The Concours of Elegance, presented by A. Lange & Söhne, is set to welcome an exquisite array of Great British collector cars to perhaps the greatest of historic British locations, Hampton Court Palace near London, UK on September 1-3, 2023.
The 11th annual Concours of Elegance will feature machinery from such venerable home-grown marques as Bentley, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar and McLaren. From early Bentley Le Mans legends to the most ferocious road car ever built, Aston Martin’s brand-new, Formula 1-inspired Valkyrie, the broad mix showcases how Great Britain has led the world in automotive technology and style on both the road and the track throughout automotive history. Here are just some of the cars that will be flying the Union Jack come September’s event.
1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre
Not only did this 4.5 Litre take part in Bentley’s legendary 1-2-3-4 team sweep at the 1929 Le Mans 24 Hours – it came fourth – but today it remains the most successful of the marque’s original-bodied racing cars still in existence. Its extensive competition history also included appearances at all of the principal racing events of the day, such as the Irish TT and inaugural Irish International Grand Prix, as well as at the Six Hours, Double Twelve and 500 Miles at Brooklands. It won the last of these – the first-ever British Racing Drivers’ Club event – at an average speed of 107.32mph, making the long-distance race the world’s fastest at the time.
Following Bentley Motors’ 1931 demise, YW 5758 continued its competition career – and Concours of Elegance visitors will spot its racing history engraved on its radiator. It gained fame in other areas, too, having featured in a 1960s Shell Oil advertising campaign and a 1990 feature film starring Jason Connery, son of Sean. It has appeared several times at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and was used by Bentley itself for promotional shoots on the occasion of the marque’s 100th anniversary in 2019.
1929 Bentley Speed Six ‘Old Number One’
Bentley Speed Six Old Number One is considered to be among the greatest of Le Mans 24 Hours landmarks. Why? It was the first car ever to win the legendary French endurance race back-to-back, in 1929 and 1930. Based on the Speed Six sporting version of the 6½ Litre tourer, its tweaked engine made 190bhp, enabling a top speed of 115mph. It was the lead machine of five entered by Bentley in ’29, and in it Woolf Barnato and Tim Birkin headed up the marque’s team in a podium clean sweep.
In 1930, despite strong opposition from Le Mans newcomers Mercedes-Benz and Alfa Romeo, it repeated its winning feat, this time with Glen Kidston sharing driving duties with Barnato. This was a landmark achievement for Bentley, which wouldn’t win at Le Mans again until its Speed 8 took the title in 2003. As such, Old Number One is arguably the most significant car in British motor sport history.
1956 Aston Martin DB3S
The DB3S never did achieve the ultimate goal of Aston Martin owner David Brown: to win the Le Mans 24 Hours. Yet the racing history of the most successful of the breed, DBS3/9, as seen at the Concours of Elegance, is as exciting as they come. Improving on the original DB3’s speed and technology, and reflecting regulation changes brought in after the horrific accident at the 1955 24 Hours, the car was among the last DB3Ss built and raced.
Peter Collins and Stirling Moss drove it at La Sarthe in 1956, and famously battled for the lead with the Works Jaguar D-type of Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart. The Aston didn’t win, but despite wet conditions and losing second gear in the final hours it came an admirable second. DBS3/9 followed up its Le Mans achievement with further impressive performances at Oulton Park and Goodwood, with Moss, Roy Salvadori and Tony Brooks taking turns at the wheel. It finished its period competition career in the hands of Australian David McKay, who took the car to victory on its Bathurst debut and on to eight further wins.
1964 Aston Martin DB5
Swiss classic car aficionado Fritz Burkard will showcase a diverse selection of cars from his Pearl Collection at the Concours of Elegance. For fans of popular culture, the jewel in the collection’s crown is a Silver Birch Aston Martin DB5 – a model inextricably linked with 007 himself. This is one of the two cars produced in 1965 with all the gadgets for use in promoting Thunderball. Goldfinger had been such a success that the car had to appear again in the next movie.
The legendary James Bond DB5 has proved so enduring that it’s been used in the super-spy’s later outings such as Skyfall, Spectre and No Time To Die – famously boasted numerous exciting Q-Branch refinements including bulletproof panels, retractable machine guns, rotating licence plates, telescoping tyre slashers, on-demand oil-slick and smoke-screen devices, and most famously, a passenger ejector seat. 007 fans will relish the opportunity to inspect such a movie icon up close on the lawns of Hampton Court Palace.
2003 Bentley Speed 8
After a seven-decade absence from the Le Mans 24 Hours, the new millennium saw Bentley once again focused on reaching the top in the legendary endurance race. The long-awaited victory of its no. 7 Speed 8 in 2003 was the pinnacle of a concerted drive to regain competitive form in world-class motor sport.
The closed-cockpit car was piloted to both LMGTP class and overall Le Mans victory by 21st century Bentley Boys Tom Kristensen, Guy Smith and Rinaldo Capello. In what was a banner year for the Crewe marque, Johnny Herbert, David Brabham and Mark Blundell drove the Speed 8’s no. 8 counterpart to a close second place.
2008 McLaren MP4-22/A
This McLaren MP4/22A is the car with which Lewis Hamilton achieved his first two pole positions and won his first two races during the 2007 Formula One World Championship. Lewis Hamilton’s victories in the car were achieved at the Canadian Grand Prix and during the final race of the season at Indianapolis. He also finished second in Italy. Fernando Alonso drove the car on a couple of occasions and won the Malaysian Grand Prix in it. The MP4/22 was the last McLaren to be fitted with traction control as this was banned after the 2007 season. It is regarded by many as the most beautiful and dominant McLaren since the legendary MP4/5 and it has not been surpassed since.
2023 Aston Martin Valkyrie
Marrying one of the world’s most treasured marques with what many consider to be the greatest Formula 1 designer of all time, the limited-production Valkyrie hybrid sports car is the dramatic result of a meeting of the finest minds in the automotive and motor sport industries. Aston Martin bought Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Adrian Newey on board to produce what would become one of the most ferocious road machines ever.
Dramatic twists and turns meant this collaborative route to production was far from smooth, but the astounding result was certainly worth the wait. The Valkyrie boasts a 6.5-litre Aston Martin-Cosworth V12 married to an electric motor to create a 1139bhp monster – 1160bhp with the F1 KERS-style boost system – complemented by an aerodynamics package that is capable of producing 1814kg of downforce. The car’s 1030kg weight surpasses even the anticipated 1:1 power-to-weight ratio, and altogether this means the Valkyrie can hit 0-62mph in 2.6 seconds and a top speed of well over 200mph. It is proudly touted as being the world’s fastest street-legal car. The Concours of Elegance is proud to host one of the 150 standard Valkyries produced – number 54, complete with special Q commission styling features.
These Great British cars will sit alongside further exciting machinery at September’s Concours of Elegance, with an array of rare and spectacular concours vehicles and special features including Thirty Under 30, Junior Concours, even more exhibits from Switzerland’s Pearl Collection, and the all-female Levitt Concours. Outside the main displays, the glamorous event will assemble around 1000 additional vehicles in a series of special features and displays.
James Brooks-Ward, Concours of Elegance CEO, said: “We are proud to present such an exquisite selection of Great British cars in what is quite possibly the ultimate Great British setting – Hampton Court Palace. Many of the UK’s most venerable marques past and present will be represented in a display incorporating everything from Le Mans machinery dating back to the dawn of endurance racing, through to the ultimate 21st century Formula 1 winners and road-going hypercars. As we fly the flag for British automotive style and innovation, there will be something for everyone.”
Further exciting entrants and categories will be announced in the final weeks leading up to the event.
Away from the automotive displays, Concours of Elegance 2023 will again be an occasion of pure luxury, with Champagne provided by Charles Heidsieck, picnics by Fortnum & Mason, and a collection of art, jewellery and fashion displays. Presenting Partner A. Lange & Söhne will once again showcase some of its most intricate timepieces.
Tickets can be bought here.