Arts & Elegance

Now in its third year, the Peter Auto-organised Chantilly Arts & Elegance Concours is rapidly establishing itself as a leading event of its kind, right up there with Villa d’Este.

Indeed, like the Italian event, Chantilly was also supported by BMW as part of the Bavarian manufacturer’s centenary celebrations.

Despite early morning rain and leaden skies for the rest of the day, some 13,500 visitors were drawn to the absolutely stunning surroundings of the Domaine de Chantilly, north of Paris, to see some magnificent machinery and to be entertained by the Garde républicaine (think Household Cavalry).

The Concours d’Elegance was divided into classes, and as well as being on static view, the cars were paraded in front of the assembled crowd. To add to the style, each entry in the manufacturer’s concept car class was accompanied by a fashion model representing one of France’s fashion houses. First prize in that class went to the DS E-Tense, accompanied by a creation from Eymeric François. However the choice of the public was the Mercedes-Maybach 6 Vision, accompanied by a model representing Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Another model from the same fashion house combined with the McLaren 570GT to take the prize for the most beautiful ensemble. Zagato have diversified from its usual fare to produce a motor-cycle for MV Augusta and that led to a special prize.

Away from the modern exotica there were plenty of breathtaking machines entered in the numerous other concours classes, from which the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Berlinetta, with coachwork by Touring and owned by American collector John Shirley, was awarded Best of Show.

There were too many other classes to list them, some with titles such as ‘The former English marques’ (ie. no longer in business) or ‘The great untouched travel sedan cars and limousines’ – that went to a delightful 1938 Packard.

Italian exotica was well-represented, including classes for the Lamborghini Miura (celebrating its 50th anniversary), a tribute to the Pozzi racing team and two classes for Tour de France cars, both of which were won by Ferraris.

There were also numerous Alfas, from pre-war to a recent Zagato creation, whilst a small but select group of front-engined Formula 1 cars saw the prize go to a 1946 Gordini Type 11 from a pair of Ferraris and a BRM.

Any event is not complete these days without an anniversary to celebrate and in the case of Chantilly it was Jean Todt’s 50-year career in motor sport. Now President of the FIA, he was a leading rally co-driver before moving on to team management, primarily with Peugeot during the Group C days and then at Ferrari throughout the Schumacher era.

From a selection of rally cars from his past, a 1979 Peugeot 504, still owned by fellow rally star Jean Guichet, with whom he shared the car on the Argentinian Rally, was given first prize in the Tribute to Jean Todt class. The wide-ranging display of rally machinery also included Ford Escort Twin Cam, Alpine-Renault, Fiat 124 Spider, Sunbeam Lotus and Peugeot 205. The man himself was on hand too, to award the prizes.

Away from the concours, a busy club area saw a huge range of vehicles on display, some a little strange such as the Rolls Royce that had been mated with an MGB bodyshell! Aside from that, there were some good club displays with the likes of Bugatti – the modern ones – Jaguar well-represented, as well as inevitably the various French brands. It was all very sociable too, as many of the visitors enjoyed a picnic lunch in the areas set in woodland adjacent to the moat surrounding the Chateau.

A delightful, laid-back, hassle-free day out, Chantilly should be on every enthusiast’s must-do list. The 2017 edition is scheduled to take place on 10 September.