The Chantilly Arts & Elegance Concours Is Straight Out Of A Bond Film
Photography by Ted Gushue
Have you ever seen A View To A Kill? Who am I kidding, of course you have. It’s one of Roger Moore’s campiest, and it features Christopher Walken as Max Zorin, a comical caricature of the typical Bond Bad Guy: eccentric, comically wealthy, involved in a litany of shell companies, stabs race horses with computerized steroids, and generally just wants to take over the world. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but what always stuck out in my mind (besides Grace Jones as ‘May Day’) was that Max Zorin called Chantilly Castle home.
It’s a sprawling estate with an Alexandre le Notre garden, that looks like it belongs in a lithograph. And for one day a year, Richard Mille turns it into a classic car wonderland.
I made the pilgrimage myself while I happened to be over on the continent, and as you can see, it’s become an event on par with the great concours of the world. Cars are spread out through the grounds, arranged in clusters by category. Naturally, my attention was immediately drawn to the french rally legends that were strewn about, namely Ari Vantanen’s Peugeot Pikes Peak special.
I’d also never seen the 1935 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 Aerospeeder in person before, like the rest of the world I’d imagine, but to watch the grin of the couple behind the wheel was to immediately understand what ownership of the green beast was like. It’s a McLaren F1 style seating arrangement, and a mid-engine design—roughly 60 years before the F1 would ever roll off production lines. When I drove the BMW 328 Touring Superleggera in the Mille Miglia this year, I was struck by how ahead of the times Superleggera had been in their aerodynamic shaping. This car was an entire three years before that.
The event was, unfortunately, plagued by spotty rain, but as always I found a way through—during moist moments, I could typically be found at Richard Mille’s bar, enjoying a selection of exceptionally rare wines from old growth vineyards like Chateau Haut Brion. There, of course, I would run into legendary rally racer and FIA boss Jean Todt. My bordeaux-addled suggestions on how to make F1 and WRC a bit more spicy were met with a typically French frown. Then of course, came Richard Mille, the man, the myth, the legend. What did the international man of mystery have to say on this special day? “It’s the only reason I make watches!” He exclaimed in gest. To be honest, it’s why I’d launch a watch company too.
There was a spot of controversy around a pearlescent white prototype Miura that a certain owner felt a certain judge should have voted a certain way on. But we won’t go into that…not now, at least.
All in all, it was a tremendous event that I felt lucky to attend, if only to pretend to be Max Zorin for a day—look at my hair cut, it’s almost exactly identical.