The Hampton Court Concours Is An Automotive Gathering Fit For Royalty
Photography by Nat Twiss
Cruise alongside the River Thames, park among supercars, and walk through the main gates of Hampton Court Palace. Stroll through the interior under vaulted ceilings, vaunted chandeliers and frescoes, and pop into the gardens. You won’t find any period TV dramas about old British Royals being filmed here today though, just one of the best collections of cars this side of the Atlantic.
For one weekend only, King Henry VIII’s old stomping grounds are the stage for a beautifully curated selection of cars spanning the entire 20th century, laid out among the serene horticulture of the Palace grounds. For mere peasants such as ourselves, it’s quite the treat! Grab some champagne, don your straw hat, and take a wander through automotive heaven.
Whether your passion is for old Bentley Blowers, or whether your heart lies with the halcyon days of the mid-’90s, you find yourself totally spoiled for choice at an event like this. And even better, every example is utterly impeccable. Just like its distant cousin on the California coast, there’s an attention to detail at this concours that can only be achieved by having some very passionate collectors vying for the coveted prize of Best in Show—this year going to the behemoth 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker “Boat Tail”; the very same car that took the grand prize at Pebble Beach last year appearing on British shores for the first time in six decades. Two premier concours wins in as many years is certainly one way of making a mark.
Plenty of other rare and beautiful coachbuilt cars also dotted the avenues of the Palace gardens, including a one-of-one Jaguar XK120 re-bodied by Pininfarina, and the sleek and futuristic-looking Ferrari 166MM/212 “Uovo.” Stay tuned for a full feature on that car. Among the plethora of unique passenger cars on the grounds a trio of McLaren F1s looks more pedestrian than they have any right to, but there’s no denying that the Papaya Orange of the race-focused F1LM is an eye-catcher. At the other side of the show, a Gulf-liveried F1 GTR “Longtail” is fired up, its M-Powered V12 screaming loud enough to risk shattering a few old windows. You may have heard about this particular car recently, seeing as it’s the first to come out of McLaren’s new in-house classic restoration and certification service.
Concours season is always a treat, and although it’s becoming a busier time of year as new events start up, theHampton Court Concours of Elegance is always a sure bet for a good time. Add it to your calendar for next year, and take a look at our gallery to see what you missed out on!