One of the few motoring events to actually take place this year was the annual Concours of Elegance, presented by A.Lange & Söhne, in the beautiful gardens of Hampton Court Palace over the first weekend of this month. It was in fact the first major international concours d’elegance event since March, following the easing of lockdown measures here in the UK. The event organisers put together a new operational plan that included revised hospitality, restricted audience capacity along with the introduction of separate morning and afternoon tickets.
The first Concours of Elegance began at Windsor Castle eight years ago in 2012, before it moved to St James’s Palace in 2013, Hampton Court Palace in 2014, then the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh in 2015, before returning to Windsor Castle in 2016 and then back to Hampton Court Palace in 2017, where it has remained for the last three years.
This year’s Concours Of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace brought together a selection of 60 of the rarest cars from around the world, many of which have never been seen before in the UK as well as displays of hundreds of other beautiful cars dating back over 100 years, including entrants to The Club Trophy.
Now in its seventh year, The Club Trophy is where some of the UK’s most prestigious car clubs offer up their finest examples of cars to an independent panel of judges, which this year included HRH Prince Michael of Kent and Classic and Sports Car Editor, Alastair Clements. The winning Club Trophy car secures a place in the following year’s main Concours of Elegance event, and this year the Club Trophy was presented by The Royal Automobile Club and supported by Classic & Sports Car and won by a Messerschmitt KR200. Powered by a two stroke 191cc Fichtel & Sachs engine that produces just 9bhp, the Messerschmitt wasn’t the most powerful car in the Concours by any stretch of the imagination, but its unique and charming design and superb condition got the judges attention.
The Car Club displays, sponsored by Classic & Sports Car, formed a line-up of individual marques around the perimeter of Hampton Court garden, and included the Jenson Owners’ Club, Alvis Owners’ Club, XK Club and E-type Club, to name just a few. Each day the Classic & Sports Car editorial team picked their favourite, two of the awards going a Lotus Eclat and a Jaguar XK120 Roadster, finished in a striking bronze. The XK120 also caught the eye of the Jaguar Trophy judges, who awarded it the top prize from a line-up of gathered E-types and XKs.
The Concours of Elegance winning car isn’t actually selected by a panel of judges but by the owners of the cars themselves. The way it works is that each participant is asked to vote on the other models on display to decide which car is considered to be the ‘Best of Show’, which this year went to the Porsche 917 KH which was driven to victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours race in 1970 – Porsche’s first ever win at the event.
The Best in Show-winning 1969 Porsche 917 KH, got a lot of attention during the event, with its imposing design and interesting backstory. In 1970, Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood drove this very same 917 KH with start number 23 and in the world-famous red-white Salzburg design to the first of (so far) 19 overall wins for Porsche at Le Mans. The 917 was Porsche’s first time in the league of immensely powerful, large-capacity racing cars. Its 580bhp 4.5-litre 12-cylinder engine set new standards that are still legendary today.
All the photographs here were taken by our photographer Gary Harman, who was at Hampton Court Palace for the event. He spoke with David Brabham, who brought along his new racing car for the road, the Brabham BT62R, and photographed some wonderful old Formula 1 cars including a 1972 BRM, a 1962 Ferrari 312, 1954 Maserati 250F ex works car as well as a more modern 1993 Williams FW15C and 2005 McLaren MP4 driven by Juan Pablo Montoya.
Please click here to read the second instalment of our visit to this year’s Concours Of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace and see some more stunning cars and read about the awards.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs by Gary Harman