Here at Carwitter we are big fans of Salon Privé.
When we heard the show was moving to the grounds of Blenheim palace from the leafy tranquillity of Syon Park we were a little sad. There was something almost magical about driving through the depths of urban London to suddenly arrive – to all intents and purposes – in the middle of the countryside.
But as you wander across the vast front lawn of Blenheim palace toward the large Salon Privé entrance you realise that the surroundings are now as grand as the event itself.
Situated a fair old walk toward the end of the lawn, Salon Privé once again has the gated grand entrance. Turning around once you are behind them you have to look back in awe at what is the largest stately home ever constructed.
We move through the red carpeted entrance and into motoring nirvana once more.
Being wowed from the off the first car you see is the McLaren P1 GTR, just sitting there, on the same level as you. No barriers, no great big plinths. How it should be.
Seeing its mechanical innards from its bare behind you realise that all this exposed metal is a work of art…yet fully functional in every way. I mean obviously it would be a nightmare to clean if it were to ever get wet and muddy, but that’s what mechanics are for, right?
Perched just behind the McLaren was an equally stunning baby blue wrapped Pagani Huayra. Spending a good 10 minutes looking around it you start to notice the little details once again, and cars like this, at this price point are all about the details!
The front active aero flaps, the badge low down on the front splitter, Horatio’s signature on the rear wing, the black leather tab with yellow stitching that sneaks below the door shut line, the Pagani branding on the anodised section of exhaust that sits behind the honeycomb rear grille. You get the picture…
Nearly half an hour in and we have made it all of 20 yards into the show. Moving along we come across are rather large Delahaye 135 MS Cabriolet, this actually won the visitors favourite at Thursdays Concours d’Elégance, you can see why. It’s dripping in art deco charm, and it makes you realise that however beautiful a Jaguar F-Type Coupe looks, something has been lost forever when you see these goliaths.
Classic Ferrari’s stand side by side with Koenigsegg’s. You start to try and do the math on the amount of money that is before your eyes and the zeros just keep on adding! You will not get this kind of quality and access at any other motoring event in the country, guaranteed.
In fact to celebrate the premium feel of Salon Privé Pirelli have come on board as a sponsor for 2015. They will be hosting the inaugural Pirelli ‘Prestige & Performance’ Competition on the last day of the show in the Great Court at Blenheim, but more on Saturday later on…
What makes Salon Privé so different is that it’s the kind of event that the wealthy go to. Not to look. But to buy.
You will see displays from the performance mainstay dealers such as Joe Macari, Tom Hartley and Dick Lovett. Business is done here, hundreds of thousands are spent on both new and used cars. JLR were there with a Special Operations stand. Customise your new Range Rover in between the lobster barbecue and sips of free Pommery champagne.
Not far from the SO stand was Aston Martin, and a very new, very exclusive DB was sitting tight up against the wall. A car curated especially for Mr Bond himself, the new DB10.
Now i wasn’t really a fan of this car, it looked too soft, too squinty and not mean enough. In pictures it still appears that way, but seeing it in the metal has completely change my mind.
It has the classic Aston Martin lines in certain places, but it has been bought up to date with a rounder, sleeker look about it. Profile on is probably its best angle, and at the rear there is an awesome detail situated next to each exhaust. Just in case you’re stupid.
Next door to Aston are Ferrari, La Ferrari at the back of the collection almost missable to the untrained eye amongst the sea of red. But it had been upstaged it seems by the FXXK. Ferrari’s ridiculous road legal track weapon. Why anyone would want to use this on normal roads is beyond me…
There were some oddities to be found amongst the throngs of multi millionaires, peering out from dark tinted Cartier sunglasses. One of particular note was the custom one off Lancia Aurella B20GT Fuorilegge or the “Outlaw” project as it was dubbed. It has numerous modificaitons, the most noticeable is the cut down roofline. Created by the masters at Thornley Kelham it was debuted here at Salon Privé, more can be found on its project page here.
Another of the never before seen type was an Alpina Z8, only 555 actually exist this one was for sale with Howard Wise Cars. The Alpina Z8 had a a rebored 4.8 litre V8 fitted to it from the Alpina B10 S, power was upped to 376 HP and 520 Nm of torque…however it was only sold with an auto ‘box.
Another strange one that maybe shouldnt’ve made it off the drawing board was this 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB4 Shooting Brake. Thank god it’s a 1 of 1, but crazily someone has recently had this bare metal repainted and fully mechanically restored?!
Trying to make a B line for the Silverstone Auctions sale room we pass a number of beauties strewn across the lawn, a Singer Porsche with exquisitely eclectic interior, a Ferrari 250 GT which in itself must be worth hundreds of thousands, but the real money was in the sales tent itself.
In what can only be described as a homogeneously sealed looking clear plastic tent, millions of pounds worth of cars are all parked within feet of each other. From a cutesy Porsche 356B, to the gorgeous Ferrari Dino and even an original AC Ace every fancy was covered.
But it was the newer machinery that caught our eye, two Porsches in particular. One being a 2010 997 GT2 RS, with only 2140 miles on the clock, its estimate started at £300,000. Sitting smack bang behind it was a 2011 911 GT3 RS 4.0. Being left hand drive has dented this ones estimate, but with only 4000 miles form new and one owner expect to pay upward of £250k.
As lunchtime descends wafts of BBQ are smelt throughout the show, we make one last pass. There are no children running around screaming, touching everything in sight. There are no overpriced burger vans. There are no third world toilet blocks. There is just class, elegance and quality in every respect; by the yacht load.
The only complaint we have about the shows set-up this year is the fencing. Behind it sits the perfect backdrop to this event, yet instead of a small white picket fence there is a 6 foot bit of wood in the way?! Salon Privé…what were you thinking?!
It may be a small event, the tickets on sale for the VIP weekdays may be the priciest of any show in the country, but boy is the experience worth it! We have been ever so lucky to sample it for the last three years running, it’s a privilege it really is.
But for everyone else Salon Privé should be a bucket list experience, to just be part of that scene for a day, to mingle with such machines, such wealth and luxury is simply incredible.
This year the Salon has opened up to the general public for a Supercar Show on Saturday (the last day). Tickets for this are as little as £16.67, whilst the VIP ticket price also drops to a more affordable £95. We wait to see what is actually included with the bargain basement £16 entry fee, we already know it isn’t the full show as reviewed above.
As to the decision in opening it up to be more accessible – no doubt this is a financial one – but it takes some of the exclusivity away. And that was always the nice thing about the event, yes it cost a fortune to get in and yes it was never absolutely packed, but it felt like a small gathering, a club that you had to have thousands to get into…and that’s actually really appealing to us.
Owner / Editor of Carwitter – French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Follow @car_witter