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2019 Chantilly Arts & Elegance
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Jewel in the crown
First held in 2014, the Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille is already a jewel in the crown of organiser Peter Auto. After the first four editions were held in the very busy month of September, Peter Auto decided to move the event to July and have it alternate with the Le Mans Classic during odd years. Held at the fabulous Chateau de Chantilly just north of Paris, the event has the perfect backdrop for a concours d'elegance. In the spirit of the original concours d'elegance of the 1920s and 1930s, not only classic cars but also contemporary show cars are judged at Chantilly. The Tour Auto retrospective is one of Peter Auto's best known events, so it can come as no surprise that the event is kicked off with a small rally for which all the classic cars entered are invited. There was some more driving on Sunday as each class was called forward for a parade in front of the grandstands.
In scorching conditions, particularly on Saturday, our photographers were at Chantilly throughout the weekend and have returned with this 240-shot gallery.

The tour
On what promised to be an absolutely scorching day, the participants of the Chantilly Arts & Elegance could participated in a 100km rally on the public roads west of the vast Domaine de Chantilly. The first part of the route was the longest and mostly ran through the nearby Compiegne forest, which is a national park. The morning was concluded with a stop at a lovely palace in the city of Compiegne. The route back to Chantilly was effectively a straight line to allow the participants to be on the field in time for judging, which unusually took place the day before the actual concours d'elegance on Sunday. Despite the near tropical conditions, around three dozen cars and their brave drivers lined up on Saturday morning. Many of these entrants were well machines well suited to driving on publics like several WO Bentleys and post-War Aston Martins. A less likely participant was a Gulf liveried Porsche 917 K, which took the many speed bumps on the route with surprising ease. Thanks to the heat, it was actually the driver and his passenger that suffered more than the car itself.

Centenaries galore
Many of the classes of Sunday's Chantilly Arts & Elegance marked an anniversary celebration, which in three cases was a centenary. One of these was that of Ballot, which used the 1919 Indy 500 to debut their first ever car. Powered by a hugely sophisticated twin-cam, eight-cylinder engine, it was immediately qualified on pole. However, it was not until 1921 that a Ballot won a major race; the three-litre version of the Indy car took the victory in the first ever Italian Grand Prix. Both the car that debuted at Indy and the Italian Grand Prix winner were among the nine Ballots gathered in the special class. Another long lost French marque that turned to building cars in 1919 was Voisin. Using inspiration from the airplanes built previously and contemporary art and architecture, Voisin built some truly unique cars of which a fine selection was displayed at Chantilly. Still around 100 years after it was founded, perhaps against the odds, is Bentley Motors. A total of three classes were dedicated to Bentley with the one for closed pre-War cars the most interesting. Many of these coupes and saloons were later converted to more popular tourers, so to find a full class of them was great to see. Among them was the very Speed Six Mulliner Saloon used by Woolf Barnato to win the legendary race against the Blue Train from Cannes to London.

Porsche 917 at 50
One of our favourite anniversaries celebrated this year is the 50th of the legendary Porsche 917. At Chantilly, this was marked by a special class with three very interesting examples. The earliest of the trio was the Gulf liveried example that participated in the tour. This car raced at Le Mans in 1969 and lead the race for nearly 22 hours until it was forced to retire. Later that year, it was used for the crucial test with John Wyer Automotive where the 'K' or kurz heck tail was devised. Since last year, it has been actively and successfully raced. A later '917 K' was also display, which not only has period racing history but was also the only example converted to road legal specification. It was eventually given papers by the Alabama DMV under the condition that it would not actually appear on Alabama roads. The car was recently acquired by a French collector for an undisclosed but reportedly record-breaking amount. The third 917 present was the LH or lang heck example that is part of the permanent collection of the Le Mans museum. Originally raced in Gulf colours, it was actually presented by Porsche to the museum in the livery of the company's longterm sponsor Martini.

Best of Shows
During the afternoon on Sunday, all the class winners were paraded once more before the four best of show cars were announced. For the modern concept cars there were two best of shows; the public chose the Volkswagen ID Cross, whereas the specialist jury chose the McLaren Speedtail. The latter is strictly speaking not a concept car as the spiritual successor to the legendary McLaren F1 will be produced in a limited run of just 106 examples starting next year. The classic cars were separated in pre- and post-War categories. Of the earlier cars, the jury picked the formidable Bentley 8-Litre with a Freestone & Webb Foursome Coupe bodywork. As explained before, many of these coupes were later converted and this 8-Litre example underlines just why this is such a shame. Built in 1948, so just qualifying for the post-War category was the Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport that was selected by the jury. This unique machine was commissioned from French carrossier Figoni & Falaschi by a wealthy industrialist that had made his fortune in the zip industry. This can be seen in many details on the car, including the chrome strips surrounding the central headlight. The Figoni & Falaschi Coupe was recently completely restored by the owner's father in the Czech Republic.

Final thoughts
The fifth Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille provided an eclectic mix of road and racing cars, combining stunning design with fantastic engineering. Particularly the line-ups of Ballots and Voisins were impressive. Our only regret is that we will have to wait two years for the next edition. In the mean time, you can enjoy our class-by-class, 240-shot gallery of this year's event.

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Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Wouter Melissen and Pieter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com