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Posted 06.07.2020

Salon Privé To Showcase World’s Finest Cars

Salon Privé is renowned for attracting the world’s finest motor cars to its Concours d’Elégance by AXA, and this year more than a century of automotive history will be represented on the lawns of Blenheim Palace – from pioneering veterans to modern-day hypercars.

Few marques capture the glamour of the inter-war years in quite the same way as Hispano-Suiza, and enthusiasts will be able to revel in the sight of one of its most coveted models. Introduced in 1931, the J12 represented the height of luxury and the pinnacle of Hispano-Suiza’s automotive development, and the car that will be starring in the Concours d’Elégance by AXA is one of only eight open examples ever built. The Cabriolet coachwork was created by the famous Parisian carrosserie Vanvooren, which also designed flowing, elegant bodies for the likes of Rolls-Royce, Bugatti and Bentley. Owned by renowned collector Peter Mullin since 1992, this spectacular J12 will be entered into the Pre-War Open Tourers Class.

Meanwhile, Napier enjoyed a peerless reputation in the early years of the 20th century, and the British company pioneered the use of six-cylinder engines in production cars. Its performance credentials were confirmed via a successful competition programme and, when combined with exquisite coachwork, helped to make Napiers the original ‘Best Car in the World’ – long before Rolls-Royce adopted that line.

Discovered in an Argentinian barn along with two Bugattis, the 1904 Napier L49 that will be appearing at Salon Privé was eventually imported back into UK by the well-known racer, dealer and collector Colin Crabbe. After being sold to current owner Sirdool Singh, a painstaking ‘nut and bolt’ restoration was carried out in India at a facility owned by His Highness Rana Manvendra Singh of Barwani. Now finished in ‘Napier Green’ with maroon coachlines, the chain-driven semi-limousine will be entered in the Pre-War Closed Tourers Class.

Bringing the story right up to date is a 2019 McLaren Senna, which will be entered in the Classics of the Future Class. Inspired by Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna – who won all three of his Formula One World Championships with McLaren – the 789bhp hypercar is the most track-focused road model ever built by McLaren, legalised for road use but not sanitised to suit it.

The McLaren that will grace the lawn at Salon Privé is finished in a unique colour scheme. Having grown up watching Formula One racing during the 1980s, the owner decided to apply the iconic black-and-gold JPS livery worn by the Lotus in which Senna took his first victory at the rain-sodden 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix.

For this year’s Concours d’Elégance by AXA, virtual judging will be employed by the International Chief Judge Advisory Group (ICJAG). Blazing a trail for all international concours events, Salon Privé and the ICJAG will be the first to carry out serious objective judging in such a manner. Knowledgeable specialist ICJAG Field Managers will be on-site and will be available to coordinate and answer questions from entrants and judges, and the process will be as precise and thorough as ever.

The event will also be live-streamed for the first time, enabling enthusiasts from around the world to immerse themselves in its ambience.

Ed Gilbertson, President of the Jury for Salon Privé, said: “We are pleased and excited that Salon Privé and the International Chief Judge Advisory Group will be conducting the first virtual judging objectively based on originality and authenticity. Experienced judges will be using the same time-tested judging forms and judging guidelines used at dozens of physical shows across the world.”

Gilbertson further stated: “The car world is experiencing fundamental changes in terms of vehicles, technology, and demographics. ICJAG expects to employ more virtual judging in the future using AI and augmented reality coupled with 5G and eventually neural networking. Salon Privé, as always, is crossing the portal into the future world and ICJAG stands ready to provide guidance on proper preservation and correct restoration.”

Andrew Bagley, Chairman of the Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance by AXA, said: “When faced with the problem of over 30 international ICJAG judges being unable to fly into the UK for the annual judging at Salon Privé, we had to quickly adapt. Virtual, but live, judging was the obvious route and so it came to be. For the first time in concours history, the 70 entrants and their cars will be live streamed to judges across the world on Wednesday 23 September, as once again we set about discovering which one of these will be crowned with the ultimate prize of Best of Show 2020.”

That award will be presented during Ladies’ Day by Boodles on Thursday, while on Friday the Concours d’Elégance makes way for the Salon Privé Masters by Pirelli and Lockton, which this year celebrates the supercar and its evolution from the Lamborghini Miura of the 1960s to the high-tech wonders of the 21st century. Closing the event on Saturday is the popular Classic & Supercar day featuring the Salon Privé Club Trophy.

The event will also host the UK debut for a number of significant new models from the world’s top manufacturers, while award-winning chef Phil Howard will be hosting a fine-dining experience in the Glass House. There will also be the chance to indulge in some retail therapy courtesy of luxury brands offering everything from jewellery and perfume to travel, aviation and interior design.

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