Story and photos by Jonathan Sharp
As I noted back in 2014, England early September is turning into car weeks, like Monterey, but extending almost 13 days. And in this case, instead of golf courses, it is a case of pick your favorite stately home.
First might be a visit to the Duke of Northumberland’s estate, Syon Park in West London for a rather select event, “Salon Prive” where a lot of champagne is drunk, and lobster is eaten, and the stately lawns are covered by a fine selection of cars for the Chubb Insurance Concours.
This year I drove to Salon Prive the weekend of September 1, so the champagne is out and I am not a great fan of lobster so for me it will always be an event about cars. Why Champagne and lobster? The entry ticket includes a free bar (several actually), lobster for lunch and afternoon tea. For the third year in a row the event was held in the grounds of Blenheim Palace. John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, had led his troops to victory against the French in the battle of Blenheim, a major battle in the war of Spanish succession on the 13th August 1704. To celebrate his victory, Queen Ann and a grateful nation gifted the 1st Duke the ruined Woodstock Manor and surrounding parkland. Blenheim Palace was designed by Sir John Vanburgh and completed in 1733.
Prive is an upscale event, and is the only event to focus solely on the “prestige sector.” According the website, https://www.salonpriveconcours.com/ the events offers “…a unique opportunity to not only admire, but also test-drive cars from the world’s most elite super and hyper car brands, providing the perfect opportunity to discover your next investment…”
You get the picture. Dress code is fancy, and you won’t get in wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Event originators Andrew & David Bagley journeyed to Amelia Island and of course on to California for Monterey Week and Lake Como while determining what kind of concours they wanted. What they created was a “beautiful event in a beautiful setting with fine-dining, champagne, spectacular cars and likeminded people.”
What they couldn’t control, however, was the weather, which proved to be challenging to say the least, lots of sun but several rain showers of biblical proportions at various times of the day. Not nearly as bad as Harvey or Irma, so we rested and were thankful.