Concours classics flock to Belgian coast


Belgium’s north coast was overrun with classic cars when dozens of historic vehicles poured into Knokke-Heist, near Ostende, for the Zoute Grand Prix from 9-12 October.

The popular event, now in its fifth year, drew thousands of visitors wanting to catch a glimpse of the 187 pre-'65 classics entered on the Zoute Rally.

Three Porsche 356s topped the regularity rankings, but the most eye-catching vehicle was Roland D’Ieteren’s Bugatti Type 57 Gangloff Roadster, which joined those brave enough to tackle Saturday’s heavy rain and muddy roads. 

For the first time, the general public was invited into the grounds of the exclusive Approach and Royal Zoute Golf Club for the Concours d’Elegance, which was judged on a number of categories. The top prize was scooped by a 1958 Ferrari 250GT Pininfarina Cabriolet Series 1 that car was first sold in Genoa and appeared at Quail Lodge in 2007.

The 1968 Brussels Motor Show Ferrari Dino 246GT, the first of its type sold in Belgium, won the Art of Design class. 

In the Maserati Centennial group, among Ghiblis, Vignale and Allemano coachbuilt tridents, the class prize went to a Mexico by Frua, while the Most Iconic Car was judged to be a 1953 Chrysler SS, standing for Styling Special, the third evolution of the model. It has a generous boot, but the only way to stow luggage is via the rear seats. 

The jury was fascinated by the Art Deco dashboard of a 1950 Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Super Sport: the peppermint green with contrasting white steering wheel was enough to secure it the Best Interior award.

The Back to the Future class was landed by a 1936 Delage D6-7C, rebuilt to the identical specifications of a lost Figoni et Falaschi car, which was intended to enter the 1936 Le Mans race only to be withdrawn due to political unrest. However, it did compete the following year, coming fourth in its class. The Delage also won the Pre-War Sports Car Class C.

Various contenders in the Pre-war Open Cars Class A kept show-goers guessing until the last minute. A Belgium-built 1927 Excelsior Albert I Cabriolet was eventually declared the winner. The car was delivered new to the Romanian ambassador to London, who failed to pay the bill, so it went to South Africa.

The Best Preserved award brought a well-deserved victory for a 1951 Lancia Aurelia B52 by Bertone – the actual car that was introduced at the Turin Show. It is an incredibly low mileage example, with only 3500km on the odometer.

The gong for Most Special and Unique Bodywork went to a 1953 Ferrari 166MM. Originally coachbuilt by Vignale in coupé form, it was rebodied in Belgium by Martial Oblin due to damage sustained while racing.

Other unusual cars on show included an interesting D'Ieteren-bodied 1954 Austin-Healey 100/4 coupé, which had a distinctive windscreen and welded hardtop. One of only six built, the pristine example – and first of its kind – was transported from the Longbridge factory to Brussels, where it was modified for competition use. 

Another crowd favourite was the ex-Tony Parravano 1951 Ferrari 340 America Coupé (lead image). It finished fifth on the 1952 Carrera Panamericana, driven by Jack McAfee and is now owned by Johan Van Puyvelde.



Chris Martin

There is another Delage D6-70 Figoni replica here in Australia. It was built on an original 1936 chassis as a copy of the Le Mans car by a Melbourne specialist and I saw it a few years ago at the historic race meeting at Phillip Island where it was finished in a metallic burgundy. It has since changed hands, the new owner had a few other details corrected, and it was then refinished in the bright orange of the original car.


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