Full gallery and details of the most extraordinary cars at the sensational concours event this weekend
The Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace on the weekend saw 100s of incredible cars on display including 75 historic concours cars and special exhibits.
A couple of spectacular vintage cars had storied connections to India – and you can read about those in a separate feature – click here! Well you wouldn’t expect the #BrownCarGuy to miss those out now, would you?
One of the show stoppers and my favourite areas of the show was the ‘Harry’s Garage’ display put on by Harry Metcalfe, of Harry’s Garage YouTube channel and founder of Evo magazine. The blue Pagani Zonda was a well used example, there was a Bugatti EB110 SS, a Porsche 964 3.8 RS and a Jaguar XJR-15 – the first ever fully carbon-fibre road car. Also on display was his own Testarossa that he has driven to the Sahara and which appeared on Grand Tour recently.
Centre stage went to a collection of five variants of the Ferrari 166MM placed just in front of the palace exterior – including a 1949 Le Mans and Mille-Miglia-winning 166MM #0008M.
McLaren P1 GTR
These vied for attention with the McLaren P1 liveried in the iconic Marlboro racing colours – this is not a McLaren Senna, despite the inscription on the side (admittedly that’s what I initially thought it was).
It boasts 1000bhp from its twin-turbo V8 and electric motor combination
1936 Stout Scarab
One of the stars for me was this extraordinary 1936 Stout Scarab with an extraordinary story to tell. It’s described as the world’s first production ‘minivan’ and yet featured a rear-mounted 3.6-litre Ford V8 driving the rear wheels with independent suspension and monocoque steel bodywork.
Clearly inspired by the Art Deco/Streamline Moderne era of design, this American car was the result of journalist and car and aviation engineer, William Bushnell’s meeting with the ‘futurist’, author, architect and designer Buckminster Fuller. Inspired by author’s vision he dreamt up the Scarab.
Styled by John Tjaarda, it had a central driver’s position, movable seats that could swivel around, and a table. Apparently it was a smooth and quiet ride but its aerodynamics and rear-weight bias gave it ‘interesting handling’.
Unfortunately it was expensive at $5000 and only nine were ever made. This Scarab has a place in world history, owned by a Parisian, it is claimed to have entertained a meeting between General Eisenhower and Charles de Gaulle in Morocco during World War II! Astonishingly it was later sold to a circus owner who kept monkeys in it! Make of that twist of fate what you will. Thankfully it was later bought and brought back to America to undergo a full restoration.
1929 Bentley Blower No. 1
Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin a racing superstar of his era, dubbed ‘Tiger Tim’ and ‘Bentley Boy’ persuaded W. O. Bentley to build 50 supercharged cars required for entry at Le Mans, and created his own team of four cars, headed by this No. 1 car. They proved unbeatable between 1927-30.
The 4 1/2 litre engine originally produced 110bhp, but once the Roots-type blower was fitted, power increased to 175bhp for the road cars and 242bhp for the race cars. The car held the Brooklands lap record at an astonishing 137.96mph (222.03kph) in 1932. In its first race it had a canvas body which caught fire – Birkin doused the flames and continued the race. It was rebodied as a single seat with an aluminium shell by Reid Railton and painted in their racing red.
After Birkin’s death in 1933 the car was sold by his family, but they would not have earned the over £5m it made at sale in 2012!
1953 Lotus Mk VIII
This 1953 Lotus Mk VIII was Colin Chapman’s first fully enclosed aerodynamic design. It was also the first true Lotus spaceframe – light and stiff. It originally had an MG 100 engine but later was the first car to be fitted with the Coventry Climax 1100cc engine – which it still has today. A successful racer, it was tended by a young mechanic called Graham Hill!
Once the Mk 9 was introduced this car was relegated to lesser formulae races and then left unused until it was rediscovered and restored to how it’s presented today. In person it looked like a wheeled torpedo.
1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.0
We all know the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 – more than 1500 were made, but only 54 Carrera RS 3.0 models were made and have become one of the most collectible and sought after. A racing-bred homologation special, this car was raced by its first owner, Nicolas Koob, and then extensively rallied between 1976-79. Imagine that. A 911 for real aficionados.
1932 Aston Martin LM9 Le Mans Lightweight
Yep this is an Aston Martin. It was built specifically for Le Mans and was uniquely engineered and low-styled – and it had Elektron bits! Sounds cool, it was actually a magnesium/aluminium alloy, and some parts were milled from this to be lighter. Certainly caught my eye for being sleek and looking very purposeful.
1955 Jaguar D-Type
This deeply seductive black Jaguar was the first D-Type to roll off the production line. It was exported to America and bought by Albert Browne of New Jersey and put to racing with some success. However it caught fire and killed its driver in one of the races. It was kept in a trailer after that with occasional runs to the beach! Finally it was acquired by a historic car dealer and restored. This time-warp racer is back in action now and looking as delicious as ever.
1938 Bugatti Type 57
This amazing blue stunner is to my mind as glamorous and opulent as any car can be. The Bugatti Type 57 was launched in Paris in 1933, designed by Ettore’s son Jean Bugatti. Refined and fast it had a straight-eight that could be ordered with a supercharger.
This particular car originally had a saloon body, but later received this flamboyant design based on the cabriolet given to Mohammad Pahlavi, later the Shah of Persia, in 1939. This recreation uses all original Type 57 parts, and the Petersen Automotive Museum which has the Shah of Persia car allowed measurements to be taken so this could be as close as possible – except for the fact that the windscreen doesn’t wind down into the body as on the Shah’s car!
1987 RUF CTR ‘Yellowbird’
This is something of a legend. The record-breaking 1987 RUF CTR exceeded 212mph (341kph) and was dubbed the Yellowbird. Based on the Carrera body but lightened with 25mm wider rear wings – they hid charge-air intercoolers. The rain gutters were removed for improved aerodynamics and the 3.4-litre boxer engine received two turbochargers to see power output boosted to 496bhp. At only 1150kg it could do 0-200kph in 11.4 seconds.
1954 Ferrari 400 Mondial
Yes this is a gorgeous original classic Ferrari, but this is powered by a four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine producing 170bhp. Only 19 were made to compete in the under 2.0-litre category races and hillclimbs and this Ferrari proved very successful. Most Mondial were Pinin Farina bodied, but a few had coachbuilt bodies from Scaglietti based on drawings by Dino Ferrari! This car is one of just five of those cars.
It raced in 1955 in Corsica and was then shipped to Ethiopia (an Italian colony at the time), raced in an won the Ethiopian Grand Prix and was forgotten until 1970. A English car enthusiasts, Colin Crabbe stumbled upon it during a visit there and immediately bought it. It raced in America for a while before returning to Europe where most recently it participated in the 2018 Mille Miglia
1959 Bristol 406 SWB Zagato
I’m not always a fan of Zagato styling, but this is the prettiest Bristol I’ve ever seen. The 1959 Bristol 406 SWB Zagato was styled by Ercole Spada who went on to do the Alfa Romeo TZ and Lancia Fulvia Zagato as well as others.
This car was certainly put through its paces used in hillclimbs, continental tours and rallies. it’s still regularly raced and driven today and is unrestored. There’s a 2.2-litre BMW 6-cylinder engine producing 105bhp.