Taking place for the third time, the Chelsea AutoLegends has the declared intention of being the premier motoring event that takes place in the City of London. Based on the evidence of what I experienced, I would say that the mission has already been achieved, and this is a welcome addition to an already overflowing calendar of delights to divert the motoring enthusiast during the year. The first two AutoLegends had to contend with periods of very inclement weather, but despite the challenge of some very soggy ground underfoot and the threat of early morning drizzle and rather grey skies, it did stay dry all day, which certainly brought out the crowds. It is estimated that over 10,000 people came to the wonderful grounds of the Chelsea Hospital to enjoy a spectacle involving over 500 display vehicles. I spent the entire day there, meeting up with the Forum’s newest recruit, Rich Tucker (iamrich83) for whom this sort of event was quite an eye-opener and not the sort of thing he had experienced in his native USA before. Here are my highlights:
A number of cars were parked up as a static display all day, and these were joined during the late morning firstly by the arrival of a large number of Italian supercars (mostly Ferrari) to join the Italian machines already on display and then just before noon a convoy of supercars arrived, paraded around the venue and then parked up on a lawn area where they could be more easily seen than in last year’s parc ferme arrangement. Some of the major dealers, such as Joe Macari. Graeme Hunt and Nick Whale had stands there, and HR Owen had a large presence as they were an event sponsor. Brickbat of the day goes to them, too, though for the way that they would not allow people even up to the roped off barrier around some of their cars unless you were deemed to be one of their VIPs, many of whom looked very unlikely to be potential customers. It was the way they spoke to some of the crowd, many of whom I heard ask politely, that was downright supercilious, and totally unnecessary. That apart, all the other cars were readily accessible and no-one seemed to be abusing the privilege accorded them of such access.
One of the rare ME3000s was on show, along with a number of Cobras and a couple of examples of the Daytona Cobra (both of them replicas, but very nicely done)..
Lots of lovely Alfas, so let’s start with one of my absolute favourites of the entire day, even though ironically it was probably one of the least valuable cars of the event. This early 164 3.0V6 Lusso was in absolutely top condition and caused me once again to lament having let my own example go all those years ago. It had Jersey plates on it, so had doubtless had a rather easier life than the monster miles that I put on mine.
Higher up the Alfa budget was another utterly droolsome car, an 8C Competizione.And for when the lottery win comes in, well there were 2 different 6C1750s between which to choose.There were plenty more lovely Alfas, too. Robbie Webb’s 1900C Touring SS was making another appearance, and there was a fabulous Montreal, a lovely Giulia Sprint Speciale and the regular Berlina as well as a rare 102 series 2000 Coupe and a good number of 105 series Spiders. ALTA
One of the VSCC display cars was this, an 1936 Alta Norris Special
A trio of lovely 1930s Alvis, both Speed 20s.
Newest model on display was the V12 Zagato. Compared to most supercars, this is relatively a small machine.
There were a couple of a previous Zagato model, as well, the V8 model from the 1980s.Other Astons ranged from a 1930s model through the DB2, DB4/5 and 6, and several examples of the current range.AUSTIN
A duo of the diminutive Seven models.
As well as Healey 100 and a Frog Eyed Sprite, there was also a Speedwell converted Sprite.
Lots of different Bentleys, as you might expect from the 3 litre of the 1920s and 1930s all the way to the latest Mulsanne.
Not many BMWs, but this Z8 was in the long line of cars just inside the main entrance.
As far as I recall, there was just one Bristol present, a 405 Convertible.
HR Owen made much, in the pre-event publicity, of the fact that they would be bringing a Veyron Vitesse, which indeed they did, but then they made it so no-one could really see it properly. There were two other Veyron, including Lord Pembroke’s car with the wrap which it featured at the recent Wilton House Supercar event.
HR Owen also brought along an EB110, and elsewhere there was a lovely Type 35B..CHEVROLET
First generation Camaro SS
Viper models of both generations featured among the supercars.
This fabulous “leDandy” model was joined by a regular DS21.
The De Dion Owners Club had a variety of very early machines on show.
Two rarities here: a 1970 Mangusta and one of the very few Guara that were made.
I’ve seen most types of Ferrari now, at some point, but there was one at this event which I had never seen for real before, the FXX. Wow! Just wow. There aren’t really too many other words.
By contrast, the sort of Ferraris that you tend to think of as rare seemed almost common, with several each of the Enzo, F50, F40 and even a brace of 288GTOs.Beyond these, there was at least one representative of just about every type of Ferrari made since the 1960s.
Of the 458 models, there were a mix of Coupe and Spider
The FF is now starting to appear at most events, but there was only one here. The were a couple of California as well. All were dealer cars.599 GTB and GTO360 and 430 models included a couple of the 16M carsAmong the 550 and 575 models was a Barchetta and a SuperAmericaThe Testarossa era was well represented with 512TRs as well as the original modelPlenty of 355 and 348 carsAlso several 308 and 328 modelsAmong the larger cars there was one each of the 612 Scaglietti and 456GT, as well as a 400iSeveral people seemed to be having difficulty identifying the 365GTC/4. There were two of them present, along with its antecedent, the 330GTCNo such issues in recognising the lovely Dino 246GT.Of this pairing, both command hefty price tags when they come up for sale, the 275GTB being the more valuable, even though I would be awfully tempted by the GTS instead.This SWB 250GT was parked up among the supercars and was probably the most valuable car among them. There was also a rather nice pair of 250 GT Lusso in the main display area. There were several early Ferrari, dating from the 1950s, as well. FIAT
A pair of Dino Spiders. Cue lots of green eyes and drooling from me!
Among the supercars were several of the recent GT.
A number of American Fords were also on show, ranging from 1930s V8s to various vintages of Mustang.This Escort RS2000 was the sole other Blue Oval car.JAGUAR
There were plenty of E Types on show, as you would expect of one of Britain’s best loved classics along with truly wonderful XKSS.
There were also plenty of the precursor, the XK120/140/150 range of cars and a couple of the much loved Mark 2 Saloons.JENSEN
The organisers tell us that AutoLegends 2013 will feature a special display in honour of Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary, but the Lambo fans did not do badly in 2012, either. There were several Aventadors, including one in a particularly awful wrap.
There were also a number of Murcielago and Diablo models, showing how the top Lamborghini has evolved over the past generation.With over 10,000 now made the Gallardo is quite a common sight on the roads of London and beyond, but these cars are still striking to look at, and there were various different models here.Older models included a Miura, a bright green Jarama which made a particularly impressive noise when it was started up, an a pair of Silhouettes.LANCIA
Earliest Lancia on show was this fabulous Aprilia.
Dating from the 1950s were this duo of Aurelia, a B20 Coupe and the very lovely B24 Spider.Reminding us of Lancia’s rallying heritage were a duo of Stratos and a pair of Delta Integrales, the white one of which is a limited edition car built to celebrate Lancia’s 6th consecutive world rally championship victory.Nice though these all were, two more prosaic – if any Lancia can ever be called such a word – but far rarer models really hit the spot for me: a gorgeous 2000HF Coupe and the Series 2 Beta Berlina that has appeared at Ace Cafe a couple of times this year.Parked up on the entrance to the event was this lovely Fulvia Zagato.LAND-ROVER
One of the prototype Range-Rovers, with a Velar badge on the front was on show.
A wide variety of Lotus models from the early Elan and Plus 2, through the Esprit and rather zany 340R to the Elise and very latest Exige V6.
One of the most enigmatic supercars of recent times is this, the MC12. Maserati only made 50 of them, so to get 3 in one place is incredible. There were plenty of the current range on show, as well as number of their antecedents. The verde green 4200GT GranSport is the only one in the world in that colour.The BiTurbo generation was barely represented, with just this one car.Earlier models included a lovely Ghibli SS Spider and the special Saurer bodied Merak.The real Maserati treasures, though, were the early cars: a 250F and a Tipo 61 Birdcage were joined by a lovely A6GS from 1957.MCLAREN
No sign of any road going F1s, but plenty of MP4-12Cs
There were surprisingly few cars bearing the famous three pointed star. The duo of SLS in the supercar display seem to have escaped the camera, but I did snap a number of the SL models of various generations that were on show.
A number of different models, including MGA and MGB.
This 1960 model was for sale at, wait for it………….. £47,500. Yes, I know it has only done 2600 miles, but even so that is an awful lot of money even for a car as pristine as this.
There were a couple of other Mini Coopers, one early and one late model car.MORGAN
The Malvern Link cars ranged from 3 wheelers of the 1930s to the very latest 3 wheeler that has only just gone on sale, and several 4 wheel models from the period that spans the two as well.
Taken a day out from its residence in the Brooklands museum was the 24 litre Napier Railton, the car in which John Cobb set the record at Brooklands at over 135 mph.
A disparate collection of Porsche ranged from a replica Spider and some 356s through any number of 911s to a 924 GT, a couple of 928s and a Carrera GT.
One Point Five
Sadly (?) the black Phantom Drophead on 24″ wheels and with a yellow interior (!!) escaped the camera, but I did photograph the current Ghost and an 1980s Corniche.
This 105 model holds the record fr a 4 seater car at Brooklands, lapping the banked circuit at 129.7 mph in 1938.
I don’t think I have ever seen so many Tesla in the UK as were gathered here. 5 cars in total.
There were very few TVRs, but this “wedge” Tasmin was rather nice.
A very colourful diorama set up under the leafy trees of the avenue contained a number of Gulf liveried cars from the past 50 years or so.
OTHER RACING STARS
Another display alongside the Gulf one contained a number of racing machines from the past.
One of the stars was this fantastic Ferrari 500 TRC, a 4 cylinder 2 litre car. This particular one was originally an Equipe Nationale Belge car, hence the distinctive yellow paint, though after an illustrious career at le Mans in 1957, the car was repainted red, and following a big accident was stored in pieces for over 20 years. It was restored by DK Engineering, a well known Ferrari specialist, the owner of which decided to keep the car for himself.There were several other Ferrari with a racing heritageThis prototype Le Mans racer, the Drayson B12/69EV is an electric vehicle and it attracted a lot of attention in that event, and again when it starred at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.LE MANS DISPLAY
As in previous years, there was a long line of cars from one end of the main lawns to the other, all with significant Le Mans pedigree. Earliest car in the sequence were a couple of the 1920s Bentleys and a 1935 Aston Martin Ulster and the most recent were cars from the past 10 years including one of the 2003 Bentley Speed 8 cars the 2004 Audi R8 and the Porsche Carrera GT1.
David Piper brought along 2 of his famous cars, the 1969 Lola T70 and the 1865 Ferrar P2 330 in which he won the Kyalami 9 hour race and the Angola GP.Stars from the 1950s and 1960s included an example of the ultimately unsuccessful Cunningham C3R, a Maserati 300S, Porsche 356, a SAAB 96, the Lotus XI, a brace of Ford GT40, a lovely Elva GT and a Porsche 906, as well as an AC Cobra a Frazer Nash and an Aston Martin DBR3/1. 1970s and 1980s cars included the Porsche 956 of 1983 and the Matra 670 from 1977 as well as a brace of Porsche 911s and a Ferrari DaytonaRALLY CARS
A splendid display of rallying icons had been assembled by a combination of the “Simply Sideways” group and the Historic Rallying Association. The latter were displaying two Mini Coopers, including the one in which Barry “Wizzo” Williams won the Interantional Welsh Rally in 1964, the first rallying victory for a car that went on to score multiple wins over the next few years.
The later cars ranged from Russell Brookes’ Opel Manta in which he won the 1985 Rally Championshp to one of the last 550bhp E2 spec Audi Quattro S1 cars, with various Fords and a Delta S4 in the mix. OTHER
There were several other displays, ranging from another showing of the ambitious Bloodhound project, an array of motorcycles with the Ace Cafe display, a few dragsters and a couple of vehicles with a movie connection.
This was a splendid event. The 2013 dates will be announced shortly, but we are already promised a special display to celebrate Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary. For that alone it is going to be worth attending.