Savile Row Concours 2023

On the surface Savile Row in London’s Mayfair could be any typical London street. It is less than 300 meters/328 yards long and the narrow roadway is flanked on either side by tall Georgian styled terraced buildings.

However, for nearly 200 years the tailors housed in this tiny enclave have been famed for the quality of their workmanship. The craftsmen and women of Savile Row are famed for both their traditional, quality garments and also for being at the leading edge of contemporary fashion. They have provided many of the world’s elites with bespoke suits – from royalty and politicians to pop stars and movie stars.

The cars gathered for the Savile Row Concours D’Elegance captured the essence of Savile Row perfectly. There were road and race cars displayed that one could call traditionally beautiful which were built from the 1920s all the way up to present day, yet there were also art cars and restomods which touched upon Savile Row’s more flamboyant side.

We shall start with one of the more flamboyant cars on display:

This is the ‘Electric Lady’ – a 1970 Series II E-Type converted to electric by Tudor Black Coachworks. Photographer Gered Mankowitz then transformed the E-Type into an art car. A portrait of Jimi Hendrix takes centre stage across the bonnet, and the surrounding artwork is inspired by one of Hendrix’s jackets which was made for him at Savile Row.

This 2023 Audi E-Tron GT was presented in this eye catching wrap by fashion house Richard James.

The most notable collaboration between tailor and automotive brand, however, were the Bentley Bentayga and Continental GTC offered by Jack Barclay Bentley and Huntsman.

Only 5 of each will be built.

The RML Short Wheelbase hosted by Holland & Sherry. The RML Short Wheelbase is somewhat of a homage to Ferrari’s 250 Short Wheelbase. RML took the running gear of a 550 Maranello and wrap it in retro bodyshell, which is in fact a carbon fibre monocoque – keeping the weight down and increasing the rigidity over the classic the car was inspired by.

Inside the RML SWB looks very 1960s, but will act as a comfortable modern day cruiser. There’s ample leg and head room for the taller driver. The car has aircon, a good stereo system with phone connectivity and a hidden satillite navigation system.

There were a couple of authentic classic Ferraris on display too. This 275 GTB, hosted by Gieves & Hawkes really caught my eye. The colour, Azzurro La Plata, was the colour it was ordered in from the factory, and it’s the only 275 that exists in this colour.

Suprisingly that wasn’t the only blue classic Ferrari in the show. This 1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial was hosted by Cad & The Dandy. This particular one has competed in several Mille Miglias. The Mille Miglia is an event on my bucket list!

In the more traditional red was this 1957 Ferrari 250GT Spyder Competizione also hosted by Gieves and Hawkes. The 250 series actually dates back to 1952! The famous GTO and my favourite of the models, the Berlinetta Lusso, came into being in the early 1960s. I always assumed that the 250 series would have started in the late 1950s rather than the early 1950s. Everyday is a school day!

On this car also note the number plate: 57 PF. The 57 is obviously a reference to 1957, but I hope the PF is a nod to coach builder Pininfarina.

From Lamborghini was this lovely 1968 400GT 2+2 – an elegant V12 cruiser.

Lancia’s 1957 Aurelia B20. This is one of just 25 right hand driven cars produced.

Going back in time a little we have an Alfa Romeo 8C. The original 1960s Scalextric model of the 8C (catalogue number C65) is very collectible! I know the values of slot cars pale in comparison to the real thing, but you could be sitting on a bit of a diamond if you have one in your loft, unless you’re trying to sell one to me in which case they are only worth about a tenner haha!

Alfa Romeo 6C. This car originally belonged to a General Giuseppe Balo who was sent to Ethiopia to act as a governor following the second Italo-Ethiopian war which overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie (famed messiah in the Rastafari religion).

As allied forces liberated East Africa in 1941, Haile Selassie could return and could regain control of Ethiopia. Balo was later killed in 1943 and the car was parked in a cow shed.

Selassie prevented anything of value being taken from Ethiopia so the car sat for 20 years until it was disassembled and exported as agricultural spares. It once again sat, disassembled, until 1998 when Neil Twyman began the restoration process.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 100th Anniversario is a limited edition (100 units) Giulia celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Quadrifoglio name. (Quadrifoglio is somewhat akin to BMW’s M line of cars. They are more performance oriented).

Even in its’ standard form the Giulia is, in my opinion, the prettiest mass produced car available to buy new at the moment.

Rounding off our Italian segment we have the Italia 2000 coupe.

Underneath the body shell, this is actually a Triumph TR3A.

Salvatore Ruffino distributed Standard-Triumph cars in Italy under the CESAC brand. The approached Triumph with the idea of building a collaboration project, for buyers who wanted the ease of getting parts and mechanics who could work on Triumph cars, but with more of an Italian flair. Prototypes were built and marketed under the name “Triumph Italia”.

When British Leyland took over Triumph they wanted to focus on the TR4 and so this project was left to Ruffino. 329 cars were built and today only 80 remain.

As the Italia 2000 is British underneath, it acts as a nice bridge into our next set of cars, which happen to be British!

We’ll kick off our British section with another ‘golden era’ coupe – the 1953 Aston Martin DB2/4 with bespoke bodywork by an unknown coachbuilder.

Keeping with Aston Martin there was the V8 Vantage:

The Callum Designs Vanquish 25 hosted by Edward Sexton. Ian Callum was the designer of the original car, and created this package to bring the venerable Vanquish up to speed.

The DBX707. It’s a 190mph SUV which unquestionably is an impressive engineering feat. I’m just not a fan of SUVs though, as those of you that have been following this blog for a while will know haha!

The Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro. This is the track only version of the Valkyrie and I think it’s absolutely incredible! I was very lucky to get to spend a lot of time with it at Salon Prive in 2022, which you can read about here:

The Morgan Super 3 and Plus Six were hosted by Dege & Skinner.

Morgan have now been producing three wheeled cars for 113 years!

The Plus Six actually houses the BMW B58B30 and 8 speed ZF automatic gearbox as found in the A90 Supra. The Morgan will do 0-100 kph (62 mph) in 4.2 seconds and will reach 166mph which is plenty quick enough!

I think that if you want a classic looking car but with modern reliability and driving characteristics – the Plus Six is a fab little car!

MG K3 Magnette. Wonderful little pre-war racing car.

Bentley 3 Litre Le Mans. George Turner Models makes an absolutely lovely slot car kit of this car. It’s on a long list of cars I’d like to build from his range.

Jaguar’s C-Type. This particular example was raced by F1 legend Juan Manuel Fangio across South America.

Lotus Type 79/3 campaigned by Mario Andretti. People often say that the General Motors’ LS series of engines are God’s motors, but as we all know God is British so I would argue it’s the Cosworth DFV.

This is a recreation of BRM’s P15 V16.

The original car debuted in 1950 and was raced until 1953. It houses a 1.5 litre supercharged V16 that makes 600bhp mated to a 5 speed gearbox. It was also the first Grand Prix car to have disc brakes and interesting has Oleo Strut type shock absorbers which are more commonly found on aircraft than cars.

Obviously aviation and tank technology rapidly evolved over he course of the Second World War. The tanks and aircraft of the late war period are much much more advanced than those with which nations started the war. I’d never really considered how that evolution of technology would translate into the motorsport world. This car is considerably more sophisticated than the prewar cars I typically feature on here.

The Lunaz Design Bentley S2 Continental. Lunaz design restore classic cars to concours standard, but replace the running gear with an electric powertrain. Lunaz’s website shows that they’ve worked on a number of special cars.

The Envisage Caton is a restomod of the Austin Healey, based on the idea of imagining what Donald Healey may have created if he had access to modern technology. This one retains the original petrol engine, just bored out to slightly under 3 litre.

There were a couple of GT40s on display. The first is a genuine 1967 car – chassis P/1069. The car was a part of Ford UK’s press fleet and was displayed twice at the Geneva Motor Show.

The other was a Superformance recreation with an electric drive train by Everrati.

This is the only electric GT40 to be included on the official Shelby register.

It’s very impressive engineering, and with 800bhp I’m sure it absolutely flies. However, the sound and smell of those old big block Ford V8s is a part of the magic of these cars in my opinion. It’s very cool in it’s own right though and I’d have to do an awful lot of overtime to be able to afford one haha!

From the German marques we have one of my unattainable dream cars – a Mercedes W100 600 Grosser. This particular car once belonged to George Harrison of The Beatles.

There was also a 1935 Mercedes-Benz W18 290 cabriolet.

Audi’s Sport Quattro based on the phenomenal Group B rally car.

The BMW 3.0 CSL is another homologation special. The CSL is a heavily modified E9 that was designed to race in the European Touring Car Championship. 1265 road going cars were produced, 500 of which were right hand driven.

A subtly modified Porsche 356C. You’ll note the custom body coloured bumpers, the widened wheels with knock off hubs and the leather bonnet straps. It looks like a very classy, period race car.

Motorcycles aren’t really my thing, but there were a couple there and they were pretty cool. I also feel I should probably learn a little more about the two wheeled machines.

First we have a Norton Commando 961 cafe racer.

The Maeving RM1 electric bike. Only capable of 45 mph but a perfect daily commuter for getting about inner city.

Norton’s V4SV is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It produces 185bhp at 12,000 rpm though a 1200cc V4. The V4 isn’t often used as an engine configuration in the car world. The Essex V4 by Ford is probably the most notable example. It went into a number of cars in the 1960s including the Corsair, Zephyr and Transit van.

We’ll end on my car of the day which is the 1938 Delahaye Type 145 V12 Coupe.

French art-deco era cars are, in my opinion, the most beautiful in the world. Delahaye, Bugatti, Talbot-Lago produced absolutely stunning machines and I recommend you have a look into them.

This particular car actually belongs to the Mullin Automotive Museum in California. It’s a long way from home!

To conclude, the Savile Row Concours was a thoroughly pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Hopefully it’s given some people who would typically go to Savile Row for the fashion a bit of an interest and appreciation of the automotive world, and it gave a scruffy peasant like me a bit of an insight into the world of Savile Row. Whilst writing this article I certainly went down some internet rabbit holes researching the history of some of the different tailors that occupy Savile Row.

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By Richard Francis

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