Salon Privé, Blenheim Palace, 04–08 September 2019 The 14th edition of the Salon Privé Concours d’Elegance by Chubb Insurance took place at its now regular venue, the South Lawn at Blen- heim Palace in Oxfordshire, home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough, with the splendid architecture of the palace forming a spectacular bac- kdrop to the proceedings on the concours lawn. Each year the quality of the entry seems to get better and better, with a number of entrants from mainland Europe, together with increasing numbers from across the Atlantic. Over the course of the gathering there were more than 25,000 visitors, whilst a total of 80 luxury and automotive brands together with classic car dealers presented their offerings. These in- cluded debuts for 11 new cars, 5 of which were UK debuts, another 5 being European debuts, and a world debut in the form of the 1939 Bentley Corniche. In case a world debut for a 1939 car in 2019 sounds strange, Bentley and their coachbuilder Mulliner recreated a “missing link” in the company’s history, using many original parts from stock for a model that should have gone into production. However, the original car was crashed in France and then destroyed in a bombing raid during World War II on the facility where it had been stored in Dieppe. Bentley Motors Chairman & CEO, Adrian Hallmark, also announced the world’s first continuation series of a pre-war race car, confirming that they will build a 12-strong continuation series of the 1929 Team Blower. The 12 new examples, each identical to the ori- ginal will be built – one for every race the original Team Blowers en- tered. Another celebration was the 20th anniversary of the Pagani Zonda, which made its debut at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show, with a quintet of examples on display, a C12, a F Roadster, a Cinque Roads- ter, the Tricolore and the one-off 760 “Oliver”.
Fortunately this year the event enjoyed dry weather for the duration, although there was an occasional chilly breeze, but Chubb were ahead of the game and provided the ladies in their finery with blanket wraps to ward off the chill. Although the main judging is taken seriously for originality and authenticity, the ethos of the event is fun to be had by all. In this vein the event kicked off with a Hawaiian themed “beach party” at the Soho Farmhouse in nearby Great Tew on the Tuesday evening. This was followed on the Wednesday by a road tour, starting and finishing at Blenheim Palace. Thursday, as always was the main concours day, with an international judging team headed by President of the Jury Ed Gilbertson and Chief Judge Adolfo Orsi, whilst on Fri- day it was Boodles Ladies Day, with a prize of a Boodles pendant to the lady with the finest millinery. Friday was also Honorary Judging Day for the concours cars, with a panel of judges headed by Derek Bell MBE, whilst also part of the team were Guy Berryman of the band Coldplay and Louis De Fabribeckers, Head of Design at Touring Superleggera.
For the 2019 gathering there were 3 motorcycle classes, one cele- brating the centenary of Brough, and 13 car classes. The latter ran- ged from “Pre-War Touring (Open) to “Classics of the Future Post 2000”, the oldest of which was a 1903 Darracq 24HP Model JJ, with the newest being a 2019 Ferrari Special Project car called the SP3JC, one of a pair produced for classic Ferrari dealer John Collins. Within the classes there were four specifically for Ferrari models, Class H for Ferrari GTs, Class J for Ferrari Americas, Class M for 50 Years of the 250 GT SWB – Road, and Class N for 50 Years of the 250 GT SWB – Race, whilst examples also appeared in other classes. As noted, the quality of entries was to a very high standard, and although the class awards were presented on the Thursday afternoon, the Best of Show award was held over until the Friday afternoon, when all the eligible cars, i.e. the class winners were once again paraded before the judges before the announcement was made. It turned out to be a spectacular 1948 Talbot Lago T26 GS Fastback Coupé that took the top honours with the prestigious Best of Show award. On the Friday evening the cars from the concours departed the lawn for a drive through the new for 2019 “Woodstock Live” street party, where the locals and visitors could see what had been going on within the palace grounds, and chat with entrants whilst enjoying live music and dancing in the market pla- ce, which was closed off to traffic for the evening.
The Saturday saw a specific Bentley only concours take place on the vacated South Lawn, with a panel of judges that included Chairman and CEO of Bentley Motors, Adrian Hallmark and 5 times Le Mans Winner, Derek Bell MBE, where 52 Bentleys were assembled for the Salon Privé Bentley Masters by Chubb Insurance, Pirelli and Lockton Private Clients. The line-up included amongst others, the oldest Bent- ley in existence, the 1920 EXP No.2, the 1934 Barnato Hassan, the 1939 Corniche recreation and the 1952 R Type Continental No. 1. The Salon Privé Bentley Masters Owners’ Choice went to the 1930 4.5 Litre Supercharged by Gurney Nutting owned by American collec- tor, Anne Brockinton Lee.
The almost week-long array of activities came to a close on the Sunday with the Salon Privé Classic & Supercar public day took hold with over 17,000 visitors on this day alone. The Bentley Drivers Club had been hoping to get over 1000 Bentleys in attendance, and easily sur- passed this with a world-record 1,321 Bentleys in attendance. Five further prestigious car clubs, the Aston Martin Owners’ Club, the Ferrari Owners’ Club of Great Britain, the Lamborghini Club UK, the McLaren Owners Club, and the Porsche Club of Great Britain, amassed over 500 classic and supercars to compete for the inaugural Lockton Club Trophy. At the end of the day this went to a McLaren Senna, which the owner had only taken delivery of a few weeks before the event.