“Don Lee” Alfa Romeo Tipo B Tops Heveningham Concours
Heveningham provides the perfect setting for a concours event with its tiered, Kim Wilkie-designed, sweeping lawn terraces to display beautiful cars. With the backdrop being a Grade 1 listed Palladian mansion, set in the rural Suffolk UK countryside. Again, in 2019, Heveningham showed it can rival the best in the world.
Traditionally, the event starts on the day preceding the concours (June 21) with the Heveningham Tour. This is a very relaxed drive for approximately 50 cars through the scenic lanes and villages of Suffolk, with concours entrants being invited to join a selection of classic and modern Super Cars. 2019’s Tour had sinister undertones.
After following a route through the village of Thorpeness, famous for its ‘House in the Clouds’, onto the seaside town of Aldeburgh,with its pastel-colored 19th Century holiday villas and then Snape Maltings, of Benjamin Britten fame, the Tour finally arrived at the ex strategic nuclear-armed Cold War airbase of RAF/USAF Bentwaters for ‘Putin’s Picnic’. Although rumored to be elsewhere in the world, someone bearing a remarkable resemblance to Vladimir arrived by helicopter complete with his body guard/interpreter and chatted to the visitors while they enjoyed a very Russian flavored lunch.
The return journey included a drive through Bentwater’s former nuclear bomb stores exiting the base via the, now disused, main runway. 1.6 miles of unused tarmac proved too much of a temptation for some who couldn’t resist a ‘Drag Run’, or two, followed by some ‘Doughnuts’. It has to be said these activities were confined mostly to the modern super cars.
Sixty cars graced the Heveningham lawns for the two-day concours spanning 121 years of motoring history. With Williams F1 Heritage loaning four of their F1 cars to front the display, including the Constructor’s Championship-winning FW11 and Villeneuve’s Driver’s Championship-winning FW19. As always there are differing opinions as to what constitutes a concours car, should they display the patina of their life, should they arrive on a trailer or be driven to the lawn, should their restoration be modest or should they shine in better than showroom condition? You, dear reader, will have your own opinion on that, but you would not have been disappointed at Heveningham, the judges agreed with you whatever it is.
First in the Pre-War class was the 1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo B (pictured above) owned by Jennie Taylor and the late Hugh Taylor. Having raced in period in Europe the car was shipped to the U.S., where it became the ‘Don Lee Special’ and made several appearances at the Indy 500. Following a sympathetic restoration, the B stills wears its original Lee paintwork as well as many ‘battle scars’. Special mention went to the 1929 Bugatti Type 35B GP, another car that can be seen racing at Goodwood and the Monaco Historique.
Post-War honors fell to an immaculate Cambridge blue (Azzurro La Plata) 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 from a private collection. This car has recently featured in the Ferrari exhibition at the Design Museum. Originally owned by UK Ferrari importer Ronnie Hoare, it has recently been restored by DK Engineering. Special mention went to a 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS.
The Supercar class went to a super car indeed. From a private collection this 1993 Jaguar XJ220S is one of three original spec cars remaining from the build of five. Built to the same specification by Tom Walkinshaw Racing, as their Le Mans class XJ220C, the XJ220S has a top speed of 228 mph. Special mention in the class went to a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.
Perhaps one of the most original Bentleys took the trophy for the class of the same name, the Corner family’s 1931 8-Litre Roadster by Corsica (reg no GW2926), unaltered since setting the record for the flying Kilometre, at Brooklands, in 1939 of 141.13 mph just three days before the start of WWll.
Raising a great deal of money for local charities, as well as providing a full scholarship for a post-graduate MA Intelligent Mobility course at the Royal Collage of Art, the Heveningham Concours and its companion Aviation event have become firm favorites in the motoring/aero calendar, gaining the world recognition they deserve.
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