17/10/2007 Fine classic cars at Tyringham Hall - September 2007
Once again hosted by City law firm Goodman Derrick, the second ‘Berlinettas’ lunch party was another success, with the sound of multi-cylinder Ferraris augmented by that of another V12; the unmistakeable basso profundo of a Rolls-Royce Merlin, rattling the windows of the exquisite Sir John Soane country house during Peter Teichman's Spitfire routine.
The brainchild of Martin Emmison, a partner in the firm, this was the second running of an event designed to celebrate the joys of cars as varied as the ex-Le Mans Ferrari 512 BB LM brought by Nick Mason, Karl Ludvigsen’s Cord, and a ‘pontoon-fendered’ Ferrari 250 TR entrusted by its owner to Will Stone of Kensington-based dealer Gregor Fisken (also present in the ex-Ford France GT40).
Emmison’s passion is of course the V12 Ferrari, and this year the serried ranks of Gran Turismo Berlinettas included a gorgeous dark red 250 GT SWB, several 275 GTBs and a 500 Superfast. These were joined by a 250 GT Lusso, and several 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’s, including Bertie Gilbart-Smith's car finished in a striking Blu Viola.
There’s a serious reason behind the annual lunch, held at Anton Bilton’s magnificent estate near Newport Pagnell. Apart from its regular work in the fields of property, corporate and commercial law and private clients, Goodman Derrick specialises in ‘conveyancing’ for buyers of collectors’ motor cars and the disputes that inevitably arise.
As Martin Emmison put it last year "If you are spending a million pounds on a car and you slip up by paying money to the wrong person; or it belongs to a leasing company; or it’s mortgaged to the hilt; or you buy a car which turns out to be fake; or there are two cars of the same chassis number... you have made a VERY expensive mistake. My job is to help clients to get the deal done and to avoid the big mistakes."
It was a message that found a receptive audience, the invitation-only guests understanding some of the pitfalls of buying relatively simple machines that live or die by their provenance. And on display to the rear of the house was the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, with an original chassis plate ensuring a value many times that of any reproductions, however well executed.
Alongside the 250 TR was Nick Mason’s superb 512 BB LM, the car that ran twice in the famous French 24 Hours and Anton Bilton’s own Maserati 200 SI. Comparing the two Italian machines it’s almost incredible to see the developments that occurred in just under 25 years; from narrow tyres, Borrani wire wheels and potent four-cylinder motor to wide-rim alloys, racing slicks, massive flat-12 fuel-injected boxer-motor and all-enveloping aerodynamic bodywork.
At the front of the house, pride of place went to the historic Ford France GT40, Gregor Fisken taking a break from his 2007 programme of both modern long-distance and historic racing to drive the low-slung car up from London. Another historic ex-racer present was the Lindsay family's Porsche 904, parked near to the yellow McRae Enduro, the 4wd prototype off-road rally car that has been developed with input from Alistair McRae.
The Italians didn’t have it all their own way, Ford-engined exotica like the GT40 and Martin Emmison’s own AC Cobra aside, there were several Aston Martins and Jaguars, as well as an Allard and John Ruston’s Talbot keeping the Cord company in the pre-War parking. Richard and Carol Williams brought an Aston Martin V8 Zagato, while Michael Quinn, Angus Forsyth, Peter Wallman and Robert Crofton were E-type equipped.
Rare Le Mans cars are all very well, but a Vickers Supermarine Spitfire will trump just about anything, and when Peter Teichman appeared right on cue in the sky-blue photographic reconnaissance PR.XI, the sound of its 27-litre Rolls-Royce Merlin 61 caused guests to forsake the champagne and canapés to gaze skywards and admire one of Britain’s national treasures.
Battle of Britain day had passed just a weekend before, and as the years go by these marvellous aeroplanes seem to be part of the English summer. With their evocative sounds and the success of the Goodwood Revival, these treasured machines are now inextricably connected with historic motor cars. Although to be fair, such is the propensity for boys of all ages to appreciate fast, mechanical ‘toys’, if steam engines were slightly more transportable perhaps these may well have been present as well.
As last year, the guests departed mid-afternoon, and the air resounded with that wonderful mixture of gravel disturbed by competition differentials, barking exhausts and six Webers on full induction. For a few hours the quintessentially English country house had played host to the very best in Italian motor cars - an excellent combination.
GOODMAN DERRICK LLP is an established London law firm with a broadly based commercial practice, representing both UK and international clients. The firm has 21 partners and a total complement of 90 staff including 40 practising lawyers. The firm has an acknowledged expertise in the areas of media law, corporate & commercial law, litigation, property, employment and private client matters, not forgetting historic cars.