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St James’s Concours celebrates the dawn of motoring

WORDS: ELLIOTT HUGHES | PHOTOS: RAC

The St James’s International Concours for veteran cars was staged on Marlborough Road outside St James’s Palace in London on November 4, 2023. The concours served as the prelude to this year’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, which saw almost 350 pre-1905 motor cars re-enact the historic Emancipation Run of 1896 on November 5.

Organised by the Royal Automobile Club (RAC), St James’s International Concours provided enthusiasts and passers-by with the opportunity to peruse an impressive array of veteran cars prior to them taking the London to Brighton startline at dawn the following morning. 

St James’s International Concours provided enthusiasts and passers-by with the opportunity to peruse an impressive array of veteran cars

St James’s International Concours provided enthusiasts and passers-by with the opportunity to peruse an impressive array of veteran cars

To add to the festivities, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, president of the RAC, was in attendance among the throngs of people admiring the selection of horseless carriages. 

Some of the most popular cars with onlookers were the Darracq and Spyker that appeared in the 1953 film Genevieve, which tells the comical story of two couples participating in the Veteran Car Run. The movie cars were showcased to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the BAFTA award-winning picture. 

Other notable vehicles on display included an 1892 Peugeot, which was the oldest car in the Veteran Car Run and is thought to be the first car ever driven in Italy, and the Brookland Museum’s 1903 Dreadnought, which is considered to be the first motorcycle that was purpose-built for racing.   

An expert judging panel that included the likes of TV personality Alan Titchmarsh and former Wheeler Dealers presenter Edd China presented awards to eight vehicles, with each owner receiving a magnum of Piper-Heidsieck Champagne and a travel case for their efforts.

The Overall Winner, the 1897 Daimler of Tim Summers, also won an overnight stay and dinner at the RAC on Pall Mall in London. Summers’ Daimler wagonette has been a mainstay of the Run for many years, and underwent a comprehensive restoration before being dubbed the Overall Winner. The car’s blue-and-yellow livery harks back to its early days as a bus in Falkirk, Scotland.  

Full concours results below:

Concours d’Elegance – Overall Winner: 1897 Daimler, Tim Summers
Concours d’Equipe – For the vehicle, drivers and passengers wearing appropriate period dress symbolising the veteran era: 1904 De Dion Bouton
Period Motoring Attire –  For the person(s) wearing appropriate period dress symbolising the veteran era: John Bottomley/1903 Dreadnought
Young Driver Award – For a stand-out participant aged under 30 years old: Kelsey Whittemore/1904 Peugeot
Historic Veteran Car Award – For the car with the most impressive provenance and historical connections: 1892 Peugeot
The Judges’ Overseas Award – An award presented to an overseas participant selected by the judges: Jos van Genuglen/1900 Amédée Bollée
Concours d’Elegance Light Vehicle Award – For the small vehicle which embodies the spirit of the veteran car era: 1903 Darracq
The Royal Automobile Club Chairman’s Award – Any car selected by the Club’s Chairman Ben Cussons as worthy of special recognition: 1905 Spyker from the Genevieve movie