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Louis Vuitton Classic Bagatelle 2002

"I'm too sexy for my cars" attitude prevails at Bagatelle as high fashion trounces high performance.

[ photo gallery ]

July 4, 2002
Story and photos by Marcel Massini

--- PHOTOS ---

[click here]

While the Americans have their annual Pebble Beach Concours, the Europeans have a similar event, which is held in Paris. Now in its 15th year, the French Louis Vuitton Classic originally started as Automobiles Classiques Concours d'Elégance in the Park of Bagatelle. The site of the event is located in the Bois de Boulogne and part of the green suburbs of Paris. The Paris Bagatelle was founded in the late 1980s by two very respected and avid French Ferraristi, Antoine Prunet and Christian Philippsen. Unfortunately, the original founder and supporter of this concours, French magazine Automobiles Classiques, is no longer directly supporting the event. Now that Louis Vuitton has completely taken over the organisation it has become much more of a fashion show and a social event rather than a Classic Car Concours.

Alas, the show went on. This year's Concours was held on Friday and Saturday 28 and 29 June 2002. Over 80 cars were entered and the special theme was "Hommage à l'Américaine".

Since 2002 marks the 40th anniversary of the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO, a separate class was set up just for this type. Seven GTOs attended this year's Bagatelle show (for a total of 12 Ferraris shown). It was great to see Pierre Bardinon's Series II GTO again. This car's design has influenced many other cars of the 1960s. Bardinon's GTO shared the class with the GTOs belonging to Peter Sachs, Brandon Wang, Paul Pappalardo, Anthony Wang, Patrick Ma and Bernie Carl, all of whom brought their examples of the model.

Jean Sage brought Juan Quintano's Tipo 555 Super Squalo, one of only two remaining. Anil Thadani arrived in the dark blue 250 GT SWB California Spider, chassis #4125 GT. Thadani's Spider is unrestored, without front and rear bumpers and with a nice original leather interior in red. This is the third to the last California Spider built and hasn't been seen for many years. Swiss collector and watch manufacturer Jean-Pierre Slavic showed his 1961 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Sefac "Hot Rod." Chassis #2439 GT was originally painted white and delivered in Scandinavia to Gunnar Andersson. Terry Hoyle from England drove Anthony Pozner's red 275 GTB/4 to Paris. This car can be seen regularly at events such as the Tour Auto or other competitions. Continuing its European Tour was Arthur W. Zafiropoulo's sensational 342 America Cabriolet Pinin Farina of 1953. Originally built for King Leopold III of Belgium and painstakingly restored by Wayne Obry's Motion Products of Neenah/WI for its current owner, this unique automobile has won Best in Show at the recent Villa d'Este Concours d'Elégance in Italy.

To its credit, the Louis Vuitton Classic Concours d'Elégance in Bagatelle is a spectacular show and always provides surprises for car lovers. It is definitely a feast for all design aficionados. Best of Show in 2002 was an Alfa Romeo, while the Association de Bagatelle awarded Zafiropoulo's black Ferrari with the "Prize for the Best Restoration". Among the VIPs observed during the Friday/Saturday affair were Ralph Lauren, Jean Todt, Lorenzo Ramaciotti, Fabrizio Giugiaro, Gian Luigi Buitoni, Paul Frère, Harm Lagaay, Patrick Le Quément and several others.

In previous years, the Bagatelle concours attracted many visitors. This was definitely not the case this year and on Friday there must have been fewer than 100 spectators all together! Very little PR and advertising had been done for this year's event which in previous years used to take place in September. Although it is clear that a car event of this scale cannot be organised without big sponsorship from major companies, such a show has to be done by car-oriented groups. The author noted a serious lack of respect from the organisers towards the car owners and collectors who brought their treasures from all over the world to Paris. Despite high security during the night - while the cars were parked outside on the lawn - several cars that had been carefully covered with special car covers for possible rain and humidity protection had been uncovered by unknown people who didn't put the covers back onto the cars. This resulted in wet (open!!) cars early next morning.

Main sponsors of this year's concours were Banque Pictet of Switzerland, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne, XL Winterthur International Finance and Zenith Swiss Watchmakers. It seemed that this year's LV Classic entrants were used primarily as 'shows' for several big companies who intended to entertain their guests and the rare cars were merely a good excuse to go to Bagatelle. It will be very interesting to see what happens in the next few years with this formerly outstanding Concours d'Elégance. The glamour is definitely gone.

# year type chassis# plates color owner
65 1955 555 Super Squalo Monoposto FL 9001 none red Juan Quintano
71 1952 342 America Cabriolet Pinin Farina 0234 AL 0234 AL black Arthur W. Zafiropoulo
72* 1956 250 GT Coupé Speciale Pinin Farina 0465 GT none dark blue Dan Kary
74 1963 250 GT SWB California Spider Scaglietti 4125 GT EFC 39 A dark blue Anil Thadani
75 1961 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Comp. Scaglietti 2439 GT none red Jean-Pierre Slavic
76 1967 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta Scaglietti 09737 VBY 162 E red Mr. Pozner
90 1962 250 GTO Series I Berlinetta Scaglietti 3387 GT 250 GTO (WA) NART blue Bernie Carl
91 1964 250 GTO Series II Berlinetta Scaglietti 4091 GT 284 412 (NH) darkred Peter G. Sachs
92 1963 250 GTO Series I Berlinetta Scaglietti 4219 GT EFC 31 A dark blue Brandon Wang
93 1963 250 GTO Series I Berlinetta Scaglietti 4293 GT EFC 962 A red Patrick Ma
94 1963 250 GTO Berlinetta Speciale Scaglietti 4713 GT NMY 942 (NY) red Anthony W. Wang
95 1963 250 GTO Series I Berlinetta Scaglietti 5111 GT GTO 63 (NY) red P. Paul Pappalardo
96 1964 250 GTO Series II Berlinetta Scaglietti 5573 GT none red Pierre Bardinon
*DNS (#72 did not show)

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