Salon Privé Oddities on the Lawns of Blenheim Palace
One of the elements that sets Salon Privé apart from other Concours events is presence each year of unusual motoring projects - oddities for want of a better word - and the 2015 show continued with this trend.
There are always a few hyper/super car projects bubbling around that are not the work of the usual suspects such as Ferrari, Lamborghini or McLaren. In 2013, I looked at the Rimac Concept (who came back this year), and in 2014 it was the Elemental RP1. This year I found the Zenvo, which (to my surprise) had been around since 2010. This car is not the work of Italians, Germans or even Brits but has come from Denmark, not usually associated with such automobile excess.
The Zenvo ST1 is striking at first glance in the manner of Pagani or Koenigsegg, powered by a 7-liter V8 that benefits from twin-charged, that is, supercharged and turbocharged. The ST1 has three engine modes – normal, sport and race – the result is a choice of 650bhp, 850bhp and 1104bhp respectively. Activating this arsenal is just a switch away. Traction control is fully operational in the normal mode, and less so in sport, but the safety net is completely removed in the maximum attack race mode.
The car made the headlines for all the wrong reasons when they got into a spat with Top Gear, which, given the reputation that the show has for being hard on the cars they drive, is no great surprise. It is the other side of the Top Gear coin, you get great exposure worldwide but if things do not go to plan it is all very public. Zenvo should have expected that the clutch would get heavy use, so for it to burn out and then the car to catch fire after a fan failed illustrates that they had underestimated the task in hand. Arguing the points, even if they felt justified, just made things worse. The production run is just 15, so those parting with the $1,000,000 price tag will be in a pretty exclusive bunch; let's hope they don't include any wannabee Stigs.
Back to the mid-'60s for the next oddity, and for this car, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. In 1964, the Lancia factory team unveiled their Sport Prototipo Zagato, a project with a lightweight body and numerous other weight-saving tricks, taking over 220kgs (485lbs) off the standard road car figure.
The first race was ambitious to say the least, being at the 1964 Targa Florio. A pair of Lancia Sport Prototipo Zagatos, one SWB and one LWB, were entered by the factory with drivers Marco Crosina and Fernando Frescobaldi in the #184 example and Leo Cella and René Trautmann in #182. Unfortunately, neither Lancia was around to witness the Chequered Flag being waved as a result of an accident and engine problems respectively.
The second car ran the following month at the Nürburgring, also retiring, then I have sources that say it burned out sometime after, just leaving the car that was on display at Salon Privé as the sole survivor. The project was abandoned by Lancia and the car was discarded in a corner of the factory until one of the pro drivers, Claudio Maglioli, rescued and restored the car. It is a idiosyncratic example of '60s Italian GT ingenuity; "thinking outside the box" we might call it today.
Tramontana is another example of modern day "thinking outside the box"...or so they would have you believe.
"Tramontana design, develop and build super cars by reinterpreting the original values of craftsmen-made, bespoke cars. Each car is an individually commissioned work of art, incorporating the highest technology available in the pinnacle of motor sport, and constructed by craftsmen who piece together each component."
As the mission statement declares:
More simply it is an attempt to bring modern Formula One to the streets, an impossible aim but this gets about as close as is possible. Bristling with carbon fiber and advanced aerodynamics, it has attitude but begs a question: why? What inspired this Catalan collection of engineers to bring into the world this extreme Tramontana R? Frankly I have no good answer. Perhaps they are looking for the Pagani or Koenigsegg owner who wants something even more extreme.
Power for this extraordinary machine comes in two options, a normally aspirated 5.3-liter V10 producing a mere 600hp, and for those seeking an even bigger adrenalin rush, a turbocharged V12 5.5-liter delivering 888hp!
I suppose we should be grateful that there are still those who tilt at the stars producing even more radical evolutions of the automobile, however disconnected from the real world they may be. There will always be a demand for such creations, the dreams of those who reject convention and have the means to realize them.
Dreams come in all shapes and sizes, not all are of hyper cars built of unobtanium, some are more modest in scale. Back in 1955 Max Goldman wanted to race this exquisite barchetta in his local SCCA events.
The Goldmanini was fitted with a highly tuned Fiat 1100 engine, though the current owner told me it was a Simca variant built under license.
Giovanni Michelotti styled the lightweight aluminum body which was then produced by Carrozzeria Motto of Turin. The tubular Gilco chassis was fitted with its body in the Motto workshop in 1954 and sent over to the USA for final assembly.
According to the present owner, Goldman displayed the car in the Henry Ford Museum’s “Sports Cars in Review” show in 1956 after which the car was taken off the road, partially disassembled and has been in storage until recently. Now located in the UK it has been totally restored to original condition, a fantastic job by Thornley Kelham.
Strictly speaking, not on the lawn but in the VIP car park, Salon Privé throws up some more surprises: Ferraris, Bugattis, Aston Martins are everywhere, then there is this, a Bentley Continental GTZ, with styling from none other than Zagato.
This beauty with a twin turbo W12 six liter engine giving 600hp, and at around 100kgs less than the standard Continental GT Speed, means that the performance will be startling. I really like the two-tone paintwork, the whole effect is one of quality, a bit like the show.
(Photography by the author, and additional material courtesy and copyright of Max Earey)