Hampton Court Palace – Classic Royalty

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By Chris Pollitt

The Concours of Elegance started out in 2012 with the goal of bringing together some of the finest automobiles from history and from around the globe. It’s a goal the organisers of the event have excelled in, with the event still going strong today. We were there to see Ian Callum and his new creation, namely the Vanquish 25 by CALLUM. But as we were there, it would have been rude to not have a walk around and point our camera at some of the exquisite vehicles on display. So, with that in mind, here are some that caught our eye…

Stout Scarab

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

No, we’d never heard of it either, but as soon as we saw this wonderful spaceship of a vehicle, we wanted to know more. It’s a 1936 Scarab built by a long since defunct company, Stout of Detroit, Michigan. The Scarab was one of those cars that was simply too far ahead of its time. The ponton styling maximised interior space, and all the passenger seats could be moved to offer endless configurations. You could even have a little table on which to play cards. 

It was powered by a flathead Ford V8 that was mounted over the rear axle in the same configuration that wouldn’t be seen again until the Lamborghini Countach. Interestingly, the Scarab had fully independent suspension, which was unheard of at the time and offered a ride like nothing else. It was a revelation in transportation terms, but one we were too blinkered to take seriously in 1936. Shame, really. 

Ferrari 288 GTO

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

Ahh, the 288 GTO. For some, our Editor included, this is peak Ferrari. A no-holds-barred animal of a car. It was built to satisfy Group B regulations for a then new circuit race series, but alas, the series never came to fruition. As such, the 288 GTO never competed, and that’s a shame. But still, Ferrari could have pulled the plug on the whole thing, but it didn’t and instead, built all the cars in road trim. This didn’t mean they were diluted though. Far from it. In the back was a 396bhp 2.9 twin-turbo V8. 

Jaguar XJ13

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

The Jaguar XJ13 is not a car you come across all that often. Mainly because it only ever reached prototype stage and also because they only ever built one, and we regret to tell you that what you’re looking at here isn’t it. This is a recreation, but it’s inch perfect when compared to the original XJ13 developed for Le Mans in 1966. 

Powered by a mid-mounted, 5.0 DOHC V12, the designers at Jaguar had high, high hopes for the XJ13. However, front of house business such as the merger with BMC put paid to such projects, despite involvement from assistant Jaguar MD, Lofty England, who had brought success to Jaguar in the ‘50s. Despite their best work, the project lost momentum and was soon overshadowed by, ironically given they would go on to own most of Jaguar, Ford. The 7.0 V8 in the GT40 simply couldn’t be matched. As such, the one XJ13 prototype was mothballed. 

Ecurie Ecosse LM69

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

But what if the XJ13 did make it to the starting grid of Le Mans? What might that have looked like? Well, thanks to the efforts of UK-based Ecurie Ecosse, we don’t have to imagine. The company chose the Hampton Court Palace event to unveil this, the LM69. A modern-day take on what might have been. 

The car has come about as a collaboration between Building the Legend, Design Q and Ecurie Ecosse. And in developing the car, of which 25 will be built (so as to meet the homologation regs of 1969 – nice) no nut has been left unturned. Built from modern composite materials and powered, faithfully, by a quad-cam V12, this car is every bit a dream realised for motorsport enthusiasts. What would have been, had this raced in ‘69?

Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

You can keep your modern Porsches with their decimal placed names. What the hell kind of a name is 991.1 911?! No, we like our Porsches old, and where possible, we like them brown. Or in this case, Sepia Brown. Come on now, the car is from ‘73, so brown is perfectly acceptable. That said, it could be pink with blue spots, it would still be a 210bhp, air-cooled, lightweight weapon of a car. This one was absolutely flawless in every way, but given the setting, that’s hardly surprising. Note to new car manufacturers; more brown please. 

RUF CTR ‘Yellowbird’

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

CTR. Group C. Turbo. RUF. Paint it yellow, and you’ve got the fabled ‘Yellowbird’. A car that many of us know only from not being able to control it on Gran Turismo on the Playstation (fun fact, Porsche wouldn’t release a licence for the game, but RUF would). Based on the 1987 911, the RUF CTR featured a heavily breathed on 3.2 flat-six engine, complete with twin turbos and, as such, 463bhp. The panels were lightweight, the chassis was stiffened thanks to an integral roll cage and the suspension and braking systems were heavily upgraded so as to handle the power. Power, may we add, that only went to the rear wheels. Of a rear-engined car. Yeah, it was a handful. But master it and, well, you’d be known as a driving god. 

De Tomaso Pantera GT5

Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Concours, classic concours

The 1980s were a time of excess, of being brash, of being bold and of wearing braces so loud they made a Pet Shop Boys gig seem quiet. To stand out in the ‘80s, you had to push the boat out. Happily, the De Tomaso Pantera GT5 did just that. The engineers at De Tomaso took the ‘normal’ Pantera and widened it, lowered it, fitted a deep front spoiler and a large rear spoiler and wheels to match. The whole thing was powered by a snarling Ford 351cui Cleveland V8 mounted in the back, making the Pantera something of a handful. In reality, the GT5 was a last hurrah for the aging Pantera, but as they say, it’s better to burn out than fade away, and the GT5 was anything but a gentle fade from existence.

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