With concours events becoming increasingly popular and frequent, organizers of high profile events are finding it more difficult to source rare and little known cars. For 2019, the organizers of the Concours of Elegance achieved just that.
Many of the cars on display were little seen models, others were certainly rare; original Bentley Le Mans Blowers, one-off prototypes and cars with fascinating histories. It was pleasing to see examples showing sympathetic restorations allowing their history and patina to shine through.
Our initial headline report covered the class winners and an overview of the event so here we will concentrate on some of the more interesting cars that did not all take the honors.
The 1930 Bentley Speed Six `Blue Train` has a great story to tell. In 1930 its then Owner and Bentley director Woolf Barnato waged £100 that the car could beat the Cannes to Calais express not only over the train’s route but with the addition of the Bentley finishing at RAC Club in London before the train reached Calais. The Speed Six beat the express by 15 minutes but Woolf’s winnings were consumed in fines for racing on French roads.
Spanish car manufactures are few and far between, Spanish sports car manufacturers are virtually non existent, this makes the Pegaso Z-102 a gem. It did win its class but the history is worth recounting; just after WW ll Spaniard Wilfredo Ricart, who had worked for Alfa Romeo, took a position at Spanish truck maker ENSA coinciding with a decision by the management to inspire its apprentices by launching a project for them to design and build a high performance car using Spanish technology. Wilfredo was to take charge the result is this beautiful Berlinetta using a Grand Prix chassis, an all-alloy, quad-cam V8 dry sump engine driving a 5-speed transmission. Autocar Magazine described the car as `A pure racing car adapted for everyday use`.
Lotus Cars founder Colin Chapman was fanatical regarding weight saving in his cars. In late 1953 he began work on the MK Vlll creating his first spaceframe chassis weighing just 35lb but this structural gem had one fault, it completely enclosed its Coventry Climax engine! Meaning that the power unit had to be worked on in situ or the framework cut out to remove it. Evident at the Concours is the MK Vlll’s aerodynamic body designed by De Havilland aerodynamicist Frank Costin.
`The family car that wins races`. This was Alfa Romeo’s slogan to promote its 1900C SS Zagato and indeed it did win races in the hands of a future F1 driver. In 1955, 25-year-old Jo Bonnier entered his 1900C SS to race at Kristianstad in his native Sweden. He won and seven days later he and the Alfa won again at Karlskoga. Again in 1955 at the International Trophy at Oulton Park Bonnier took a class win with the 1900C, proving Alfa’s hype to be correct.