The annual Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace has become one of the world’s top three classic car events. Dating from 1896 to the present day, over a thousand classics in various states ranging from ‘as discovered in a barn’ to ‘better than new’ were on display this year.
Heading up the display was an incredible quintet of Jaguar D-Type racers. Other highlights were the first ever Bentley to race at Le Mans – George Eyston’s 3 Litre – and the ‘Baillon Barn Find’ Maserati A6G 2000 that was appearing in the UK for the first time. A selection of pre-1905 veterans included the first recipient of a speeding ticket, back in 1896.
The concept of the Concours d’Elégance predates that ticket by quite some time. Back in 17th century France, aristocrats paraded their heavily decorated horse-drawn carriages through the parks of Paris. Eventually, with the advent of the internal combustion engine, the carriages lost their horses and these aristocratic gatherings turned ino automobile beauty pageants.
Britain’s first Concours of Elegance took place in September 2012, at Windsor Castle, with some help from the Royal Household and car enthusiast Prince Michael of Kent, who is now Patron of the event. Sixty historic cars were assembled for that first event to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubile, with one seasoned concours attendee decaring it “the best concours I have ever attended, and I’ve been to quite a few.”
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