Nowhere else would this be a thing // the London Concours
Words and photos by Andrew Coles
London is one of the great cities of the world and there are plenty of things, that for better or worse, make this statement true. Try this one; it is theoretically possible for you to be enjoying a Friday night pint and the Ferrari 250GT SWB ‘Sefac Hot Rod’ that Stirling Moss drove to victory at Goodwood, Silverstone and Daytona in 1961 drives past. A cool AUD$35,000,000 or thereabouts, rolling down the road and through peak hour Central London traffic. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.
The annual London Concours always brings out the finest vehicles and assembles them on the lawns of the Honourable Artillery Company, in the heart of Central London. It’s a little-known space, usually not open to the public, and from within its calm confines, you’d have almost no idea of the bustling city life taking place outside its imposing gates.
Once inside, we equipped ourselves with flutes of champagne and milled about the cars. From personal icons like the Ferrari F40 Michelotto and McLaren F1, to the incomparable Fiat S71 ‘Beast of Turin’, through bonafide classics like the 300 SL Gullwing and Lamborghini Muira and all of the modern machines like the Porsche 991 GT2 RS, Ford GT, Bugatti Veyron, LaFerrari and Aston Martin One-77; they were all there.
The Concours is squarely aimed at office types, and was held over a Thursday-Friday, closing at 630pm. As soon as 615pm drew and we saw owners heading to their prized vehicles, keys in hand, we realised that the true highlight would be in watching the cars leave and driving on the public roads. A colleague and I headed to a nearby pub just outside the gates, which seemed to be the epicentre for Friday evening knock-offs and was overflowing onto the footpath. We grabbed a couple of pints and sat back with the crowd to watch many of the cars drive past, one by one.
A highlight was talking to the Beast of Turin’s owner, Duncan Pittaway, as he loaded the mammoth machine onto his parked trailer. He’s famous for driving the S76 all across the country (click here to see what we mean), so I cheekily asked him why he wasn’t driving it two hours home to Bristol through traffic, guessing that the realities of a car that shoots footlong flames out of its open exhaust manifold might make it somewhat unsuitable for city use. I was wrong.
‘I wanted to drive it here, in fact, if this event was next week, I would have. We cracked an oil line two weeks ago in Belgium, and we haven’t finished making the new one yet. It’s got no oil in it – I would love to have driven it if we could’.
As I mentioned in the title – nowhere else but London would this be a thing, and long may it continue!