McMurtry Automotive exhibit the Spéirling at Salon Privé alongside priceless classics and racing legends in the beautiful grounds of Blenheim Palace.
A celebration of the past, present and future of automotive icons, Salon Privé is the UK’s most exceptional Concours d’Elégance, where the world’s rarest and most valuable cars gather; from era-defining legends to tomorrow’s jaw-dropping supercars.
Set in the stunning grounds of Blenheim Palace, UNESCO World Heritage Site and birthplace of Winston Churchill, the exhibits are sprawled across the South Lawn against a backdrop of the towering stone columns of the south façade. The palace pre-dates the automobile by more than a century, having been built in the early 1700s, and has now played host to Salon Privé for six years.
Now in its 16th year, Salon Privé welcomed some old favourites such as a 1901 Triumph Minerva motorcycle, a 1914 Ford Model T, and a pre-war Bentley that raced in the 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as a number of futuristic British and Italian electric cars that are not even on the market yet.
McMurtry displayed the Spéirling as part of the Derek Bell Collection which also featured two of Derek’s race cars from his days of dominating the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1980s, a Porsche 956 and a 962. As a 1000hp/tonne, compact electric fancar, the Spéirling stood out from the Le Mans racers with their six cylinder engines, 5-speed gearboxes and diffusers that could be used as tents. Yet despite their differences all are capable of over 200mph and astonishing lap times. And turning heads!
Around half the vehicles in attendance were entered into the competitive portion of the Concours d’Elégance to be scrutinised by team of judges lead by Chief Judge Derek Bell. Other judges included automotive designers, historians and experts with decades of experience judging concours all over the world.
Sunday, the Classic and Supercar day, was open to the public and brought some automotive action to the event in the form of a hill sprint. From the North Gates to the Vanburgh Grand Bridge, the sprint is a 200m straight line dash – a ‘drag race for one’. The humpback bridge at the end of the drive keeps the drivers on their toes even after the finish line as they must brake from over 100mph down to a sensible speed on the low traction surface before encountering it.
McMurtry took part in the hill sprint twice, once at 11am and again at 4pm, accompanied by commentary from racing driver and broadcaster Tiff Needell. The Spéirling was warmly received by all and gladly shared with spectators and supercar owners alike who had gathered to find out ‘what all the noise was about’.
It was an honour to be surrounded by such road and race pedigree. Here’s hoping that in a few decades time, the Spéirling will be featuring in concours events as a legend of motorsport in its own right.
Thank you to Andrew and David Bagley plus the whole Salon Privé team for delivering an enjoyable week of interesting cars and people.