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Top Swiss car Collection heading to Hampton Court


Swiss car enthusiast Fritz Burkard will be welcomed as The Collector at this year’s Concours of Elegance, which will take place at Hampton Court Palace on September 1-3, 2023.

To fellow collectors, Burkard is best known as the proprietor of the Pearl Collection, which contains a stunning selection of models that range from automotive antiquity to the present day. Historic grand prix racers, a 1960s record-breaker and a 21st century hypercar are among the highlights. 

To have this renowned collection on show at Hampton Court is a massive coup for Thorough Events, the organisers of the Concours of Elegance, and a great attraction for visitors.

Each vehicle in the Pearl Collection is used regularly rather than being kept behind closed doors

Each vehicle in the Pearl Collection is used regularly rather than being kept behind closed doors

Passion underlines Burkard’s approach to car collecting, and each vehicle in the Pearl Collection is used regularly rather than being kept behind closed doors on static display. 

“Cars combine several passions: history, design, innovation, the feeling when you drive them, the sound… a car has its own aura,” he enthuses. “You feel it or you don’t. We at the Pearl Collection love quirky and unusual models. We show them, we race them and we use them.”

The Concours of Elegance will honour Burkard’s philosophy by showcasing a number of vehicles from his collection, which date from 1897 to 2022. The cars that have been confirmed so far are listed below:

1897 Prinetti & Stucchi Tricycle 

The oldest Pearl Collection vehicle on display can only loosely be described as a ‘car’. It was built by the Italian firm Prinetti & Stucchi, which was established in 1883 as a sewing machine and bicycle manufacturer. Despite its humble beginnings, Prinetti’s impact on the automotive industry can still be felt to this day, as its motorised tricycle was the starting point for the creations of Ettore Bugatti.

A young Ettore developed a twin-engined racing version of the tricycle to create the Bugatti Type 1, at the behest of the Automobile Club of Italy. The Type 1 was an immediate success, winning its first race in Reggio Emilia in 1899, while setting a world-record average speed of 39.7mph over 56 miles in the process. 

1933 Alfa Romeo 8C Monza

The next car in the line-up is a stunning 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza. A thoroughbred racing machine, it is equipped with a supercharged straight-eight engine designed by visionary engineer Vittorio Jano.  

Clothed in Brianza bodywork, the Alfa was registered to the most legendary name in Italian motor racing: Scuderia Ferrari. Tazio Nuvolari drove the car in the Monaco Grand Prix in 1933, and took it to victory at the Swedish Grand Prix later that year. 

After receiving a variety of mechanical improvements, and being renamed the SF28, it then participated in the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, and Circuito di Varese. It then passed through the hands of several owners before being fully restored and emerging as a regular at Historic race meetings. It was even driven back to Germany after winning its race at the Goodwood Revival in 2012.

1934 Bugatti Type 59

This Bugatti Type 59 is one of only six examples ever built, and was once owned by King Leopold II of Belgium. But before it became associated with the European aristocracy, it was a successful competition car that, in 1934, with René Dreyfus, won the Belgian Grand Prix and finished third in Monaco.

The Type 59 was originally built to take on the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Alfa Romeo, and it featured a dropped body, a lower centre of gravity, a longer wheelbase and a supercharged straight-eight engine. Its Grand Prix career was followed by a stint in sports car racing, which required the removal of its supercharger and the fitment of a dry-sump transmission, along with bodywork and chassis modifications. 

1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental

The Phantom II Continental was the final Rolls-Royce powered by the acclaimed six-cylinder side-valve engine, so its appearance at the Concours of Elegance is poignant given that the manufacturer is currently saying goodbye to its long-serving V12. Complementing the six-cylinder powerplant is Park Ward Streamlined Saloon bodywork that was precociously designed in a wind tunnel, allowing the car to reach an impressive 92mph. 

This very model debuted on Park Ward’s stand at the Olympia Motor Show in 1934. It was fully restored during the early 2000s, and has since appeared at both Pebble Beach and Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance events.

1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante 

As well as being one of the most desirable cars on the planet, chassis 57502 also has a fascinating history. One of only 17 Type 57S models built with Atalante bodywork, it was delivered new to Earl Howe in 1937 via Sorel of London. The Bugatti then passed through the hands of several owners before being bought by Dr Harold Carr from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1955. Carr put the Bugatti into storage in 1960, and it remained there, untouched, until his death in 2007.

It was then rediscovered and put up for auction in Bonhams’ 2009 Rétromobile sale. It was expected to sell for around £6m, but fell short of its £3m reserve price. A full restoration ensued, and the car then sold for £7.8m at Gooding’s Passion of a Lifetime sale in 2020. It has remained in the Pearl Collection ever since.

1939 Maserati 4CL Monoposto

Chassis 1564 was built as a prototype model, and is one of only seven 4CLs completed before the outbreak of World War Two. Despite being a prototype, it was raced as a Works entry at Naples, Abbazia and Livorno by Carlo Felice Trossi, Franco Cortese and Luigi Villoresi.

‘Raph’ and Maurice Trintignant continued to race the car in the post-war era. After that, it was used sporadically in hillclimbs and VSCC trials, and it was also showcased in museums. It joined the Pearl Collection in 2019.

1960 Abarth 1000 ‘La Principessa

Chassis E1351 represents the zenith of the stunning streamlined record cars co-created by Abarth and Pinin Farina. This particular model is powered by a 1.0-litre type 229 Bialbero four-cylinder engine that developed just 108bhp. Even so, it could still hit a top speed of 136mph thanks to a remarkable drag coefficient of just 0.20.

That allowed La Principessa to clinch eight World Speed Records at Monza between September 28 and October 1, 1960, including an average speed of 126.545mph over 12 hours, 123.525mph over 24 hours, 118.224mph over 48 hours and 116.001mph over 72 hours.

2022 Bugatti Centodieci

One of only ten that will ever be built, the Pearl Collection’s Centodieci represents the apex of modern Bugatti. It was created to mark the company’s 110th anniversary, and took inspiration from the legendary EB110 of the early 1990s. 

As with the EB110, the Centodieci offers almost peerless performance. Its 8.0-litre W16 engine develops 1577bhp, accelerates from 0-62mph in 2.4 seconds and can reach a (limited) top speed of 236mph. 

Many of the older cars in the Pearl Collection represented the limits of what was technologically possible when they were built, so it’s fitting that the newest car showcased does exactly the same thing.

For tickets and more information about this year’s Concours of Elegance, click here

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