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The interesting thing about this year’s Salon Privé – UK’s motoring socialite event – was the number of designers mingling amongst the Made in Chelsea crowd. From Martin Smith sharing jokes with Peter Stevens over the lobster lunch, to Andrew Hill escaping from Jaguar Land Rover to display his automotive art, there seemed to be a designer at every turn – usually the reserve of the Geneva Motor show.
Also welcome to an event known to show off current luxury and supercars with a Concours d’Elégance celebrating the beauty of the cars over the years, was the addition of concept, prototype and one off cars, many with their designers there to talk through the projects.
Recently launched after several years in development, Elemental’s RP1 was well placed to catch the eye, an interesting concept with undoubtable handling prowess and construction ingenuity as you would expect from a team made up of ex McLaren engineers. The designer who had to pull all these elements together Guy Colborne, explained every detail and more revealingly his passion behind the project – a life time ambition to design a brand new car that launches a brand new company.
So from one car that started from scratch to another one with established underpinnings of a Ferrari SA Aperta, the Superamerica 45 was designed by Matteo Gilles as a one off for Peter Kalikow. It’s striking appearance sitting well in the grounds of Syon House, and an ideal opportunity for Matteo’s wife and marketing manager Nicky to promote their new bespoke design studio.
Then there was the Callum Mk2 with the underpinnings from an earlier period of motoring, a 1962 Mark II 3.8-litre. Designed as a one off by Jaguar’s design director Ian Callum, who explained, ‘This is a very personal statement, a long held notion that, although the Mark 2 has always been a beautiful car, it could be even more exciting in shape and performance.’ It was probably one of the most discussed exhibits, and as Judge Callum sat on the Concours d’Elégance panel alongside Rolls-Royce’s Giles Taylor, it was clear that the jury was still out on his latest proposal.
The Salon Privé is a stunning event to attend with treats everywhere, a Miura and F40 still holding their own against current pretenders McLaren P1 and La Ferrari parked together allowing a rare comparison, as well as fascinating people with interesting stories who gathered around the auction exhibits with their glasses of bubbly.
As we left the relaxing and glamorous Garden Party we thanked Sam Livingston from Car Design Research for his invite, and headed back to the drawing board!