FORZA FERRARI! AL PALAZZO DI BLENHEIM

Ferraris galore and so, soooo much more!! Kid. Sweet shop. Excitement. Contain. Can’t!!!!! We went to the magnificent Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire last Saturday, a place we had been meaning to visit for some time. By very happy and sheer coincidence, there was a major car event on in the Palace grounds. The Salon Privé is the UK’s longest-running, professionally-judged Concours event and is graced by every manner of supercar, hypercar, classic supercar, hyper-supercar, super classic-hypercar….. there’s a lot of expensive and exotic cars there. The Salon was held over three days and on Saturday when we visited Blenheim, the day was given over to a celebration of 70 years of Ferrari. However, I didn’t get too excited beforehand because I knew it cost £150 to get in (and I’m guessing you had to book in advance anyway) but I hoped to at least glimpse a few interesting cars. Well, I wasn’t disappointed. As a member of the great unwashed, the tented citadel where the main event took place was out of bounds but there was still plenty to see.

I’ll shut up now and just let you feast your mince pies on the photos (I might do a separate post on the Palace itself one day!)…………

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Sigh. Drop dead gorgeous Ferrari 250GT SWB. One of these sold at auction for £8m a couple of years ago. I’ll have two please. Apparently the last genuine road car built by Ferrari that could be raced successfully with little or no modification, 250GT SWBs took the top four places at Le Mans in 1960. Stirling Moss won the 1960 RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in a 250GT SWB while listening to songs and commentary of the race on the car radio. He probably had a tin of boiled sweets in the glove box as well.
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1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GT. Knees have gone weak. I love the diminutive Dino. Keith Richards used to have a silver-grey one. I don’t think it’s too controversial to suggest that, in the youthful good looks department, the Dino has fared rather better than the veteran Stones guitarist.
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1967 Ferrari 330
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1956 Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa displaying its prize!
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The Forbidden Palace … unless you had £150 to spare. Actually, it didn’t seem bad value for a very special day out – Champagne reception, luncheon (a simple “lunch” wouldn’t do) and full-blown afternoon tea. Plus all those beautiful cars to drool Champagne over. We were able to get up close and personal with that supercar guard of honour on the left and there was another public area crammed with the old and/or expensive. As you can see, some of the blazered and brogued arrived by helicopter.
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A Spyker! A C8 in fact. Never seen one in the flesh before. Ugly mutt but unusual and eye-catching. Front end looked a bit like a gasping fish.
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Let’s get back to the beauty pageant. A 1951 Jaguar XK120. The world’s most beautiful cars are either British or Italian.
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Another Ferrari 500 – this time a 1957 TRC. Can’t have too much of a good thing.
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Probably not many places in the world where you could see a Pagani Zonda parked next to a 1931 3.5 litre blower Bentley.
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Quite an early Austin Healey judging by the shape of the grill. Absolutely gorgeous.
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The walk of supercar fame. There was a Koenigsegg Agera in there somewhere, a couple of Ferrari F40s, a Bugatti Veyron and a …… yes and one of those, and, …. and …. There was even a tennis player scratching her bare bottom – sorry, wrong poster – it was a Countach (there were only two posters on sale in the UK in the late 1970s and 1980s – one of a cheeky tennis player and the other of the Lamborghini Countach).
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More best of British – an Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Coupé of which only 99 will be made. There will be equally limited numbers of a Vanquish Zagato Volante and a Speedster plus just 28 examples of a Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake. UK readers will know that the “67” in the registration number means that this car could only have been registered the day before (1st September) at the earliest. Probably still has that new car smell.
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1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder
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Sums up the day – palace, helicopter, supercar. This Raging Bull could probably outrun the helicopter by about 50mph.

I’m just off to have a lie down.

Colin

 

 

 

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WEEKLY CAR DIARY & ENIGMATIC CLASSICS

Back to work this week after our hols in Cornwall. All decent vehicles but nothing out of the ordinary and no particularly interesting destinations, although the new town of Telford is just a few miles north of Ironbridge Gorge which only happens to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution (and an interesting place to visit if you have the chance).

Tuesday: Audi A3 1.8T Sport (2014) & Audi A6 S-Line 2.0TD manual (2013), both Rugby to Telford, Shropshire

Wednesday: Volvo XC60 SE Lux Nav D5 (2.4D) auto (2016), London Heathrow to Leicester

Friday: Ford Transit Custom, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire to Reading, Berkshire

Now I did go somewhere interesting last Sunday – one that played a small but important rôle in World War II. Beaumanor Hall in the Charnwood Forest area of Leicestershire is a stately home built in the 1840s, although manor houses have been present on the site since the first was built in 1330. Beaumanor Hall was requisitioned by the military in 1939 and it became a “Y station”, intercepting enemy radio traffic and passing the signals to the more well-known Station X at Bletchley Park for decrypting.

If memory serves me, Beaumanor Hall also featured in Robert Harris’s novel, Enigma, a fictional thriller set against the backdrop of Bletchley Park’s efforts to break the Germany’s Enigma code. It is widely rumoured (in real life) that the Beaumanor Hall listening post had intercepted intelligence about the Katyn massacre very early on in the war (in April and May 1940, the Soviets massacred about 22,000 captured Polish officers and other citizens in the Katyn Forest in Russia). The information allegedly received by Beaumanor Hall and the need to hush it up in deference to Britain’s Soviet allies provided a sinister sub-plot in Enigma and the subsequent film of the same name. Incidentally, the producer of the film was Mick Jagger who happened to own an Enigma machine which was used as a prop in the film.

The reason for visiting Beaumanor Hall was (surprise!) a classic car show. The hall is not normally open to the public but it does hold various events throughout the year. Here are a few photos:-

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Beaumanor Hall. During WWII these walls had ears.
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A Tribute 250 kit car based on a 3-litre BMW Z3. A fake Ferrari but looked good.
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I was quite taken with this little car. Isn’t it beautiful? A 1952 Jowett Jupiter. A “race-bred, high performance sports car”. 1486cc, 62hp and 0-50mph in 13 seconds.
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Many of us remember the 1970s Triumph Dolomite but this is the 1937 version!! The Dolomite name was used for a range of saloons and sports cars in the 1930s.
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I’m not a fan of American cars but I will admit this immaculate 1961 Chevrolet Corvette looks striking. If I was forced to have an American car, it would have to be an original Mustang Fastback or convertible.
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Spot the difference. Yes, one’s blue and one’s red, well done. The blue one is a 1965 Triumph TR4A. The other is a 1968 TR250 which was a version of the TR5 made for the North American market. For emissions reasons, the TR250 had twin carbs (and less power) rather than the TR5’s fuel injection system. 

Colin