29 October 2012

Salon Privé shines in the sun

British version of Villa d’Este and Pebble Beach concours attracts classics and crowds to green lawns of Syon House

The annual three-day Salon Privé event in September has established itself over the last seven years as the British version of the prestigious Villa d'Este in Italy and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elégance event in the USA. Rightly billed as the UK’s most prestigious Super Car Show and Concours d’Elégance, it also includes several classes for motorcycles amongst the amazing display of rare and exclusive vintage super and luxury cars, worth well in excess of £100 million.

It was based for the second year at Syon House on the outskirts of London, the stately home of Lord Percy, the Duke of Northumberland, who opened this year’s event with classic car nut Jay Kay, better known as the frontman of Jamiroquai. However, this year the official opening was preceded earlier in the morning, by 30 of the concours participants having driven in convoy from the Royal Automobile Club at Woodcote Park, Surrey, to celebrate the start of the event, which was blessed with exceptionally good weather.

With literally millions of pounds worth of motoring icons littering the lawns, their owners watched the appreciative crowds inspecting the priceless gems. Many of the cars that were on display are rarely seen, only making appearances at the most exclusive of events, further endorsing the events claims.

Represented at this year's event were Bugatti, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and other legendary marques, and Aston Martin used the venue to debut the V12 Vantage Roadster. Less well-known brands such as Tushek from Slovenia, Rimac from Croatia and Touring Superleggera from Italy were displayed on the main lawn, along with magnificent displays of Ferrari F40s, Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwings, as well as 1960s sports cars and motor bikes.

The motorcycles were divided into two classes; ‘V-Twins through the Ages’ and ‘Important Competition Machines,’ all ably sourced by former Norton man Mike Jackson. In the former category, bikes ranged from a 1917 Indian Power Plus and a 1931 AJS S3 continuing through the years, including a couple of Vincents right up to a 1998 Ducati 996 SPS.

On the competition front, diversity was the byword, with bikes ranging from a 1925 Brough Superior SS100, a 1934 Belgian Sarolea 32F, a 1951 FN 500 Moto Cross bike, a 1953 Royal Enfield machine ridden by John Britain, and a 1971 Yamaha TD2 Yamaha once ridden by Moto GP commentator Steve Parish, who was one of the concours judges. Sammy Miller, a regular at the event, displayed the ex-Gordon Jackson AJS now on show at his museum.

The actual Concours d'Elégance took place on Friday, 7 September, with a red carpet parade showing off every car and motorcycle entered. Awards were presented for Class Winner, runner-up and third place, and eight Special Prizes were awarded for categories such as Best Interior, Best Design, the coveted People's Choice and, of course, the finale — Best of Show. The winners of this prestigious award were Dudley and Sally Masson-Styrron with their stunning Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta.

With lobster for lunch, washed down with Pommery champagne and a traditional afternoon tea, the event hits the spot, and plans are already in place for next year. This is the second year that the bike content has risen, which makes the trip well worth making for two-wheeled enthusiasts. It does put into perspective that while classic bike prices may be rising, they are still a long way behind their four-wheeled cousins.

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