As the Summer draws to a close, we head into September. This is a very exciting and busy month with various concours and motoring events, such as; Salon Prive and Goodwood Revival. This year, Hampton Court Concours d'Elegance was the highlighted fixture for ROE, with participation planned for the “Tour of Wales” leading onto the event itself. An opportunity to spend prolonged time with like minded people all set in the wonders of Snowdonia.
On bank holiday Monday we set off in our DBS, some traffic jams later, we arrived at a charming hotel called Palé Hall, just on the outskirts of the small town Bala. It was clear we were in good company. A Ferrari 250 SWB, Aston Martin DB4GT and a Maserati A6G to name a few. It's not often do you get to see these cars collectively together, about to embark on several hundreds of miles over the coming days. The welcome drinks and dinner reception provided a great opportunity to meet all the new faces and introduce ourselves. A couple of familiar faces were also in attendance, which presented a lovely opportunity to catch up.
Day 1 provided perfect weather, blue skies and sunshine as we set off towards the top of Snowdonia national park. We headed to the coast road, which as tour photographer ‘Tim Scott’ rightly said “is gorgeous and just like being on the Pacific 1 highway in Monterey.” It did not disappoint. Pine trees, mountainous backdrops and lakes of mirrors. You could have been anywhere in the world. Summer in Switzerland crossed my mind. On the final leg of the day we arrived at a magical lake called ‘Lake Vyrnwy’, a very special place, which was followed by a very scenic single lane road back to Palé Hall. The evening events continued with a terrace BBQ and drinks, leading to long talks about the day and all things cars.
We started day 2 in convoy with a prototype DB5 behind us, followed by a DB4GT. A chronological David Brown era journey followed, perhaps something you won’t see very often, which felt very special. We went on a planned journey heading to the unique village of ‘Portmeirion’, which once we arrived was something of a cross between a Swiss and a Mediterranean village. This overlooked the estuary, a place like no other, also known for being the location for the 1960’s TV series ‘The Prisoner’. A stunning lunch was prepared, with the menu written in full Welsh language, making for an interesting selection process! A short journey home had two options, the ‘short cut’ or the ‘scenic option’, we went with later, followed by an American couple in their beautiful Alvis. This led us across the heart of the Snowdonia national park, a tight road for a DBS and an Alvis to say the least! But spectacular nonetheless. I think 6 sheep gates later, we arrived back to civilisation to freshen up for the finale dinner of the tour.
A short presentation and drinks reception by Charles Heidsieck champagne, introduced us to the first bottles of the 10 Year Anniversary Concours d'Elegance. James Brooks-Ward informed us of a final treat before dinner, we congregated in the main stairway, of which the staircase was lined with a known all male Welsh choir group. This was very impressive, and all in company of ‘His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent’, of whom I might add, also drove the full Tour in a 50’s Bentley convertible. It was an honour to spend time and speak with him. A lovely evening followed in the main dining room concluded an incredible 3 days. We look forward to what next year has in in store and hope to continue new friendships made.
Of course, we are only half way through. We left Wales for Hampton Court, heading to Coworth Park, our hotel base in Ascot for the next 3 days. A stunning garden party kicked things off, sponsored by our new friends at ‘A.Lange & Sohne’ watches, which was in attendance of all the concours entrants. A charity auction for the Princess’s Trust concluded things, which was delivered by the best in the business ‘Charlie Ross’ of Gooding & Co. It was very entertaining!
Over the next 3 days, we attended the Concours d'Elegance at Hampton Court, meeting current clients, and new ones, all surrounded by an incredible selection of cars. Particular highlights, were the DB4GT Zagato finished in an eye catching French Racing Blue, which was unveiled for the first time following its restoration. We also enjoyed seeing HRH Prince Charles’s DB6 MK2 Volante, which was surrounded by further Royalty. This was just some of the special Aston Martin’s on display here.
There was a new class this year “The Levitt Concours” created in honour of ‘Dorothy Levitt’ the first English female racing driver. An opportunity for all female enthusiasts to display their pride of joy. We felt this was a fantastic way to elevate the industry, of what is currently ‘male dominated’. The clear winner was a 1932 Alfa P3 Tipo, owned by ‘Jennie Taylor’, dressed in full race overalls. This was quite a spectacle! The sound in particular was incredible as she drove around the pond onto the main stage.
As Saturday evening arrived, we changed into our black tie attire, ready for the celebration dinner to announce the overall winner of the 2022 Concours d'Elegance. This was set in Henry VIII’s dining room within Hampton Court Palace. Starting things off in the gardens was the announcement of the overall winner, which was also a favourite of mine, the 1938 Delage D8-120 de Villars. This was driven into the courtyard and celebrated by everyone present. A stunning motorcar and a worthy winner. A special award was also given to the US collector ‘Jack Boyd Smith’ of whom brought not one, but 6 exceptional Packards over for the Concours. A testament to him for showing true enthusiasm for both his cars and the event itself.
Continued good weather arrived for Sunday, the last day of the concours. An opportunity to say farewell to new friends, exchange details, and absorb the final moments of this superb event. Of which, really delivers an array of quality cars that is as good as anywhere in the world. We felt very privileged to participate the way we did and came away knowing it’s an event we feel committed to for the future. Thank you to all involved for organising everything to perfection, in particular James & Christina Brooks-Ward and my good lady for joining me as chief navigator/photographer. Finally, thank you to my team for preparing the DBS Vantage perfectly, which drove over 700 miles superbly.
See you next year.