The London Concours, presented by Montres Breguet will display a selection of some of the most majestic models from a golden era in car design; the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. An array of these ‘Golden Age Coupés’ will join a display of nearly 100 of the world’s most desirable privately owned cars in the immaculate grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company, from June 6th-8th, at what is set to be London’s ultimate automotive garden party.
The class, sponsored by Dunhillion, the heritage Scotch Whisky brand, showcases timeless designs, including the model considered by many to be the most beautiful ever, the Jaguar E-Type Series 1. More than 60 years after its launch, the classic British sports car still cuts an imperious figure with its long, sweeping bonnet and unmistakable silhouette, remaining much coveted by collectors. The bewitching looks were backed up by thoroughbred ability on the road, with its 265bhp 3.8-litre six-cylinder engine ensuring it was among the fastest machines of its era. Few would dispute it merits serious consideration as one of the greatest British cars of all-time.
Another model which could make a legitimate claim to that title, the Aston Martin DB5, also features in the class. The DB5 achieved worldwide fame and acclaim thanks to its prominence in the James Bond series of films, in particular its memorable, gadget-laden appearance in Goldfinger. But there was much more to the car than inspired product placement. Gorgeous looks – courtesy of Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera – and a 282bhp 4.0-litre straight-six engine produced the perfect blend of style and performance (0-60mph in 7.1 seconds, plus a 142mph top speed), and today it remains one of the most recognisable cars ever created. The 1964 model appearing at the London Concours is sure to be hugely popular with visitors.
Joining these British legends will be one of Germany’s towering automotive achievements, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing. First revealed in 1954 at the International Motor Sports Show in New York, the 300SL was derived from Mercedes’ prodigiously successful W194 race car and instantly hailed as a masterpiece. It went on to prove hugely influential on account of its lightweight tubular-frame construction, groundbreaking petrol engine with direct fuel injection and, of course, the extraordinary gullwing doors. There was, literally, nothing else quite like it, and its pedigree was enhanced further by an output of 212bhp, which provided a top speed of 155mph, making it the fastest production car of the mid-Fifties.
Also representing Germany will be a Porsche 356 C from 1964 – the final version of a car initially introduced as the marque’s first-ever production vehicle in 1948. Although descended from the Volkswagen Beetle, the 356 C features distinctive Porsche styling, and is now considered the last, and best, of the old-school models from the Stuttgart brand before the arrival of the 911 signalled the dawn of a new era. As we have become accustomed to from Porsche, the focus was very much on honing the 356 C’s ability on the road, and even now it is an extremely enjoyable and surprisingly comfortable car to drive. In many ways it is the definitive Porsche history lesson – a machine that showed exactly how the company wanted to evolve.
No celebration of Golden Age Coupés would be complete without an Italian presence, and in the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB, visitors to the London Concours 2023 will have the opportunity to pay their respects to a car frequently feted as one of the most stunning ever to be offered by the wizards at Maranello. Built from 1959 onwards by Carrozzeria Scaglietti, based in nearby Modena, the SWB – or Short-Wheelbase – could trace its lineage to the 250 GT ‘Tour de France’ Berlinetta that dominated endurance racing in the Fifties. Complementing its impeccable motorsport credentials were perfect proportions and relative rarity, with only just over 160 ever made. Little wonder the car now sells for millions of pounds or dollars on the rare occasion one becomes available; the 250 GT SWB is genuine automotive royalty.
Lining up beside the Ferrari will be another glorious example of Italian craftsmanship, the Maserati 3500 GTI. Mechanically significant by being the first GT car to use an injected engine – hence introducing the world to the now revered GTi badge – this breathtakingly elegant model was penned by Milanese coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring, and was advanced in its construction, with aluminium panels wrapped over a thin steel frame. Alongside the 3500 GT, it was the first Maserati road car to be produced in decent volume after the marque withdrew from motorsport in 1957, and to a large extent paved the way for the brand to establish itself as one of the world’s most prestigious manufacturers of luxury, high-performance models.
The Golden Age Coupés class offers just a taste of what to expect from June’s event, which will feature a wonderful range of machinery from a range of exotic marques. It joins previously confirmed classes Built To Race; For The Road, Evolution of Aero and Grand Tourisme, with further category announcements set to follow in the coming weeks, as we build towards the 7th edition of this unmissable event.
Andrew Evans, London Concours Director, said: “This year’s event features some truly magnificent cars, and this is particularly evident in the Golden Age Coupés category, which shines a spotlight on a defining era for the motor industry. It is no exaggeration to say that the class includes some of the greatest cars ever created, and we are absolutely delighted that visitors to the London Concours will have the opportunity to savour them up close to fully appreciate their innovation, beauty and engineering excellence. They promise to be a real highlight of the show, which is now just a matter of weeks away and is shaping up to be our best yet. Stay tuned for even more exciting announcements.”
The Golden Age Coupés class is presented by Dunhillion, a heritage Scotch Whisky with a rich history that is synonymous with classic motoring. The legacy of Sir Alfred Dunhill continues with the brand’s release of the remaining private stock of a unique, 26-year-old offering. This exceptional blend marries the rarest whiskies, and was historically only available in the most exclusive private circles.
From its hand-made crystal decanter to the elegant presentation box, all elements of Dunhillion are handcrafted proudly by skilled UK artisans. An icon in its own right, Dunhillion is proud to support the Golden Age Coupés class at this year’s London Concours.
In addition to an exceptional array of cars – the finest yet assembled - guests to the Honorary Artillery Company will be treated to a decadent range of food and drink options, including a brand-new Club Concours hospitality experience, engaging live stage discussions, as well as a carefully selected line-up of luxury brands and boutiques. London Concours 2023 is set to be another occasion of total automotive indulgence.