On Sunday June 30th, the Le Nôtre lawns in the Chateau de Chantilly domain will provide an idyllic setting for a gathering which, for the space of a few hours, will become the most beautiful automobile museum in the world! Over 100 exceptional cars from different universes and all eras will be assembled there for the 5th Concours Arts & Elegance Richard Mille.
The concept of the Concours d’Etat is a bottomless one. At each staging of the event a committee of experts meets up to produce a list of around 15 original classes or those inspired by anniversaries. Among other celebrations in 2019 are Bentley’s and Ballot’s centenaries, the Porsche 917’s 50th anniversary and Bugatti’s 110th! A total of more than 100 exceptional cars will provide a wide-ranging historical panorama from 1913 to 2015, from the Delaunay-Belleville Coupe de Ville to the McLaren 650 S GT3. Here follows a brief description of what awaits through 11 cars chosen at random.
CLASS: Ballot, 100th anniversary
CAR: Ballot Indianapolis Race Car 5/8 LC (1919) ; chassis 1001
Shortly after the creation of the Indianapolis 500 Miles in 1911, the French set out to conquer America. The brothers Ernest and Edouard Ballot found inspiration in the victories of Peugeot in 1913 and Delage in 1914 and were determined to achieve the same feat in 1919. They specialised in the supply of engines for the motor car and for boats (hence the anchor on the logo), and they designed a 4.8-litre 8-cylinder power plant for the race. René Thomas finished 11th in the car on show at Chantilly. Boosted by this experience the team returned the following year and came home second.
CLASS: Endurance GTs from 1994 onwards
CAR: Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR (1997) ; chassis 297397WA000004
In the middle of the 1990s, several manufacturers became involved in an arms race facilitated by loopholes in the GT regulations in an attempt to score outright victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR is a perfect illustration of these excesses. Although designed for the road (!) with a carbon monocoque chassis and powered by a 6.9-litre V12 engine it covered the 0 – 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds and reached a top speed of 320 km/h. It won the FIA GT Championship in 1997 and 1998, but failed to achieve success at Le Mans.
CLASS: Post-war racing Aston Martins
CAR: Aston Martin DBR1 (1959) – chassis DBR1/5
This is one of the most famous British racing cars of all time. It was produced in 1956 and is characterised by the triangular air intakes on the flanks that became one of the major styling cues of the make. In the hands of some of the best drivers of the day including Jack Brabham, Tony Brooks, Jim Clark, Stirling Moss, etc. it won everywhere including Le Mans in 1959 with Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby at the wheel. The car on display at Chantilly is the only one built for a private team.
CLASS: Pre-war Bentleys – open cars
CAR: Bentley Speed Six “Old No. 3” (1930) chassis HM2869
The Bentley Speed 6, brought out in 1928, is the racing version of the 6.5 litre model that had appeared two years earlier. This machine completed Bentley’s domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the first decade of the race with two consecutive victories in 1929 and 1930 at the height of the fame of the Bentley Boys, a group of well-heeled British sportsmen who won everything at the time. The car on display at Chantilly is the third and last built for the works team. Better-known as Old No. 3, it did not see the finish in the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans (accident).