In just a few short weeks, the London Concours, presented by Montres Breguet will commence. Recently, they announced the newest class to be added to this summer’s event: Coachbuilt & Concepts.
The London Concours have built a reputation of bringing together the most impressive line-up of classic and collector vehicles. For 2022, the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company will be the venue for one-off concept cars, unique customer commissions, and prototypes that never made it into production.
From June 28 to 30, a variety of wonderful cars will be showcased at the London Concours in a brilliant show of automotive indulgence. The Coachbuilt & Concepts class puts the spotlight on the unique projects that are simply unforgettable, capturing the attention of the automotive world even decades after they were revealed.
At the head of this truly unique class is a 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 CSS. During its time, it was raced by Joakim ‘Jo’ Bonnier with great success. The two-tone machine had a Zagato body which was designed specifically for racing. It was also one of the few bespoke examples of the first production-line car from Alfa Romeo. Zagato has long been known to create light, aircraft-inspired coachwork, and the 1975cc CSS is a great example of their craft.
Known as the Estralle, a unique 1974 Lotus Elan Shooting Brake will also be on display at the legendary grounds of HAC. The car originally started as a 1974 +2S 130/5 coupé. Recently, Lotus specialist Paul Matty Sports Cars were tapped to manage the project of turning it into an estate car based on the original – but never reached factory production – sketches by Lotus designer Ron Hickman.
Renowned for creating fastback versions of the Elan back in the 1960s, Shapecraft was the one who created the aluminum roof to connect it to the glassfiber body. The glass windows were special produced by Pilkington. To create this truly exquisite one-off wagon, three years of bespoke design and fabrication were spent on this magnificent vehicle and the craftsmanship and hard work can clearly be seen in the superb quality and clean lines of the car.
It is not common to hear Rolls-Royce and pick-up in one sentence, but when a particular classic motorsport enthusiast wanted the ultimate Goodwood Revival towing car, it had to be done. They tapped on the expertise of Clark & Carter in Essex to transform a 1967 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow into an elegant pick-up truck. It should be noted that the example that they were able to acquire was already converted, but it was badly done. To get the quality of work that they required, the team had to practically start from scratch. The result is just beautiful as it somehow was still aligned to the car’s original intentions. It was given hand-crafted details throughout the example, as well as fun flourishes like the ‘pick-up’ badging that was recreated in a script that was similar to the original Silver Shadow.
The next example is a concept study that Daimler Benz unveiled at the 1996 Paris Motor Show: the Mercedes F200 Imagination. Only two examples were built and the one that will be showcased at the London Concours is the only driving and working model. At the time, Daimler Benz wanted to showcase their latest innovations in design, control, and comfort, which were eventually seen on the S-Class and CL-Class models that was launched in 1999. Interesting features of the F200 prototype were its butterfly doors, voice recognition, video cameras in place of rear-view mirrors, electro-transparent glass in its panoramic roof, and other high-tech features that are now only becoming the norm in luxury cars – more than two decades later. One main notable feature of the car is its ‘sidesticks’, a feature that will let either the driver or the front passenger drive the car.
A 1998 Jaguar XK180 concept car will also be in attendance. Introduced during the 1998 Paris show after a very short planning period of only ten months, to meet the 50th anniversary celebration of the iconic XK120. Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) workshop toiled on the example. Its all-aluminum bodied XK180 was based on a shortened XKR platform. It was also equipped with a 450 bhp supercharged 4.0-liter V8 and innovative steering-wheel pushbuttons that allow sequential gear changes, which was completely new at the time. Senior designer Keith Helfet oversaw the whole styling process, he saw the concept as a modern interpretation of the classic Jaguar designs that were prevalent in the Le Mans-winning 1950s D-type as well as the 1960s E-type. The XK180 did not only pay tribute to its predecessors in terms of design, it was also simultaneously a completely modern design which was meant to feature the marque’s technology for the new millennium.
Only a few London Concours visitors would be familiar with Ronart. Based in Peterborough, the company was founded by Rona and Arthur Wolstenholme in 1984. In 1999, Lightning, Ronart’s grand tourer made its debut at the London Motor Show. Powered by a 320 bhp Mustang V8 engine, it went on to have a limited production run after it had two dozen orders during its London Motor Show debut. Jeremy Clarkson famously described it as “the best supercar to come out of the UK that no one has ever heard of”. Equipped with an in-house-designed carbon fiber bodywork, bespoke suspension, and a space-frame chassis, the Lightning was definitely way ahead of its time. Other features of the Lightning include sat-nav with a multi-function color screen, integral cooling fans in its leather Recaro seats, and rear-view camera. Detachable roof panels allow the Lightning to be transformed into an open-top cruiser. Unfortunately, the high-quality and innovative car came too uneconomical to build, so in 2003 production for the Lightning ended after only producing only six Lightning examples. The model that will be displayed at the upcoming London Concours is the fifth example to be produced, and it became the company demonstrator with the example done after the detailed specifications by Ronart’s chairman.
Other examples that will be seen in the Coachbuilt & Concepts class are a 2005 Bizzarrini Ghepardo, a 1982 BMW 635 CSi Observer Coupé, 1956 Maserati A6G 2000GT, a 2018 Ferrari SP3 JC, and a Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 Crayford.
These coachbuilt classics will be on display at the Honourable Artillery Company this summer, along with their counterparts from around the world covering decades of innovation and design from diverse classes like the Japanese Jewels, Great British History, Fins & Chrome, and Italian Spiders. The London Concours will announce exciting new classes to be added as they work towards the sixth edition of the much-awaited event.
London Concours Director Andrew Evans shared, “This class celebrates rarity and exclusivity by focusing on the unique projects and collaborations that captivate the car world. We have gathered an eclectic grouping of one-off concepts, prototypes and unique customer commissions that were created either by design or by circumstance, but which ultimately never made it into full-scale factory production. London Concours 2022 offers a special opportunity to see these machines in one place – and to dream about what might have been.”
Evans added, “Guests to the HAC will be treated to an unprecedented array of cars, along with a decadent range of food and drink options, and a carefully curated line-up of luxury brands and boutiques. London Concours 2022 is set to be another occasion of total automotive indulgence.”