Best of Show, uniquely, is not decided by a group of judges but by the owners themselves, each of whom is given a single vote and an extremely difficult task!
Winners of club concours events from all over the UK have been invited to attend, too, and the most impressive of them will be awarded the Club Trophy – and extended an invitation to next year’s Concours of Elegance.
Guests will be able to explore the Palace and its grounds as well as the field of cars, and with luxury brands displaying their wares there will be no shortage of opportunities for shoppers to put a dent in their bank balance. The event will also serve as a miniature auction preview, with RM Sotheby’s set to display lots from its 6 September London sale.
The palace is 40 minutes from central London by car, while the train from Waterloo to Hampton Court take only 35 minutes – and deposits passengers just a few steps from the gate.
What cars will be at the 2017 Concours of Elegance?
A glance at the list of entries confirms there will be absolutely no filler, and visitors will encounter everything from a 1904 Mercedes 28/32 Simplex to a 2005 Aston Martin DBR9. Among the cars we’re most excited to see are the 1934 Tatra 77 Streamlined Saloon, 1939 Frazer Nash BMW 328, as well as a beautiful OSCA MT4LM Vignale Coupé. Here's a bit more detail on some of the entrants:
1904 Mercedes-Simplex 28/32
Sophisticated and fast, Mercedes-Simplex models were among the elite cars of the pre-1910 era. This particular example with its 32bhp in-line four cylinder engine, was ordered in July 1903 by Emil Jellinek, the influential Mercedes agent for the southern region of France, but didn’t reach its first owner, HB Hills of Paris, until late April the following year.
Over the decades the car seemingly led an unassuming life, which perhaps explains how it managed to survive two World Wars without major damage or becoming the ‘spoils of war’. It did, however, later get passed between several private collections, before unexpectedly resurfacing to public view at the 1974 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
1933 Aston Martin Le Mans Short Chassis
Featuring unique coachwork by E Bertelli Ltd, this Le Mans short chassis was made as a one-off for RH Gregory. Gregory was a serial Aston Martin buyer, who acquired every new model the company produced on the understanding that he could personalise it.
For the Le Mans Gregory specified the rear end be modified to accommodate luggage and occasional passengers, and that the fuel tank be integrated inside the bodywork, rather than the ‘slab tank’ mounted to the outside of standard models. The car’s bonnet was also extended to reach the base of the windscreen, and its ventilation louvres slanted rearwards rather than vertically.
1934 Tatra 77
Many cars may lay claim to making a significant impact on the direction of automotive design and development, but few can substantiate that claim with quite the authority of the Tatra 77.
Launched in March 1934, not only was it the world’s first series production aerodynamic design (the work of Paul Jaray, ex- Zeppelin), it also featured other innovations. Its engine was a compact 3-litre air-cooled V8 located over and behind the rear axle, to free up interior space. Cognisant of the compromises of the engine’s location, Tatra’s gifted chief designer, Hans Ledwinka, reduced the drivetrain’s weight by the use of Elektron – a lightweight magnesium alloy used in aviation – for the crankcase and gearbox casing.
Capable of nearly 90mph, the 77 was very quick for having just 60bhp, extremely quiet thanks to its aerodynamic efficiency (a 1:5 scale model achieved a drag coefficient of 0.21 in Zeppelin’s wind tunnel), its ride quality was exemplary, and contemporary road tests complimented its handling.
1953 Ferrari 340MM Vignale Spyder
One of only four Vignale-bodied 340MM Spyders, this particular example with its striking ‘Night’ blue and white coachwork was originally owned by the American Bill Spear. Spear had intended to run it at the 1953 Le Mans 24-hours, but the car wasn’t ready. Instead, Spear changed his focus to that year’s Reims 12-hours, and went down to Maranello with Phil Hill to collect the Spyder and drive it up into France. But Spear crashed his Bentley road car en route, seriously gashing his leg and counting him out of the Reims race: Hill was joined by Luigi Chinetti, but the Ferrari retired with brake problems.
Spear soon after imported the Spyder into the US, where he raced it successfully until mid-1954 when he sold it to gentleman racer, Edmund P Lunken. Lunken did well in the car, too. In late 1955 it was bought by Dr Walter K Herrmann, who repainted it light blue and kept it for 14 years.
During the 1970s it was bought by Frenchman Andre Binda who restored the Spyder and repainted it in its original colour scheme: the car competed in three Mille Miglias before returning to the US in 1999 and receiving another restoration. It was bought by the current owner in 2002, who has since spent much time on the concours circuit.