Concours of Elegance 2017 stays British at heart
The idea of the Concours was the brainchild of pre-war car lovers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In the troubled period after World War II, Europe seemed to forget about the tradition, but the US kept the format alive and it was just a matter of time before Concours started up in Europe again. In recent years a number of excellent events have been established in most Western Europe countries. One of these is the “Concours of Elegance” – or Concours UK for short.
There are a couple of reasons why this event could be dubbed the most British of all Concours. It is held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent. It always takes place in an English or Scottish castle. It is not the biggest event, but it has an aristocratic character and offers an exclusive selection of high caliber classic cars, while granting generous access to the public.
Given the enthusiasm of the British for cars and motorsports, one would think the event might have a long tradition. In fact, it’s only been around since 2012 – but it certainly feels like a coming together of the right people with the right cars at the right place.
The Concours of Elegance 2017 returned to Hampton Court Palace, situated to the west of London’s city center. The beautiful castle on the banks of the River Thames, surrounded by vast gardens, had already been used for the 2014 event. It is the perfect environment to show off the cars entered in the Concours and those brought along by British car clubs: noble makes like Aston Martin, Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Ferrari. Various luxury car manufacturers also attended with their new products.
The three-day event started with the 300-mile Tour of Wessex on Friday. One of the cars that took part was the Maserati A6G 2000 Gran Sport that had headlined Artcurial’s sale of the Baillon Collection at Rétromobile in 2015. Clearly this classic has now been restored well enough for it to master such a long trip, though its body appears untouched. It retains all its charm and mystique and it was great to see such a special car on the road again.
The D-Types at Concours of Elegance 2017:
The D-Types celebrating Jaguar’s epic LeMans win 60 years ago also caught the eye. In 1957, five Jaguar D-Types finished the legendary long-distance race at 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 6. Hampton Court Palace was happy to welcome the finned armada. Ferrari was also celebrating a birthday. The 70th anniversary of the prancing horse is inevitably being celebrated at most classic car events this year. The Concours of Elegance 2017 marked the occasion by showing a series of legendary Ferraris, with special highlights from the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Some of the most interesting Ferraris at Concours of Elegance 2017:
The Best in Show prize of the Concours of Elegance 2017 went to the 1934 Lancia Astura Aerodynamica Castagna. Its beautiful lines were created by a relatively small Italian coachbuilder. Castagna’s cars are notable for their exceptional attention to detail. The Lancia, for example, has a characteristic edge around the front fenders which can also be seen on certain other Castagna-bodied cars – for example Alfa Romeo – underlining the exquisite quality of this top-level coachbuilder.
For more information, please visit the Concours of Elegance website.
All photos (except the Maserati picture) courtesy of and © Julien Mahiels.