Now that Salon Privé 2015 has come to an end, we have had some time to reflect on our highlights of the three-day event. This year’s Salon Privé took place at Blenheim Palace for the very first time. In it’s tenth anniversary year, the venue certainly matched the grandeur of the event.
It was the first time I have attended Salon Prive and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It is unlike any other event I have experienced before. It isn’t a motor show; although there were new releases to be seen. It isn’t a festival in the same way that the two Goodwood events are. It was a Concours event with a twist. The lucky few who obtained tickets to this year’s event were able to wine and dine alongside some of the most valuable vehicles in the world.
Guests were treated to a stunning location, an excellent selection of food and copious amounts of Champagne; and that’s before you even begin to look at the cars! Once you look past the VIP experience, Salon Prive provides an introduction to Concours events for the uninitiated. It is Ville d’Este and Pebble Beach on a smaller scale but with much more to offer.
The show itself took place about 200 yards from the house in a purpose-built enclosure constructed on the great lawn. To get to the front gate, guests walk past the palace and across the great lawn. The view on the approach is sublime.
The first day at Salon Privé is dedicated to the Concours d’Elegance. Having officially opened its doors at 10 am, the judging got underway as the panel inspected each entrant one by one. With over 80 vehicles on display across a variety of different classes, it was difficult work. However, by about 2 pm – following the traditional Lobster luncheon, the judges were ready for the parade to commence. An important part of any Concours event is seeing the cars running. All the preparation can come to nothing if the car isn’t able to demonstrate the ability to run under its own power.
We watched each car pass the judging stand before the panel retired to decide who would get the final awards. Best in show was eventually won by a stunning Jaguar XK120 Jabekke which had been lovingly restored to its record-breaking specification by British company JD Classics on behalf of its owner. The visitors choice award went to a stunning Delehaye 135 MM from the Mullin Automotive collection of Los Angeles.
To supplement the Concours event, displays were constructed by a variety of manufacturers including Ferrari, Jaguar Land Rover’s SVO, Aston Martin and Bentley among others. Dedicated displays were also formed by individual brands. For example, Koenigsegg had the One:1 on display, McLaren had their P1 GTR and Pagani had an example of the Huayra. Elsewhere, concepts were provided by Volvo and Toridian, a Finish start-up company. The new Ford GT also made an appearance on Thursday and Friday.
The second day started at 11 am. Ladies Day is something quite special. The event’s most formal day, visitors were encouraged to attend in smart dress; ladies with hats, gentleman with ties. Awards were given out to the best outfits and winning ladies were paraded around in Concours entrant cars and supercars. The day ended with a sale hosted by Silverstone Auctions. A number of watches crossed the block before bidding began on a wide range of performance and classic cars.
Over the course of the three days we spotted numerous celebrities including the new Top Gear host, Chris Evans, British rapper Dizzee Rascal and ex-England footballer Ian Wright. Five times Le Mans winner Derek Bell also headed the judging panel so there was plenty to see.
The final day was the most accessible of all. Salon Prive 2015 saw the introduction of a new event; the Prestige & Performance Concours. A Concours event in its own right, the Prestige & Performance event was open to members of the public who could purchase a special cheaper ticket giving access to the palace grounds. It contained a stunning array of modern supercars and hypercars divided into a variety of classes.
Owners were on hand to explain the cars. We spoke to the owner of a stunning Bugatti EB110 Super Sport. At first glance, the car looked like every other EB110, however, look a little closer and you notice the longer front nose and other features that denote its prototype status. It is details like this that make Salon Privé such a special event. Every owner is passionate about the story of their vehicle and keen to spread it with likeminded enthusiasts.
The eventual winner of the Prestige & Performance Concours was a Pagani Zonda Roadster. It fought a tough battle with the above mentioned EB110 Super Sport and a range of other hypercars.
At the end of Thursday I asked our team to pick a favourite from the collection. My own personal choice was a stunning 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24 Spyder or the 1958 Mercedes 300SL Roadster. Other members of our team nominated the incredible 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB. I asked the same question on the Saturday and the answer was unequivocal; the Pagani Zonda Roadster.
Salon Privé turned out to be one of our favourite events of the year. If you are planning events to attend next year, it is definitely worth putting Salon Privé at the top of the list. We will certainly be back next year, hopefully you will join us?