This year’s Concours of Elegance, presented by A. Lange & Söhne, is the 12th edition of the show and took place over three days at the beginning of this month from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd September at the beautiful and picturesque Hampton Court Palace in west London and welcomed around 15,000 visitors.
Considered to be one of the top three Concours d’Elegance events in the world, this year’s event showcased an exquisite array of some of the rarest and most desirable cars in the world, and our photographer Gary Harman was there to capture many of the stunning cars on display which you can see in this montage we have put together.
There were a number of special features this year, including a unique Le Mans centenary celebration, in partnership with L’Automobile Club de L’Ouest, showcasing 24 Le Mans entrants, 10 winners and four double winners out of five that are still in existence.
There was also an impressive lineup of Ferraris and rare cars from throughout Bugatti’s history. The exclusive event also celebrated Fritz Burkard as The Collector for 2023 with a selection of some fabulous cars from his Swiss based ‘Pearl Collection’.
The Best in Show winner was a stunning 1955 Maserati A6GCS/53 Frua Spider, a true masterpiece of Italian design, making its debut appearance in this country. This rare car is one of just three completed with Frua coachwork, and one of two that survive today. It is considered to be among the most beautiful and desirable 1950s cars of all time, originally developed for the 1953 World Sports Car Championship, featuring motorsport-honed mechanicals including a powerful 170bhp in-line six-cylinder engine.
The show saw class awards given for different eras and in the pre-1920 category the 1913 Hispano-Suiza 14/45HP ‘Alfonso XIII’ took top honours. This roadgoing car’s aluminium body was inspired by the Barcelona based marque’s successful race cars of the 1910s, while its slim bonnet conceals a large 3.6-litre four cylinder engine with 63bhp, giving it a top speed of 80mph. The 14/45HP was named in honour of the Spanish king, Alfonso XIII, with only 500 built.
In the 1920s category the top accolade went to the double Le Mans winning 1929 Bentley Speed Six and the first car to win the 24 Hours back-to-back in 1929 and 1930. The Speed Six ‘Old Number One’ is considered to be among the greatest of Le Mans cars of all.
The winner of the 1930s category was an original 1934 Bugatti Type 59, part of Switzerland’s Pearl Collection, while in the 1950s class, it was a stunning 1956 Jaguar XKSS that took top prize.
In the fiercely contested 1960s category a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider took top honours, a car that was frequently pictured alongside stars such as Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine and recently received a full restoration by specialist Paul Russell and Company.
An iconic 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400SV in its ‘Oro Metallizzato’ gold paint won the 1970s class. The ultimate SV version of the Miura appeared in 1971 fitted with altered Weber carburettors and different cam timing, which pushed output to 385bhp and torque to 295lb ft.
In the ‘Future Classics’ category, it was a high performance 2023 Aston Martin Valkyrie that took top prize. This limited-production Valkyrie hybrid sports car is the result of a meeting of the finest minds in the automotive and motor sport industries, bringing Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Adrian Newey on board to produce what would become one of the most ferocious road machines ever. The Valkyrie has a 6.5-litre Aston Martin-Cosworth V12 married to an electric motor to create a massive 1,139bhp which is capable of generating up to 1814kg of downforce. Only 150 Valkyries will be produced.
Concours of Elegance CEO, James Brooks-Ward, commented:
“We’re delighted to report that Concours of Elegance 2023, the 12th edition of our show, was the most spectacular yet. Our curators pulled out all the stops, assembling an array of machinery the likes of which has never been seen in the UK before – all in the most incredible historic royal palace setting. With such a remarkable array of Le Mans winners alongside the other rare and significant machinery, 2023’s show is one that will certainly live long in the memory for our guests.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our partners, and particularly presenting partner A. Lange & Söhne, as well as our immensely generous owners for their continued support. Without them this special event would simply not be possible.”
Next year’s Concours of Elegance will once again return to Hampton Court Palace from the 30th August to 1st September 2024. For more details please visit: www.concoursofelegance.co.uk.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs by Gary Harman