The Concours of Elegance 2020 got underway at Hampton Court Palace today, boasting some extraordinary additions ‘so rare that it’s unlikely they’ll ever have been seen together before in the UK.’
More than 1,000 cars have gathered in the Palace gardens with around 60 of the rarest, most beautiful and most innovative cars ever built hand-picked by a committee of global motoring experts for display.
These include a Porsche 356 America Roadster, an air-cooled, 1.5-litre flat-four that produces 70 horsepower, which may not sound like much until you realize that in 1953 the regular 356 produced just 40. America Roadsters weren’t a commercial success as the production methods used to create the aluminium body proved to be too expensive, and in 1952 Porsche built only 17 units before its discontinuation in 1953.
When Ferrari was challenged by Ford at Le Mans in the mid-’60s, it responded with a series of Sports Prototypes; the 330P-series which was introduced alongside the smaller all-new Dino 206 SP. It was Ferrari’s intention to build 50 of these smaller V6 cars to qualify them for homologation as two-litre Group 4 sports cars. For various reasons that never happened and only 17 of these cars were created, including the example on display, which raced at the 1000km of Nürburgring and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Aston Martin Cloverleaf, chassis no. 1926 was produced in 1923 and is one of the oldest road-going production Aston Martin models in existence. Only 57 ‘Bamford and Martin’ Aston Martins were made in total and it’s estimated that fewer than 16 examples still exist around the world, in one form or another. Lionel Martin’s own Cloverleaf was scrapped in the 1930s. XR1981 is almost identical and was competitively driven until the end of the 1960s, in the course of which it won the prestigious St John Horsfall Trophy race at Silverstone in 1969. It then languished in the family garage, unused for nearly 40 years, before undergoing a five-year restoration that brought the car to its current condition.
Founded by Jean Daninos in 1939, Forges et Ateliers de Construction d’Eure-et-Loir (FACEL) specialised in the construction of aircraft components and metal furniture, before turning its hand to luxury cars like the Facel II. Powered by a 355-horsepower Chrysler V-8, the four-passenger Facel II was not only one of the fastest cars, but also one of the fastest accelerating – in fact it was quicker from 0-60mph than the Aston Martin DB4 and Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, while also boasting Rolls-Royce-like comfort. The original press car, one-of-three right-hand-drive manual examples that has covered just 20,000 miles since new is on display.
In the 70th anniversary year of the Formula 1® Championship, the Concours of Elegance has also gathered a number of iconic racers including era-defining Grand Prix cars from Ferrari, Williams and Lotus machines that are inextricably linked with racing heroes such as the late Sir Stirling Moss and former World Champion Damon Hill.
Cars in the display include the Adrian Newey designed 1993 Williams FW15C, chassis 02, a 1967 Ferrari 312/67, chassis 0007, and Colin Chapman’s 1961 Lotus 18-21, chassis 916 which was drive to victory by Moss in period.
Andrew Evans, Concours of Elegance Managing Director, said: “Ever since that first Formula 1 race for the inaugural World Drivers’ Championship 70 years ago the sport has had millions of us around the world on the edge of our seats. It is a great thrill for the Concours of Elegance to display some of these incredible machines in such an important year for Formula One. Historic racers presented in such historic surroundings are sure to make unforgettable memories for every fan of the sport.”
The cars are displayed in the open air amid the ancient trees and manicured lawns of the Royal palace’s 60-acre Fountain Gardens, guaranteeing visitors plenty of space to view the exhibits in the safest and most enjoyable way possible.
As well as its main line-up of cars the 2020 Concours of Elegance includes unique coachbuilt Alfa Romeos, priceless pre-war Rolls-Royces, the McLaren F1 GTRs that finished 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th at Le Mans 24 Hours 25 years ago, a display of future classics and a new Junior Concours celebrating the best of half-scale cars.
Delayed from its original April timeline, Gooding & Company’s ‘Passion of a Lifetime’ auction also takes place with a rare 1935 Bugatti Type 59 Sports and 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato amongst the 15 cars on sale. This is the first UK sale for the American auction house, which will take place in the Fountain Gardens of Hampton Court Palace, amongst the event, on Saturday 5 September. Enthusiasts worldwide can watch the live auction broadcast on Gooding & Company’s website, YouTube channel, and mobile apps for iOS and Android, with telephone and absentee bidding available.
Tickets to the Concours of Elegance are available to buy now. The event is open until Sunday 6th September.
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