the most powerful in the competitions, the 4½ Litre of Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin, raced neck and neck against Charles Weymann’s Stutz Blackhawk DV16, setting a new record average speed of 69 mph; Tim Birkin and Jean Chassagne finished fifth. The next year, three 4½ Litres finished second, third, and fourth behind another Bentley, the Speed Six, which possessed two more cylinders.The naturally aspirated 4½ Litre was noted for its good reliability. The supercharged models were not; the two Blower models entered in the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans by Dorothy Paget, one of which was co-driven by Tim Birkin, did not complete the race. In 1930, Birkin finished second in the French Grand Prix at the Circuit de Pau behind a Bugatti Type 35. Ettore Bugatti, annoyed by the performance of Bentley, called the 4½ Litre the “fastest lorry in the world.” The Type 35 is much lighter and consumes much less petrol. Blower Bentleys consume 4 litres per minute at full speed. In November 1931, after selling 720 copies of the 4½ Litre – 655 naturally aspirated and 55 supercharged – in three different models (Tourer, Drophead Coupé and Sporting Four Seater, Bentley was forced to sell his company to Rolls-Royce for £125,175, a victim of the recession that hit Europe following the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
This rather splendid 6½-Litre Sedanca de Ville was not in the Owners Club display but one of the auction cars for sale. This the 1929 Olympia Motor Show car, one of about 20 surviving 6½-Litre Bentleys, with original coachwork and engine. It has had its engine rebuilt and equipped to Speed Six specification, which means that there is 180 bhp available from its 6,597 cc single overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine, three SU carburettors, four-speed manual transmission, semi-elliptic front and rear suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. This 6½-Litre was created by Bentley, working closely with coachbuilder H.J. Mulliner, of Chiswick, as a Sedanca de Ville with a Barker-patented “de Ville extension”, intended to be used with a chauffeur, and it was presented on their stand at the Olympia Motor Show in October 1929. With coachwork created without compromise by one of the finest coachbuilders of the day, it exhibits the purity of line and clarity of design one expects of a hand-built limousine by a leading builder of bespoke limousines. Outstanding features of the design include the “de Ville extension”, which, when closed over the front cabin, has a very neat appearance, and the unusually long and flowing wings gives the car the appearance of a full limousine. The owner reports that this extremely convenient and practical feature readily combines the fun of open air motoring with the ability to be snug, dry, and warm extremely quickly, should the weather turn inclement. Featured in the Show Number issue of The Autocar on 25 October 1929, the car was promptly sold at the motor show by H.M. Bentley & Partners, W.O.’s brother, to John Davie, of Dartmore, Frithwood Avenue, Northwood. Exhaustive research by noted Bentley authority Clare Hay indicates that the car passed in 1935 to Major RT Hon. F. Craven. It was laid up through World War II, and then, in 1952, it was acquired, in notably original condition, by J.G. Sibly for ?50. The car was displayed by Sibly in Bentley Drivers Club activities until 1957, then it passed through the stewardship of A.K. Harrison, J.N. Barlow, P.M. Mackie, V.H. Callcutt, A.M. Garrett, Sandra Roberts, and finally Graeme Miller, from whom the present owner acquired it. Mr Miller, then the president of the Bentley Drivers Club of Australia, recognised that this is an extremely rare vehicle and kept it for some 20 years, with sparing use, in order to protect it from becoming just another Le Mans clone, the fate of so many big Bentleys. As a result, it had covered less than 10,000 miles since its extensive overhaul. During the last 10 years, the car has delighted the present owner, as he and his wife have campaigned it all over the world. Always maintained with an open cheque book, the car enjoyed an extensive engine refresh by noted Bentley specialists at Elmdown prior to being on tour in the U.S.A., and it has only travelled about 5,000 miles since that time. This fantastic Bentley 6½-Litre has been well-maintained, regardless of cost, since the 1970s. From comments by then-owner Garrett, we understand that the engine was rebuilt at his insistence to Speed Six specification, three sand-cast two-inch SU carburettors on a unique manifold, undoubtedly providing quite spirited performance, and these were mated to the desirable “C” gearbox, which is believed to be the original unit to this car. The vehicle remains substantially original, with the major components clearly numbered and stamped at the factory; the original chassis number, KR 2687, appears on the front chassis cross-member and on the nearside front dumb iron knuckle, as well as on the inside forward edge of the side panels of the bonnet, on the front axle, and on the steering box, all verifying each of these major components’ originality. The original engine number, KR 2686, is, of course, still carried on the nearside bearer arm of the crankcase. A measure of its rarity, this grand, gently-patinated Bentley has been in the care of Bentley Motors since 2007, on display to visitors of the Bentley factory in Crewe, as well as shown in the Bentley Company’s heritage museum, where it was thoroughly inspected by Bentley authority Clare Hay. Verifying the legitimacy of its coachwork and original components, a copy of Hay’s well-researched and detailed report, containing photographic documentation and a thorough discussion of the car’s components, is available for review and will accompany the car. As such, this presents as one of the most correct 6½-Litre models extant. It is one of the rarest big six Bentleys in the world, and it is a splendid and luxurious alternative for those occasions when high tea or the highway is more appropriate than the Mulsanne Straight. It has recently been repainted in traditional British Racing Green, having been a two bone brown before that.
There were a number of examples of what are known as the “Derby” models. These were produced after the acquisition of Bentley by Rolls-Royce, in 1934, at which point the focus of the brand shifted to the production of large and elegant tourers. The cars retained the famous curved radiator shape based on earlier Bentley models, but in all meaningful respects they were clearly Rolls-Royces. Although disappointing some traditional customers, they were well received by many others and even W.O. Bentley himself was reported as saying that he would “rather own this Bentley than any other car produced under that name.” The Rolls-Royce Engineer in charge of the development project, Ernest Hives (later Lord Hives), underlined the Rolls-Royce modus operandi in a memo addressed to company staff “our recommendation is that we should make the car as good as we know how and then charge accordingly.” At a time when the Ford 8 could be purchased new for £100, an early Bentley 3½ Litre cost around £1,500 (equivalent to £6400 vs. £96,000 today), putting it beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest consumers. Despite not being a car of remarkable outright performance, the car’s unique blend of style and grace proved popular with the inter-war elite and it was advertised under the legend the silent sports car. Over 70% of the cars built between 1933 and 1939 were said to have still been in existence 70 years later. Although chassis production ceased in 1939, a number of cars were still being bodied and delivered during 1940. The last few were delivered and first registered in 1941. The 3.5 litre came first. Based on an experimental Rolls-Royce project “Peregrine” which was to have had a supercharged 2¾ litre engine, the 3½ Litre was finally fitted with a less adventurous engine developed from Rolls’ straight-6 fitted to the Rolls-Royce 20/25. The Bentley variant featured a higher compression ratio, sportier camshaft profile and two SU carburettors on a crossflow cylinder head. Actual power output was roughly 110 bhp at 4500 rpm, allowing the car to reach 90 mph. The engine displaced 3669 cc with a 3¼ in (82.5 mm) bore and 4½ in (114.3 mm) stroke. A 4-speed manual transmission with synchromesh on 3rd and 4th, 4-wheel leaf spring suspension, and 4-wheel servo-assisted mechanical brakes were all common with other Rolls-Royce models. The chassis was manufactured from nickel steel, and featured a “double-dropped” layout to gain vertical space for the axles and thus keep the profiles of the cars low. The strong chassis needed no diagonal cross-bracing, and was very light in comparison to the chassis built by its contemporary competitors, weighing in at 2,510 pounds (1,140 kg) in driveable form ready for delivery to the customer’s chosen coachbuilder. 1177 of the 3½ Litre cars were built, with about half of them being bodied by Park Ward, with the remainder “dressed” by other coachbuilders like Barker, Carlton, Freestone & Webb, Gurney Nutting, Hooper, Mann Egerton, Mulliner (both Arthur and H J), Rippon, Thrupp & Maberly, James Young, Vanden Plas and Windovers in England; Figoni et Falaschi, Kellner, Saoutchik and Vanvooren in Paris; and smaller concerns elsewhere in UK and Europe. Beginning in March, 1936, a 4¼ Litre version of the car was offered as replacement for the 3½ Litre, in order to offset the increasing weight of coachwork and maintain the car’s sporting image in the face of stiff competition. The engine was bored to 3½ in (88.9 mm) for a total of 4257cc. From 1938 the MR and MX series cars featured Marles steering and an overdrive gearbox. The model was replaced in 1939 by the MkV, but some cars were still finished and delivered during 1940-1941. 1234 4¼ Litre cars were built, with Park Ward remaining the most popular coachbuilder. Many cars were bodied in steel rather than the previous, more expensive, aluminium over ash frame construction.
Following the war, Bentley introduced a completely new car, the Mark VI. Announced in May 1946, and produced from 1946 to 1952 it was also both the first car from Rolls-Royce with all-steel coachwork and the first complete car assembled and finished at their factory. These very expensive cars were a genuine success, long-term their weakness lay in the inferior steels forced on them by government’s post-war controls. The chassis continued to be supplied to independent coachbuilders. Four-door Saloon, two-door saloon and drophead coupe models with bodies by external companies were listed by Bentley along with the Bentley-bodied saloon. This shorter wheelbase chassis and engine was a variant of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith of 1946 and, with the same standard steel body and a larger boot became the cautiously introduced Silver Dawn of 1949. The same extended-boot modification was made to the Mark VI body in 1952 and the result became known as the R type Bentley.
The Mark VI 4 1⁄4-litre used an F-head straight-6 engine, 4,257 cc in size. The manufacturer refused to disclose a horse power value for the car (other than Tax Horsepower of 29.4 hp according to the old RAC formula), merely with the contention that power, along with low speed torque, were “adequate”. In 1951, a 4 1⁄2-litre, 4,566cc to be exact, version of the engine was introduced and then referred to as the big bore engine. A four-speed syncromesh manual transmission was fitted with the change lever to the right of the driver on right hand drive cars and on the column on left hand drive versions. The chassis used leaf springs at the rear and independent coil springing at the front with a control on the steering wheel centre to adjust the hardness of the rear springing by hydraulically adjusting the rear dampers. A pedal-operated central lubrication system allowing oil to be applied to moving parts of the suspension from a central reservoir was fitted. The 12.25 in drum brakes were assisted by the traditional Rolls-Royce mechanical servo. Employing its experience with the steel bodies made in short runs since 1936 by then partly-owned subsidiary Park Ward the Car Division of Rolls-Royce offered their lowest priced chassis with a factory-supplied body all-steel so it could be exported all over the world. The factory bodies with a Gurney-Nutting-Blatchley refined shape were made by Pressed Steel Ltd of Cowley and sent to the Bentley works at Crewe for painting and fitting out with traditional wood and leather. They featured rear hinged “suicide” doors at the front with concealed hinges, a sliding sunroof, a permanently closed windscreen with a defrosting and demisting unit hidden in the scuttle and an electrically controlled heater beneath the front passenger’s seat. Twin screenwipers were fitted and provision was made for the fitting of a radio with a short and flexibly mounted aerial that could be swung up above the centre of the screen. The Mark VI was introduced at a time of steel shortage across Europe which translated into a serious shortage of new cars for sale on the UK market. By the end of 1952 order-books had shrunk and the Mark VI was replaced by the R-Type, featuring an extended boot/trunk, along with other less visible modifications and newly available home-market options, leading up to the introduction of the completely redesigned S series in 1955. The Mark VI was a success, though, with production volumes of the 4 1⁄4 litre amounting to 4000 (including 832 with coachbuilt bodies) and of the 4 1⁄2 litre a total of 1202 (including 180 with coachbuilt bodies).
There were also examples of the R Type here, the second series of post-war Bentley automobiles, replacing the Mark VI. Essentially larger-boot version of the Mk VI, the R type is regarded by some as a stop-gap before the introduction of the S series cars in 1955. As with its predecessor, a standard body was available as well as coachbuilt versions by firms including H. J. Mulliner & Co., Park Ward, Harold Radford, Freestone and Webb and others. During development it was referred to as the Bentley Mark VII; the chassis cards for these cars describe them as Bentley 7. The R Type name which is now usually applied stems from chassis series RT. The front of the saloon model was identical to the Mark VI, but the boot was almost doubled in capacity. The engine displacement was approximately 4½ litres, as fitted to later versions of the Mark VI. An automatic choke was fitted to the R-type’s carburettor. The attachment of the rear springs to the chassis was altered in detail between the Mark VI and the R Type. For buyers looking for a more distinctive car, a decreasing number had custom coachwork available from the dwindling number of UK coachbuilders. These ranged from the grand flowing lines of Freestone and Webb’s conservative, almost prewar shapes, to the practical conversions of Harold Radford which including a clamshell style tailgate and folding rear seats. All R Type models use an iron-block/aluminium-head straight-6 engine fed by twin SU Type H6 carburettors.The basic engine displaced 4,566 cc with a 92 mm bore and 114.3 mm stroke. A 4-speed manual transmission was standard with a 4-speed automatic option becoming standard on later cars. The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs with semi elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The brakes used 12.25 in drums all round and were operated hydraulically at the front and mechanically at the rear via a gearbox driven servo. Other than the radiator grilles and the carburation there was little difference between the standard Bentley R Type and the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn. The R Type was the more popular marque, with some 2,500 units manufactured during its run to the Silver Dawn’s 760. The survival rate is not that great, as the bodies had a habit of rusting.
The S Type Saloon, a close relative of the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, was first revealed in April 1955. It represented a complete redesign of the standard production car, the R Type (which had started off as the Mark VI). It was a more generously sized five- or six-seater saloon with the body manufactured in pressed steel with stressed skin construction, with the doors, bonnet and boot lid made of aluminium. The external appearance was very different, although the car still had the traditional radiator grille. Compared to the outgoing R Type, the new model had a three inch longer wheelbase, was lower of build without reducing headroom and with an enlarged luggage boot, softer suspension with electrically operated control of rear dampers, lighter steering and improved braking. The engine, still a clear descendants of the one originally used in the Rolls-Royce Twenty from 1922 to 1929, had its capacity increased to 4887cc, and a four-speed automatic gearbox was standard, with the ability to select individual ratios if desired, which was enough to give the Bentley a top speed of just over 100 mph and 0 – 60 acceleration times of around 13 seconds. Standard and from 1957, long wheelbase saloons were offered and some were sent to the coachbuilders for alternative bodies to be fitted. An upgrade in 1959, creating the S2, saw the installation of a new V8 engine, and in 1962, the S3 cars gained four round headlights. 3072 S Types were made, 145 of them with coachbuilt bodies as well as 35 of the long wheelbase cars, before the model was replaced by the new T Type in 1965. There were examples here of the standard car was well as the Continental Flying Spur here and a number of Coupe and Drophead models.
Bentley has used the name Continental many times throughout its history. In 1984, it was applied to the latest version of what had until then been known as the Corniche. This differentiated it from the Rolls-Royce, which was in all but radiator grille and badging pretty well identical. Rolls Royce began marketing the Corniche in 1971, having registered the name in the 1930s. The original Corniche was a prototype based on the Bentley Mark V featuring coachwork by the Paris firm, Carrosserie Vanvooren. The 1970s Corniche, available as coupé or convertible, used the standard Rolls-Royce 6.750 litre V8 engine with an aluminium-silicon alloy block and aluminium cylinder heads with cast iron wet cylinder liners. Twin SU carburettors were initially fitted, but were replaced with a single Solex 4A1 four-barrel carburetor introduced in 1977. A three-speed automatic transmission (a Turbo Hydramatic 350 sourced from General Motors) was standard. A four-wheel independent suspension with coil springs was augmented with a hydraulic self-levelling system (using the same system as did Citroën, but without pneumatic springs, and with the hydraulic components built under licence by Rolls-Royce), at first on all four, but later on the rear wheels only. Four wheel disc brakes were specified, with ventilated discs added for 1972. The car originally used a 119.75 in wheelbase. This was extended to 120″ in 1974 and 120.5″ in 1979. The Corniche received a mild restyling in the spring of 1977. Difference included rack-and-pinion steering, fuel injection for the engine which produced around 240PS, alloy and rubber bumpers, aluminium radiator, oil cooler and a bi-level air conditioning system was added. Later changes included a modified rear independent suspension in March 1979. In March 1981, after the Silver Spirit had gone on sale, the Coupé version of the Corniche and its Bentley sister were discontinued. The Bentley version was updated in July 1984 with a new name, the Continental, revised and colour-coded bumpers, rear view mirrors, a new dash and improvements to the seats. Production totalled 1090 Rolls-Royce Corniche Saloons, 3239 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertibles, 69 Bentley Corniche Saloons and 77 Bentley Corniche Convertibles.
There were no examples of the T Type saloon, which is not that surprising, as these sold in small numbers compared to the Rolls-Royce on which they were based, but everything would change with the next generation, from what we should now think of as the renaissance period, when Bentley sales started to outnumber those of the Rolls Royce by some margin. More common of the two was the Mulsanne, the Bentley version of the Silver Spirit. Taking its name from Bentley’s motorsport history, which included five victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 1924 and 1930 — the ‘Mulsanne Straight’ being the stretch of the Le Mans racecourse where cars reach their highest speeds – the car was launched in October 1980, sharing the traditional 6750 cc Rolls-Royce V8 with aluminium alloy cylinder heads with the Silver Spirit. Things got more interesting at the Geneva Motor Show in 1982 when Bentley announced the Mulsanne Turbo, which had a 50% increase in power thanks to the Garrett AiResearch turbocharger. There was the usual highly polished walnut veneered fascia, blemish-free leather and carpets and headlining of pure wool for the interior. 498 short wheelbase and 18 long wheelbase Mulsanne Turbos were built in the following three years. The Mulsanne Turbo was replaced by the Turbo R, which used a fuel injected version of the same engine. A British racing green Turbo has been used in the two James Bond stories Nobody Lives Forever and Role of Honour by John Gardner. The Mulsanne needed a refresh by 1987, so the company spiced it up with the introduction of the Mulsanne S. Although this model lacked its turbocharger, many of its other details were similar to the Turbo R, including that car’s alloy wheels and interior, and the suspension was firmed up for a more sporting ride. The rectangular headlamps from the 1980s gave way to quad round units for 1989, and the model lasted until 1992.
Although the Turbo models claimed the limelight of the 1980s and 1990s, the lesser versions of the car sold well, too. Several different version of what started out simply as the Mulsanne, a badge-engineered version of the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit were offered. The Eight was Bentley’s “entry-level” offering from 1984 until 1992. Distinguished mainly by a wire-mesh grille radiator instead of vertical slats, the Eight also had somewhat less equipment than the similar Mulsanne on which it was based. This brought the introductory price to under the psychologically important £50,000 mark at the time of introduction, £6,000 less than the Mulsannne. A firmer suspension offered slight handling improvements. The Eight was so popular that sales expanded from the original UK market to Europe and the United States. The Eight was introduced with cloth upholstery, steel wheels, and a mesh grille that was simpler than the slatted grille of the Mulsanne. Fuel injection and anti-lock brakes were added in 1986, leather upholstery and power memory seats were added in 1987, and automatic ride height adjustment was added in 1990. In Britain, catalytic converters became optional in 1990 – although they had been available long before in markets where such were required. The three-speed automatic transmission was replaced by a four-speed transmission in August 1992. The Bentley Brooklands was introduced in 1992 as a replacement for the Bentley Mulsanne S and Bentley Eight models. It was intended as a slightly cheaper alternative to the Bentley Turbo R, featuring the same styling, underpinnings and the Rolls-Royce 6.75-litre V8 engine, but without the more powerful model’s turbocharger. The Brooklands continued Bentley’s relatively angular design theme, which was also used on contemporary Rolls-Royce vehicles, throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. The exterior design featured the classic Bentley waterfall grille as well as dual headlights with wraparound parking lights. As in many Bentley and Rolls-Royce vehicles, the Brooklands also featured the trademark descending bootlid and chrome B-pillars. The interior remained relatively unchanged from previous Bentley models, with more curvaceous design elements surrounding the leather-wrapped centre console. The steering wheel and interior door panels remained largely unchanged; the major change arrived in the form of relocating the gear selector to the centre console – for decades the standard practice among R-R and Bentley models utilised a steering column mounted selector. The interior continued to be surrounded by ample woodgrain which featured engraved, lighter-coloured outlines on the door panels.
The success of the Mulsanne Turbo and Turbo R brought new life to Bentley, changing the position of the preceding 15 years where sales of the marque’s badge-engineered Rolls Royce cars had been only a very small percentage of the company’s sales. The obvious next step would be further to enhance the distinctive sporting nature of the Bentley brand and move away from a Bentley that was merely a re-badged Rolls Royce. Bentley appointed stylists John Heffernan and Ken Greenley to come up with ideas for a new, distinctive, Bentley coupé. The fibreglass mock up was displayed at the 1984 Geneva Motor Show in Rolls-Royce’s “Project 90″ concept of a future Bentley coupé. The concept was met with an enthusiastic reception, but the Project 90 design was largely shelved as the company began to work towards a replacement for the Rolls-Royce Corniche. During this process, Graham Hull, chief stylist in house at Rolls Royce, suggested the designs before the board for the Corniche, would suit a Bentley coupé better. From this point it was decided the Corniche could continue as it was, and efforts would once again be channelled into a new Bentley coupé. In 1986 Graham Hull produced a design rendering of a new Bentley coupé which became the Continental R. Based on the Rolls Royce SZ platform (which was an evolution of the SY platform), an aerodynamically shaped coupé body had been styled. John Heffernan and Ken Greenley were officially retained to complete the design of the Continental R. They had run the Automotive Design School at the Royal College of Art and headed up their own consultancy, International Automotive Design, based in Worthing, Southern England. Greenley and Heffernan liaised constantly throughout the styling process with Graham Hull. The interior was entirely the work of Graham Hull and the small in house styling team at Rolls Royce. The shape of the car was very different from the somewhat slab sided four door SZ Rolls-Royce and Bentley vehicles of the time and offered a much improved 0.37 coefficient of drag. The Continental R also featured roof-cut door frames, a necessity to allow easier access into the car which had a lower roof line than its 4-door contemporaries. A subtle spoiler effect was also a feature of the rear. The finished car is widely acknowledged as a very cleverly styled vehicle, disguising its huge dimensions (The Continental R is around 4” longer than a 2013 long wheelbase Mercedes S Class) and a very well proportioned, extremely attractive, car. The “Continental” designation recalls the Bentley Continental of the post-war period. The “R” was meant to recall the R Type Bentleys from the 1950s as well as the Turbo R of the 1980s and 90’s where the “R” refers to “roadholding”. 1504 Continental R and 350 Continental T models were made before production finally ceased in 2003. The revival of the Bentley marque following the introduction of the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo, and then the Continental R, is widely acknowledged to have saved Rolls Royce Motor cars and formed the groundwork which led to the buyout and parting of the Rolls Royce and Bentley brands in 1998. Bentley was once again capable of standing alone as a marque in its own right.
The Arnage, a twin of the Rolls-Royce-branded sibling, the Silver Seraph, was introduced in the Spring of 1998, the first entirely new designs for the two marques since 1980. This is a large car: over 5.4 meters (212 in) long, 1.9 metres (75 in) wide, and has a kerb weight of more than 2.5 metric tonnes. For a brief period it was the most powerful and fastest four-door saloon on the market. In a complete switch from tradition, whilst these cars had bodies built at the Crewe factory, the then owner, Vickers, decided that the car would be powered by engines built elsewhere. A number of potential engines were examined, including the GM Premium V engine, and a Mercedes-Benz V8 engine, before, in late 1994, Vickers selected a pair of BMW power plants. It was decided that the Rolls-Royce model would use BMW’s naturally aspirated V12 engine while the more-sporting Bentley model would use a special twin-turbo version of the 4.4-litre BMW V8, which was developed by Vickers subsidiary, Cosworth Engineering. On its introduction in the spring of 1998, the Arnage was available as a single model with the this 4,398cc twin turbo developing some 354 PS (349 bhp) and 420 lb·ft. During the takeover battle in 1998 between BMW and Volkswagen Group for ownership of Rolls Royce and Bentley Motors, BMW had threatened to stop supply of their engines if Volkswagen Group won. While the threat was later withdrawn in conjunction with BMW acquiring the right to manufacture the Rolls Royce marque at a new location, it was clear that Volkswagen could not accept the business and reputation risks associated with having their rival as a long-term business partner. Furthermore, customers were nervous about engine and part availability (of which there turned out to be no issue) and orders for new cars dropped precipitously. Volkswagen’s response was to prepare the old pushrod 6.75-litre 16-valve engine from the Turbo R for the Arnage, designed for the lighter and smaller BMW 32-valve V8 unit. Coupled with an outdated 4-speed automatic, the engine was extremely thirsty, and would not meet government-imposed emissions standards without hasty modifications.The revised version of the car was launched as the Arnage Red Label in October 1999. At the same time, but without the fanfare, Bentley made several minor modifications to the original BMW engined cars, and designated them as the “Arnage Green Label” for the 2000 model year. As part of the modification process, both Red and Green Label cars received stiffer body shells and larger wheels and brakes. The stiffer body shell was needed because of the extra weight of the British engine. The larger brakes were needed for the same reason. Despite the larger brakes, braking performance worsened with the extra weight of the 6.75 engine. The braking performance of the ’99 Green Label from 70–0 was 172 feet while the later Arnage T’s performance was 182 feet from the same speed. The PR department at Bentley pointed to customer demand as the driving force behind the reversion to the old two valve per cylinder 6.75-litre unit for the Red Label. This explanation appears to have been acceptable to all but a few of the motoring press who welcomed the return of the old unit after criticising the BMW motor as at best insipid and, at worst, underpowered. In reality, the outgoing BMW-powered Arnage was technically more modern, considerably more fuel efficient, and had 32 valves with double overhead camshafts, twin-turbo and Bosch engine management technology – as opposed to 16-valve, single turbo and a pushrod motor with less advanced engine management. The Red Label’s increase in motive power shaved less than a second of the zero to 60 mph time. However, the BMW twin turbo unit remained noticeably more agile and responsive from a driver’s perspective, due to its more responsive DOHC engine, better weight balance(maintaining a 51.1/48.9 weight distribution) and almost 600 lb (270 kg) lower curb weight. Ultimately the Green Label was more reliable and significantly less expensive to service in the long term. The key limiting factor of the BMW engine’s output was the ZF 5HP30 transmission which was not rated to handle more than the 413 lb·ft torque that the twin turbo engine was tuned to produce. In total only seven Arnage Green Label units were built, all of which were left-hand-drive versions. There was a final series of vehicles built in 2000 with the 4.4-litre BMW engine designated the Arnage Birkin, of which 52 units were produced and are distinguishable by their three-dial as opposed to five-dial instrument centre dashboard configuration. A long-wheelbase version of the Red Label was launched at the North American International Auto Show in 2001. The Green Label ended production in 2000. The Red Label models were replaced in 2002. In 2001, the Arnage RL, a long-wheelbase model, 9.8 in longer than the Arnage, was launched, the extra length added to the car at its rear doors and its C-pillar. With the standard Arnage model, the rear wheel wells butt up against the rear door frames, but with the RL they are a few inches further back. The overall effect is a larger rear area inside the car. Available only as a bespoke “Mulliner” model, each RL was customised to the desires of the buyer. The RL, however, was also the first of a new series of Arnages which would finally cure the Bentley Arnage of the reliability and performance deficiencies experienced following its forced deprivation of the modern BMW engines it was designed to use. The RL would also present a credible challenge to BMW’s attempts to revive the Rolls-Royce brand with its planned new model, the Phantom. The RL’s introduction saw the introduction of an entirely reworked version of the 6.75-litre V8 engine. Where the engine used in the Red Label was a quickly and less-than-completely-satisfactorily modified version of the Turbo RT’s unit, the RL featured an entirely reworked version of the old 6.75-litre V8. More than half of the engine’s parts were completely new, with Bosch Motronic ME7.1.1 engine management replacing the old Zytek system, and two small Garrett T3 turbochargers replacing the single large T4. This new engine developed 405 PS (399 bhp) and 616 lb·ft, and was said to be capable of meeting all future emissions requirements. Finally, the Arnage was powered by a modern twin-turbo unit with state-of-the-art electronic management system similar to the originally Cosworth-BMW unit developed for the Arnage in 1998. Perhaps ironically, what was essentially a new engine developed by Volkswagen Group engineers for the RL in 2001, was now producing the same sort of power as the original BMW V8 4.4 engine used in the first Arnage in 1998. Unfortunately, the development and testing of the revisions to the new engine were rushed by VW to meet regulatory requirements. As a result, the camshafts are prone to failure requiring extensive repair work to remedy In 2002, Bentley updated the Red Label as the series two Arnage R. This model was launched to contrast the Arnage T, which was developed to be more sporting. The Arnage R features two Garrett T3 turbochargers, as with the RL.The Arnage T, also from 2002, was claimed to be the most powerful roadgoing Bentley at its launch at the Detroit Motor Show. As with the Arnage R, there were twin-turbochargers, but tuned to develop 465 PS (459 bhp) and 645 lbf·ft. The Arnage T’s 0–60 mph time is 5.5 seconds; a top speed of 170 mph was claimed. The Arnage range was facelifted in 2005, with a front end resembling that of the new Continental GT. Production of the Arnage ceased in 2009.
The Azure debuted in March 1995 at the Geneva Motor Show on the platform of the Continental R model, which had been originally launched in 1991. Production only crept to a start, with a mere nine examples finished in the first year – in 1996, after full production had started, no fewer than 251 Azures were finished. Pininfarina assisted in the two-year process of turning the Continental R into a full four-seater convertible, and also built the shell and soft-top at their factory in Italy, largely from parts sourced in the UK. Final assembly was then carried out at Crewe. A roll-bar was never considered, which necessitated extensive reinforcing of the chassis. At 210 inches in length and 5,750 pounds in weight, the Azure often surprised onlookers with its size and bulk, intended to both convey a sense of “presence” and allow for comfortable seating of four adult passengers. Power came from the company’s stalwart 6.75-litre V8, featuring a single, intercooled Garrett turbocharger and producing in the region of 360 hp – Rolls-Royce and Bentley did not give official power numbers at the time of the Azure’s introduction. By the time production began in earnest, new engine management from Zytek meant a slight power increase to 385 hp at 4,000 rpm and 553 lb·ft of torque at 2,000 rpm; power was routed to the rear wheels via a modified, General Motors sourced, four-speed automatic transmission. With a 0 – 60 time of 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph, the Azure was very fast for a car of its size, weight and poor aerodynamic profile. Owing to the limited space and workforce at Bentley’s Crewe factory, the Azure’s thick, powered convertible top was designed and manufactured by Pininfarina, which significantly added to the vehicle’s cost, which was significantly greater than the Continental R on which it was based. From 1999 through the end of production, the Azure was also available in “Mulliner” trim, which added special bespoke trim and additional equipment and allowed the buyer the option for further customisation during the build-process; pricing varied by car, as equipment could be significantly different from one to the next depending on customer requests.
The Brooklands name reappeared, to be used on a fixed-head version of the Azure (itself related to the Bentley Arnage), featuring a two-door, four-seater pillarless hardtop coupé body, eliminating the B-pillars. It was unveiled at the 2007 Geneva Auto Show, to be built for the 2008 model year. As a hand-assembled car made in very small numbers, employing traditional coach-building techniques and craftsmanship skills in wood and leather, the Brooklands Coupé was the true successor to the discontinued Bentley Continental R and T. Planned lifetime production was limited at 550 cars, and deliveries started in the first half of 2008, with the last cars built in 2011.
There were plenty of examples of the Continental GT and GTC, as you might expect. Launched in 2003, these cars were the first new models produced since the acquisition of the brand by Volkswagen, and have been responsible for a massive increase in sales of Bentleys. A second generation model, more of a heavy revamp of the first was launched at the 2010 Paris Show, and remains on sale. As well as the 6 litre W12 engine that featured in all the first generation cars, this one has also been available with the 4.0 litre V8. There have been numerous variants of both, with the regular cars joined by V8S, Speed and Supersports models, among other versions.
Five years after the debut of the Continental GT, Bentley showed a special coachbuilt creation: the Continental GTZ. This was the first collaboration between Bentley and the equally storied coachbuilder Zagato. It is said to be the result of a discussion between Dr Andrea Zagato and Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen, the former CEO of Bentley, where the two decided to create a car that hinted at Bentley’s rich history of coachbuilt creations but simultaneously offered a new, unique, and forward-thinking design. Whilst the Continental GT was already considered to be a very luxurious vehicle for upper echelons of high society, the Continental GTZ was intended to be more special in every way and a true classic for future generations of enthusiasts. Even though it shares the same basic shape and proportions of the Continental GT, all of the bodywork is unique to the GTZ, and the only components on the exterior that are carried over from the donor Bentley are its signature quad-headlights. The elongated front grille, along with Zagato’s trademark double-bubble roof, gives the car a much more masculine and bespoke appearance than the standard Continental GT. Inside, only minor styling changes were made to Bentley’s already wonderfully designed and luxurious interior, such as a Zagato “Z” motif embroidered on the seats, whilst the rest of the interior remains awash in exquisite leather, veneer, and aluminium. Just 9 were produced.
Among the rarer of the Continental GT models was this GT3-R. This is a limited production car, with 300 units made, including 99 for the US and 4 for Canada, based on the Continental GT V8 S coupe and inspired by the Continental GT3 race car, with 100 kg (220 lb) weight reduction, increased engine power to 580 PS and 516 lb·ft, torque vectoring for each of the rear wheels, shorter gearing, recalibrated control software, all-new titanium exhaust with 7 kg weight saving and retuned acoustics, forged 21-inch alloy wheels in gloss black, Pirelli tyres, sport-focused Electronic Stability Control programme, Carbon Silicon Carbide (CSiC) braking system (420 mm front and 356 mm rear brake discs, 8-piston front calipers in green), two-seat cabin with carbon fibre, Alcantara and leather interior upholstery; bespoke sporting seats with additional side support through deeper bolsters upholstered in Beluga black leather and diamond-quilted Alcantara, upholstered steering wheel and gear shifter, centre console and fascia panels in carbon fibre, carbon fibre door casings with diamond-quilted Alcantara inner panels, rear cabin with a carbon fibre surround and upholstered in leather and Alcantara, green hide colour on the seats, instrument panel, door panels, contrast stitching throughout the seats and diamond-quilted areas; GT3-R badging at centre console, passenger-side fascia panel, sill treadplates; GT3-R stitching at seat headrests in with contrast-green stitching, carbon fibre fixed rear wing and boot lid, bonnet with two vents, Glacier White body colour with gloss carbon fibre contrasts, two-tone green graphics tracing two power lines to the side profile of the car (one leading backwards from the front wheel, the other tracing the shape of the Continental GT’s rear haunch), headlamp bezels, matrix grille, window surrounds and bumper strips in gloss black. US models also included sequentially numbered GT3-R sill treadplates. The vehicle was unveiled at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and deliveries started late in 2014.
Even fewer of this one were produced, the Continental SuperSports ISR, unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Show. The ISR (Ice Speed Record) was limited to 100 units. It was based on the Supersports convertible and commemorated Bentley’s world ice speed record set by Finland’s four-time world rally champion Juha Kankkunen. It included a W12 engine rated at 640 PS, Quickshift six-speed automatic transmission, 420 mm front and 356 mm rear diameter carbon ceramic brake discs with eight-piston front calipers, three body colours (Beluga, Quartzite, Arctica White) with Dark Grey Metallic soft top in three-ply composite construction, 20-inch 10-spoke Supersports wheels in dark tint. The interior has leather upholstery, diamond-quilted Alcantara to doors and quarter panels and seat facings, ‘soft-grip’ leather on the steering wheel and gear lever, high-gloss carbon fibre on the dashboard and console and roof panel with unique red weave, Pillar Box red piping to seats and doors, Pillar Box Red contrast stitching to seats, door casings, steering wheel and gearshift paddles; front seats and floor mats with embroidered ‘Supersports’ legends, and a Breitling dashboard clock with red accent.
Also present were examples of recent saloon bodied Bentleys, with the latest Flying Spur and Mulsanne much in evidence.
The Bentayga, the first SUV from Bentley, and perhaps proof that Ettore Bugatti was right (and prescient) with his quote about the “fastest lorries on the road”, only went on sale a few weeks prior to this event. It had been shown some months earlier, meaning that there was significant pent-up demand for what is indeed the fastest SUV currently available. The Bentayga is not without controversy, with many finding its looks somewhat unappealing, though there is no denying the excellence of the finish of the car.
As well as the cars belonging to Bentley Owners Club members, there were brand new models on show, giving everyone a chance to see the latest cars, including the Bentayga, with a dealer display by HR Owen, as well as a factory one, with cars presented both inside the ticketed area and outwith.
Bentley showcased three cars that bring to life the story of the marque’s pinnacle luxury flagship, the Mulsanne. Chassis No. 2 is a perfect example of the first Mulsanne produced, while the two members of the current Mulsanne family on display offered different interpretations of Bentley’s flagship. The Mulsanne Speed focuses on performance and power, offering 530 bhp and 811 lb.ft, while the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase offers an additional 250 mm of rear legroom for those who prefer to be driven in unrivalled luxury and style.
This Double Six has an interesting history as it was formerly the personal property of Her Majesty the Queen, having been built specially for her in 1984. Before its delivery to Buckingham Palace, it underwent over 2,000 miles of testing to iron out any kinks, after which it became the Queen’s personal vehicle, transporting her and no doubt innumerable dignitaries – princes, princesses and prime ministers – to various events and in between palaces and estates across the Kingdom. The Queen was known to drive it herself much of the time, blissfully immune as she is to any traffic offences. This specially built luxury saloon was equipped with a long list of special features, from special communications systems and flashing lights to a rear bench requested by the Queen to accommodate her pet dogs, and it was painted in a special shade of dark green, used on cars within the Royal household. During its service and ever since, it’s been maintained exclusively by Jaguar and the royally-appointed garage, Guy Salmons in Royal Ascot Berkshire, undergoing regular VIP maintenance to keep it in as-new condition. Following its retirement from active service, it was returned to the Jaguar Heritage Museum Browns Lane where it remained for some time until being put for auction. The current owner was apparently unaware of this when be bought it, and it was only when he took it for some work to be done and the unusual colour rang bells that he started to research its history. Even now, the car has not done a big mileage.
The Sovereign was the Daimler version of the Jaguar 420, and by the time it was launched in 1966, the differences amounted to little more than a grille with the traditional Daimler fluting at the top, and a few other trim variations. The 420 and this Sovereign were based on the earlier S-Type, differing in that they had a revised four-headlight nose reminiscent of the Jaguar Mark X, and being powered by a 4.2 litre version of the straight-six XK engine. There were thoughts of fitting the Sovereign with the Daimler 4½ litre V8 engine as used in the Majestic Major but as this significantly outperformed the Jaguar XK unit and would have led to the Sovereign outgunning the Jaguar 420, the Jaguar hierarchy did not pursue the idea; the Jaguar marque was supposed to be more sporty than the Daimler. The 420/Sovereign range began to be replaced by the Jaguar XJ6 in September 1968. The Jaguar ceased production in December 1968, the Daimler remaining in production until July 1969.
Attracting lots of interest, as ever, was this Delorean DMC12. It is now over 35 years since this striking Northern Ireland built car entered production, but it still pulls the crowds, thanks in no small part, I am sure, to the gullwing doors, and its starring role in “Back to the Future”. The DeLorean story goes back to October 1976, when the first prototype was completed by American automotive chief engineer William T. Collins, formerly chief engineer at Pontiac. Originally, the car was intended to have a centrally-mounted Wankel rotary engine. The engine selection was reconsidered when Comotor production ended, and the favoured engine became Ford’s “Cologne V6.” Eventually the French/Swedish PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) fuel injected V6 was selected. Also the engine location moved from the mid-engined location in the prototype to a rear-engined installation in the production car. The chassis was initially planned to be produced from a new and untested manufacturing technology known as elastic reservoir moulding (ERM), which would lighten the car while presumably lowering its production costs. This new technology, for which DeLorean had purchased patent rights, was eventually found to be unsuitable. These and other changes to the original concept led to considerable schedule pressures. The entire car was deemed to require almost complete re-engineering, which was turned over to engineer Colin Chapman, founder and owner of Lotus Cars. Chapman replaced most of the unproven material and manufacturing techniques with those then employed by Lotus, like the steel backbone chassis. DeLorean required $175 million to develop and build the motor company. Convincing Hollywood celebrities such as Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis, Jr. to invest in the firm, DeLorean eventually built the DMC-12 in a factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, a neighbourhood a few miles from Belfast city centre. Construction on the factory began in October 1978, and although production of the DMC-12 was scheduled to start in 1979, engineering problems and budget overruns delayed production until early 1981. By that time, the unemployment rate was high in Northern Ireland and local residents lined up to apply for jobs at the factory. The workers were largely inexperienced, but were paid premium wages and supplied with the best equipment available. Most quality issues were solved by 1982 and the cars were sold from dealers with a one-year, 12,000-mile warranty and an available five-year, 50,000-mile service contract. The DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in late 1982 following John DeLorean’s arrest in October of that year on drug trafficking charges. He was later found not guilty, but it was too late for the DMC-12 to remain in production. Approximately 100 partially assembled DMCs on the production line were completed by Consolidated International (now known as Big Lots). The remaining parts from the factory stock, the parts from the US Warranty Parts Centre, as well as parts from the original suppliers that had not yet been delivered to the factory were all shipped to Columbus, Ohio in 1983–1984. A company called KAPAC sold these parts to retail and wholesale customers via mail order. In 1997, DeLorean Motor Company of Texas acquired this inventory. There had also been a long-standing rumour that the body stamping dies were dumped into the ocean to prevent later manufacture. Evidence later emerged that the dies were used as anchors for nets at a fish farm in Ards Bay, Connemara, Ireland. About 9,200 DMC-12s were produced between January 1981 and December 1982. Almost a fifth of these were produced in October 1981. About a thousand 1982 models were produced between February and May 1982, and all of these cars had the VINs changed after purchase by Consolidated to make them appear as 1983 models. The survival rate of the cars is good.
There were both classic and brand new Ferrari models on show. The main display of new cars was inside the ticket-ed zone, with a collection of 4 cars present, which included a couple of examples of the 488 GTB, the recently released Handling Speciale version of the California T and a GTC4 Lusso. A further couple of examples of the last of these were parked up outside the ticket check area, and these cars seemed to be kept busy taking potential customers out for test drives.
Classic models were here courtesy of well known Ferrari dealer Talacrest, who had a mouth-watering array of some rather special cars on show.
Perhaps the least well known car that they were showing was this 250 GT Berlinetta Sport Special, which I recall first seeing at Salon Prive last year. It dates from 1955, having been ordered new by Roberto Rossellini, and was reportedly one of Pininfarina’s favourite designs. When shown at Salon Prive, it was noted that the car had recently been sold. That it was now on a dealer stand suggests that it is up for sale again.
The Ferrari 250 GT SWB is one of the better known early Ferraris, and examples of this model are often seen at historic motor racing events as well as concours. First seen in 1959, the 250 GT Berlinetta SWB used a short 2,400 mm (94.5 in) wheelbase for better handling. Of the 176 examples built, both steel and aluminium bodies were used in various road (“lusso”) and racing trims. Engine output ranged from 237 bhp to 276 bhp. Development of the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta was handled by Giotto Bizzarrini, Carlo Chiti, and young Mauro Forghieri, the same team that later produced the 250 GTO. Disc brakes were a first in a Ferrari GT, and the combination of low weight, high power, and well-sorted suspension made it a competitive offering. It was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October and quickly began selling and racing. The SWB Berlinetta claimed GT class of the Constructor’s Championship for Ferrari in 1961. These cars are highly prized nowadays and for good reason.
Needing series production to stabilise his company’s finances, Enzo Ferrari asked Pininfarina to design a simple and classic 250 GT coupé. After the 250 GT Boano/Ellena, Pininfarina’s Grugliasco plant expanded and now had the capacity to produce the new 250 GT Coupé Pininfarina. It was introduced at Milan in 1958, and 335 near-identical examples were built by 1960. Buyers included Prince Bertil of Sweden. The GT Coupé had simple, clean lines and a notchback look with panoramic rear window. The oval grille was replaced by a more traditional long narrow look with protruding headlights. Telescopic shock absorbers were also fitted instead of the Houdailles on previous 250s, and disc brakes were added in 1960. In line with the high-volume coupé, Pininfarina also designed a plainer 250 GT Cabriolet for series production. Introduced at the 1959 Paris Motor Show, the GT Spider sported a look similar to the GT Coupé of the previous year, including the removal of the side vents. About 212 were made.
The 1963 Ferrari 250 GT/L Lusso made its debut at the 1962 Paris Auto Salon and continued in production until 1964. The Lusso is constructed from steel with aluminium opening panels mounted on a tubular steel chassis. The engine is a single overhead camshaft per bank, 3 litre V12 Colombo unit, coupled to a 4 speed gearbox. The instrument panel is unusual in that the speedometer and the rev counter are housed in a pair of large circular binnacles which protrude from the top centre of the dashboard and are angled towards the driver. With just 350 cars produced the 250 GT/L Lusso is a very rare automobile and the prices for these have now reached into the millions when they come up for sale.
Much more recent, though still now over 30 years old was the 288 GTO. This car was built to compete in the new Group B Race series and a minimum of 200 cars were required for homologation. However, after the death of Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto in the 1986 Tour de Corse, the FIA disestablished the class, leaving just the Group A Rally championship. As a result, the GTO never raced and all 272 cars built remained purely road cars. Some of the GTO’s styling features were first displayed on a 308 GTB design exercise by Pininfarina shown at the 1977 Geneva Salon. The 288 GTO started out as a modified version of the 308/328 to hold down costs and to build the car quickly, but little of the 308/328 was left when the 288 GTO was finished. Easily noticeable differences were the GTOs bulging wing flares, larger front/rear spoilers, large “flag-style” outside mirrors and four driving lights at the far sides of the grille. Retained from the original 250 GTO were slanted air vents, put in the GTO’s rear wings to cool the brakes. The GTO also had wider body panels than the 308’s because they had to cover much larger Goodyear tyres mounted on racing wheels. The suspension’s height could be set higher for road use and lower for racing on tracks. Bodywork material was new and lighter for better acceleration and handing. The GTO’s weight was only 2,555 pounds, compared to 3,085-3,350 for the 308/328. Steel was used just for the doors because major body panels were made from moulded fibreglass. Kevlar was used for the engine cover, and the roof was made from Kevlar and carbon fibre. The “288” refers to the GTO’s 2.8 litre V8 engine as it used a de-bored (by 1 mm) V8 with twin IHI turbochargers, intercoolers, and Weber-Marelli fuel injection. The 2855 cc engine capacity was dictated by the FIA’s requirement for a Turbocharged engine’s capacity to be multiplied by 1.4. This gave the GTO a theoretical engine capacity of 3997 cc, just under the Group B limit of 4.0 litres. Unlike the 308’s 2926 cc engine, the GTO’s 2855 cc engine was mounted longitudinally, using the 308’s rear boot space. This was necessary to make room for the twin turbochargers and intercoolers. The racing transmission was mounted to the rear of the longitudinal engine, moving the rear differential and wheels aft. The arrangement also let the GTO use a more conventional race-car engine/transmission layout for such things as quick gear ratio changes for various tracks. As a result, the wheelbase was 110 mm (4.3 in) longer at 2,450 mm (96 in). The track was also widened to accommodate wider wheels and tyres to provide increased cornering and braking performance and the ability to apply 400 hp and 366 lb·ft of torque to the ground. The GTO was an impressive performer, with 0-60 mph times around 5 seconds. Ferrari claimed 0-125 mph (201 km/h) in 15 seconds flat and a top speed of 189 mph (304 km/h), making it the first street-legal production car to reach 300 km/h.
Later in the day I would come across this FF parked up under the trees.
One of the oldest cars on show was this Model T. Although popular legend has it that Henry Ford said to his customer that they could have the car in any colour they liked as long as it was black, this was only true for part of the production run, and was occasioned by it being discovered that the black paint in question dried more quickly than other shades. Earlier models, like this one, and late cars were available in other colours.
Well known dealer, Fiskens, had two very contrasting cars on show, a Ford GT40 and a Vauxhall 30/98. The latter was completed in Velox body – open touring form and delivered to a Mr Charles Roxburgh in 1925 and registered KS 3083. This original bodied 30/98 spent some forty years in the ownership of Colonel Christopher Cardew of the Royal Engineers who drove the car considerably whilst on active service in India (as evidenced with Terrier at about 7000ft near Murree, India). Having covered some five hundred miles since a complete engine rebuild, this 30/98 has been in family ownership for the past thirty years.
Built to take on the might of Ferrari, the Ford GT40 was one of those rare racing cars that not only successfully challenged the opposition but also comprehensively defeated it, winning Le Mans four successive times from 1966 to 1969.In the hands of future Formula One constructor Guy Ligier, GT40 P/1003 was the first GT40 to claim a victory in Europe. It ran under the Ford France banner for Ligier through the 1965 and 1966 seasons before passing on to Jean-Michel Giorgi, who continued to race it as a Ford France car. During that time GT40 P/1003 was only ever out-performed by another GT40 on four occasions! In Ligier’s hands it debuted at the 1965 Nurburgring 1000 Km’s, co-driven by Le Mans winner Maurice Trintignant. Ligier then gave the GT40 that historic first European win at Magny-Cours and followed it up with another victory in the Trophee du Cognac. There were class wins on the Chamrousse and Mont-Dore hillclimbs, with further competition that season at the Ollon-Villars mountain hillclimb and one final victory at Albi. The following season Ligier, with close friend Jo Schlesser, took the class win and fifth overall at the Nurburgring 1000kms, before 1003 was bought for the 1967 season by the aforementioned Giorgi. Giorgi continued where Ligier had left off. With Henri Greder co-driving, he and 1003 took an incredible class win in the Targa Florio, finishing an almost-as-astounding fifth overall. Exactly two weeks later, with the same driver pairing, the GT40 repeated its class win at the Nurburgring 1000kms, coming home seventh overall this time. The Reims 12 Hours followed one month later, then another class win at Magny-Cours. 1003 ran what would prove to be its last race as a Ford France car in October 1967 at the Paris 1000kms at Montlhery. Having had just one British owner for over 30 years, GT40 P/1003 ranks as one of the most original in existence. It signifies a momentous chapter in the motor sport history of both the Ford Motor Company and that of France, making it one of the most important GT40’s in the world.
On the Saturday, it had been the turn of Jaguar to star as the featured marque, and from an array of over 90 beautiful examples of the Big Cat, the judges had picked out an impeccably restored XK120 DHC as their favourite. There were still quite a few Jaguars to savour on the day of my visit, with these catching my attention:
Oldest of the models was a lovely Mark V 3.5 litre Drophead Coupe. The origin of the Mark V name is somewhat mysterious as there had been no Mk I to IV Jaguars and the MK IV designation was only given to its predecessor after the launch of the Mk V. It was perhaps a nod to Bentley who built 11 advanced Mark V saloons in 1939, resuming with the Mark VI in 1946-52 and who then dropped the “Mark” naming thereafter, while Jaguars continued with the Mark VII to X. The Mark V was launched at the 1948 London Motor Show at the same time as the XK120, with which it shared a stand. However, the Mark V vastly outsold the XK120 by roughly 5,000 cars per year as compared to 2,000 per year for the XK120. While the XK120 had a new overhead-camshaft XK engine, the Mark V retained the 1936 driveline including the “Jaguar” overhead-valve pushrod straight-6, 2½ litre and 3½ litre units for which the company was renamed after the war. No 1½ litre version was offered. Claimed power output in this application was 104 bhp for the 2664 cc Mark V and 126 bhp for its more popular 3486 cc sibling. The chassis was new with independent front suspension by double wishbones and torsion bar, an arrangement that would be used by Jaguar for many future vehicles. It also had hydraulic brakes, which Jaguar had been slow to adopt compared to other manufacturers, and an all pressed steel body. The styling of the car followed prewar SS-Jaguar lines with upright chrome grille and the leaping Jaguar radiator cap mascot became available as an option. There is a distinct hint of the recently modernised Bentley look in the style of the front grille. The wheels were 16-inch steel-disc type, significantly smaller than the 18-inch ones on the MK IV. From the side, a distinctive styling touch was a “tuck in” curve at the base of the rear window following the curved profile of the side glass. Rear-wheel spats (fender skirts) were standard. Production ran through to 1951, and although the majority of Mark Vs were Saloon models, around 1000 Drophead Coupés were made as well, and these are now highly sought after.
The C-Type was built specifically for the race track . It used the running gear of the contemporary road-proven XK120 clothed in a lightweight tubular frame, devised by William Heynes, and clothed in an aerodynamic aluminium body designed by Malcolm Sayer. The road-going XK120’s 3.4-litre twin-cam, straight-6 engine produced between 160 and 180 bhp, but when installed in the C-Type, it was originally tuned to around 205 bhp. Early C-Types were fitted with SU carburettors and drum brakes. Later C-Types, from mid 1953, were more powerful, using triple twin-choke Weber carburettors and high-lift camshafts. They were also lighter, and braking performance was improved with disc brakes on all four wheels, which were something of a novelty at the time, though their adoption started to spread quite quickly after Jaguar had used them. The lightweight, multi-tubular, triangulated frame was designed by William Heynes. Malcolm Sayer designed the aerodynamic body. Made of aluminium in the barchetta style, it is devoid of road-going items such as carpets, weather equipment and exterior door handles. The C-Type was successful in racing, most notably at the Le Mans 24 hours race, which it won twice. In 1951 the car won at its first attempt. The factory entered three, whose driver pairings were Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman, Leslie Johnson and triple Mille Miglia winner Clemente Biondetti, and the eventual winners, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead. The Walker-Whitehead car was the only factory entry to finish, the other two retiring with lack of oil pressure. A privately entered XK120, owned by Robert Lawrie, co-driven by Ivan Waller, also completed the race, finishing 11th. In 1952 Jaguar, worried by a report about the speed of the Mercedes-Benz 300SLs that would run at Le Mans, modified the C-Type’s aerodynamics to increase the top speed. However, the consequent rearrangement of the cooling system made the cars vulnerable to overheating, and all three retired from the race. The Peter Whitehead-Ian Stewart and Tony Rolt/Duncan Hamilton cars blew head gaskets, and the Stirling Moss-Peter Walker car, the only one not overheating having had a full-sized radiator hurriedly fitted, lost oil pressure after a mechanical breakage. Testing by Norman Dewis at MIRA after the race proved that the overheating was caused more by the revisions to the cooling system than by the altered aerodynamics: the water pump pulley was undersized, so it was spinning too fast and causing cavitation; also the header tank was in front of the passenger-side bulkhead, far from the radiator, and the tubing diameter was too small at 7/8 inch. With the pump pulley enlarged, and the tubing increased to 1 1/4 inch, the problem was eliminated. The main drawback of the new body shape was that it reduced downforce on the tail to the extent that it caused lift and directional instability at speeds over 120 mph on the Mulsanne Straight. These cars had chassis numbers XKC 001, 002 and 011. The first two were dismantled at the factory, and the third survives in normal C-type form. In 1953 C-Types won again, and also placed second and fourth. This time the body was in thinner, lighter aluminium and the original twin H8 sand cast SU carburettors were replaced by three DCO3 40mm Webers, which helped boost power to 220 bhp. Further weight was saved by using a rubber bag fuel tank, lighter electrical equipment and thinner gauge steel for some of the chassis tubes . Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt won the race at 105.85 mph (170.35 km/h) – the first time Le Mans had been won at an average of over 100 miles per hour. 1954, the C-Type’s final year at Le Mans, saw a fourth place by the Ecurie Francorchamps entry driven by Roger Laurent and Jacques Swaters. Between 19951 and 1953, a total of 53 C-Types were built, 43 of which were sold to private owners mainly in the US. When new, the car sold for about $6,000, approximately twice the price of an XK120. Genuine cars have increased in value massively in recent years, however buyers do need to be aware that replicas have been produced by a number of companies, though even these are far from cheap to buy these days. Cars with true racing provenance are well into the millions now. A C-Type once owned and raced by Phil Hill sold at an American auction in August 2009 for $2,530,000 and another C-type was sold at the Pebble Beach auction in 2012 for $3,725,000, More recently an unrestored C-Type that raced at Le Mans has sold for £5,715,580, during the Grand Prix Historique race meeting in Monaco. In August 2015, an ex-Ecurie Ecosse Lightweight C-type, chassis XKC052 and the second of only three works lightweights, driven by Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart to fourth at the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours, fetched £8.4 million at auction in California.
Duncan Hamilton had an example of a Lynx replica D type on show. A “short nose”, this car was hand built at the factory in 1985 and is one of only 3 short nose D Types ever built by Lynx. Created from a 1962 3.8 right hand drive FHC E Type the car has a wet sump 3.8 engine and triple Webers, a 4 speed box and has uprated Coopercraft vented brakes. It has been owned the same person for the last 20 years but is now for sale.
It was no surprise to find several examples of the E Type here, with both Series 1 and Series 2 models on show.
Few would have guessed that the XJS would run for over 20 years, but eventually it came time for its replacement, and the car charged with so doing was the XK8. Development began in 1992, with design work having starting earlier, in late 1991. By October 1992 a design was chosen and later frozen for production in 1993. Prototypes were built from December 1993 after the X100 was given formal approval and design patents were filed in June 1994. Development concluded in 1996, at which point the car was launched. The first-generation XK series shares its platform with the Aston Martin DB7, and both cars are derived from the Jaguar XJS, though the platform has been extensively changed. One of the revisions is the use of the second generation of Jaguar’s independent rear suspension unit, taken from the XJ40. The XK8 was available in coupé or convertible body styles and with the then new 4.0-litre Jaguar AJ-V8 engine. In 1998 the XKR was introduced with a supercharged version of the engine. 2003 the engines were replaced by the 4.2-litre AJ34 engines in both the normally aspirated and supercharged versions. Equipment levels were generous and there was a high standard of fit and finish. Both models came with all-leather interior, burl walnut trim, and side airbags. Jeremy Clarkson, during a Top Gear test-drive, likened the interior of the original XK8 to sitting inside Blenheim Palace. The model ran for 10 years before being replaced by the X150 model XK. Seen here was an XKR.
We’ve had a while to get used to the Ian Callum modified Jaguar Mark 2 now, as this car was first seen in late 2014. Purists were aghast, of course, but there are plenty of people who rather like the result of this renowned designer’s re-imagining of the classic Mark 2, something he said he had been doing since he was a boy. Half a century later, he was able to crystallise those thoughts with the help of the Classic Motor Company of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, diligent and long-established restorer of interesting old Jaguars. It started off as he thought that Mini and Escort racers with no bumpers looked great, and he wondered why this could not be applied to the Jaguar. Because there was nothing under the bumpers, it took a long time to come up with this design, with brake ducts like a racing car’s. Other visual changes including a dechroming of most of the car, apart from the grille, which sports a modern Jaguar badge. There are plenty of other changes, too. Under the bonnet, there is a 4.3 litre 260bhp V8 from the XK fed by an authentic pair of SU HD8 carburettors, fired by electronic ignition and exiting its spent gases through a pair of central tailpipes. Anti-lock brakes are fitted. The engine sits lower and slightly inclined, to straighten the driveline and improve cooling. The gearbox is a five-speed Tremec T5. Everything has changed at the rear, the leaf springs and solid axle replaced by a multi-link independent system based on that of the X-type but heavily re-dimensioned and using original Mark 2 mounting points. The wheels are 17in split-rim wires by Turrino. 18 inches proved too big. All four wheels sit perfectly within their arches thanks to offsets that make the front and rear tracks equal, unlike the original. It’s part of a suspension revamp that includes lowering the body by 30mm on the front subframe, adding anti-dive, fitting a bespoke, electrically assisted steering rack in place of the steering box, fine-tuning the camber and killing the bump steer. Inside, there’s a full complement of wood, but it’s the dark oak from an XFR, which looks much more modern, and the machined switches add a bit of glamour. The soft trim is red, with some quilting in the leather, and the headlining is bonded to the roof as in the Daimler V8-engined derivative of the Mark 2. The front seats are Alfa 156 beneath their red leather skins. Other modern touches include the integration of a sat nav system and a smaller steering wheel. There are plenty of other mode subtle changes: the external fuel filler for a tank now set vertically behind the rear seat, the air extractor louvres where the filler flap used to be and more air extractors ahead of the doors. The front wings have been remade to pull the tops of the arches out slightly, so subtly that you’d never guess. ‘IC’ logos adorn the bootlid and main dials, and Ian’s signature, in silver, is encased in the glovebox’s lacquer. More than 6500 hours of building and development time have gone into this 1963-going-on-2014 Mark 2. What started out as Callum’s one-off realisation of a long-mulled-over idea has grown into a plan to make 11 more examples of the ‘Mark 2 by Callum’. Several people have shown interest, but with a price likely to exceed £300,000 if there have been any takers, it has all been kept very quiet, meaning this car may yet remain unique.
From the current range, there were examples of the F Type, the latest XF Saloon and the recently released F-Pace.
At least as majestic, and not dis-similar in appearance is this Lagonda M45 from the mid 1930s. These were near 100 mph machines with a Meadows-supplied 4.5 litre engine. Bodies were something that the buyer chose from their favourite coachbuilder.
Making its debut in a Land Rover display which included the latest Range Rover models was the Land Rover Series I Reborn. The Reborn offers 25 prospective customers the unique opportunity to purchase an original and highly collectable Land Rover Series I directly from Land Rover Classic, whose team have hand-picked 25 Series I chassis from Land Rover’s global network. Each model will undergo a complete restoration according to the brand’s original 1948 factory specification and using Land Rover Classic Parts to preserve authenticity. This includes the choice of five period finishes including Light Green, Bronze Green, RAF Blue, Dove Grey and Poppy Red. Customers will be able to select their preferred base vehicle with the help and guidance of Land Rover Classic’s restoration team, and they will be able to follow the restoration of their cherished Series I from start to finish at Land Rover’s new Classic workshop located within the original Defender production centre at Solihull. Seen here was the first car to emerge from the process as well as another candidate, a Series One that was sourced in Australia, as well as the latest Range Rover.
This was a fabulous example of the Esprit Essex Turbo. Launched in 1980, initially, the turbocharged Esprit was a special edition model commemorating F1 ties and reflecting current sponsorship, in the blue, red and chrome livery of Essex Petroleum, and is therefore known as the Essex Esprit. The new turbocharged dry-sump type 910 engine produced 210 hp and 200 lb·ft of torque. 0-60 mph could be achieved in 6.1 seconds, with a top speed of 150 mph. These performance improvements were coupled to a redesign and strengthening of the chassis and rear suspension, where an upper link was added to alleviate strain on the driveshafts, along with brake improvements. The Essex cars introduced a Giugiaro-designed aerodynamic body kit with a rear lip spoiler, prominent louvered rear hatch, more substantial bumpers, a deeper front airdam, and air ducts in the sills just ahead of the rear wheels, which were 15″ Compomotive 3-piece items. Internally, scarlet leather, combined with a roof-mounted Panasonic stereo, made for a dramatic environment. The Turbo became a permanent feature of the Esprit range with the introduction of the Series 3 models in the spring of 1981.
There was a particularly impressive collection of Marcos models here, with plenty of cars to show how the same basic design evolved over a period of almost 40 years. Designed by brothers Dennis and Peter Adams, this well-known car caused something of a sensation when it was shown at the 1964 Racing Car Show. Known as the Marcos 1800, it had a glassfibre body, with a wooden chassis and was offered for sale fully built or in kit form. This was to be the design that would become familiar to sports car enthusiasts for more than 30 years, even though the original plywood chassis would later be replaced by a steel chassis and the futuristic scalloped dashboard also vanished after a few years. The plywood chassis was glued together from 386 separate pieces and was not only light and strong, but also required a minimum up front investment to construct. The extremely low Marcos required a nearly supine driving position and fixed seats, mounted lower than the floor of the car. In return, the entire pedal set could be moved fore and aft with a knob on the dashboard. If this proved not to be enough Marcos also offered optional booster pillows. This setup, with the fixed seats, remained until the end of Marcos production in late 2007. The original Marcos 1800 had a two-spoke steering wheel and a novel dash with a prominent centre console, a rather expensive design which did not survive onto the Ford-engined cars. The entire nose portion, of a long and tapered design, was hinged at the front and was held down by latches behind the front wheelwells. It used the cast-iron four-cylinder 96 hp Volvo 1778 cc B18 unit with overdrive gearbox from the Volvo P1800S enough for a 116 mph top speed and a 0-60 mph time of 8.2 seconds. Successful in competition, the rather expensive 1800 sold very slowly, and after the first 33 cars the de Dion rear suspension was replaced by a live Ford axle. The price was dropped from ₤1500 to ₤1340, but it was not enough to make the car profitable. Cars were stockpiling in 1966, and after 106 (or 99) had been built, the 1800 was replaced by the Ford-engined 1500. Normally fitted with a four-speed manual transmission a five-speed one was also available, allowing for a higher top speed. According to some sources, a few of the last cars built had the 2 litre Volvo B20 engine fitted, as did some of the racing cars. The 1800 is the only Marcos that is eligible for historic racing and as such is considerably more valuable today than later models. In 1966 the GT was changed to a pushrod inline-four Ford Kent engine of 1500 cc, in order to lower costs as the 1800 had been rather too expensive to market. The complex dash was also replaced with a flat polished wood unit, which was soon downgraded further yet to a mass-produced “wood-effect” one. Power and performance were both down on the 1800, but sales increased considerably. To hide the fact that a common Ford engine was used, Marsh replaced the rocker covers with Marcos ones and switched from Weber to Stromberg carburettors. An overbored Lawrencetune 1650 cc version was made available in 1967 (32 built) to ameliorate the power shortage, for the Marcos 1650 GT. The 1650 also had bigger disc brakes and a standard Webasto sunroof, but proved somewhat less than reliable It and the 1500 were both replaced by Ford’s new Crossflow four not much later, in late 1967. The 1600 proved to be the most popular model yet, with 192 cars built until early 1969. Weight was 740 kg (1,631 lb) and disc brakes up front were standard, although power assist was an optional extra. Production ended in October 1969 as the new steel chassis was not well suited for the crossflow engine. A new model, the 2 litre, appeared at the January 1969 London Show with the engine changed to the Ford Essex V4 engine from the Ford Corsair – while a V6 engine had already appeared at the top of the lineup in 1968. Also in 1969, the plywood chassis was gradually replaced by a square section steel one, which shortened production time and saved on cost. These steel framed cars required a lower sill panel and have reshaped rear bumpers, as well as some subtle interior differences. The wooden chassis had also begun to meet a certain amount of resistance from buyers. There seem to have been no V4-engined wooden cars made, although there is a few months overlap between the introduction dates. The V4 received most of the same standard and optional equipment (except the overdrive) and the same central bonnet bulge as did the V6 models; very few of the Marcos 2 litres still have their V4 engines, as a V6 swap is a rather quick job and makes for a much faster car than the original’s 85 hp. It was not exactly a success story, 78 2 litres were most likely built, although numbers as low as 40 have also been mentioned. New at the October 1968 London Show was the more powerful Marcos 3 litre. Fitted with the double-carb Ford Essex V6 engine and transmission from the Ford Zodiac, production beginning in January 1969. Max power was 140 bhp and aside from the badging, this car is most easily recognised by the large, central bonnet bulge necessary to clear the larger engine. The 3 litre had a four-speed manual with a Laycock-de-Normanville Overdrive for the third and fourth gears fitted. In December 1969 a twin-carburetted 3-litre Volvo B30 straight-six became available (initially only for the US), and in 1971 eleven or twelve cars were fitted with the 150 bhp Triumph 2.5-litre straight-six. These were called the Marcos 2½ litre. As the bonnet was a close fit over the various larger engines, this resulted in a corresponding variation in the bonnet design as regards changes designed to clear engine air intakes, often the only external sign of the type of engine fitted. All inline-sixes required a rather angular bulge right of centre on the bonnet to clear the carburettors. Around this time, some V6 cars begun sporting single rectangular headlights (not on US-market cars), borrowed from the Vauxhall Viva HB. Later in 1969 the six-cylinder cars, as with their four-cylinder counterparts, received the new steel chassis. Either 100 or 119 of the wood-chassied V6 cars were built. The Ford V6 version achieved over 120 mph on test and the Volvo-engined model was not far behind it, but the heavy cast-iron engines increased nose-heaviness in comparison to the four-cylinder variants. With US sales going strong, Marcos production was up to three per week and they had to invest in a bigger space in 1969. Cars for the North Americas market had Volvo’s inline-six cylinder, 3 litre engines with a standard Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmissions. They sat on tubular steel space frames, have a higher ride height, and no headlight covers – all of this was in order to get US road certification. Air conditioning was also listed as an option by New York-based importers Marcos International Inc. Delays and problems with the federalised cars were beginning to mount. In 1970, 27 exported cars were impounded by US Customs for supposedly not meeting federal law, causing Marcos to withdraw entirely from the US market. Together with the development costs of the Mantis and the introduction of VAT on kit cars on the horizon, Marcos had to close its doors for what turned out to be the first time. About sixty US market cars were built, some of which were brought back after the US market dried up in 1970 and converted to RHD for sale in the home market. Production of the Volvo 3 litre continued for the rest of the world, with these cars fitted with a four-speed manual transmission. Either 80 or 172 of the Volvo I6-engined Marcos were built until early 1972, with the final one destined to become the last Marcos built for the next ten years. After Marcos had run out of money the company was sold to Hebron & Medlock Bath Engineering in mid-1971. They themselves had to call in the receivers only six months later. The Rob Walker Garage Group bought the factory only to sell off everything, including some finished cars such as all six Mark 2 1600s built. Jem Marsh bought up spares and other parts at the liquidation sale and proceeded to run a company servicing existing Marcos, until he resumed production of Marcos kits in 1981. The original GT continued to be built until 1989 or 1990, being developed into its altered Mantula form. This was further developed into more powerful and aggressively-styled designs, culminating in the 1994 LM600 (which competed in the 1995 Le Mans 24-hour race).
Also here was one of the very rare, but promising TSO models. These were manufactured between 2004 and 2007 and featured a Chevrolet V8 engine in either 350 bhp or 400 bhp versions. The car’s components were CAD designed in England, while chassis engineering has been done by Prodrive. Also in 2004, the 5.7-litre Chevrolet Corvette (LS1) V8 TSO GT was announced, but solely for the Australian market. It was joined in 2005 by the GT2 for the European market. In 2006 Marcos announced the TSO GTC, a modified version of the current TSO with a racing suspension, racing brakes and a rear diffuser. The car continues on with its Chevrolet-sourced 420 bhp V8, but there is also a 462 bhp Performance Pack available as well. With the extra power from the Performance Pack the TSO GTC accelerates to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and to 100 mph in 8.5 seconds. With the bigger brakes, 340 mm AP Racing brakes, the TSO GTC delivers a 0-100-0 time of 12.9 seconds. With the extra power, its 50 to 70 mph time is just 2.1 seconds. Top speed is over 185 mph. Marcos Engineering Ltd went into administration on October 9, 2007, with production of only 5 or 6 road cars plus some incomplete examples.
This very splendid pair of 1930s supercharged Mercedes models made quite a contrast with the Bentleys of the era.
Oldest of the Porsche models to be seen here was this lovely 356C Coupe. The 356 was created by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche (son of Dr. Ing. Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the German company), who founded the Austrian company with his sister, Louise. Like its cousin, the Volkswagen Beetle (which Ferdinand Porsche Senior had designed), the 356 was a four-cylinder, air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car utilising unitised pan and body construction. The chassis was a completely new design as was the 356’s body which was designed by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda, while certain mechanical components including the engine case and some suspension components were based on and initially sourced from Volkswagen. Ferry Porsche described the thinking behind the development of the 356 in an interview with the editor of Panorama, the PCA magazine, in September 1972. “….I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW and others. ….By the end of the war I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea we started the first Porsche prototype. To make the car lighter, to have an engine with more horsepower…that was the first two seater that we built in Carinthia (Gmünd)”. The first 356 was road certified in Austria on June 8, 1948, and was entered in a race in Innsbruck where it won its class. Porsche re-engineered and refined the car with a focus on performance. Fewer and fewer parts were shared between Volkswagen and Porsche as the ’50’s progressed. The early 356 automobile bodies produced at Gmünd were handcrafted in aluminium, but when production moved to Zuffenhausen, Germany in 1950, models produced there were steel-bodied. Looking back, the aluminium bodied cars from that very small company are what we now would refer to as prototypes. Porsche contracted with Reutter to build the steel bodies and eventually bought the Reutter company in 1963. The Reutter company retained the seat manufacturing part of the business and changed its name to Recaro. Little noticed at its inception, mostly by a small number of auto racing enthusiasts, the first 356s sold primarily in Austria and Germany. It took Porsche two years, starting with the first prototype in 1948, to manufacture the first 50 automobiles. By the early 1950s the 356 had gained some renown among enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic for its aerodynamics, handling, and excellent build quality. The class win at Le Mans in 1951 was clearly a factor. It was always common for owners to race the car as well as drive them on the streets. They introduced the four-cam racing “Carrera” engine, a totally new design and unique to Porsche sports cars, in late 1954. Increasing success with its racing and road cars brought Porsche orders for over 10,000 units in 1964, and by the time 356 production ended in 1965 approximately 76,000 had been produced. The 356 was built in four distinct series, the original (“pre-A”), followed by the 356 A, 356 B, and then finally the 356 C. To distinguish among the major revisions of the model, 356’s are generally classified into a few major groups. 356 coupés and “cabriolets” (soft-top) built through 1955 are readily identifiable by their split (1948 to 1952) or bent (centre-creased, 1953 to 1955) windscreens. In late 1955 the 356 A appeared, with a curved windshield. The A was the first road going Porsche to offer the Carrera 4 cam engine as an option. In late 1959 the T5 356 B appeared; followed by the redesigned T6 series 356 B in 1962. The final version was the 356 C, little changed from the late T6 B cars but with disc brakes to replace the drums.
There were also a number of 911 cars, ranging from an early model to a more recent 911 Turbo and a 996-based GT3.
There was quite a contrast between this 40/50 HP and the latest Dawn which were shown by one of the other auction houses exhibiting.
There were a couple of Rolls Royce models parked up amongst the Bentleys. Both were from the era when the only significant difference between the two was the radiator grille and badging, so could easily have passed for being Bentley models. These were a Series 3 Silver Cloud, a close relative of the S Type and the Corniche.
The collection of Triumph sports cars assembled here were all TR models, with the oldest being the TR3b. Launched in 1955, the TR3 was an evolution of the TR2 and not a brand new model. It was powered by a 1991 cc straight-4 OHV engine initially producing 95 bhp, an increase of 5 hp over the TR2 thanks to the larger SU-H6 carburettors fitted. This was later increased to 100 bhp at 5000 rpm by the addition of a “high port” cylinder head and enlarged manifold. The four-speed manual gearbox could be supplemented by an overdrive unit on the top three ratios, electrically operated and controlled by a switch on the dashboard. In 1956 the front brakes were changed from drums to discs, the TR3 thus becoming the first British series production car to be so fitted. The TR3 was updated in 1957, with various changes of which the full width radiator grille is the easiest recognition point and the facelifted model is commonly referred to as the Triumph “TR3A”, though unlike the later TR4 series, where the “A” suffix was adopted, the cars were not badged as such and the “TR3A” name was not used officially, Other updates included exterior door handles, a lockable boot handle and the car came with a full tool kit as standard (this was an option on the TR3). The total production run of the “TR3A” was 58,236. This makes it the third best-selling TR after the TR6 and TR7. The TR3A was so successful that the original panel moulds eventually wore out and had to be replaced. In 1959 a slightly modified version came out that had raised stampings under the bonnet and boot hinges and under the door handles, as well as a redesigned rear floor section. In addition, the windscreen was attached with bolts rather than the Dzus connectors used on the early “A” models. Partly because it was produced for less time, the original TR3 sold 13,377 examples, of which 1286 were sold within the UK; the rest being exported mainly to the USA.
There were a couple of examples of the TR6, the first Triumph for some time not to have been styled by Michelotti. By the mid 1960s, money was tight, so when it came to replacing the TR4 and TR5 models, Triumph were forced into trying to minimise the costs of the redesign, which meant that they kept the central section of the old car, but came up with new bodywork with the front and back ends were squared off, reportedly based on a consultancy contract involving Karmann. The resulting design, which did look modern when it was unveiled in January 1969 has what is referred to as a Kamm tail, which was very common during 1970s era of cars and a feature on most Triumphs of the era. All TR6 models featured inline six-cylinder engines. For the US market the engine was carburetted, as had been the case for the US-only TR250 engine. Like the TR5, the TR6 was fuel-injected for other world markets including the United Kingdom, hence the TR6PI (petrol-injection) designation. The Lucas mechanical fuel injection system helped the home-market TR6 produce 150 bhp at model introduction. Later, the non-US TR6 variant was detuned to 125 bhp for it to be easier to drive, while the US variant continued to be carburetted with a mere 104 hp. Sadly, the Lucas injection system proved somewhat troublesome, somewhat denting the appeal of the car. The TR6 featured a four-speed manual transmission. An optional overdrive unit was a desirable feature because it gave drivers close gearing for aggressive driving with an electrically switched overdrive which could operate on second, third, and fourth gears on early models and third and fourth on later models because of constant gearbox failures in second at high revs. Both provided “long legs” for open motorways. TR6 also featured semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, 15-inch wheels and tyres, pile carpet on floors and trunk/boot, bucket seats, and a full complement of instrumentation. Braking was accomplished by disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. A factory steel hardtop was optional, requiring two people to fit it. TR6 construction was fundamentally old-fashioned: the body was bolted onto a frame instead of the two being integrated into a unibody structure; the TR6 dashboard was wooden (plywood with veneer). Other factory options included a rear anti-roll bar and a limited-slip differential. Some say that the car is one of Leyland’s best achievements, but a number of issues were present and remain because of poor design. As well as the fuel injection problems, other issues include a low level radiator top-up bottle and a poor hand-brake. As is the case with other cars of the era, the TR6 can suffer from rust issues, although surviving examples tend to be well-cared for. The TR6 can be prone to overheating. Many owners fit an aftermarket electric radiator fan to supplement or replace the original engine-driven fan. Also the Leyland factory option of an oil cooler existed. Despite the reliability woes, the car proved popular, selling in greater quantity than any previous TR, with 94,619 of them produced before production ended in mid 1976. Of these, 86,249 were exported and only 8,370 were sold in the UK. A significant number have since been re-imported, as there are nearly 3000 of these much loved classics on the road and a further 1300 on SORN, helped by the fact that parts and services to support ownership of a TR6 are readily available and a number of classic car owners’ clubs cater for the model.
What turned out to be the final TR model was launched in January 1975, and this time it really was all new. A dramatic Harris Mann wedge shaped was shock enough for the purists, but the fact that at launch it only came as a Fixed Head Coupe was almost too much for some to bear. In the end, though. more TR7s were sold than any other TR model, so it really cannot have been all that bad even if the car had a somewhat bumpy existence, moving production plant from Speke, Liverpool where the early cars were made, to Canley, Coventry in 1978 and then finally to the Rover Solihull plant in 1980. An open topped model did join the range in 1980 and small numbers of factory built TR8s with the 135 bhp Rover V8 engine under the bonnet were made, but the proposed 2+2 Lynx model, and a version with the 16 valve Dolomite Sprint engine and the 2 litre O Series unit never made production. The car was launched in the United States in January 1975, with its UK home market debut in May 1976. The UK launch was delayed at least twice because of high demand for the vehicle in the US, with final sales of new TR7s continuing into 1982. The TR7 was characterised by its “wedge” shape, which was commonly advertised as: “The Shape of Things to Come”, and by a swage line sweeping down from the rear wing to just behind the front wheel. It had an overall length of 160 inches, width of 66 inches, wheelbase of 85 inches and height of 49.5 inches, and a kerbside weight of 2205 pounds, exactly 1000 kg. During development, the TR7 was referred to by the code name “Bullet”.The original full size model wore MG logos because it was styled at Longbridge, which was not a Triumph factory. Power was provided by a 105 bhp 1,998 cc eight-valve four-cylinder engine that shared the same basic design as the Triumph Dolomite Sprint engine, mounted in-line at the front of the car. Drive was to the rear wheels via a four-speed gearbox initially with optional five-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic from 1976. The front independent suspension used coil spring and damper struts and lower single link at the front, and at the rear was a four-link system, again with coil springs. There were front and rear anti roll bars, with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The interior trim was revised in March 1977, with the broadcord seat covers being replaced with red or green “tartan” check inserts with black leather effect vinyl edging, which looks so very period. now The tartan trim was also reflected in the door cards in padded matching red or green tartan cloth inserts in the black leather effect vinyl. A number of other detailed changes were made, partly to ensure commonality of parts in future models, such as the Convertible and the TR8, and also based on what else was available from the corporate parts bin. Badging changed a number of times, but there were no other significant alterations before the end of production in 1981. In total approximately 115,000 TR7 models were built which includes 28,864 soft top/convertibles, and approximately 2,800 TR8 models. Seen here was the later Convertible model, the version you come across more often these days.
There was a good showing of TVR models here, too. All the cars came from the relatively recent past, with four of the different models that were produced in the final 15 years of the life of this marque. The Griffith was the first of the modern generation TVRs. First seen as a concept at the 1990 British Motor Show, it wowed the crowds sufficiently that unlike the Show Cars of precediing years, may of which were never seen again, Peter Wheeler and his small team in Blackpool immediately set about preparing it for production. It took until mid 1992 before they were ready. Like its forerunner namesakes, the Griffith 200 and Griffith 400, the modern Griffith was a lightweight (1048 kg) fibreglass-bodied, 2-door, 2-seat sports car with a V8 engine. Originally, it used a 4.0 litre 240 hp Rover V8 engine, but that could be optionally increased to a 4.3 litre 280 hp unit, with a further option of big-valve cylinder heads. In 1993, a TVR-developed 5.0 litre 340 hp version of the Rover V8 became available. All versions of the Griffith used the Lucas 14CUX engine management system and had a five-speed manual transmission. The car spawned a cheaper, and bigger-selling relative, the Chimaera, which was launched in 1993. 602 were sold in the first year and then around 250 cars a year were bought throughout the 90s, but demand started to wane, so iIn 2000, TVR announced that the Griffith production was going to end. A limited edition run of 100 Special Edition (SE) cars were built to mark the end of production. Although still very similar to the previous Griffith 500 model, the SE had a hybrid interior using the Chimaera dashboard and Cerbera seats. Noticeably, the rear lights were different along with different door mirrors, higher powered headlights and clear indicator lenses. Some also came with 16-inch wheels. Each car came with a numbered plaque in the glove box including the build number and a Special Edition Badge on its boot. All cars also had a unique signature in the boot under the carpet. The SEs were built between 2000 and 2002, with the last registered in 2003. A register of the last 100 SEs can be found at TVR Griffith 500 SE Register. These days, the Griffith remains a much loved classic and to celebrate the car, the owners have a meet called “The Griff Growl.”
The Chimaera came a year after the Griffith, in 1992, and was intended to be a slightly softer grand tourer as well as a sports car. This car was offered with a number of different versions of the familiar Rover V8 engine to power it, in 4, 4,3 and 4.5 litre capacities, none of which were exactly lacking in urge. It was the biggest selling TVR of its day, with production running through to 2003.
The Tuscan was launched in 2000, by which time there had been a series of what we think of as the modern era TVRs produced for nearly a decade, the Cerbera, Griffith and Cerbera. The Tuscan did not replace any of them, but was intended to help with the company’s ambitious push further up market to become a sort of Blackpool-built alternative to Ferrari. It did not lack the styling for the task, and unlike the preceding models with their Rover V8 engines, the new car came with TVR’s own engine, a straight six unit of 3.6 litre capacity putting out 360 bhp. The Tuscan was intended to be the grand tourer of the range, perfectly practical for everyday use, though with only two seats, no ABS, no airbags and no traction control, it was a tough sell on wet days in a more safety conscious world, but at least there was a removable targa top roof panel for those days when the sun came out. The car may have lacked the rumble of a V8, but when pushed hard, the sound track from the engine was still pretty special, and the car was faster than the Cerbera, but sadly, the car proved less than reliable, which really started to harm TVR’s reputation, something which would ultimately prove to be its undoing. That’s a shame, as looking at it parked up here, this really does appear as special as the Ferrari models parked elsewhere on the Square.
Taking its name from the Greek name of a lightweight battle-axe used by the Scythians which was feared for its ability to penetrate the armour of their enemies, the second TVR model to be seen here, was a Sagaris, a car which made its debut at the MPH03 Auto Show in 2003. The pre-production model was then shown at the 2004 Birmingham Motorshow. In 2005 the production model was released for public sale at TVR dealerships around the world. Based on the TVR T350, the Sagaris was designed with endurance racing in mind. Several design features of the production model lend themselves to TVR’s intentions to use the car for such racing. The multitude of air vents, intake openings and other features on the bodywork allow the car to be driven for extended periods of time on race tracks with no modifications required for cooling and ventilation. The final production model came with several variations from the pre-production show models such as the vents on the wings not being cut out, different wing mirrors, location of the fuel filler and bonnet hinges. As with all modern TVRs the Sagaris ignored the European Union guideline that all new cars should be fitted with ABS and at least front airbags because Peter Wheeler believed that such devices promote overconfidence and risk the life of a driver in the event of a rollover, which TVRs are engineered to resist. It also eschewed electronic driver’s aids (such as traction control or electronic stability control). In 2008, TVR unveiled the Sagaris 2, which was designed to replace the original Sagaris. In the prototype revealed, there were minor changes to the car including a revised rear fascia and exhaust system, and modifications to the interior. Sagaris models. on the rare occasions that they come up for sale, are pricey.
Final TVR present was a Tamora. This car was launched in 2002, as the entry point of the range, taking over from the Chimaera. It was fitted with TVR’s in-house ‘Speed Six’, a DOHC 3605 cc six-cylinder engine rated at 350 hp and 290 lb/ft of torque at 5500 rpm, mated to a five-speed manual. Brake rotors were 12.0 inches up front, and 11.1 inches in the back, both clamped by AP Racing calipers. The suspension is a double wishbone setup at all four corners. Standard wheels are 16×7 inch aluminium, with 225/50ZR-16 Avon ZZ3 tyres. The Tamora was built on a 93-inch wheelbase, and the car’s overall profile measured 154.5 inches long, 67.5 inches wide and 47.4 inches high. It weighed 2,337 pounds, with 58/42 weight distribution. Keeping with the TVR tradition, the Tamora lacked driving aids such as traction control and ABS as well as air bags. It was still in production when TVR went bankrupt in 2006.
A number of other cars somehow managed to get parking in this area, and the three that attracted my attention were an Abarth 595 Competizione, a Maserati 4200 GranSport and an MG TC.
Parked up in a street just outside the event was this rather splendid Bedford O Series. Sadly, fabulous or not, the wardens who patrol our streets had not been so impressed, as there was a Penalty Charge Notice slapped on the windscreen.
Nearly 12,500 visitors attended the largest Concours of Elegance yet, and with nearly a thousand cars on display, this was the biggest version of the event yet. As ever with the Concours of Elegance, a huge amount of money was also raised for the event’s chosen charities; this year The Queen’s Choral Foundation, The Household Cavalry Foundation and Springfield Youth Club Hackney. With this year’s donations of almost £200,000, the Concours of Elegance has now raised more than £1m for charity. It is understood that plans, and the venue of the 2017 event will be announced shortly.