Concours d'Elegance coming home
With the inaugural Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille, organiser Peter Auto has brought an international Concours d'Elegance back to France for the first time in a decade. Hosted in the gardens of the 16th century Chateau de Chantilly just north of Paris, the event could not have asked for a more dramatic backdrop. Spectators and entrants were asked to appear in period dress and among the activities were short trips on steam-powered canal boats. In good Peter Auto tradition, there was also a prominent position for car clubs, who brought along spectacular machinery, which at times rivalled the entrants of the actual Concours d'Elegance. Spaciously lined up in the large garden, these entrants were spread over ten classes and ranged from pioneering horseless carriages to mid-engined Le Mans racers. In addition to the classic cars entered, there were also several modern show cars, much in the tradition of the Concours d'Elegance of the 1930s.
Our photographers explored the beautiful and very large gardens of the Chateau de Chantilly and have returned with a class-by-class 210-shot gallery
, which includes all the event's highlights.
As mentioned above, the Concours d'Elegance served in period to show off the latest creations of the numerous coach-builders As the industry evolved, many of these specialist companies disappeared and accordingly the current Concours focuses mainly on coach-built cars of the past. Chantilly Arts & Elegance did offer a podium to the latest concept cars and show cars. Among them was the third in a line of one-off Aston Martins created by Zagato. Following a Coupe and Convertible launched in 2013 to celebrate the British manufacturer's centenary, the third and final example is a Shooting Brake, which was shown for the first time at Chantilly. Another World Debut was that of the DS Devine, previewed ahead of its official launch in Paris early in October. This striking hatchback firmly establishes DS as a separate brand name from Citroen. Following more in the tradition of the classic coach-builders was the Alfa Romeo based Disco Volante brought by Touring.
At the end of the day, the Concept Cars were paraded one-by-one in front of the crowd, accompanied by a model, reviving another Concours tradition.
Maserati 100th Anniversary
A set feature at events this year is a Maserati 100th Anniversary celebration and the Chantilly Arts & Elegance is certainly no exception. Separated in two classes for competition cars and special bodied models, Maseratis were lined up on either side of the field. Arguably the best selection seen yet this year, the classes featured a mix of often seen machines like the Panini Collection's A6GCS/53 Pinin Farina Coupe and their unique 420M/58 Eldorado but also much rarer machinery like a series of one-off show cars like the Simun, the Boomerang and a precursor to the Mexico fitted with an achingly beautiful body by Frua. Stars of the competition car section included the highly original 250F owned by the Musee National d'Automobile, which is only very rarely seen outside of the Mulhouse museum walls and Larry Auriana's awe-inspiring V16-engined V4 Zagato Spider. The newest car on the field was also a Maserati; the MC12 Corse brought by Michael Bartels. This car scored back to back wins in the Spa 24 Hours and is arguably the most successful Maserati sports car of all time.
Tribute to Bugatti
One of the most fabled French marques is undoubtedly Bugatti. During the 1920s and 1930s father and son Ettore and Jean Bugatti created some of the greatest road and racing cars, which was celebrated with a separate class. Headlining the class, although displayed separately was the ever awe-inspiring Type 41 Royale Coupe Napoleon. Diminutive by comparison was Luc Slijpen's beautifully original Type 35 Grand Prix car. Even better preserved was the ex-Briggs Cunningham Type 55 brought by the Collier Collection / Revs Institute for Automotive Research. This was one of the very first Bugattis styled by Jean and combined a relatively luxurious body with Grand Prix underpinnings. A poignant example of choices faced by the current custodians of these cars was a pair of Type 57 Bugattis. The first was a highly original barn find, which is clearly cherished by the current owners in its as-found Condition. The other is the famous 'Lord Howe' car, which emerged from its barn in arguably even better condition but has since been completely restored.
Mid-engined sports cars
Most in line with Patrick Peter's best known events like the Le Mans Classic, Spa Classic and Dix Mille Tours was the class dedicated to mid-engined sports cars up to 1976. Event title sponsor Richard Mille brought two eight-cylinder engined machines from his personal stable; a Porsche 907K and an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/2. Rivals in the day, the cars represented two very different approaches to the same end. Fresh from yet another outing in the Le Mans Classic was Claude Nahum's brightly liveried Ford GT40 MkII, which was the actual car that finished third in Ford's legendary one-two-three victory at Le Mans in 1966. Strictly speaking no longer a competition car was the Ferrari 250 LM, appropriately finished with a French tricolore
stripe down the centre. Briefly raced in period, this car was converted in 1967 to road going specification and featured a plexiglass rear window and silencers on the exhausts. A most evocative sight was that of Franco Meiners' beautiful Ferrari 512 S, fitted with the low drag, long-tail bodywork used at Le Mans in 1970. At the end of the day, this competitive class was won by the ex-David Piper Lola T70 Mk3B presented for owner Shaun Lynn by Kevin Kyvlochan.
Great French Coachwork from the 1920s and 1930s
The tradition of the Concours d'Elegance was best represented by the class for French Coachwork from the 1920s and 1930s. Always a favourite of ours was the Voisin C25 Aerodyne, which was one of less than a dozen produced fitted with a vacuum driven sliding roof system. Appropriately placed side-by-side was a pair of Talbot Lago T150Cs clothed with 'Teardrop' bodies; one by Pourtout and the other by Figoni & Falaschi, using the same basic design ideas. Fittingly, the Best of Show was also entry in this class; the Delahaye 135M brought by Peter and Merle Mullin all the way from California. Fitted with a Cabriolet body by Figoni & Falaschi, this example was ordered new by a personal friend of designer Joseph Figoni. In 1939, he shipped the car to Mumbai where its arrival caused quite a stir, earning the car the nickname 'Star of India'. Discovered in India during the 1980s, it was lovingly restored and is now one of the centrepieces of the Mullin Automotive Museum.
In its first year, the Chantilly Arts & Elegance has firmly re-established the Concours d'Elegance in France. The perfectly chosen setting was matched by a high quality field with entrants, literally, from around the world. We understand that the Patrick Peter has the intention to make this an annual event and if that is the case, we will surely be back for more in 2015!