Salon Privé, which was celebrating its second year at Blenheim Palace and 11th year in total, once more provided an enjoyably eclectic slice of supercar exotica to the genteel backdrop of Sir John Vanbrugh’s English Baroque masterpiece in Oxfordshire.
There were some notable debuts, including one from Lamborghini, which presented the Centenario on its first appearance in the UK (to commemorate what would have been company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini’s 100th birthday). Any buyer making enquiries would have left disappointed though: all 40 examples of the £1.64 million Lambo have already been sold.
The fact that this 217mph hypercar was the most mainstream launch there says a lot about the gloriously off-the-wall nature of everything else. Take for example Koenigsegg, which presented its new European-spec Agera RS, with the one-off blue carbon ‘Naraya’ on display finished in gold leaf and sporting a nameplate made up of 155 cultured diamonds.
No country house driveway would be complete without a Bristol in the mix, which is why the eccentric British car maker also chose Salon Privé to launch the Bullet: its first new car in 10 years, and the first Bristol to be made of carbon-fibre composite rather than aluminium.
There was an eye-catching display to celebrate 50 years of the Lamborghini Miura, the typically fluorescent paint palette of the era, modelled shamelessly by the eight cars present, contrasting nicely with the Cotswold stone of Blenheim.
As usual, the event was an intriguing cross between a motor show, garden party, and concours d’élégance, with the judges including five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell.
While manufacturers are increasingly involved, private owners supplied the majority of the cars on display, for the concours d’élégance itself and the ‘Prestige and Performance’ competition on Saturday.
The overall ‘Best in Show’ award went to a 1956 Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa, while the overall Prestige and Performance prize was claimed by a Pagani Zonda 760RS.
Some of the most eye-catching cars on display belonged to the fearsome Group B era of rallying, including a classically Martini-liveried Lancia 037 (which won the rally car class) and iconic Audi Quattro.
That was appropriate, as Blenheim hosted a stage of the RAC Rally right up until the late 1990s. Anthony Peacock