Is Hampton Court's concours the perfect day out?

| 3 Sep 2018
Classic & Sports Car – Is Hampton Court's concours the perfect day out?

There seems to be a high-end concours event to go to every day of the summer, but I am not generally to be found at such things.

I sometimes think old cars are the most addictive drug of all, but like any drug it is possible to overdose and spoil your taste buds.

I've not been to any of the Goodwood events for years and haven't even made it to a Beaulieu autojumble for ages, mainly because I don't want to spend the money.

And when I do earmark something I fancy, I always seem to be elsewhere.

Classic & Sports Car – Is Hampton Court's concours the perfect day out?
Classic & Sports Car – Is Hampton Court's concours the perfect day out?
DB4GT Zagato (left) and 1954 DB3S Sports Racing bask in the sun at Hampton Court

However, what I don't ever turn down is a free lunch, so when Aston Martin invited me to the marque's 60th-anniversary celebrations for the DB4 at last weekend's Hampton Court Palace Concours of Elegance I dusted off my best clobber, pointed my Fiat 130 down the M4 in the direction of London and made the effort.

I was glad I did. And not just for the fantastic line-up of DB4s of every species (including the prototype and the Bertone car) or even the chance to talk to Aston's in-house historian Steve Waddingham who reignited my enthusiasm for these cars and is as sad as me about some of the more obscure facts.

No, what really blew me away was Hampton Court Palace itself.

It is beautiful, and yet despite working almost on top of it for 10 years (and making regular trips to this part of London for 30 years) I have never been inside it before, so shame on me.

Classic & Sports Car – Is Hampton Court's concours the perfect day out?
DB4s were out in force for the model's 60th, including the Bertone Jet (second from right)

Georgina Cook of Aston Martin told me a few things I didn't know.

I'm not sure what I think about the idea of Aston making new DB5s again (although I can see the logic), or what to make of the news that the next Lagonda is going to be driver-less.

Although it was amusing when I was accused of looking the 'dead spit' of actor Albert Finney: I didn't ask if they meant the 50-year-old Mr Finney or the current version!

Classic & Sports Car – Is Hampton Court's concours the perfect day out?
Classic & Sports Car – Is Hampton Court's concours the perfect day out?
Classic & Sports Car – Is Hampton Court's concours the perfect day out?
Classic & Sports Car – Is Hampton Court's concours the perfect day out?
Both the setting and the cars were stunning, including the yellow DB4 prototype

As for the event, I came away thinking it was one of the better ones: just enough cars to keep you interested without being overwhelming and not too many people, despite the fact that the entrance fees are not unreasonable.

I subsequently learned Friday was invitation-only, which probably explains the lack of crowds and the fact that Prince Michael of Kent, the event's patron, was happily floating around.

My highlights included a Pegaso (I forgot they had a back-to-front gear change), a fabulously original Alfa 8C and one of the Bocca Pininfarina Lancia Asturas.

But not a lobster in sight – free or otherwise – and I was enjoying myself so much I missed lunch anyway!

All images: Dean Smith


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