London’s Salon Privé celebrates Porsche with an exclusive Concours
Salon Privé is a special show for everything exclusive, and, since its beginning, cars of all ages – from rare classics to modern supercars – have been an essential part of it. At such an event, you don’t do things halfway. In this case, the celebration of an iconic sports carmaker at the grandiose Salon Privé location, Blenheim Palace in London, rated a Concours of its own. At the Salon, over 40 Porsche products -historic vehicles as well as new models – competed in a multitude of classes, all with one idea in mind: celebrating the firm’s 70 years of creating distinctive automobiles.
Porsche has always been a polarizing brand. The roots of the company’s first cars go back to the Volkswagen Beetle, building pure driving machines on this simple but solid technological base. For the founder, ingenious engineer Ferdinand Porsche, this was the only way to realize his vision as he worked in an old sawmill in Austria shortly after World War II. One could see the simplicity of his initial approach in the early cars displayed at the Masters Celebration of 70 Years of Porsche Concours. The level of perfection and beauty of those designs demonstrate that the seed for what the company is today had been planted: a luxury carmaker focusing on sporty automobiles.
Derek Bell – historic witness and knowledgeable judge
One of the judges inspecting the participating Porsches was motor-sports legend Derek Bell. Derek observed firsthand the rise of the sportscar brand when he participated in the legendary motor-sports movie Le Mans in 1970. The film featured actor Steve McQueen driving a Porsche 917. For some automotive historians, the Porsche victory there may be more important than all the previous racing victories. Bell drove a Ferrari 512, spectacularly setting it on fire during the movie shooting. Interestingly, the following year he competed at Le Mans in a Porsche 917 with Jo Siffert but didn’t finish.
Derek Bell tried his luck with other teams at Le Mans and won the iconic endurance race in 1975 for the first time driving a Mirage for the Gulf Racing Team. In 1980, he returned to driving a Porsche at Le Mans. In 1981, he won the race for Porsche for the first time and then followed that triumph with three more victories there. Embarking on his off-track career in the nineties, Bell became a sought-after guest, expert, and judge in the classic car scene. At the 2018 Salon Privé, he got to see and rate some outstanding examples of Porsche cars.
Unfortunately, the displayed vehicles did not include many racecars from the brand’s rich motorsports history. Interestingly enough, it was a Porsche 944 Turbo CUP from 1988, which competed on the racetrack up until 2005, that went home with the Salon’s most prestigious “Owner’s Choice” award. Another racecar—a modified, visually striking 1955 Porsche 550 RS Spyder—also won an award. With its orange, centrally mounted wing riding high above the driver, the car was the oldest entrant in the competition. After its excellent performance at the Festival of Speed earlier this year, the car showed its qualities at Salon Privé, where one could finally take a bumper-to-bumper look at its marvellous details.
Among the other early Porsche cars, a 1956 356A Carrera GS Coupe (Owner’s Choice, …) and a 356A RHD Carrera Speedster (Ladies’ Choice, …) were extraordinarily successful, being awarded several times. As you can see from the Julien Mahiels photo gallery below, the 40 cars at the Salon brought an exceptional Porsche flair to London’s Blenheim Palace for the weekend. We’re already looking forward to next year’s Salon Privé, where it will be interesting to see how the Salon celebrates the centennial of the British automotive icon Bentley.