Concours of Elegance – Hampton Court Palace
A couple of weekends ago, Matt and I had the absolute pleasure of working at the Concours of Elegance. This year, the annual event was hosted at Hampton Court Palace. It’s always a privilege to attend these events. But being part of the Concours of Elegance is one of the highest privileges in our industry. We regularly work with the Aston Martin Owners Club. It was this association that led to a request to deliver a care package for the 100 Years of Zagato display.
100 Years of Zagato at Concours of Elegance:
This spectacular display was two years in the making. It celebrated one hundred years of Zagato and a 60-year relationship with Aston Martin.
The collection represented an example of every single model Zagato have produced for Aston Martin, including several one-off commissions. These cars are all privately owned. Which, of course, makes it even more critical that they receive the best care possible at the event. This collection has never been put together before and is unlikely to happen again.
Auto Curators on duty at Hampton Court Palace:
Matt and I attended for all three days of the show. We arrived early to remove protective covers and stayed until close to ensure the cars were ‘put to bed’ correctly in the evening.
With seventeen cars on display and all but a couple covered, it was a busy time. The first morning the weather forecast didn’t look great. With that in mind, we applied our Auto Curators Signature Sealant to the paint and glass of every car. This meant that not only did they look incredibly glossy, but the slick, hydrophobic finish was also very easy to dry quickly later in the day after numerous heavy rain showers. At the end of the day, after a final wipe down, we carefully refitted the covers to each car. This was particularly important for the Speedster models that don’t have any sort of roof at all!
In between opening and closing, Matt and I were on hand to regularly remove dust from the cars using a massive stock of soft, plush microfibres and our Auto Curators Rapid Cleanse Quick Detailer. Wiping the dust away using a dry cloth alone would have created light scratches and marring, the Rapid Cleanse QD lubricates the paint surface and encapsulates the dust, allowing it to be carried away from the paint safely.
Additionally, Matt and I took some time to educate ourselves about the cars on display and spent a lot of time speaking to visitors and helping them understand the significance of the collection.
Care & Attention to Detail:
Somebody asked if it was a little nerve-wracking working on such a unique collection. I can honestly say it wasn’t. At Auto Curators, we have a policy of treating every car with the same level of care and attention to detail, regardless of the marque or value. In this display, the lowest value vehicle was circa £65k. The highest value vehicles, being the two DB4 GT Zagato Lightweights, were worth approx £14m each. We assessed each car to understand its particular needs. Some were more ‘fragile’ than others, and we dealt with each accordingly.
Highlight of the Day:
A personal highlight for me was being able to spend time with Dr Ulrich Bez, ex-CEO of Aston Martin. He’s also the man widely considered responsible for saving Aston from their dark times and creating the worldwide brand that we see now. Dr Bez is incredibly humble about the amazing work he did there. We also spoke about his work at Porsche with some of the most iconic 911 models in the world. He even bought Matt and me a coffee!
From the Zagato display, my personal favourite was the silver 2014 Zagato Virage Shooting Brake. It is a unique car, styled entirely by Zagato’s inhouse Japanese designer. While it carried many recognisable Zagato design cues, the Japanese car influence was undeniable. They made one each of a Roadster, Shooting Brake and Coupe as a private commission for a wealthy individual. Unfortunately, the Coupe, which lives in Japan, ran into logistical problems at the last minute and couldn’t make it to the show. The Roadster came from Belgium and the Shooting Brake from Switzerland.
As an overall view of the show, the selection of Ferrari 166MM’s was quite something to behold. This was the only car ever to win both the 24 Heures Du Mans and the gruelling Mille Milia in the same year. They are an extraordinarily beautiful car, quite delicate looking, but their V12 engine sounds pure race car. Breathtaking.
Best in Show:
The actual winner of the Concours of Elegance Best in Show at Hampton Court Palace was the 1919 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost by Barker. Voted for by the owners of the participating cars. This elegant car with polished aluminium bodywork was undoubtedly the most flamboyant Silver Ghost ordered by a man who owned 25 of these Rolls-Royces, Lt.-General His Highness the Maharaja Sir Bhupindra Singh of Patiala. In his care, it spent many years in North-West India. Its styling had been inspired by the French coachbuilder Henri Labourdette, whose Art Deco bodies built on Rolls-Royce chassis in 1913-14 had caught the imagination of the Maharaja, but in December 1915 he chose the British coachbuilder Barker to build this body on chassis 11 PD.
The countdown to Concours of Elegance 2020 is on! We hope we’ll see you there next year.