The first week in September, The Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace hosts a selection of vehicles many never seen in the UK before. It never ceases to amaze me the cars that are on show at this event each year.
A small gathering of 166MM Ferraris, including ‘No22’. Often considered to be the most significant Ferrari in the world. The history attached to many of these cars makes the hairs on my neck prickle. Take for instance the ‘Blue Train’ Bentley.
While at dinner on a yacht in Cannes, discussing previous cars that had raced & beaten the Blue Train from St Raphael to Calais. The then Chairman of Bentley Motors, Woolf Barnato claimed it to be a feat he could do easily in his Bentley Speed Six. So at 5:45pm, as the Blue Train left the railway station at Cannes, Barnato and his companion, Dale Bourne, finished their drinks, left the Carlton Bar in Cannes and set off. Despite driving through heavy rain, losing time trying to locate fuel near Auxerre, dense fog near Paris and a puncture which used their only spare tyre. Barnato and Bourne finally reached Calais at 10:30 in the morning.
Barnato had arrived in Calais so far ahead of the train that he decided to continue on to London. After crossing the Channel in a packet steamer, Woolf Barnato parked his Speed Six outside the RAC Club in St. James’ Street at 3.20pm. Just four minutes later the Blue Train arrived at the station in Calais.
There were other beautiful and historic Bentleys in display. The first Bentley to race at Le Mans, the first Bentley to win back-to-back at Le Mans.
The Main Concours is held amongst the pruned ancient trees and gravel paths around the Fountain Garden. It has to be the most perfect setting for these fine cars. Many are the typical idea of a Concours car, others seem a little different. As in the case of the ‘world’s first minivan’, one of only 9 ever built. The very stylish, Stout Scarab. It certainly created a lot of attention.
Arriving looking the very part. The first car to ever win the Italian Grand Prix – a 1921 Ballot 3/8 LC. The proud owners left 2 days later in different but equally stylish attire.
Complete with a pair of matched shotguns on each side running boards. The totally unique Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost that would eventually be crowned ‘Best in Show’. The highly polished bodywork was literally a sight for sores in the sunlight… but made a great mirror to check you looked your best (if you were a swan)