Windsor Castle Concours: The 60 finest cars in the world?

You had to be there, really. But in case you weren't, we have produced a video of the glorious, one-off event that was the 2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance.

The Steering Committee of the event that was held as part of HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year had a simple task: invite 60 of the best cars in the world to a concours celebrating six decades of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

When displayed on the immaculate lawn of the Quadrangle of the Upper Ward of Windsor Castle, each entry – whatever your personal preference – was stunning. In keeping with the spirit of the concours, there was no judging panel. Best in Show was awarded after a ballot of all entrants for the car they would ‘most like to drive home in’.

The vote went in favour of Jon Shirley from America, for his 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta, already a multiple award-winner – including Pebble Beach and Villa d’Este – and a past competitor in the Mille Miglia retrospective.

Windsor Castle Concours: The 60 finest cars in the world?
Windsor Castle Concours: The 60 finest cars in the world? Windsor Castle Concours: The 60 finest cars in the world?

With the exception of Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, few marques were represented by more than one or two cars. You could, however, guarantee that every single one was quite extraordinary: the ‘best of the best’.

For visitors who have yet to travel to Pebble Beach or Villa d’Este, the sight of four Alfa Romeo 8Cs (including the blue, 1934 Le Mans-winning car of Craig McCaw), together with David Sydorick’s 1956 Ferrari 250GT Zagato Berlinetta and the 1938 Bentley 4¼ Litre ‘Embiricos’ Coupé of Arturo Keller, must have been a revelation.

And, although it was featured at the Goodwood Festival of Speed Cartier Style et Luxe concours only a few years ago, the presence of a Bugatti Royale is always something special. The 1931 Type 41 Royale 'Kellner' Coupé has, arguably, the finest proportions of them all and looked just ‘right’, set well back on the lawn to allow onlookers an unimpeded view of the stately coupé, all six and a half metres of it.

Will there be another? ‘Never say never’ rarely goes with ‘best of the best’, and our view is that it’s always better to leave them wanting more. An old show business saying, perhaps - but one as relevant to the world of concours as it is to that of cabaret.

Windsor Castle Concours: The 60 finest cars in the world?

The Cars:
ST GEORGE'S CLASS - PIONEERING AUTOMOBILES
1896 Panhard et Levassor Private Omnibus
1904 Lenawee Rear-Entrance Touring Tonneau
1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost London-Edinburgh Tourer
1914 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy
1918 Straker-Squire X/2 Prototype

THAMES CLASS - GRAND CARRIAGES
1924 Vauxhall 30-98 Type OE Boattail Wensum Tourer
1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Barker Open Tourer
1930 Bentley Gurney-Nutting Speed Six Tourer
1930 Bentley Speed Six H.J.Mulliner Saloon
1931 Bentley 4½ Litre Supercharged ‘Blower Bentley’
1935 Avions Voisin C-25 Berline Aérodyne

FROGMORE CLASS - ARISTOCRATIC BEHEMOTHS
1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Jonckheere Coupé
1931 Daimler Double-Six 50 Sport Corsica Drophead Coupé
1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale 'Kellner' Coupé
1932 Bentley 8 Litre Tourer
1933 Duesenberg Model SJ Beverly Berline by Murphy
1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Gurney Nutting Sedanca Drophead Coupé
1958 Bentley Continental S Type H J Mulliner

BRUNSWICK CLASS - PRE-WAR SPORTING HERITAGE
1928 Mercedes-Benz SSK Corsica Drophead Coupé
1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Zagato Spider
1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 LM Spyder Le Mans
1935 Frazer Nash Twin Supercharged ‘Shelsley’

WINCHESTER CLASS - GRAND TOURERS OF THE 30s
1932 Cadillac V-16 Fisher Convertible Coupe
1933 Delage D8S de Villars Roadster
1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Corto Touring Spider
1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta
1938 Delahaye V12 Type 145
1938 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante

CHANCELLOR'S CLASS - MAGNIFICENT MACHINES
1936 Mercedes-Benz 500k Special Roadster
1937 Bentley 4¼ Litre Vesters & Neirinck Fixed Head Coupé
1938 Bentley 4¼ Litre ‘Embiricos’ Pourtout Coupé
1939 Horch 853A Cabriolet

SAXON CLASS - THE THRILLING THIRTIES
1935 Squire 1500 Markham Roadster Short Chassis ‘Skimpy’
1936 Delahaye 135S
1937 Lagonda LG45 Rapide Tourer
1939 SS100 Jaguar
1939 AC 16/90

CONSORT CLASS - LEGENDS OF STYLE
1947 Bristol 400 Pinin Farina Drophead
1950 Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta 0064M
1953 Fiat 8V Ghia Supersonic
1953 Maserati A6GCS Pinin Farina Berlinetta
1955 Lancia Aurelia B24 Pinin Farina Spider
1956 Ferrari 250GT Zagato Berlinetta 0515GT

GUNNERS' CLASS - BUILT TO WIN
1953 Jaguar XK ‘C Type’ 053 Lightweight
1954 Austin-Healey ‘Works’ 100S
1955 Porsche 550 Spyder
1956 Ferrari 290 MM Scaglietti Spider 0626
1956 Aston Martin DB3S/9
1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa TR58 Scaglietti 0704TR
1959 Maserati Tipo 60 ‘Birdcage’

ENSIGN CLASS - SPORTING THOROUGHBREDS
1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé ‘Gullwing’
1957 Jaguar XKSS
1957 BMW 507
1961 Jaguar E-Type Roadster ‘77 RW’
1963 AC Cobra 289
1963 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato Berlinetta

LANCASTER CLASS - MYTHICAL MASTERPIECES
1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta 3037GT
1963 Ferrari 250 GTO Series 1 4219GT
1968 Ford GT40 MKIII
1972 Lamborghini Miura SV

The Motorcycles:

KNIGHTS’ CLASS - HISTORIC MOTOR CYCLES
1927 Scott ‘Works’ TT
1948 Vincent Black Shadow ‘John Edgar Lightning’
1954 Norton 500 GP F-Type Experimental Prototype
1954 BMW 500 Rennsport
1966 Triumph Tiger 100
1988 Ducati 851 SBK ‘Raymond Roche’

Photos: Jan Baedeker
Video: Simon Clay

The Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance: www.concoursofelegance.co.uk

You can find a plethora of beautiful classic and modern cars for sale in the Classic Driver Market.