I received the email inviting me to join the judges panel for the 2018 Concours Masters Celebration of 70 Years of Porsche on Saturday, 1st September. It didn’t take long for me to accept as this would be an opportunity to get up close to some stunning machinery, and to be involved in a very special anniversary event. As it happened, we had glorious weather with wall-to-wall sunshine for the entire weekend, a good spectator turnout, and wonderfully no overcrowding at this exclusive event.
Each evening over the weekend of 31 August to 2 September, the quaint historic market town of Woodstock was bulging with Porsches, Ferraris, Bentleys and many more fabulous sports car marques. They were scattered throughout the town centre, parked on pavements and squeezed in wherever they could find parking, and perhaps the local constabulary took the weekend off. The regular town’s population of three to four thousand, would expand considerably over this weekend.
While Friday at Blenheim Palace was all about the ladies, other fine bodies to be savoured included Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Steyr, Brabham (the new BT 62), Wiesmann, Jaguar and of course…Porsche. Many of the delicious variety of classic cars on display would, during Friday evening, be moved to make way for the influx of Porsche sports cars to be judged and enjoyed the following day in the Concours Masters Celebration of 70 Years of Porsche.
The Saturday morning, Concours Masters judging day, kicked off early with a light breakfast in the judges tent on the Palace lawns where we were joined by the chief judge, none other than Derek Bell himself. There we were briefed on what to look for in each vehicle, and how to score our results.
Armed with clipboards, notes and iPads, the judges were sent out in pairs to do their work from 09h00 to 12h00, moving between the 41 Porsches in the Masters Concours before the gates were opened to the other guests. This of course made it easier for us to do our judging, which involved one of us talking to the car owner while the other assessed the vehicle being judged. This routine worked well, mostly, because the owners were all too keen to talk about their cars and we were all too willing to listen and ask endless questions. It was a fantastic morning spent in the presence of some super people and some really special cars.
The level of knowledge and expertise of the judges, was of the highest order. Many of the judges are known internationally for their specialty knowledge, and this placed yours truly on a steep learning curve, and modest as they all were, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
The 2018 Judging Panel included:
|Max Girardo||Master of Ceremonies; Auctioneer and Co-Founder of Girardo & Co.|
|Derek Bell MBE||Chief Judge; Five-times Le Mans Winner|
|Philip Basil||Porsche Enthusiast and Collector|
|Thomas Hamann||Forty-year experience of dealing in classic and exotic automobiles in Europe and the USA|
|Paul Keeling||Concours Official Porsche Club of Great Britain|
|Wolfie Kutner||Classic Car Researcher and Market Consultant|
|Yasmin Le Bon||Classic Car Enthusiast, International Supermodel and Designer|
|Andy Prill||Porsche Specialist|
|Thomas Schmitz||Porsche Specialist|
|Glen Smale||Editor of Porsche Road & Race, expert journalist of Porsche and author of seven Porsche books|
|John Starkey||Writer of books and magazine articles and investigator of racing car’s histories|
|Marcus Willis||Co-Founder of Girardo & Co., Former Research Specialist at RM Sotheby’s, Judge at several significant Concours|
In practice though, we ran a little over time because the quality and rarity of the Porsches on display made the process longer and in many cases, harder to decide. So, a little after midday, while the guests admired the Boodles jewellery, sipped Pommery champagne and tucked into their lobster lunch, the judges wrapped up their scoring and put the finishing touches to the list of winners. Then, at around 14h30, the awards ceremony began and each of the winners was driven up onto the red carpet to receive their awards.
As mentioned earlier, the quality of the vehicles on display was mouth-watering. From the earliest entrant, a 1955 Porsche 550 RS Spyder with special aerodynamic aid, through to the very latest 2018 911 GT2 RS, each and every car was exceptional for its provenance and its place in the wider Porsche family. The 550 received both the “Most Technically Interesting” and the “Best Air-cooled Road Car” awards). There was an assortment of 356s, including a 356A Carrera GS Coupé (voted the “Best Carrera”), a very special 356A Carrera GS Speedster with period competition history, and several more 356 Carrera models. My personal favourite was a 356B Carrera GS 2000 Coupé, a gorgeous 1963 model and one of only twelve RHD models produced.
In one way, I am glad we were not allocated the race cars to judge, because the selection and variety would have made this task extremely difficult. Although motorsport is where my passion lies, I would have been hard-pressed to choose a winner. The oldest contender was the 1955 550 RS Spyder, fitted with the controversial wing above the driver’s head. Ironically, Porsche had this aerodynamic aid disqualified when it came to competing against this car, as it was considered a threat to the works cars. A brilliant 904 Carrera GTS finished in the official orange colour of the Dutch sports team who raced it in period, this car was one of the finalists in the “Owners Choice” award. Other cars in the Race category included Derek Bell’s own 924 Carrera GTS (winner of the “Best Water-cooled Race Car” award), a 944 Turbo Cup car that had an astonishingly long competition history, 964 Carrera Lightweight, 964 RSR 3.8, 993 GT2 R Evo and a 991 GT3 Cup.
The Pre-Impact class included a small selection of cars such as the beautifully prepared 1967 911 S 2-litre which has had only two owners from new. A similarly stunning yellow 1972 911 S fitted with the larger 2.4-litre engine tempted the judges, while a 912 (winner of the “Chairman’s Award”) slotted in between the two which showed some very sympathetic modifications.
Perhaps the most outrageous car on the day was a 1975 911 Carrera 2.7, which fell into the Impact bumper class. This car had the most extraordinary history, in that it was originally ordered by the company’s own sales department as a demonstrator for potential Arabian buyers in the Middle East. It featured the Turbo wide body with front spoiler, front bonnet-mounted driving lights and a distinctive multi-coloured leather interior which was truly representative of the 1970s. It also boasted carpeted door pockets, sunroof, air conditioning and a top of the range Blaupunkt Bamberg stereo radio. A couple of Carrera 3.2s and a Carrera 3.2 Speedster were joined in this class by a fantastic two-owner 3.2 Clubsport that had covered just 6265 miles from new!
Moving to the 964-class, we were treated to some very special cars here too. First up, how can you better a 1991 964 RS that has 153 km on the clock? This car just has its delivery mileage recorded, after which it was stored by its first owner for 26 years. You can argue the merits of storing a car of this kind and not using it for the purpose for which it was intended, but this unique car provides an almost perfect time capsule of what these cars were like when they left the factory. A pair of stunning 964 Turbo 3.6 cars were presented in this class, again with complete and documented history files and in impeccable condition.
The 993-class presented some problems again. For instance, how do you rate a 993 GT2 with just 10,500 recorded miles against the super rare GT2 Limited Edition (just 21 examples produced) and a Turbo S, one of just 23 RHD models in existence. The 993 Turbo S received the “Used as Porsche Intended” award, as having covered 66,610 miles in various rallies and motoring events, this car was certainly used as Porsche had intended.
Moving on to the 996/997 class, we saw a 996 GT3 Clubsport, 997 Turbo, 997 Sport Classic (a judge’s favourite, and winner of the “Most Desirable Specification” award) and a 997 GT3 RS 4.0 – all very desirable models.
The current 991 model class was peppered with high spec models. First up was the much sought-after 911 R launched in 2016, a rather special 991.2 GT3 Touring, 991.2 GT3 RS (winner of the “Most Evocative” award), Carrera T, Turbo S Exclusive, and a 991.2 Carrera 4 GTS British Legends Edition (Derek Bell’s own car). A 2016 Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup race car, rather unsurprisingly, received the “Best Sounding” award.
Featuring in the Hypercar class were the 2004 911 Carrera GT, a 2015 918 Spyder and the 991.2 GT2 RS. The Carrera GT was a very special model in its day as it featured a hand built V10 engine which was preferred over the traditional Boxer engine. The rationale behind this decision was that the heavy crankshaft of the V-engine had a lower centre of gravity than the traditional Boxer engine which, although a flatter engine, raised the roll-centre of gravity in this hypercar. The Carrera GT was awarded the “Best Water-cooled Road Car” title. The 918 Spyder features an almost 900 bhp power delivery and has covered just 2887 miles from new. The 991.2 GT2 RS was the winner of the “Best Hypercar” award 2018.
Bringing the 2018 Salon Privé to a close, was the reveal of the two most prestigious awards of the event. Following a gala dinner in the Great Hall of Blenheim Palace on Saturday night, the guests were all invited outside to view the ten finalists for the Duke of Marlborough Award, and the Owner’s Choice award. The Owner’s Choice award was where the owners of the 41 cars entered in the Masters Concours got to vote for their favourite car in show. This went to 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo Cup. The Duke of Marlborough Award went to the 1957 Porsche 356A Carrera Speedster.
This brought the curtain down on the 2018 Salon Privé event, a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and one of the most memorable events I have attended in many years. Roll on 2019!
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Salon Privé and Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale (Note: A special thanks to Dave Rodman for helping with some of the images)