Within just two years, the team at Peter Auto has created a new world-class event with the Chantilly Arts & Elegance. From dawn on 6 September, the spectacular grounds of the famous chateau were packed with classics of all eras queuing for this wonderful new French fixture, which incorporates a prestigious concours and huge club area. Combining these stylish automotive attractions with hot-air balloon rides, historic steam launch trips, equestrian theatre, children’s games and superb catering gives this event unique appeal.
The judging panel for the main concours had the tough task of selecting the ‘best of show’ with so many great cars entered, but eventually Evert Louwman’s spectacular Mercedes-Benz 500K Spezial Roadster roared into the prize-giving arena. Known as the ‘Butcher’s Car’, this supercharged sensation was discovered bricked-up in Walsall in 1986, and is now one of the stars on the Dutch museum.
The beautiful estate provides the space to spread the concours entry and, in contrast to Pebble Beach, it offers enthusiasts a chance to step back and really appreciate styling. Special classes included two Citroén-themed groups for DS and SM coachbuilt rarities and prototypes. Winners included Vincent Crescia’s DS19 La Croisette, and an SM Mylord.
The event also celebrated ‘Famous Ladies’ Cars’, which featured the ex-Hellé Nice GP Bugatti Type 35B entered by American William E Connor, and the BMW 507 roadster that Elvis Presley gave to Ursula Andress.
Other impressive groups included the cars of the Aga Khan filmily, ‘Iconoclastic Interiors’, which was won by the highly original Ferrari 250MM of Uwe Schuler thanks to the stylish cockpit trimmed by Hermes, while a superb group of Bugattis was topped by the magnificent 1931 Bugatti Type 50 Le Mans.
Original cars were well favoured at the event including two classes for ‘untouched’ survivors. Jane Taylor enthusiastically presented the Grand Prix Alfa Romeo Tipo B ‘50007’ that uniquely raced at Indianapolis and on the Dry Lakes. The tranquility of the misty morning was broken when Taylor started up this wonderfully preserved supercharged straight-eight for the judges. Other timewarp winners included Arturo Keller’s 13,000km Bugatti Type 57C coupé, and Malcolm Welford’s AC Cobra 289 roadster, which was a lucky 50th birthday present from his wife.
The Chantilly event is much more than a concours, with car club displays filling the wooded estate with impressive one-make groups. A special prize for the best ‘picnic’ display was won by the Delage Club, but unique sights included eight Lynx Eventers, and an invasion of Mercedes-Benz 190SLs in every imaginable colour.