Launched three years ago in Le Mans, the Classic Grand Tour brings together some of the most desirable classic cars with some of the most glamorous modern supercars. Based at the Le Mans Country Club, a chateau at Yvre-l’Eveque near Le Mans, it’s nirvana for any petrolhead as it offers a combination of static displays with day-long tours that take in fabulous chateaux and great driving roads in the Pays de la Loire region.
There were some wonderful cars taking part, and these are the highlights:
Lamborghini 400GT 2+2
Our steed for the weekend was this rather luscious 400 GT 2+2. Carrying chassis #1, it’s usually in Lamborghini’s museum in Sant’Agata.
Lamborghini 400GT 2+2
Powered by a 3929cc V12 fed by six twin-choke Webers, the 400GT 2+2 made its debut at the 1966 Geneva motor show. Just 224 examples of the 400GT were made before it was replaced by the Islero.
Lamborghini brought along half a dozen cars for the weekend, including the oldest surviving Miura, seen in the foreground here. It’s chassis #2 and was driven over the weekend in the road run.
Porsche tractor & 550RS
The weekend started on the Friday with static displays and a concours. One of the stars of both was this restored Porsche tractor which towed a genuine 550RS Spider onto the promenade.
As Porsche celebrated its 70th birthday on the opening day of the event, there were more examples of the marque there than any other – including this early 911, a 944 Turbo and the latest Cayman.
At any top-level concours there has to be at least one ‘Gullwing’ Mercedes 300SL. At this one there was this delicious pale blue example that used to be owned by Paul Newman.
Porsche 914-6 and 356
This 914-6 was one of the more unusual Porsches that took part in the weekend...
Porsche 911 flatnose
...while this flat-nose 911 is another rarity that has become very collectible in recent years.
Model T ice cream van
OK, so it’s not really a van, but this Ford Model T still provided attendees with an ultra-cool destination to buy their ice creams, which sold like, er, hot cakes, thanks to the sweltering weather.
Cars for sale
A few dealers were on hand to sell some rather desirable classics in some not-so-desirable colour schemes. Alongside this pearlescent white Gallardo was a Rolls-Royce Corniche with a white roof, bodywork and interior for that ultra-eighties look.
Cars for sale 2
Behind the Gallardo and Corniche were some altogether more lustworthy classics including an early glassfibre-bodied 308GTB and a 246GT Dino from Ferrari.
There were all sorts of traders present, many of which used classic cars to drum up interest. A Porsche 917 was used to lure showgoers onto a stand promoting a forthcoming exhibition.
We spotted one of the new Alpine A110s over the weekend but this was one of the originals – a 2+2 edition called the GT4, which was also on a trader’s stand.
Whereas most of the cars present were polished to within an inch of their life, this Dodge Dart was overflowing with patina – and looked all the better for it.
The Dodge wasn’t the only American car taking part but it was one of just a handful, as virtually everything hailed from Europe. Not this Ford Thunderbird though.
Bridging the gap between modern and classic was this fully liveried Morgan Three-Wheeler which constantly had a crowd around it.
This trio of Citroen SMs was utterly captivating, each one vying for a place on our list of cars that we’d most like to take home.
The joy of going to events like the Classic Grand Tour is exploring the public car park, which always elicits a few rarities. This Autobianchi A112 was lurking in one corner of the car park.
Renault 4CV and R5
Also parked among the moderns were these two legends of French family motoring – the 4CV and R5, both of which sold in huge numbers.
Peugeot 403 cabriolet
Some cars didn’t take part in the event but managed to sneak in rather than use the public car park. Among them was this fabulous Peugeot 403 cabriolet, just like the one driven by TV cop Columbo.
Another interloper was this Jaguar S-Type in top-level 3.8 S spec and finished in a very unusual pale green with black roof.
Very rare in France and pretty much unheard of in the UK, this Alpine A108 was the precursor to the A110. Production started in 1958, just three years after Alpine was set up.
The French love MG Rover products but you won’t see many TFs on the roads. This one was clearly cherished – but much more interesting is the ultra-rare Facel Vega Facel III that sits behind the MG.
Facel Vega Facel III
Looking like a shrunken Mercedes ‘Pagoda’ SL, the Facel III was the successor to the disastrous Facellia. Intended to be Facel Vega’s volume sports car, the Facellia featured an in-house engine which was horrifically unreliable; the Facel III used a much tougher 1.8-litre Volvo unit instead.
Facel Vega Facel II
The Facel III was one of two Facel Vegas taking part in the Classic Grand Tour – this Facel II was also there. Around 180 were built, each powered by a Chrysler V8 that displaced 6.3 or 6.7 litres.
Alfa Romeo Montreal
Providing a slice of 1970s heaven were this bright orange Alfa Romeo Montreal and copper-coloured Daimler Double-Six. The latter was completely original aside from a fresh coat of paint a few years ago.
Maserati isn’t unusual in having gone from sensuous curves to a much more aggressive look. This is how the Italian company used to do things – in the background is the Bora and in front is a Ghibli.
Mercedes 220 S cabriolet
Raphael de Serres brought his family’s 1959 220 S cabriolet which has been in the family for 25 years. Completely original, it’s powered by a 2.2-litre straight-six which provides a surprising turn of speed.
Looking fantastically period with its copper finish and yellow headlights, Xavier Denis brought his 1974 Daimler Double-Six. He’d intended to bring his Daimler SP250 instead, but there was the small matter of an engine rebuild to take care of first.
Although the focus of the event was classic cars, there was also a smattering of more recent supercars too, including this McLaren 720S.
If you’re a fan of the Ford GT there was a treat for you with not just one of the original models taking part, but also one of the new cars, still rarely seen out of captivity.
One family brought over a pair of Bugatti Veyrons as well as a Ferrari Enzo. They left their Chiron at home and it’s rumoured they’ve got another two Enzos as well...
If pre-war cars are more your thing, you’d have been all over the (L to R) Bentley Embiricos recreation, Lagonda tourer and saloon, Lorraine-Dietrich Coupé Sport and Delahaye 135.
There were road runs on the Saturday and Sunday which gave all owners the chance to exercise their cars. Each one was waved off from the chateau that serves as the base for the Le Mans Country Club; this is a Delahaye 135.
Aston Martin DB2
More than 100 miles were racked up on the first day, mainly taking in fabulous French countryside. One of the cars taking part was this Aston Martin DB2.
Porsche 356 and 911
There was a big contingent of Porsches taking part, including this delightful pair; a 356 and an early 1970s 911.
Horch meets Diablo
Showing just how varied the cars are that take part in the Classic Grand Tour, at one of the coffee stops a 1932 Horch 780 tries to squeeze past a Lamborghini Diablo.
There were plenty of coffee stops to make sure the cars didn’t overheat, along with the drivers. Here a brace of Ferraris bask in the sunshine on the first day.
Supercars through the ages.
The same destination as before, this is another line of participants including a genuine Porsche 550RS, Mercedes 300SL, Ford GT and a trio of Lamborghini Huracans.
On the road
The two road runs took in some of the most scenic roads in the Sarthe region. Here a Mercedes Adenauer chases a Horch 780; two fabulously rare and desirable German classics.
Everybody who took part in the weekend also joined in the road run on the Saturday, including these supercar owners who came from all over Europe.
Throughout each day there were plenty of check points on each road run to make sure everybody was on track – and to present an opportunity for local enthusiasts to turn up with their classics.
Some of the classics spotted at these check points include this Citroen LN, now all but extinct in the UK.
One car that never made it to the UK at all was the Renault Rodeo, although the Panhard CT behind was available here. Not many were sold though.
The first Alpine to be sold in the UK was the GTA, although it was badged as a Renault – which is why it didn’t sell in huge numbers. This left-hand drive car wears Renault badges for some reason.
Blending design elements of a hotch-potch of classics including the Facel Vega, Trabant, and there’s even a bit of Peugeot in there, is this Simca Aronde coupé. Notice the all-white Golf GTi cabriolet behind – a true slice of eighties heaven.
Fiat Dino Spider
This Fiat Dino Spider crept up behind us in a queue for one of the check points. It was nothing to do with the event but its owner turned up to say hello. This was just before the heavens opened and we had a thunderstorm of biblical proportions; the Fiat’s roof went up in double-quick time...
Hotel de France
Located in Chartre sur le Loir, the Hotel de France is inextricably linked with the Le Mans 24 Hours. First used in the 1950s as a bolt hole during race weekend, the hotel has been used by Porsche, Ferrari, Triumph, Ford and Aston Martin among others. It provided us with a coffee break on the second day of the tour.
Having refuelled ourselves at the Hotel de France we then topped up the tank of the 400GT, only for this Ferrari Daytona to blast by, followed by a Lancia Flaminia cabriolet. They appeared from nowhere then disappeared, never to be seen again.