1937 Bugatti Type 57S by Corsica owned by JCB founder Lord Bamford victorious at 2023 Salon Privé Concours presented by Aviva

JCB founder and chairman Lord Anthony Bamford’s 1937 Bugatti Type 57S by Corsica has been awarded Best of Show at this year’s Salon Privé Concours presented by Aviva. The expert ICJAG Judges were super-impressed – Salon Privé is overseen by International Chief Judging Advisory Group judges and the only ICJAG+ designated show in Europe – as were the thousands of Blenheim guests who saw the Bugatti triumph after two intensive days of judging.

The 1937 Bugatti Type 57S is one of just 42 produced, with open grand tourer four-seater bodywork custom-built by Corsica Coachworks. With a 3.3-litre engine, it was the fastest road car of its day. Remarkably, this long-lost car was the world’s only remaining ‘hidden’ pre-war Bugatti Type 57S when it was discovered in 2020, after being owned and latterly restored by Bugatti enthusiast Bill Turnbull since 1969.

It is fitting Lord Bamford bought the car; Turnbull was an engineer by trade – at JCB. The talented chief engineer, who helped develop JCB’s first mini excavators, retired in 1995, before turning his hand to reviving his prized Bugatti, a task that Lord Bamford completed. Completing the turnaround of the storied Bugatti, nicknamed ‘Dulcie’ due to its UK registration ‘DUL 351’, is winning Best of Show at the 2023 Salon Privé Concours presented by Aviva.

‘We are truly delighted with this year’s Best of Show Bugatti Type 57S by Corsica.” said Andrew Bagley, Chairman of the Salon Privé Concours. “This Bugatti, thought to be one of the 3 Le-Mans winning Tanks, is such a hugely significant car, and hadn’t been driven for over half a century, before being restored to its former glory by Clark & Carter Restorations. Raced at Montlhéry, reaching top speeds of 111mph, this Bugatti is all-original and one of the world’s greatest pre-war sports racers. We now look forward to its entry into the Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award.”

Runner-up in the Best of Show was a 1951 Ferrari 212 Export by Vignale, originally owned by Prince Vittorio Massimo. The Prince’s objective was to buy a race car for the road with an understated and elegant GT body, and car 0080E certainly fits the bill. It was even displayed at the 1951 Torino Auto Show, on Carrozzeria Vignale’s stand, as the best of the seven Ferrari 212 coupes made by the coachbuilder. Exported to the US in 1953, the car was lost for many years, before its current owner acquired and restored it.

Another Bugatti, a 1951 Type 101 Cabriolet by Gangloff took the third prize. It is one of just nine models built as part of a plan by Bugatti founder Ettore’s son Roland to stage a post-war revival for the brand. It was based on the pre-war Type 57 chassis and powertrain, and this ageing technology was behind the failure of the revival. Uniquely, this car is the only 101 to receive the T57C’s supercharged engine, producing around 200bhp. It’s had several noted owners over the years and is currently owned by Peter and Merle Mullin for the Mullin Automobile Museum in California.

This year’s Salon Privé Duke of Marlborough Award was, appropriately, awarded to a 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom Sedanca de Ville by Windovers – a car owned by John Albert Edward William Spencer-Churchill, the 10th Duke of Marlborough and cousin of Winston Churchill. Both John Albert and Winston Churchill were born and lived in Blenheim Palace, and this very car served both families over a long period between 1929 and 1950. It was a special moment when the 12th Duke of Marlborough, James Spencer-Churchill, made it his pick of Salon Privé at Blenheim Palace.

Winning the Spirit Award – The Margaret Bagley Trophy was a veteran 1900 Bardon Type A Tonneau. It has a unique single-cylinder engine, displacing 1,216cc, containing two opposing pistons, each connected to its own crankshaft and flywheel. While the production of Bardon cars ceased in 1903, chassis number five lived on. Acquired from the collection of Henri Malartre at the Musée de Rochetaillée-sur-Saone, Lyon, in 1976, this rare Bardon Tonneau received a full restoration and was finally acquired by current custodians David and Marion Martyr. In 2016 it won the Royal Automobile Club Concours d’Equipe prize at the Regent Street Motor Show and took part in its maiden London to Brighton Veteran Car Run – the world’s longest-running motoring event.

The 2023 Salon Privé Concours Chairman’s Award winner was yet another show-stopper – a thoroughly unique 1952 Hansgen Jaguar. Walt Hansgen was a multi-discipline American racing driver, triumphing in multiple categories and even making it to Formula 1 where, despite only competing in two races, still scored two championship points. His career was launched when he acquired a 1951 Jaguar XK120, but he soon found it wasn’t light enough to run at the front.

Enter the engineer-driver’s ingenuity: after being unable to purchase a Jaguar C-type, he instead turned his XK120 into a lightweight special. He replaced its basic latter frame chassis with an elaborate tubular structure, cutting the weight from over 1,200kg to around 950kg. It was a sensation, with Hansgen now able to run at the front. He took several victories in 1953, most famously at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix, the race that really put Walt on the map. After finally getting a C-type, the Hansgen Special was sold, passing through several owners before being acquired by Bob Millstein – who still races the car in vintage events!

Salon Privé chairman Andrew Bagley said: “This year’s Concours cars were truly exceptional and as ever a hard-fought contest to declare the winner, but I’m delighted to see Lord Bamford’s world-class Bugatti take the 2023 Best of Show Trophy. There were some terrifically rare and prized cars celebrated in the Honorary Awards too, once again showing that Salon Privé really does attract the very finest automotive jewels, year after year.”

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