Touring super-rarities provide the thrills at best-ever Salon Privé

| 7 Sep 2012

A line of 10 Mercedes 300SL 'Gullwings', 14 Ferrari F40s, a sensational group of racing Bugattis, the UK debut of the (bulk of the) Rofgo Gulf Collection and a wonderful group of Touring rarities made this year's Salon Privé the best yet.

Preceded by a tour across south west London and then running from Wednesday to today at the Duke of Northumberland's Syon Park estate, the event was well attended and blessed with superb weather throughout.

The 18 (of 22) Rofgo cars were split between the 'front of house' field among the new car pitches and the Chubb Insurance concours field behind, but the presence of the team transporter made the search worthwhile for those who found the cars tucked around the back.

Both 'Gullwing' and F40 displays were celebrating significant model anniversaries (60 years of the SL moniker and 25 years of the bestial Maranello supercar), while the Bugatti display had been put together by Will I'Anson who determined early on that they should all be racers. Star car was a wonderful T23 Brescia retaining the majority of original components.

As well as showcasing more familiar efforts from Carrozzeria Touring, the special group brought the 1966 Lamborghini Flying Star II to the UK for the first time since its appearance at Goodwood many years ago, and also the awesome 1953 Pegaso Z-102 dubbed the 'Thrill', which this year has ventured out in public for the first time since Villa d'Este 2008.

Possibly the most heartstring tugging car on display was the totally unmolested 1927 Gima cyclecar, entered by Flavien and Vanessa Marcais and in the same family for more than half a century.

It is not just about priceless classics at Salon Privé, however, and nestling among the expensive lines of exotica were such interesting models as Hugh James' 1962 Ogle SX1000, Peter Hartnett's brilliantly unspoiled 1967 Lotus 47 and Barry Lowe's 1961 Innocenti 950, none of them in the slightest overshadowed.

For C&SC, the most fascinating car in the 1960s open sports cars was James Hull's 1965 Graber Alvis Super Cabrio. With fewer than 20,000 miles from new, it was being seen in public for the first time since 1965.

A small but sublime selection of shooting brakes had everything from Jay Kay's one-off Vignale Ferrari 330GT to James Hull's immaculate Lynx Eventer, but Peter Heydon stole the show with his 1941 Chrysler Town & Country.

Neither was it all about cars, the motorcycle showing getting stronger each year. Highlights for 2012 included a superb selection of vee twins with 1968 Egli Vincent and 1982 Hesketh V1000 among them. The most crowd-pleasing 'bike though was Allen Millyard's petite homebuilt 1975 Honda SS100.

A second motorcycle group focused on important competition 'bikes ranging from 1915 Indian through in vogue Husqvarna and on to retro 2011 Brough Superior. Stand-out entry, though, was endurance racing legend Dave Degens with the self-built Dresda with which he won the 24 hour race at Montjuic in 1970.

There was the welcome addition of an art tent this year, which showcased the work of several leading classic car artists, but was dominated by the imposing full-sized steel sculpture of a Bugatti Atlantic presented by Giants of Steel.

Regular parades of the classic cars around the grounds were also popular with the crowds who enjoyed an open champagne bar and lobster lunch as part of their ticket price.

The winners will be announced this afternoon, we'll bring you the full results ASAP. More pictures below.

We can't comment on the headgear, but the De Tomaso Mangusta was lovely

All the Bugattis on display had racing roots

Tom Dark's Type 73 looked resplendent

1951 Alfa 6C 2500 Villa d'Este in special Touring class

1956 Cadillac Station Wagon coachbuilt by Hess & Eisenhardt

1939 Ford 091T was built in Dagenham and can seat 12

Jay Kay's one-off Vignale shooting brake based on a 1967 Ferrari 330GT

Ex-James Coburn short wheelbase California

1932 Alfa 6C 1750 Gran Sport

1934 Aston Martin Ulster

1932 low chassis Invicta S-type

1924 Alfa Romeo RLSS Spyder Grand Premo

1908  Silver Ghost, coachwork by Brainsby & Sons

Imposing 1923 Daimler 'Royal Four' Limo

Gavin Maule's '61 250GT Short Wheelbase

Jane Weitzmann's Miura alongside 356C Carrera 2 GS Coupé

Antonio Rossi's 1965 Iso Grifo A3C

Sweet 1964 Alfa Giulia Sprint Speciale was entered by Glyn Giusti

More (more modern and single-seater) Rofgo cars around the front of Syon Park

No show would be complete in 2012 without a Cobra, this 1963 289 from William Heinecke