Skip to content

Salon Privé debuts new models and awards Mercedes-Benz 540K with Best of Show

Words: Elliott Hughes | Photography: Salon Privé

The 16th edition of the Salon Privé Concours d’Elegance took place on September 2-5, 2021, at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. The brainchild of brothers Andrew and David Bagley, the event has established itself as one of the UK’s most prestigious concours events. It certainly didn’t disappoint as some of the world’s greatest automobiles assembled on the Palace lawns to be judged on their provenance, presentation and originality.

A 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A Sindelfingen was awarded Best of Show, edging ahead of the resplendent 1950 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa d’Este Coupé that finished runner-up. The unique 1963 Jaguar E-type Lightweight ‘Lindner Nöcker Low Drag’ that was raced in period by German duo Peter Lindner and Peter Nöcker rounded out the top three. The Lightweight Low Drag also won the E-type Class held in celebration of the iconic car’s 60th anniversary. 

The show-winning pre-war Mercedes-Benz was one of the last five 540Ks built in 1938, and is fitted with the refined 5.4-litre supercharged straight-eight engine, which produces 180bhp and allows the car to reach 110mph at full throttle.

The inaugural Duke of Marlborough Award went to a 1949 Hooper-bodied Bentley MkVI that was built for the Maharaja of Mysore – Sir Jayachamarajendra Wadiya. The blue-blooded Bentley was part of the Fit for a King Class that was won by an imposing 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III.

Named in honour of Sir Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim, the Churchill Cup was bestowed on a 1972 De Tomaso Mangusta. The Churchill Cup’s judging panel was made up of renowned automotive designers alongside legendary racing driver Derek Bell. “We looked at every car here, and it was incredibly difficult,” said Bell. “The Mangusta had a simple elegance about it, and when it drove up onto the stage, we knew that we’d made the right choice.”

Other notable award winners included a 1965 Ford GT40 Mk1, 1903 Panhard et Levassor, 1993 Jaguar XJ220, 1965 Ferrari 275GTS and 1955 Aston Martin DB2 Monte-Carlo Rally car, among many others. Salon Privé director Andrew Bagley said: “The entries for this year’s Concours d’Elegance were absolutely superb, and we congratulate everyone who brought their cars to Blenheim Palace and all of the winners. The beautiful Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A was a very worthy recipient of our much-coveted Best of Show Trophy, and truly epitomised the grace and elegance of the late 1930s.”

Salon Privé had plenty to offer aside from its stunning collection of concours cars. The event’s reputation has encouraged an increasing number of major manufacturers to showcase their latest offerings with brands such as McLaren, Ferrari, Porsche and Rolls-Royce all occupying the Palace lawns.

McLaren displayed its new twin-turbo hybrid V6-powered Artura supercar, and complemented it with a windscreen-equipped version of the thrilling open-top Elva and GT, and the European debut of the 765LT Spider.

The Morgan Plus-Four CX-T off-roader was another exciting new car on display, and was offered for test drives to prospective buyers. BAC, Alpine, Land Rover, Kimera and Alpine also displayed all-new models.

The Italian duo of Automobilia Pininfarina and Touring Superleggera celebrated their respective 90th and 95th anniversaries with the global debuts of the Battista Anniversario and Arese RH95. While both companies have storied histories in automotive design, the approach taken with their latest cars couldn’t be more distinct. Touring’s Arese RH95 is based on the Ferrari 488 supercar and is the latest AERO car, following the acclaimed 2012 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante and 2016 AERO 3.

On the other hand, Pininfarina has embraced advanced EV technologies with its 1873bhp all-electric Battista Anniversario hypercar. This will be the most powerful production car to ever come out of Italy, and it was displayed alongside six elegant concours models to mark the company’s 90th anniversary. The Battista was joined by two more new high-performance EV models: the Hispano-Suiza Carmen and Automobili Estrema Fulminea.

Enthusiasts with a penchant for classic models were treated to the unveiling of The Red Collection in a dramatic opening-day ceremony. The 12-car display contained a breath-taking selection of machinery including an ex-Fangio Maserati 250S, the Mille Miglia and Le Mans-winning Ferrari 166M, a Ferrari 275GTB Competizione Clienti, a McLaren F1 GTR and a delivery-mileage Ferrari F40, to name a few.

Another favourite was the inclusion of the raucous Rolling Bones hot rods, which made a rare cameo appearance from the US, as well as privateer David Piper’s reunion with his green and yellow-liveried Ferrari 250GTO.

The Red Collection’s unveiling was paired with the announcement of an all-new Salon Privé event: The Chelsea Edition, which is slated to take place on April 21-23 at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. For more information on next year’s Salon Privé Concours d’Elegance and the new Chelsea Edition, click here.

If you liked this, then why not subscribe to Magneto magazine today?

Full list of awards:

Best in Show – 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A Singlefinden

Churchill Cup – 1972 De Tomaso Mangusta by Ghia

People’s Choice – 1955 Aston Martin DB2 Monte-Carlo Rally Car

Preservation Award – 1955 Aston Martin DB2 Monte-Carlo Rally Car

Duke of Marlborough Award (Motorcycles) – 1901 Triumph Minerva 3/4hp

Chairman’s Award – 1951 Jaguar XK120 OTS

Class A: Competition Motorcycles – 1951 Moto Guzzi 500cc Bicilindrica

Class B: Exceptional Motorcycles – 1975 MV Agusta 750 Sport

Class C: Early Pioneers – 1904 Cadillac 8¼hp Model B rear-entrance tonneau

Class D: Pre-War Tourers – 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A Singlefinden

Class E: Pre-War Sports – 1938 SS100 3½ Litre Roadster

Class F: Fit for a King – 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sedanca de Ville

Class G: Racing Greats – 1965 Ford GT40 Mk1

Class H: Post-War Open – 1962 Aston Martin DB2 Drophead Coupé

Class I: Post-War Closed (European) – 1950 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa d’Este Coupé

Class J: Post-War Closed (British) – 1954 Austin-Healey 100/4 by D’Ieteren Frères

Class K: Post-War Tourers – 1946 Tatra T87 Aerodynamic Saloon

Class L: Pininfarina Design – 1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Spider 101 series

Class M: 60 Years of the Jaguar E-type – 1963 Jaguar E-type Lightweight ‘Linder Nöcker Low-Drag’

Class N: Low-Slung Sports – 1972 De Tomaso Mangusta by Ghia

Class O: Classics of the Future – 1993 Jaguar XJ220

Class P: Rolling Bones Hot Rods – 1932 Ford 3-Window Coupe

Preservation Award – 1955 Aston Martin DB2 Monte-Carlo Rally Car

Spirit Award – 1903 Panhard et Levassor

Most Exceptional Coachwork – 1927 Rolls-Royce 20hp Tourer by Barker

Most Opulent – 1931 Bentley 8 Litre Park Ward Four-Door Sports Saloon

Coup de Couer – 1937 Talbot Lago T15 Cabriolet by Worblaufen

Best Interior – 1947 Bentley MkVI Cabriolet by Franay

Most Elegant – 1965 Ferrari 275GTS

Most Iconic – 1966 Jaguar E-type 4.2 FHC