The London Concours sees a host of interesting and exotic cars come to London every year.
Taking place in an oasis of green near the centre of London’s financial district in the gardens of the Honourable Artillery Company, Autocar paid a visit to take in the sights, sounds, and amazing cars on display. Autocar has driven nearly all these cars at one stage or another, so we give our verdicts along the way: PHOTOS: Autocar’s Stan Papior
1990 Ferrari F40
Ferrari often takes pride of place at any event like this, and the F40 is one of its true greats. Developed to celebrate 40 years of Ferrari in 1987, 1311 were produced up to 1992. It was the last car directed by founder Enzo Ferrari, who died in August 1988.
Blisteringly fast with a twin-turbo V8, good for 478hp and 425lb ft of torque, the car was capable of over 200mph – not too shabby for 30 years ago.
We drove it for the first time in May 1988: “On a smooth road it is a scintillatingly fast car that is docile and charming in its nature; a car that is demanding but not difficult to drive, blessed as it is with massive grip and, even more importantly, superb balance and manners. You can use its performance, the closest any production car maker has yet come to race car levels, and revel in it.”
1973 BMW 3.0 CSL Batmobile
From the 1960s to the 1980s, the European Touring car championship was the premier tin top series in the world. And from 1973 to 1979 the Bat won all but one of them. Enough said.
1911 Fiat S76
This car – nicknamed “the beast from Turin” – was built specially to break the land speed record. It features a 28-litre 4-cylinder engine, capable of producing 300bhp. Despite achieving 132mph, it just missed out on the record on technical grounds on a run at Ostende in December 1913, and shortly after that everyone had other things on their minds. It ended up in the UK in 2003 and was rebuilt.
1965 Ferrari 275 GTS
Much rarer than the 275 GTB on which it’s based, but less beautiful too, just 200 examples of the 275 GTS were produced. Of these, 14 were right-hand drive.
1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic
The V8-powered 8V was only built for two years and was not a great success, with 114 made across a number of bodystyles. This Supersonic version was named for its aircraft-inspired design influences, styled by Ghia. Only a handful survive and are extremely valuable; an unrestored example sold in 2011 for US$1.55 million.
1960 Austin A35 van
Produced from 1956 to 1968, the A35 van was a workhorse of post-war Britain. Formula One champion James Hunt adored his one, saying that its combination of rear drive, skinny tires and light back end gave him unparalleled driving joy.
This one worked for Britain's RAC breakdown organisation. Oh to be rescued by one of these today.
1968 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500
Built in only 1967 and 1968, this car featured a 7.0-litre Cobra Jet V8.
1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB Berlinetta ‘Comp ’61 Sefac Hot Rod’
This racing derivative is seen as the Ultimate Development of the SWB Berlinetta – it features a 3.0-litre V12 delivering 280bhp. Only 20 were ever built, and one example sold at auction in 2010 for US$6.1 million.
This particular one – chassis #2735 – is the only right hand drive version and was shared by Stirling Moss and Graham Hill at the 1961 Le Mans 24 hours.
2015 Ferrari LaFerrari
In this exalted company, this LaFerrari hypercar looks almost everday. This example gets our thumbs up on the interest factor for for being in a far-from-Ferrari-usual dark blue.
We drove this car for the first time in 2013: “LaFerrari is a more than worthy successor to the Enzo. Indeed, it makes the old-timer feel gruesomely under-achieving in most respects, and is also a much easier, far sweeter car to drive in the process… Be in no doubt; LaFerrari is a true masterpiece from Maranello.”
2011 Aston Martin One-77
This car was first unveiled at the 2008 Paris motor show, just as the world’s economy had stepped off a cliff. Just 77 were produced, and the car was never officially driven by the press. Its 7.3-litre V12 developed 750hp and the car was good for 220mph.
We did get a ride in one back in 2012: “The noise is dominant; the ride is always at least firm. Your handling of the car must always be dominant, never apologetic. I had expected this Aston to be a classic old gentleman’s GT, hugely potent but, above all, polite and refined. But this is not the case. The Aston One-77 is raw. It is made for delivering ultimate performance in the front-mid-engined mould. It is a driving challenge, never a pushover. My respect for squillionaires – or at least for 77 of them – has just gone up.”
1964 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale
This car features a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with Weber 40 DCOE2 carburetors, delivering 112 hp and a top speed of 120mph. 1400 were produced up to 1966.
2018 TVR Griffith
Nice to see the upcoming Griffith get an outing at the London Concours. The car features a Ford V8 good for 493bhp and a claimed top speed over 200mph. Just 500 will be built, cost is around £90,000, and deliveries begin in early 2019. We can’t wait to have a drive.
1969 Lamborghini Miura S
The Miura was a revolutionary car; it featured a transverse V12 mounted in a steel spaceframe with fully independent suspension. Race car technology, at a time when most supercars had front-mounted engines that usually drove crude old live back axles.
The S version, also known as P400S, first appeared in 1968 and boosted the Miura’s 3.9-litre V12 by 20bhp up to around 370bhp. But despite the name perhaps, this version was more about creature comforts – power windows were standard, and air-conditioning was an option. 338 P400Ss were built, 44% of total Miura production.
1995 McLaren F1
Autocar conducted the world’s only formal road test of the F1. Featuring a 6-litre V12, its top speed of 240mph sounds amazing now, but back in 1992 when the car first appeared it was a stunning achievement. 106 cars were made in total, and all are now extremely valuable.
Our verdict: “To drive it safely on British roads, with consideration to other road users, requires considerable mental discipline… We are however convinced that the F1 will be remembered as one of the great events in the history of the car, one to rival the launch of the Mini and Jaguar E-type.”
1970 De Tomaso Mangusta
Styled by Giugiaro, the Mangusta featured a mid-mounted 306bhp Ford 289 V8. Not very well received in its day due to dubious handling and other shortcomings, it’s undeniably stunning to look at.
1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT
Made in limited numbers for four years, the GT was a short-wheelbase DB4 intended for competition use. It was also more powerful than the regular DB4 (302bhp instead of 240bhp) and featured just two seats. As many as 81 were made, despite a £4535 price in 1959 - or around £100,000 and US$130,000 in today's money.
1978 Lincoln Continental
This is not for shy and retiring types. This car gets the thumbs up nonetheless for being a glorious symbol of opulent ‘70s Americana.
1959 Fiat-Abarth 750GT ‘double Bubble’ Zagato
This car might only be fitted with a 48 hp, 767 cc engine, but its light weight ensured an involving drive tuned up by Carlo Abarth, and a very decent 95mph top speed.
RAC BMW Isetta
Another RAC rescue vehicle, this time from a microcar. Cash-strapped Europe was desperate for transportation after the war and cars like this were the answer. BMW turned its hand to microcars like this accordingly.
The arrival of cheap small cars like the Mini signalled the end of the microcar era, but sales of this machine – 161,360 units – got BMW through an existential crisis, and the company turned to production of larger cars - with some success we might add...
1978 Ferrari 512 BB
With a figure of 188mph, Ferrari claimed that the Berlinetta Boxer was the world’s fastest car; unfortunately in our independent testing in May 1978 we never managed more than 163mph.
As we reported at the time, “If the ultimate top-end performance is not within the Berlinetta Boxer’s grasp, it is more than compensated for by its flexibility. Snap open the throttle from 2000rpm upwards in any gear and the car surges forward. Ferrari has done a magnificent job but it would be nice to be able to say, if only for the Guinness Book of Records, that the Boxer truly is the fastest production car in the world.”
2006 Ford GT Avro 720 Mirage
The Ford GT of 2003 was developed to celebrate the Ford Motor Company’s centenary. The regular car made do with 550bhp, but this 10-off special edition offered 720bhp. We drove one back in 2008.
We concluded that it was “Ludicrously, absurdly fast, but not unbearable or un-driveable. In fact, the regular GT’s character is very much intact…. it’s a pretty fabulous car.”
1967 Porsche 911S
Surely the most elegant car of the show? Immaculately presented in Irish green with Fuchs alloys, this car looks as good today as when it emerged from the factory in Stuttgart, 51 years ago. Less is more.
1950 Jaguar XK120 OTS
The XK was shown to the world at the 1948 Earl’s Court motor show, a symbol of the company getting back in the saddle after the war. The ‘120’ is a nod to its 120mph top speed, making it the world’s fastest production car at the time.
Motor magazine – a predecessor of Autocar today – managed to crack 125mph in the coupe version in 1949. This open top derivative was aimed at the US market, and 12,055 were made across all versions until 1955.