Cars on the Grass - Part Two
Salon Privé is not only concerned with the contemporary face of the automobile, as I've covered in Part 1 of this story, but also celebrates the rich heritage of the motor car in all its many and varied forms. So Syon Park was witness to a multitude of fine classic cars during the event, and perhaps it is time to have a review of some that caught my eye. Of course it is not my eye that the owners wanted to catch, the judges who were to settle the destination of the trophies seen above are much more the object of attention than some humble scribe.
As is common with all major Concours there were several themes running through the show marking an event or an anniversary. I looked at the elements that make up a typical Concours d'Elegance HERE, but back at Salon Privé there was a hat tip to great Milanese design studio and coachbuilders, Zagato, who are celebrating their 95th year in business during 2014. A selection of their work over the years was assembled for our viewing pleasure, including rather appropriately, this Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato. It was the last of the DB4 GT Zagatos to be built and sports a unique colour scheme, Caribbean Pearl. Just 19 of these fantastic creations were constructed, though another six "Sanctioned" Zagatos have been subsequently assembled from spares with the full blessing of both Aston Martin and Zagato. More on the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato can be found HERE.
Very Italian, very elegant, but not quite so rare or expensive is this Lancia Flaminia Sport dating from 1962. The Flaminia was a luxury car that topped Lancia's model range in the '60s and was available as a saloon, coupé or cabriolet. Some 350 of the Zagato bodied coupés were built and they have become the most sought after variation of the model.
Bringing our look at the Zagato display at Salon Privé full circle is the Rover 2000 TCZ, a one-off design study that was revealed to the world at the 1967 Turin Motor Show. This attractive coupé was never intended for production and was the work of Ercole Spada, who also designed the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, another full circle
Another category featured was that of "Cars fit for a King". This especially attractive Aston Martin DB2 DHC, was delivered to HRH Crown Prince Bertil of Sweden in 1950 and he really liked the car as he declared later. "My first Aston was a 1950 DB2 Drophead Coupé. It was light blue and had an aluminum body. It also had a column shift which I didn't much care for. I had a floor-mounted gear leaver put in at the same factory in Feltham, exchanged my standard engine for one of the Vantage engines...I wish now that I had never sold it, and I wonder what became of it?" Well, now we know.
President Tito may not have been a member of a royal family but his rule over the Republic of Yugoslavia was as autocratic as any hereditary monarch. He led the Partisan movement against the Germans during World War Two II, thereafter he ruled the country from 1945 to 1980 when he died.
In common with other heads of State, Tito felt the need for an imposing automotive presence, so this 1970 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Presidential Long-Top Landaulet was the perfect answer to any "Strong Man" image issues. The owner had assembled a great deal of memorabilia from the period to add flavour to what is already a bold motoring statement.
Following the normal conventions of a Concours, especially one such as Salon Privé, there was an auction.
As usual there were a few gems hidden away amongst the pages of the catalogue. A Mercedes delivery van from the 50's is an unlikely candidate for a concours auction list, but this one is a bit special. Originally owned by the Buenos Aires Mercedes-Benz dealership of one Juan Manuel Fangio, one of the absolute all time great racing drivers, the vehicle provides a strong link to the five-time World Champion.
A Range Rover, an old Range Rover? Has the Old Boy finally lost his marbles, I hear you say? But this is no ordinary Range Rover, it is chassis 33500001A, generally agreed to be the first one on to the production line back in 1969, and sold to a customer in 1970. It has been beautifully restored and I love the simple lines of this original Range Rover, like a faithful Barbour Jacket, unlike the current bling-mobiles. But then I am not the target market and the popularity of the contemporary models is certainly a business justification for such excess.
Star of the show, at least from the auctioneer's perspective, was this Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder, with just 4,000 miles on the clock and agreed to be currently one of the most original of the 122 Spyders built back at the turn of the 60-70's. The hammer came down at around $3.6 million, exceeding expectations.
My personal favourite on sale was a Bentley Mk V, this example is said to be the only private car delivered in Britain during World War Two. The recipient, Colonel W.C. Devereux, was at the cutting edge in the development and production of lightweight metals which was so vital to the war effort and explains how the good Colonel got permission to acquire the car. The Bentley was a big step forward in terms of technology for the Rolls Royce-owned marque with independent front suspension and a 6 cylinder 4.2 litre engine and was the inspiration for the post war models.
Back on the lawns more anniversaries were being celebrated. The Jaguar D-Type first appeared in 1954 and then proceeded to go on and win the Le Mans 24 Hours three years in a row (1955-1957), cementing the sporting credentials of the Coventry marque, a reputation that lasts to this time. This car came within a whisker of adding another win at La Sarthe in 1954 with Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton at the wheel.
Ten years on and the Ferrari 275 GTB made its appearance, an elegant GT in the classic 60's Ferrari style, still stunning half a century later.
The biggest celebrations automotive-style in 2014 were to be found in Modena, specifically at Maserati, which as a company turned 100 this year.
Salon Privé could not let such an opportunity slip by, to remind us all why this brand has such legendary status. One of the earliest cars sporting the famous Trident mascot is this Maserati 4CS 1100 built in 1935. This example, one of three, has two class wins in the Mille Miglia to it's credit.
This 4CS has a bit of a history attached, being crashed with fatal results for the driver and then rebuilt. It ended up in Singapore in 1942 and had to be hidden from the occupying Japanese forces by being buried.
The current owner's father restored this fine vehicle back to original specification and it is now a regular at historic races and shows.
Another Maserati that caught my eye was this 1968 Maserati Mexico Prototipo. According to the owner, this coupé was shown at the Barcelona Motor Show in 1970. There was a legal requirement in Spain at the time that legislated that any marque exhibiting at one of the country's Auto Salons had to display at least five models - what this was supposed to achieve is anyone's guess but arguing with Generalissimo Franco was not a cunning plan.
The consequence of this was to force small manufacturers such as Maserati to bring along one-off cars such as this gorgeous Grand Tourer. Another happy outcome was that the exhibitors were keen to sell on these unique cars, so the collectors benefited as well. It was not just me who thought this car to be special, the following week it was named as 'Best of Show' at the Maserati Centennial International Gathering in Torino - evidently great minds think alike!
The proud competition record of Maserati was illustrated by this 300S dating back to the mid-50's.
In 1956 this lusty roadster powered by a 3-litre straight six engine, scored significant victories at Buenos Aires and Nürburgring as well as a class win in the Targa Florio.
A spiritual successor to the 300S is the mid engined Maserati Barchetta which was built in 1991 to try and bolster the competition reputation of the brand. A one make series, Grantrofeo Barchetta, was run in Italy in '92 and '93 but the project did not achieve a wide appeal.
Another much more graceful Maserati at Salon Privé was this fine 3500 GT Spider, a reminder of the glory days of the 1950's for the Modenese marque.
The Spider was the work of Giovanni Michelotti for Carrozzeria Vignale, while the GT was designed by Touring of Milan.
An earlier example of the work Carrozzeria Vignale was this Ferrari 212 Inter Coupé, one of six custom built in 1952.
One of my companions on the Salon Privé Tour was the Delahaye Type 235 MS Coupé with bodywork by Chapron, it received the Peoples' Award at the Concours.
My ride for that event, the fabulous Bentley 8-Litre, also won a prize, this time from FIVA, very prestigious. The story of that journey can be found HERE.
I have a weakness for the F1 GTR, as regular readers will attest, here is one of the Lark cars, 13R, that took the team to victory in the 1996 All Japan GT Championship.
Illustrating what a broad church the classic car arena is, is the contrast between this beauty and the McLaren. This 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider is undoubtedly one of the best looking cars ever to emerge from Maranello. Built with the American market in mind, it is now one of the most desirable of all Ferraris, fetching stratospheric prices at recent auctions and who could argue with that?