A British Mercedes leads Concours of Elegance 2018

UK’s Concours of Elegance has celebrated a shiny winner this year: The unique Mercedes S- Barker Tourer “Boat Tail” of Earl Howe, founder of the British Racing Drivers’ Club. For creating the exceptional Tourer body in 1929 on the foundation of a Mercedes S-Type running chassis, the British coachbuilder borrowed lots of elements from naval design. The body’s end is shaped like a boat tail and the chrome plated running boards are shaped like a torpedo. The ladder provides some extra space for tools and other belongings of the driver.

After long years behind closed garage doors and a restoration by Steve Babinsky in New Jersey (U.S.), the car has returned in public, winning the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach in 2017. Following reports, owner Bruce R. McCaw – ranking 16th in the collector’s list of The Key – had just picked it up from the restoration workshop one week before the show. In participating at the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court, the car finally returned back to the UK after decades abroad.

Such a shiny and extravagant winner was a perfect match for the glorious fountain gardens of Hampton Court Palace. And the patron of the event, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, most likely appreciated having such an important historic car back in the UK.

Happy Birthday DB4

Another British icon that has been celebrated at this year’s Concours of Elegance was the Aston Martin DB4. 60 years ago, the model, hailed as the first real GT of Aston Martin, was presented. Being designed by Italian coachbuilder Touring, this model is considered by lots of sports car lovers as the first “stylish” Aston Martin. Visitors of Hampton Court however could have a look at quite a wide variety of DB4 bodies. Amongst the nine different variants on display, there was also a Zagato version and a Bertone Jet. This also included shortened GT versions, that turned the DB4 into a race car rivalling the Ferraris of its time.

The “Gulf Club” at the Concours of Elegance

There are just a few racing liveries, that have become iconic, no matter which car they decorate. Maybe next to Martini and John Player, it is especially the Gulf racing team, that has secured its place in motorsports history. A part of this legend is based on the fact that Steve McQueen drove a Porsche 917 of Gulf Racing in the movie Le Mans. As it got damaged during the shooting, the car was later rebuilt with a new chassis, competing later on in Daytona, Spa, Monza and other endurance races. At Hampton Concours, exactly this car was on display.

In addition to the Porsche, there were two more interesting cars coming in Gulf livery: The Ford GT40 Mk I, that competed in period at the Spa 1000km with Paul Hawkins and David Hobbs behind the wheel. And there also was a modern supercar with this distinct décor on display, a McLaren F1 GTR LM. It demonstrated on the one hand that the historic design works up until today. And on the other, McLaren showcased the capabilities of its special operations for restoration. The car on display at Hampton Court was the first, going through all phases of the British supercar manufacturer new certification program.

Ferrari “outlaws”

No doubt, Ferrari is the brand that fascinates top collectors most. At the Concours of Elegance, two Ferraris were aside of the mainstream. The Ferrari 166 MM / 212 Export “Uovo” was maybe the most prominent and eye-catching example. Raced in period by Count Giannino Marzotto in the Mille Miglia, the strange-looks added a certain performance advantage thanks to its light weight and good aerodynamics.

While these effects are without a doubt, the strange design is discussed up until today. In 2017, it changed hands at an auction for a relatively modest price, given the condition and historic relevance of the car. But whether you like it or not, as classic car aficionados we should be thankful that the new owner has decided to show it on the most important shows around the world.

In contrast to the “Uovo”, the Ferrari 500 TRC has breathtaking looks. The spectacular open race car has been embodied by coachbuilder Scaglietti. The fact that is discussed most is its engine. The car built in 1957 is the last Ferrari with a four-cylinder engine; yes four bangers! The two-liter engine based on the Formula 2 engine of Aurelio Lampredi developed around 180 horsepower and an impressive sound. The car proved to be very successful in its class, especially amongst gentlemen racers and small racing teams.

Next to these highlights, there were even more automotive gems to be discovered on the grounds of Hampton Court. Just take a look at our photo gallery:

For more information and the list of winners, please read the official announcement of Concours of Elegance.

All photos courtesy of Julien Mahiels. 

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