Chelsea AutoLegends 2010 – Review

What a great day out. For a first event, the all-Sunday extravaganza by the bank of the Thames was an outstanding success.

Over 5000 visitors enjoyed (mainly) good weather and a genuinely impressive line-up of cars. The main theme was ‘Le Mans’, so the lynchpin of the event was an avenue of cars which had entered the famous 24 Hours race.

Why hadn’t anyone thought of this before? The Royal Hospital, Chelsea’s grounds proved the perfect location for a Sunday stroll through some superb machinery. I counted at least three Ferrari 250 GT SWBs – and these weren’t even in the main display, the ‘Pit Straight’.

In ‘the pits’ you could see a diverse range of racing cars from the history of Le Mans which included several grass-green Talbots, a variety of Porsches including a Rothmans-liveried 962, many Ferrari GTs and prototypes, and more than one Gulf-liveried veteran of the Vingt-Quatre Heures.

You could also admire the Ecurie Ecosse transporter, complete with Tojeiro-Buick coupé and an ex-Scuderia Ferrari transporter. In the ‘Esses’, ‘Porsche Curves’, ‘Tertre Rouge’ and ‘Indianapolis’, the organisers had laid out a display, by marque, of some pretty interesting privately owned modern and classic cars. In addition, London main agent H.R. Owen was showing examples of Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini and Alfa Romeo supercars.

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They were joined by Classic Driver dealers Fiskens, Aston Sales Kensington, Desmond J. Smail, JD Classics, Graeme Hunt, Frank Dale and Hexagon Classics.

Celebrity car enthusiasts Jay Kay and James Martin (above) could be seen behind the wheel of the latter’s 1953 Jaguar XK120 FHC, while JD’s Derek Hood was very pleased with whole event:

“I’ve sold two cars already!” said the Maldon-based Jaguar specialist, fresh from his successes on the track, concours lawn and saleroom at Pebble Beach.

In fact, come one o'clock, I’d bumped into just about everybody who’s anybody on the London car scene.

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Auction house Bonhams had the 1952 Jaguar C-type it will sell at its forthcoming Goodwood Revival sale on display. The Bonhams team was also in charge of charity auctions, which contributed more than £11,000 to the Royal Hospital, Chelsea Long Ward modernisation programme.

As promised, several personalities were on hand for autographs and to exchange reminiscences with stage host Simon Taylor. Sir Stirling Moss (a regular competitor at Le Mans – often the pace-setter but never a victor) was joined by winners Derek Bell and Richard Attwood, and veteran privateer David Piper.

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For an oh-so-modest admission price of £15.00 (for adults - accompanied under-16s were admitted free) you got an awful lot for your money, so it’s well worth putting Sunday, 4 September 2011 in your diary, as this is the date slated for next year’s event.

For further information, see www.chelseaautolegends.com.

Postscript: It didn’t cost me £15.00. No, it ended up considerably more than that, as I bought a framed photographic print (250 GTs in the Pyrenees on the 1960 Tour de France, if you must know) from the excellent Jarrotts, one of many quality trade stands at this year’s Chelsea AutoLegends. Separating your Editor from his hard-earned: truly, the sign of a good event.

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Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Classic Driver - all strictly copyright


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