The 2013 St. James’s Concours of Elegance was staged 5-7 September on the Royal lawns of St James’s in Central London. The entry list of sixty important cars were displayed in the gardens of the 300 year-old Royal Palace Marlborough House, adjacent to St. James’s Palace, the official residence of the Sovereign. Over 6000 visitors attended the Concours with thousands more lining The Mall to watch the ‘Grand Depart’ on the closing day.
With over 20 cars from the UK, 16 from Europe, 13 from the United States and the rest from as far afield as Argentina, Mexico and Russia, many of the cars at this year’s event had never before been seen in public. Among the featured entries on display at St. James’s included the 1928 Bugatti Type 35B, winner of the first Monaco Grand Prix in 1929; 1969 Porsche 917K 023, winner of the 1970 24-Hours of Le Mans; Le Mans-winning 1995 McLaren F1 GTR; 1954 Ferrari 375 MM by Carrozzeria Scaglietti that was commissioned by film director Robert Rosselllini; 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Erdmann and Rossi Streamline Roadster; 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO/64; 1958 Maserati Tipo 420 M 58 Eldorado; 1923 Delage Type DH V12; 1933 Napier-Railton 24 litre Special and 1937 Delahaye 135M Figoni et Falaschi Torpedo Cabriolet.
Clive Beecham, owner of the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider, commented, “I had a thoroughly enjoyable time and loved being able to talk cars for three days … the opportunity to drive down The Mall is something that will long live in my memory. The spectacle Thorough Events puts on is such a privilege for those of us fortunate enough to be invited.”
His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent served as Patron of the Concours of Elegance. As President of The Royal Automobile Club and Patron of Benjafields Racing Club, Prince Michael is a ‘hands on’ motoring enthusiast that officially opened the Concours and attended the event and met with the owners and their guests.
As its name suggests, a traditional Concours would normally include a judging panel picking apart each entry and selecting a ‘winning’ car. Not so at the St. James’s Concours of Elegance whose organisers maintain that if a car had been invited to London, it was already a winner. That said, the owners of the sixty Concours cars were asked to vote for the car they would ‘Most Like To Drive Home In’ and thereby a ‘Best In Show’ is selected. Best of Show at the 2013 St. James’s Concours of Elegance was awarded to the 1930 Bentley Speed-Six Gurney Nutting Sportsman Coupe owned by Bruce McCaw.
Commissioned by South African diamond heir Woolf Barnato (1895-1948), one of the finest drivers among the ‘Bentley Boys’ and three time Le Mans winner, the Speed Six is the model considered by many to be the peak of Bentley perfection: a driver’s car with superb handling, speed and reliability, and looks that perfectly expressed the gentleman sportsman.
McCaw added, “Receiving the Best of Show Award was beyond my wildest expectations. The Bentley “Blue Train” Speed Six Gurney Nutting Coupé is indeed a special vehicle. While I can take no credit for its design, or even its restoration, I am proud to be its current custodian and to be able to bring it back for a rare appearance in its homeland. I am happy the car was so appreciated and well received.”
The key objective of the annual Concours of Elegance is to be a fundraising initiative and this year’s event supported charities working in the field of cancer care, research and support. Funds raised by the 2013 Concours of Elegance are again in excess of £250,000 and are being split between Marie Curie Cancer Care, Pilotlight, Rosetrees Trust and Action on Bladder Cancer.
In addition to Tim Scott’s gallery, photographer Julien Mahiels offer the following perspective on the 2013 St. James’s Concours of Elegance. We split up Julien’s pictures into two galleries. The first gallery starting below features our favorite images, all displayed in the full-width view of Sports Car Digest. The second gallery (and full entrants list) can be found on the last page of the article and gives a comprehensive view of all the photographs. To see more from Julien, visit julienmahiels.net.