So glad I chose to attend on the Thursday of this annual event held on the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company, as the heavens had opened on the Wednesday, resulting in the lawns being waterlogged, dampening the day somewhat for both attendees and exhibitors.
However Thursday was bright and sunny with a very pleasant 21 degrees for the 1,700 guests that had pre-booked to see around 100 cars from a truly eclectic mix of international marques.
The cars being exhibited were split into nine Classes such as Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Lancia, Supercars and Convertibles and some themed Classes.
Of great interest of course to the Club was the entry of the early 1966 Unipower GT belonging to Tim Carpenter, having previously been owned by the Club secretary back in around 1982. Rather cheakily, Tim had moved his car from its allotted place with the 'Lost Maques' class, to park alongside the superb display of Ferrari 246 Dino's. In the 'Lost Marques' class were some eleven high-quality examples from Bizzarini, Iso Rivolta Grifo, Talbot, Facel Vega, AC ACE Roadster (ex-Mille Miglia 1956), Austin-Healey, Talbot, Jowett and a very rare Marcos TSO GT2 Prototype, all beautifully presented on the lawns in the summer sunshine.
Originality stood out as being the objective from all those exhibited, the Unipower GT regrettably, as has been the case since its restoration 30-years ago, being shown with many deviations and 'improvements' detracting from its original factory build, implemented by its now owner. Fitted with a higher capacity engine and side-draft Weber carburettor, necessitating major modifications to the rear boot box, the car is now as Tim describes it, his evolution on how owners might have improved the car. Such a shame though, as this customer road specification car, whilst having no other notable history, was still the first road-specification car produced and it would be so nice to see it properly presented as an original example of the marque at such prestigious events. Maybe Tim will get around to returning the car to its original specification at some stage, which the Club has been encouraging him to do and which would be great to see.
Of the other cars exhibited at the Concours, Ferrari were represented in the form of a number of Tipos. One such Ferrari, a 1967 330GTS Spider belonging to an old friend of mine's wife, succeeded in not only winning the 'Golden Era' Class but also overall Best Car of the Show. My good friend is however no stranger to such events, his cars winning other notable Concours events such as Pebble Beach in California and Villa d'Este in Como. Beautifully presented, the Judges focused on its presentation, as its pedigree and originality were never in question.
Another car that was not actually entered into the Concours but was displayed on the Alpine stand, along with their latest sports car offering, was a totally original and un-restored 1976 Renault Apline A110 in Alpine Blue. Being a late car (1961 - 1977), this example was fitted with a rear mounted 1600cc engine and 5-speed gearbox having some similarities with the Unipower GT, albeit it being truly rear-engined. But it was its total originality that was so good to see and its valuation of between £120,000 - £150,000 made an interesting comparison. As I have said elsewhere on the Club's website, the value is in a cars originality, which regrettably few Unipower GT's have retained due to their successive ownership(s) or lack of investment. I believe that those Unipower GT's that can be certified by the Club as being original, with the benefit of factory documentation, have the potential to approach similar values.
All in all a very pleasant Concours event and the first of its kind in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic, so the organisers, Though Events Ltd and its MD Andrew Evans, should be commended along with all the entrants and visitors, for having the faith and willingness to stage such an event, whist maintaining governmental social distancing rules.
The event is scheduled to be held again next year, provisionally in mid-June, so is one well worth putting in the diary.