A 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A Sindelfingen took home the coveted Best of Show award at the recently concluded 2021 Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance presented by Aviva. The ICJAG judges and visitors were all impressed and blown away by the automotive that was part of the Pre-War Tourers class that was presented in front of the Blenheim Palace.
On February 5, 1938, chassis number 154076 was delivered new to a Berlin advertising agency, Tauentzien-Verlag, whose main proprietor was Georg Niedermeier. It has a really unique specification putting together a two-seater Cabriolet A coachwork and a longer-wheelbase chassis. It also has an engine and gearbox that are set back by roughly 20cm. It is a truly bewitching automobile famed for being one of the most coveted pre-war cars.
The Concours d’Elégance presented by Aviva is one of the most-awaited events during the Salon Privé Week. Being one of the most distinguished events in the world, it is not surprising that they are Partner Concours to the Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award, and they boast of a panel of ICJAG judges who are well-respected experts in their fields. The 2021 Concours d’Elégance presented by Aviva class winners were varied in that they had a 1901 Triumph motor bicycle, a 1993 Jaguar XJ220, Italian sports-racers, coachbuilt French masterpieces, to Rolling Bones hot-rods.
The Salon Privé Week also celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type, and as part of the celebration, they had a class dedicated to the ground-breaking British sports car. The judges gave the honor to a unique 1963 low-drag Lightweight that was raced by Peter Lindner and Peter Nöcker. In 1964 Paris 1000km, the car suffered a tragic crash, and it was painstakingly rebuilt using more than 90% of the car’s original bodywork.
The Racing Greats class had more than a few competition cars and the ex-Ford France 1965 GT40 Mk 1 that still bears its original engine, bodywork, gearbox, and running gear was given the award. The judges knew that it was truly uncommon for a GT40 to keep its in period condition and has been kept unmodified for use in modern historic racing.
The Pre-War Sports class also had a strong contender with the beautifully restored original SS 100 3½ Liter Roadster coming out on top. The sports car bested some significant Bentleys, including a 4½-Liter Vanden Plas tourer owned by company savior Woolf Barnato and a 3-Liter example that was part of the factory team for the 1927 Le Mans 24 Hours.
Back in 2020, Covid restrictions cancelled the 90 years of Pininfarina celebrations, so for 2021, they dedicated a class to the revered Italian design house. Despite strong Ferrari contenders, the judges picked the 1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Spider. The example was one of only 404 units of right-hand-drive Giulia 1600 Spiders that were made for the UK, South Africa, and Australian markets. In 2014 and 2016, it underwent a restoration to bring it to perfect shape.
One of the most prominent and flamboyant displays rightly belonged to the Fit for a King class. An elegant 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III, which is one of only three cars that were given the Sedancia de Ville coachwork by Arthur Mulliner and a Thrupp & Maberly sliding roof over the driver. The Duke of Marlborough Award which was picked by the event host picked a 1949 Bentley Mk VI Light Touring Saloon by Hooper & Co. The Hooper-bodied car was delivered new to HH Maharaja of Mysore, Sir Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar and sports a two-tone paint finish.
A 1972 De Tomaso Mangusta by Ghia was given the Churchill Cup for Most Exceptional Design. Chief Judge of the Churchill Cup judging panel and legendary racer, Derek Bell shared, “Our mission was to look at the aesthetics of a car from a designer’s point of view. We looked at every car here, and it was incredibly difficult. We eventually selected our top three and then held a vote. The Mangusta had a simple elegance about it, and when it drove up onto the stage, we knew that we’d made the right choice.”
“It has such beauty and real impact, and it’s a very pure design. There’s a totality to it – the whole picture ties together perfectly,” added Former Aston Martin and Jaguar designer Ian Callum. The Mangusta also got the Low-Slung Sports class award.
Another example that got two awards was the 1955 Aston Martin DB2 that was given the Preservation Award and the People’s Choice. The example was driven on the Monte Carlo Rally that was driven by Ken Carter who was a known 500cc racer in the early 1950s. He had already completed the Monte Carlo Rally twice before he decided to enter the 1956 rally with his friend Robert D Ropner. After the race, Carter sold the car without revealing its rallying history thinking that it would diminish its value.
“The entries for this year’s Concours d’Elégance were absolutely superb, and we congratulate everyone who brought their cars to Blenheim Palace. The beautiful Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A was a very worthy recipient of our much-coveted Best of Show Trophy, and truly epitomized the grace and elegance of the late 1930s,” stated Salon Privé Director Andrew Bagley.
2021 Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance presented by Aviva Award Winners:
Best in Show – 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A Sindelfingen
Churchill Cup – 1972 De Tomaso Mangusta by Ghia
People’s Choice – 1955 Aston Martin DB2 Monte Carlo Rally Car
Preservation Award – 1955 Aston Martin DB2 Monte Carlo Rally Car
Duke of Marlborough Award – 1949 Bentley Mk VI Light Touring Saloon by Hooper
Duke of Marlborough Award (Motorcycles) – 1901 Triumph Minerva 3/4hp
Chairman’s Award – 1951 Jaguar XK 120 OTS
Class A: Competition Motorcycles – 1951 Moto Guzzi 500cc Bicilindrica
Class B: Exceptional Motorcycles – 1975 MV Agusta 750 Sport
Class C: Early Pioneers – 1904 Cadillac 8¼hp Model B Rear-Entrance Tonneau
Class D: Pre-War Tourers – 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A Sindelfingen
Class E: Pre-War Sports – 1938 SS 100 3½ Litre Roadster
Class F: Fit for a King – 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sedanca de Ville
Class G: Racing Greats – 1965 Ford GT40 MK 1
Class H: Post-War Open – 1962 Aston Martin DB2 Drophead Coup
Class I: Post-War Closed (European) – 1950 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa d’Este Coupé
Class J: Post-War Closed (British) – 1954 Austin-Healey 100/4 by D’Ièteren Frères
Class K: Post-War Tourers – 1946 Tatra T87 Aerodynamic Saloon
Class L: Pininfarina Design – 1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Spider 101 Series
Class M: 60 Years Jaguar E-type – 1963 Jaguar E-type Lightweight ‘Linder Low-Drag’
Class N: Low-Slung Sports – 1972 De Tomaso Mangusta by Ghia
Class O: Classics of the Future – 1993 Jaguar XJ220
Class P: Rolling Bones Hot Rods – 1932 Ford 3-Window Coupe
Preservation Award – 1955 Aston Martin DB2 Monte Carlo Rally Car
Spirit Award – 1903 Panhard et Levassor 80hp
Most Exceptional Coachwork – 1927 Rolls-Royce 20hp Tourer by Barker
Most Opulent – 1931 Bentley 8 Litre Park Ward Four-Door Sports Saloon
Coup de Coeur – 1937 Talbot-Lago T15 Cabriolet by Worblaufen
Best Interior – 1947 Bentley Mk VI Cabriolet by Franay