Lancia Astura Aerodinamica scoops top award at Hampton Court

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The stunning Castagna-bodied Lancia Astura Aerodinamica of Ton & Maya Meijer continued its assault on the world’s most prestigious concours by taking best of show at the Concours of Elegance, held at Hampton Court Palace from 1-3 September.

The award – especially prestigious because it is voted for only by the owners of the cars on show – adds to the Coppa D’Oro that it scooped at Villa d’Este in 2015 and the Special award it received at Pebble Beach in 2016. Interestingly, the ex-Rosso Bianco Collection car’s body was originally crafted for an Alfa Romeo 8C, but was transferred to a Lancia chassis on the orders of Benito Mussolini’s sons. For a full feature on the Lancia, see the January 2016 C&SC.

The Lancia just pipped David MacNeil’s 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato and the spectacular ex-Baillon Collection Frua-bodied 1956 Maserati A6G 2000 Gran Sport Berlinetta.

Concours of Elegance is now in its fifth year travelling around royal palaces thanks to its patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent and has also visited Windsor Castle and Holyrood House in Edinburgh. The wonderful selection of cars was well suited to the venue’s beautifully manicured East Gardens, bathed in glorious sunshine and lining up in front of the palace’s east front and along the wooded avenues around the The Great Fountain. Although the organisers (or anyone else) are unlikely to ever rival its debut year at Windsor Castle in 2012, the event somehow manages to dig out fresh exotica every year as well a good range of special features.

Undoubted highlight for 2017 was reuniting three of the Jaguar D-types that competed at Le Mans in 1957 when the model took an unprecedented first, second, third, fourth and sixth, led home by the Ecurie Ecosse car of Ron Flockhart and Ivor Bueb. What made the achievement all the more remarkable is that the factory itself did not enter any official team cars that year. Owner Clive Beacham masterminded the remarkable event with five of the long-nose D-types convoying to the event on public roads including all the podium cars – XKD 601, XKD 603 and XKD 513 – supplemented by XKD 504 and Jaguar’s own XKD 605.Special guest 88-year-old Ron Gaudion – who was a mechanic on the cars in 1957, was flown in from Australia for the reunion.

Other highlights on the concours field included Michael Levethal’s Vignale-shelled 1953 Ferrari 340 MM Le Mans Spider, Marc Behaegel’s 1954 Siata 208S Motto Spider (see C&SC February 2017), Nick Mason’s 1953 Ferrari 250 MM and Peter Neumark’s fabulous Lindner-Nöcker Low-Drag Lightweight Jaguar E-type. These greats were joined by the likes of Peter Mullins’ 1927 Delage ERA, as seen at Rétromobile earlier in the year and Bruce McCaw’s 1904 Mercedes-Simplex 28/32hp from the USA, while Peter Briggs 1922 Bentley 3 Litre, the first car of the marque to race at Le Mans, came all the way from Australia.

More modern track-focused fare included Brandon Wang’s menacing 1963 Chevy Corvette Sting Ray, Henry Pearman’s 1987 Jaguar XJR-8, Jon Hunt’s 1995 McLaren F1 GTR, plus the 2005 Aston Martin DBR9/01.

Standout cars for C&SC, some admittedly getting the nod because they were more unusual or have been seen less frequently, were Tomas Hoferek’s glorious 1934 Tatra T77, Philip White’s OSCA MT4LM Vignale Coupé, David Word’s 1946 Fiat 1100 Frua Spider (another Villa d’Este veteran) and Dr Peter Heydon’s intriguing Garavini-bodied 1943 Alfa 6C 2500 cabrio. That Lord Bamford’s 1967 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Chitty 4) was a C&SC and crowd favourite goes without saying.

The event also hosted a mesmerising selection of classic car club concours winners ranging from ex-Jackie Stewart Marcos Xylon to Maserati Mistral Spyder. The fiercely contested award for the best of them was taken by a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost which will now take its place as one of the main concours cars in 2018.

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