Describing Salon Privé as a 'British supercar' event undersells it somewhat. It’s a gathering of some of the greatest motoring achievements around the globe from the past and present, and this year the cars will get an appropriately glamorous backdrop at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
During the media preview day, 10 show cars were on display to whet the appetite of the public ahead of the event on 3-5 September, and it was difficult to know where to look.
The incredible array of motors threw together some of the hottest hypercars on the planet - the Porsche 918, LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and the Koenigsegg One:1 - with some timeless wonders such as the Bentley Speed Six (Old Number Three) and the Lamborghini Countach 5000s.
However, one particular car caught my eye. Among the maze of pure, unadulterated motoring deliciousness was a pristine red Ferrari 308 GTB from 1977 that’s set to run in the Speed & Style event at Salon Privé later this year. It had plenty of onlookers drooling at the mouth and, luckily enough, I was offered a ride around the Palace grounds with its owner, Richard Green.
It’s a beautiful thing that's as nice to sit in as it is to gawp at. The hallmarks of quintessential Ferrari design are found everywhere you look, and elegance oozes from every panel.
The heavens had opened during the morning but, as if on cue, when we hit the road in the afternoon the Ferrari sailed around the grounds in glorious sunshine, and it was fascinating to hear about the car’s history from its proud owner.
The 308 GTB we sat in was an early 1977 steel body, dry sump model with the higher power output of 255bhp, as opposed to later versions of the car which dropped to 215bhp. When first produced, around 300 GTBs were manufactured from glassfibre but Ferrari simply couldn’t produce them quick enough to match the demand and so, when it constructed a steel mould model - like Richard's example - they sold like hot cakes.
Few examples around today can claim to be as immaculate as Richard's, though. Originally purchased by an Italian Fiat dealership, this 308 GTB was only used occasionally for holidays and wasn’t registered in Italy until the mid-1990s and, because of its sedate existence for almost 40 years, its odometer displays a staggeringly low 14,500km.
Richard imported the car from Belgium last year and handed it over to the much-praised Ian Barkaway, the Kent-based Ferrari restoration specialist, who claimed it was the best condition and most original 308 he’d ever seen. The work carried out included a new clutch and a complete respray to change the car's original silver into the red it wears today.
The ride around the palace was beautifully smooth, and the V8's guttural growl sounded as fresh as if it had just rolled out of the factory in 1977, so it was pleasing to hear that selling this Ferrari is far from Richard’s mind. He doesn’t want to let it gather dust in a garage, either, and intends to drive it regularly, which is admirable considering the temptation to keep the mileage low.
It's a stunning car fit for a stunning venue, and it's well worth a look if you're at Blenheim Palace come show time in September.