Originally published 15 February 2012 on Motoring Middle East

In 2012 Motoring Middle East flew over to Kuwait for a few days to cover the extraordinary Kuwait Concours D’Elegance. Check out our amazing coverage republished here.

This was its third year and sadly it only ran for another couple of years I think before it was discontinued.

With participants and cars being flown in from all over the world for the four-day Concours there was also an impressive lineup up of judges headed by Concours’ chief judge Leonardo Fioravanti, designer of the Ferrari Daytona 288 GTO, 308 GTB and F40, amongst others – which actually got him to sign a model F40 and gave that away as a prize later!

Other notable judges include Sandra Button from the United States who is the Chairman of the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance; Mark Richman Design Director at Aston Martin from the UK; FIA Vice President, car collector and multiple Middle East rally champion Mohammed Ben Sulayem from the United Arab Emirates; Andrea Zagato from Italy; Dr. Ulrich Bez CEO of Aston Martin, Horst Bruning from FIVA and Jurgen Lewandowski – Automotive Journalist from Germany.

Plus there’s Rony Karam and Fersan Haddad from Lebanon; Jacques Braneyre, Nicolas Marceau and Olivier Boulay from France; Shiro Nakamura – Chief Creative Officer of Nissan-Infiniti from Japan; Raja Gargour Head of the Royal Cars Museum in Jordan; Christian Philippsen – Head of Louis Vuitton Classic from Belgium; Manvendra Singh from India and last but not least the designer of Mercedez-Benz Olivier Boulay.

And the cars on display included:

  • The Shah of Iran’s 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV
  • 1964 Shelby Cobra USRRC
  • Jaguar D-Type
  • Ferrari GTO Breadvan
  • 1969 Daytona
  • 1970 Superbird
  • 1972 Cuda Convertible
  • 1969 Shelby Mustang GT500 Cobra jet 428 – and about 20 classic muscle cars in total
  • Historic racing cars
  • And guest appearances by the stars of the animated Cars Movie

Here’s some of the coverage produced at the time.

His Highness Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah opened the third edition of Concours d’Elegance automobile competition (Kuwait Concours 2012) at the Marina Crescent here this evening. He’s seen here with Leonardo Fioravanti, head of the Concours judges and a Pininfarina designer for 24 years, responsible for some of the most iconic Ferraris ever.

The event marked the official debut of the production version of the Aston Marting V12 Zagato.

The Shah of Iran was one of Lamborghini’s best customers in the company’s early days and had four Miuras: P400, S, SV and an SVJ. This is the SV ordered in a Imperial Blue with white leather upholstery. This 1971 Miura has been full restored.

The very rare and astonishing 1967 Iso Rivolta Breadvan GTO was based on a 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB and actually built to compete against the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO at le Mans. Giotti Bizzarrini was hired by Count Giovanni Volpi to upgrade a Ferrari 250 GT SWB to compete against the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO at le Mans. It was a car born somewhat out of malice as engineer Giotti Bizzarrini was hired by Count Giovanni Volpi to upgrade a Ferrari 250 GT SWB to GTO specs. He did this after being royally snubbed by Enzo Ferrari himself who refused to sell him a GTO. In fact Bizzarrini made it better by developing a more aerodynamic body extended backwards, and moving the engine further back and lower into the car to improve its balance and centre of gravity. He completed it in just two weeks, and it’s reported to have been 7km/h faster than the GTO at Le Mans.

The 1954 Plymouth Explorer Concept is actually Italian designed as part of a series by Luigi Segre of Ghia. It was mounted on a 114-inch wheelbase Plymouth chassis and just 54-inches tall with just a 230 cubic inch six-cylinder engine offering a miniscule 110bhp. It has a semi-auto transmission, twin exhausts and featured ivory hue side stripes, vestigal fins, green paint, white leather upholstery, bucket seats and fitted luggage.

A 1965 Shelby is one of only six 289 Cobra factory team roadsters made to FIA specs for the 1964-1965 US Raod Racing Championship (USRRC) series. The half-dozen cars were known as the ‘cut down door cars’ due to the widened rear fender wells. This car, CSX 2557, is one of two fitted with dual side pipes on each side of the car. It’s considered one of the most origianl of all the famed Shelby Cobra race cars and has gone careful restoration. It’s stunning in its original Gaurdsman Blue with white Le Mans stripes.

The 1972 Aston Martin DBS Ogle was shown at the Montreal Motor Show in January 1972, funded by tobacco company W.O.Wills. It’s based on a DBS V8 chassis with a glass fibre body with everything above the waist in glass. The rear panel is made of a single sheet of brushed stainless steel with 22 holes in it – the harder the driver braked, the more lights were illuminated (and car modern car makers are only now considering developing brake-pressure related high-intensity brake lights!). Shown below, furthest from the camera. The car in the foreground, which looks like a TVR, is actually badged Ferrari Daytona!

This 1963 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato is one of just 19 examples. 0189 was the last of 11 right-hand drive versions built and one of three to receive English paint – Caribbean Pearl with Connolly Red high and carpets. Completed on 14th December 1962 it took longer than any Zagato to be sold, eventually going for £3,950. It’s been restored by Aston Martin Works Service and has been in Europe for the last decade added recently to William Loughran’s collection.

This may look like Eleanor, but it’s actually a modern Mustang customised to resemble a classic Shelby.

‘Am I in the right place for the classic curios exhibit?’ asks the little Mini Moke, briefly parked in the Supercars area. You just never know what car you’ll come across in Kuwait!

King Hussein of Jordan’s 1987 Porsche 959.

One of the special cars on show here at the Kuwait Concours d’Elegance is this sensational example of Porsche’s original supercar, a Ferrari F40 rival and a car that marked the advent of the modern supercar.

It featured Kevlar-reinforced aluminium body, twin-turbo engine, four-wheel drive and even an on-board computer to control the suspension – pioneering stuff for a supercar of its day, making this a technological tour-de-force. With 0-100kph in 3.8 seconds it was one of the fastest cars of its time.

Only 200 were made and this particular beast was owned by King Hussein. It’s in a remarkably tasteful dark green colour, with black magnesium wheels, and resides in the Royal Automobile Museum in Amman, Jordan.

Muscle Cars!

Muscle car enthusiasts, keep your defibrillators on standby. These are the cars competing for glory at the Kuwait Concours D’Elegance, and as you’re about to find out, they’re all mind-meltingly stunning.

The muscle car section is judged separately from the main Concours event, although it’s certainly held to the same rigorous standard.

Here are some of our favourite picks.

This 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, restored by exacting detail by its Kuwaiti owner is slightly less well known than the Mustangs and Camaros that you’re all familiar with, but no less worthy. Built on a shorter version of the B-Body platform that underpinned the full-size Charger and Challenger, it was designed for younger buyers chasing performance without needing a city block to park.

Of course, if it’s Chargers you want, it doesn’t get much better than this 1968 R/T, painstakingly restored by owner Abdul Rahman right here in Kuwait. It’s packing a 383 under the hood matched to the rock-of-ages 727 TorqueFlite transmission. For those Dukes of Hazzard fans among you, this is the car that featured in the famous series. The look stayed in production until 1970, and the only way to tell them apart is the tail lights; four brake lights for the early cars, and round hockey sticks for the 1970.

Maybe Sir’s tastes run towards the GM side of the fence? Got you covered, with this utterly evil looking 1972 Buick GS Stage 1. They say that in stock form, it produced 360bhp from its 455-cubic 7-litre V8. Fuel-efficient? Not likely…

The 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird was originally developed specifically for NASCAR racing, and with its wild aerodynamics and incredible – even by today’s standards – performance, remains one of the desirable muscle cars of the era. This immaculate car remains completely as it left the factory, right down to the vinyl roof and seats and the original Sublime colour.

Here’s the Superbird’s dad – the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona. If you’re thinking, “hey, aren’t they pretty similar…?” you’d be right. By the way, that big wing and rounded nose cone are completely functional – they keep it planted on the long NASCAR straights. Can you believe it only has a three-speed automatic?

You knew one of these would have be there. The real deal 1967 Ford Shelby GT500, seen here in period-correct Highland Green. You wouldn’t mess with it even today, thanks to the 428 Police Interceptor big-block engine that produced a ridiculous 460lb ft of torque and ‘just’ 355bhp. If you dared to build one up even further, 600bhp wouldn’t be out of the question…

Historical Racing Cars

This year’s themed exhibit at the Kuwait Concours d’Elegance was a lineup of historical racing cars – amazing to see such beautifully presented cars that once went wheel-to-wheel in the heat of battle at iconic races, driven by legendary drivers.

It’s the Ferrari Breadvan – a named coined by the British press which was less than praiseworthy about this car’s pointed nose, flat roofline and box-like Kammback. But I rather liked it’s brutal elegance and viewed in profile it certainly looks aerodynamic. This car is the Ferrari 250GT Breadvan made in 1962 from a 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB on chassic no 2819GT.

And it’s something of a contentious car: Count Giovanni Volpi had upset Enzo Ferrari, so he wouldn’t sell him a GTO. So instead the Count commissioned engineer Giotti Bizzarrini to build him something even faster to compete against the 1962 250 GTO at the Le Mans 24hrs. Bizzarrini upgraded the SWB to GTO specs then went one better with body specialists Piero Drogo to create this more aerodynamic shape, and moved the engine further back into the centre of the chassis and lowered it, completing the car in just two weeks.

This is a very rare and valuable 1965 Shelby Cobra – it is one of just six 289 Cobra factory team roadters constructed to FIA specs for the 1964-65 US Road Racing Championship (USRRC) series. These cars were known as the ‘cut-down door cars’ due to those bulging rear fenders. This car, CSX 2557 was one of two fitted with dual side pipes on each side. It’s been raced and restored to its original Guardsman Blue with White racing stripes and actually lives in Kuwait now.

This is the race car that shaped modern F1 cars – it’s the first time that a mid-engined car was used to win the World Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship when Jack Brabham pushed the Cooper T51 Conventry-Climax across the finish line. Alongside him Bruce McLaren became the youngest driver to win a Formula 1 race in a sister T51 – a record that stood for nearly 50 years.

Talking of McLaren, here’s the 1966 McLaren M2B, the team’s first Formula 1 car! It was made out of rigid mallite – the stuff they used for aircraft panels, featuring a monocoque and powered by a Ford engine. Raced by Bruce McLaren himself, it was originally meant to be in green and silver, but McLaren made a deal with the producers of the landmark Grand Prix movie. Forming part of the race footage in the film, the car was painted white with a green stripe to represent the fictional Japanese ‘Yamura’ team.

As British Formula 3 champion, the great Ayrton Senna was given a test by the Williams team in this very car on 19 July, 1983. The Saudia-Tag sponsored 1983 Williams FW08C (based on the FW08) after Ground Effect was banned was powered by a Cosworth 3I engine. However it was slower than the bigger Turbo engined rivals and was only effective on slower, twistier circuits achieving two podiums and a win at Monaco with Keke Rosberg. As for Senna he made his debut with debut with Toleman-Hart in 1984, joining Lotus-Renault the following year.

The Bentley EXP Speed 8 marked Bentley’s return to racing after 73 years, debuting in 2001 and winning Le Mans in 2003. designed by Peter Elleray, it was loosely based on the Audi R8C which raced only once. This is the 2003 race winner.

This is the ‘Birdcage’ 1960 Maserati Tipo 61. It was produced from 1959-1960 designed by Giulio Alfieri to compete in SCCA competition. Only 16 cars were made and the ‘Birdcage’ name was because its tubular chassis featured a space-frame structure comprised of approximately 200 small aluminium tubes welded together for rigidity.

Jinnah of Pakistan’s Rolls-Royce Ghost

This 1924 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost could be the most important car in the history of Pakistan. Not only did the Kuwait Concours d’Elegance provide an extraordinary opportunity to get up close and personal with this historically significant car, but it also fittingly won best in class in the Concours.

This is the very car that saw the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the last Viceroy of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten, ride to the Sindh Assembly Building on 14 August 1947, to formally announce the creation of Pakistan.

It was actually owned HH The Nawab of Bahawalpur and loaned to the fledgling government of Pakistan for the occasion and put in the service of Jinnah has his official car.

Karim Chhapra painstakingly restored the car in Pakistan

Amazingly the car remained the property of the family of the Nawab of Bahawalpur until 2003 and had only 7000miles on it (11,250km) from original. Sadly it had sat idle, gathering dust for 40 years.

The current owner, Karim Chhapra bought it in 2003 and has painstakingly restored the car in Pakistan over a period of around 18 months, with new interior upholstery and paint, though the car largely remains original.

It has a 7.4-litre 48.6hp six-cylinder engine and a four-speed gearbox. It even still wears the original number plate.

At the 2012 Concours it took first place in the 1910-1930 class ahead of a 1929 Cord in second with a 1929 Hupmobile taking third – astonishingly this car also belongs to vintage car collector Karim Chhapra!

Kuwait Car Museum City – Kids Driving School

I first visited the Kuwait Historical, Vintage and Classic Cars Museum last year, and visiting the Kuwait Concours d’Elegance again last month (click here for all our coverage from this years Concours), couldn’t miss the opportunity to head down there again. And it’s a good thing too, as I discovered a whole new section that made me wanna be a little kid again!

The museum itself is only two years old (at the time of writing this in 2012), but already incredibly active, and a must see for any petrolhead who lives in or visits the city.

Information and education

Dedicated to promoting classic car culture, informing and enlightening enthusiasts and even providing a practical service through maintenance, service and parts supply for classic cars, and offering engineering workshops and even running historical movies and videos. The Museum also participates in club meets and events like, of course, the Concours.

Of course the main attraction is the quality and variety of cars on display, the thoughtful presentation and, this year, a whole new city just for kids. There are also historical photo galleries and even a very enviable collection of superb model cars!

Cars on display this year included:

  • BMW Isetta 300 ‘Bubble Car’ – the unique little front-entry no-frills car
  • Aston Martin DB5
  • 1959 Chrysler Imperial Crown formerly belonging to the New Zealand President

Children’s driving school

New for this year, and not even officially opened when we visited, though fully up and running, was the children’s driving school in the Car Museum City section.

There’s a mock road network inside, complete with traffic signals and road signs, and small electric cars that actually feel remarkably grown up. And it’s not just a fairground ride – kids have to undergo schooling before they’re allowed out in a car.

They go out with an instructor, who has a clipboard and his own brake pedal, eventually they’ll be tested and if they misbehave or break too many rules, they’ll even be put in ‘jail’ for a short period of time. If they do well, they get a driving licence!

Check out our exclusive video of the roads – driving by Imthishan Giado!

Brilliant Museum concept

The Kuwait Classic Car Museum is a fantastic example of how a museum can be a place of information, learning and fun. I love the fact that this place is so interactive with the local car community regularly has events for them, as well as the workshops – they even have photography workshops.

An understanding and appreciation of classic cars and automotive engineering, plus the chance to instil the right driving habits in children from an early age, have be applauded, and other places in the region should definitely look to replicating the concept achieved in Kuwait.

www.kuwaitcarmuseum.com.kw

The 2012 Kuwait Concours d’Elegance Winners!

Here’s the full line-up of Concours winning cars – click through. You can also check out our full coverage from this year’s magnificent Kuwait Concours d’Elegance by hitting the link after the jump.

For the third year in a row, Kuwait City’s Marina has hosted the region’s most spectacular gathering of vintage and classic cars. The Kuwait Concours d’Elegance saw some of the rarest, most historically significant and valuable automobiles flown in from all over the world, as well being liberated from local collections, to appear before a captive audience of Concours visitors and the incredibly high calibre of judges.

And the winners of the 2012 Kuwait Concours d’Elegance 2012 are…

BEST of SHOW

B9 1938 Talbot Lago T150C SS Figoni & Falaschi Teardrop Coupe Chip Connor Hong Kong

It looks a little like a Bugatti but more streamlined. Talbot-Lago came about from the ashes fo Sunbeam-Talbot Darraqe in 1935, thanks to engineer and businessman Anthony Lago. He just wanted his cars to be beautiful and commissioned Figoni and Falaschi to produce rolling art like this.

Concours Cars

Class-A : 1910 – 1930

1st A5 1924 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Abdulkarim Chhapra
Pakistan

Read all about this above!

2nd A8 1929 Cord L29 Cabriolet Rene Verbiest, Belgium

The first series production car with front-wheel drive. Lower centre of gravity and better balance with the gearbox located in front of the engine.

3rd A9 1929 Hupmobile Abdulkarim Chhapra Pakistan

A medium-sized American car know for its rugged reliability and comfortable ride. This car lives in Pakistan owned by the same person that has the 1924 Rolls-Royce, and like that car is only on its second owner from new.

Class-B : 1931 – 1945

1st B9 1938 Talbot Lago T150C SS Figoni & Falaschi Teardrop Coupe Chip Connor Hong Kong

2nd B6 1937 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 B Pescara Berlinetta, Pietro Navone, Spain

3rd B2 1932 Invicta S-Type Low Chassis Alan Chandler UK

Class-C : 1946 – 1960

1st C4 1951 Maserati A6G 2000 Vignale Body Shigeru Hoshino Japan
Beautiful and built to order by Vignale of Turin for Guglielmo Dei, owner of the Centro-Sud racing team. It participated in the Tour de France in 1952.

2nd C13 1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 Mark I Ali Mustafa Makhseed Kuwait
Not easily recognisable as an Aston, but a race-winner nonetheless. This car was fully restored in Kuwait.

3rd C13 1948 Delahaya 135 MS Convertible coachwork by Saoutchik Jean Claude Marmier France

Class-D : 1961 – 1975

1st D6 1966 Aston Martin DB6 Volante short chassis, Mohammed Rezam AlRoumi Kuwait
The first Aston Martin to be called Volante.

2nd D8 1966 Lamborghini 350GT Albert & Rita Spiess Switzerland
It’s the car that started it all for Lamborghini – and this was one of just 120 built

3rd D3 1963 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato William Loughran UK
A full on racing car, this was a multiple winner and still competes today.

Muscle Cars

1st M17 1972 Oldsmobile 442 Convertible Stanley Kryla USA
Only 1041 convertibles were built, this has the rare Oldsmobile code W29 option (442 appearance and ‘handling package’) – it’s got heavy duty rallye suspension and a Hurst shifter.

2nd M8 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 Abdulla AlQadibi Kuwait

3rd M12 1970 Plymouth Cuda 340 Historical, Vintage & Classic Car Museum Kuwait
Styled by John E Herlitz this 1970 Barracuda was beautifully presented.

Racing Cars

1st R5 1953 Ferrari 375MM Spyder Helmut Ebrlein – Representing the owner Germany
Built for enduro races such as le Mans or the Carrera pan-Americana, this was delivered to America. MM stands for Mille Miglia.

2nd R8 1955 Maserati 250F Bill Pope UK
Probably the most original example in existence this was a Works car for 1955 and raced by Roberto Mieres and also the legendary Sterling Moss, as well as Collins and Carroll Shelby.

3rd R3 1927 Salmson Type GSC San Sebastian Camille Bourges France
This was one of only two.

Most Elegant Open Car

C14 1955 Siata 208S Jim Utaski USA
Looking like a little AC Cobra, Fiat produced a short series of 200 8-cylinder small racing engines in the early 50s, then turned to famed designed Giovanni Michelotti to create this.

Most Elegant Closed Cars

B7 1955 Bugatti 57S Atalante Chip Connor Hong Kong

Most Elegance Racing Car

R6 1953 Jaguar C-Type Margaret Jackson & Neil Hadfield UK

Best European Car

D3 1963 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato William Loughran UK
One of just 19 examples, this one, 0189, was the very last original Zagato, one of eleven right-hand drive version, and oen of three to receive English paint – Caribbean Pearl with Connolly Red hide and carpets.

Best American Car

C11 1954 Plymouth Explorer 195 Coupe by Ghia Petersen Museum USA

Best Preserved Car

D8 1966 Lamborghini 350GT Albert & Rita Spiess Switzerland

Best Restored Car

D6 1937 Alfa Rome 6C 2300 B Pescara Berlinetta Pietro Navone Spain

Most Innovative Italian Car – Trophy Awarded by ACI – Automobile Club of Italy (Selected by Kuwait Concours Judges)

D5 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV Khalid Abdulrahem Bahrain

Best Rolls-Royce

D5 1964 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III Continantal Mulliner Park Ward Sheikh Ahmad Bin Ali Al-Khalifa Bahrain

The above content was originally published 15 February 2012 on Motoring Middle East

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