A Concours Of Elegance Held At Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Redefines Opulence
Photography by Nat Twiss
I might as well have found a recipe for automotive nirvana earlier this month at Hampton Court , the former and favored palace of King Henry VIII. Here are the basic instructions: start by taking a few handfuls of some of the best cars in Europe, make sure to mix in plenty of variety, and then place this lot on the manicured grounds of decadent British royal compound, and then throw a bit of champagne into it for good measure. It’s exactly as good as it sounds, and I took an abundance of photographs to prove it; the Hampton Court Concours of Elegance was lavish to the hilt, the machinery in attendance was impeccable, and I could barely concentrate on one before another indulged my automotive ADD.
Before we get into a few of the vehicular highlights, a quick bit on the venue, because the Hampton Court Palace is an experience on its own right. Six centuries old, and even more ornate and beautiful as it ages, it is a symbol of too much power in the hands of one man, but there is no denying its innate attractiveness, and to walk around the grounds is to delight in the extravagant lawns and gardens and ponds that make this one of, it not the best, venues for an event like a concours. For instance, upon arrival at the gates, the cars parade around the vast central fountain before lining the splayed avenues in the surrounding garden. It is just pure high caliber prettiness in every aspect.
Walking in to the event, I was immediately greeted with six Jaguar D-Types, including the Le Mans-winning Ecurie Ecosse car. It’s a bold introduction to the day, but the quality continues throughout. Each row presented an eclectic selection of metal, with LaFerrari Apertas at home next to vintage Corvette Stingray race cars. Oftentimes it can be easy for similar styles and designs to blend together when they’re placed alongside one another, so having variance on each avenue made it easy to appreciate every facet and feature of the machines on display, and also suited the history of the venue, itself a mix of architectural styles that still manage to harmonize with one another to create a greater effect.
With so much on offer it can be hard to choose a favorite, but the OSCA MT4 Vignale is a serious challenger for the title at least in my mind. Other notable entries among the field that was full of them included a Silk Cut-liveried XJR-9 and a Fiat 8V Supersonic, just to give you an idea of the variety and quality on offer here. Take a look through the photos and let me know which ones you liked the most—there are plenty of good options, that’s certain.