Fortunately, this year’s Salon Privé Week at Blenheim Palace was able to go ahead, in a year that has seen most events up and down the country either postponed until next year or cancelled altogether, it was good to see so many car enthusiasts being able to enjoy what they love doing – showing off their pride and joy. And after what has been a fabulous summer, the weather turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag of sunshine and showers. That did not however deter the many visitors who came to look at the array of fabulous cars that were on display.
Between 22nd to 26th September Salon Privé hosted some of the world’s greatest cars in the beautiful grounds of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, which included a record number of entries for the prestigious Concours d’Elégance presented by AXA.
Adhering to the ethos of ‘Coming Together, Keeping Apart’, safety was of course paramount with robust COVID-19 Secure systems in place that went beyond government guidelines and included the pioneering introduction of the CI Group’s Liber track and trace app. In fact Salon Privé is the first automotive event in the world to use Liber, which has been developed for major event organisers to ensure that everyone who attends an event is COVID-19 free before they enter and can be contacted if necessary after the event is over.
Salon Privé Week, which is now in its 15th year, got under way with a new VIP Media Day on 22nd September with some of the world’s best-known brands choosing Salon Privé and Blenheim Palace as the ideal venue at which to unveil their latest models. For example, Bentley hosted a trio of global debuts from its in-house bespoke and personal commissioning division Bentley Mulliner. The Classic division unveiled its recently restored Bentley 1929 Blower, the Coachbuilt division unveiled its first car, the Bacalar, and the Collections portfolio displayed its brand-new Continental GT Mulliner Coupé.
Some other notable world exclusive debuts included Italian styling house Touring Superleggera with its striking Aero3, Danish hypercar manufacturer Zenvo with its 1177bhp TSRS-1, and the impressive and eye-catching 1100kg, 1100bhp Engler Superquad.
European debuts saw a wide range of performance cars, including the TDF1 from British brand Tour-de-Force, the all-electric Aspark Owl hypercar, as well as the remarkable PAL-V flying car on display.
Luxury car maker Rolls-Royce unveiled their brand-new Ghost, which is the company’s most technologically advanced car ever built. Similarly, Koenigsegg revealed their all-new supercar the Gemera, the world’s first ‘mega GT’ and is the Swedish carmaker’s first four-seat model.
The Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ prototype made its first UK public appearance since Andy Wallace drove it to a new production-car speed record of 490.484kph (304.773mph), and Italian coachbuilder ARES DESIGN chose to debut four of their hand-built vehicles.
Morgan Motor Company unveiled four models which included the first UK showing of the new Plus Four, whilst MAT (Manifattura Automobili Torino) unveiled their Stratos, a modern-day homage to the renowned multi-Rally winning car of the 70s.
All the photographs here were taken by our photographer Gary Harman, who was at Blenheim Palace for this year’s event.
There were some fabulous McLaren F1s and GTRs, which included long and short tail race cars including the BPR winner, alongside a pair of road cars. The Gordon Murray design car won Le Mans 25 years ago and still looks a timeless beauty today with its compact ‘simplistic’ design without the ‘aero’ wings and diffusers of the modern hyper cars. And there was more McLaren success here at Salon Privé when a 1997 F1 GTR long-tail (pictured above) won the People’s Choice award. Chassis 28R was raced in the FIA GT Championship by GTC Gulf Team Davidoff and was the last of the F1 GTRs to be built.
Also on display were some impressive looking supercars, including the new Brabham BT62R, a 2018 Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta, a 2006 Pagani Zonda Roaster F, a 2010 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport, a Koenigsegg Regera, a 2019 McLaren Senna as well as 2020 McLaren Senna LM GTR, resplendent in its yellow and green Harrods livery.
Please click here to see the 2020 Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance award winners.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs by Gary Harman