Group C Porsches steal revamped Salon Privé

| 23 Jun 2011

Fourteen Porsche Group C racers took pride of place at London’s revamped Salon Privé Luxury Super Car Event and Concours d’Elegance, which opened yesterday at its new Syon Park, West London home.The ex-Derek Bell and Jackie Ickx Rothmans 956, that kicked off the marque’s mighty Group C reputation, and the Shell Dunlop-liveried 962 that narrowly gifted Jaguar it’s 1988 Le Mans win, were two of the amazing Porsches in the 14-car display.The racing icons were joined by seven other classes for the three day event, which has been held at London’s Hurlingham Club for the last five years. The line-up kicked off with a celebration of Rolls-Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy’ centenary with a marque-dedicated class boasting everything from a 1914 Silver Ghost - resplendent in special-order violet (with matching chauffeur compartment leather) – to a 1953 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith built for eccentric oil baron Nubar Gulbenkian.

The Hooper-bodied Rolls was delivered complete with a speedometer fitted in the rear compartment as Gulbenkian insisted on his chauffeurs ‘pressing on’ during journeys.Another Rolls-Royce attracting attention was the gorgeous 1932 20/25 Drophead Coupe that it’s one-time owner, an Afghan prince, managed to steer into Lake Geneva.

Recently tracked down in North America by Richard Raynsford (who’s father-in-law had owned the car in the 1950s), the Graber-bodied beauty was on its UK show debut following an extensive refurbishment by marque specialist Fiennes Restoration.Even more beguiling was a Touring-bodied 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS heading up The Thirties class. A gift from fascist dictator Mussolini to his lover Claretta Petacci, the Touring-bodied beauty was Petacci’s wheels during the couple’s attempted escape from Italy shortly before they were assassinated.

The event was strong on unusual fare, with architect big wig Lord Foster’s amazing 1934 Dymaxion recreation (by Crosthwaite & Gardiner) taking centre stage and the four-wheeled1914 Twombly impressing for its creative, cone clutch drive and absurdly narrow wheelbase.

The pair starred in the brilliantly selected Oddballs: Unique Designs and Concepts class which also featured the ex-Sir Peter Masefiled 1937 Pontiac 8 Silver Streak and 1961 Messerschmitt KR200 – both stars of Classic & Sports Car’s June issue.

Also impressing were the many historic racers on display, from Hugh Taylor’s carefully re-patinated Alfa Romeo Tipo B to a highly original 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza that raced in period on the frozen lakes of Finland.

Other iconic racers included the ex-Jack Brabham 1966 Wrold Championship-winning BT20 – fresh out of the Donington Grand Prix Collection and now the only one in private hands – and the ex-Chis Amon, 1970 International Trophy winning 1970 March 701.

Fuelling the appetite for exotica was the class dedicated to Ferrari’s seminal 250 series with entrants including Ian Proudfoot’s gorgeous Pinin Farina 250 Europa and Luay Allawi’s 1964 Le Mans, alongside a supposedly run-of-the-mill GTE and Berlinetta Lusso.

And it wasn’t just the concours fare that impressed: event sponsor Chubb insurance hosted the1940 Aston Martin Atom – a concept car developed in the dark days of World War 2 to showcase Superleggera construction and a raft of engineering developments which all helped secured the marque’s future. “It was one of just 700 new cars registered in the UK that year and clocked up over 300,000 miles in testing,” explained owner Tom Rollason, who bought it in1985. “It had a big impact on the company’s future and David Brown drove it extensively before buying Aston Martin.”

Another Aston to impress was the ex-TV series Persuaders DBS which Roger Moore fan Ed Stratton recently acquired. “It took more than three years to convince the previous owner who is a Persuaders fan that I would look after the car,” explained Stratton who sold the Lamborghini Islero that, Moore drove in The Man Who Haunted Himself, to fund the purchase.

A selection of photographs of other cars on display follows:

Gorgeous Delahaye 135M Competition Roadster featured in The Thirties class.

C&SC feature car (June)

Quirky and appropriate finish to Fiat Topolino.

Messerschmitt KR200 from C&SC's June issue starred in Oddballs class.

Rear shot the amazing Dymaxion replica. (just three were built in period, Lord Foster regards this one as No 4)

Special matching leather in the the interior of the 1914 Silver Ghost.