The ever-popular Footman James Concours d’Elegance will return once again to the Chateau Impney Hill Climb, but this year with a twist! This year’s theme for the Concours will be the Best of British! Alongside the public vote, we will also be inviting a professional judge to judge the winner. We are putting together our invitation list and have been reflecting about the rich history of the British motor industry, and some of the greatest cars produced. Let us know what your Best of British car is, and what you would like to see at the Chateau in 2018!
Aston Martin is one of the most well-known British manufacturers of luxury sports cars, having been founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. The publics association of Aston Martin with the more expensive touring cars of its range started in the 1950s and 1960s, after another staple of British culture, James Bond, used a DB5 in the film Goldfinger. The DB series is named in honour of the President of Aston Martin between 1947 and 1972, David Brown.
Another hugely iconic car produced by Aston Martin was the 1977 V8 Vantage, which was the first Supercar in Britain. The car could reach speeds of 170 mph and managed an impressive 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds, an unprecedented feat in 1977.
Aston Martin’s are still predominantly built in Gaydon, Warwickshire, not too far from us here at the Chateau Impney!
The name Bentley Motors Limited is immediately synonymous with the production of extremely luxurious cars, such as the Bentley Mulsanne. However, Bentley also have manufactured very successful racing cars, including the innovative Bentley Speed Six built in 1928. This car began its life as a Bentley 6 ½ Litre, but with some modifications including a high-performance engine, the Speed Six was born, and went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1929. These are now incredibly rare, and in earlier this year a 1930 Speed Six Le Mans Replica Tourer fetched $1,457,500 at auctions at Bonhams.
Another James Bond favourite here, the Bentley Mark IV was bought by the Ian Fleming character at the end of Moonraker in 1979. This car was Bentley’s first post-war luxury car and was produced between 1946 to 1952. It featured an all steel body, suicide doors, and just from looking at it, it is immediately obvious why the British spy chose this iconic British car.
Jaguar Cars is a company that has gone through many name changes since its birth in 1935, having started off life as a motorcycle sidecar company called Swallow Sidecar Company, or S.S. Cars. While many of the cars featured the name Jaguar, it did not actually become the brand name until 1945. Jaguar released the E Type Series 1 in 1961, and the car quickly cemented itself as an iconic image of the 1960’s, as a symbol of more promising and light-hearted times to come, following the lingering black cloud of the Second World War.
The E Type also earned Jaguar one of the most glowing reviews it has ever received from Enzo Ferrari, the eponymous founder of Ferrari. He described the Series 1 as ‘the most beautiful car he’d ever seen’! In comparison, Sir William Lyons, founder of Jaguar, considered it to be a rather ugly car, and didn’t expect it to sell well. He would probably be rather pleased to discover that it is still one of the most iconic cars of all time, and firmly deserves its place as one of the Chateau Impney Hill Climb Team’s Best of British.
The ownership of Jaguar has changed hands many times in its history, but in 2013 it was merged with Land Rover to form Jaguar Land Rover. Jaguar Land Rover is currently owned by Tata, an Indian company, and while production is now worldwide, a large portion of it is based right here in the Midlands.
Now we come to perhaps one of the most recognisable names in British car production; Rolls Royce. The Rolls Royce brand is so synonymous with luxury that it has become a byword for anything that is a little bit lavish or opulent, and is often used to describe the best of the best. It seems only fitting that Rolls Royce were the producers of what was described as the best car in the world as early as 1907 by Autocar. The car that earned this title was the Silver Ghost, which was produced between 1906 and 1926. Many of these are still in perfect working order, proving that Autocar knew what they were talking about! The name Silver Ghost was derived not only from the colour, but also from the unusually silent engine, offering an extra level of comfort. Interestingly, the chassis and engine were also used during the First World War in Rolls Royce Armoured Cars. It is now considered one of the most valuable cars in the world.
Another iconic car manufactured by Rolls Royce would have to be the Silver Wraith. This was the first post war car manufactured by the company. The size was slightly smaller than some of the previous models produced by Rolls Royce, and the shorter chassis length is reported to have been chosen to reflect the austerity of the post war period. The car was produced between 1946 and 1959. The car has the status of being used by numerous heads of state, such as the Brazilian Presidential Ceremonial State Car, the Royal Dutch State Limousine and the Irish Presidential State Car. Perhaps even more importantly, this is another iconic British car used by the spy James Bond, specifically in the 1963 film From Russia With Love, and again in the 2015 film Spectre.
We are really excited for the Best of British theme at the Footman James Concours d’Elegance at the Chateau Impney Hill Climb 2018, and we will soon be announcing which cars will be joining us! Let us know if we’ve missed your favourite off this list, and what car you would like to see this summer! You can get in touch via our social media channels which you can find below.
The Chateau Impney Hill Climb 2018 will be held on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 July, you can buy your tickets here.