The best of Salon Prive 2021: our pick of the field at exclusive concourse event
Everyone loves a supercar; they’re the manifestation of coloured pages torn out of magazines and stuck to the bedroom wall as we were growing up. Now of course, we not only have supercars, but 1,900bhp hypercars. Combine those with a collection of some of the rarest and most valuable cars in the world, park them on the South Lawn of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, and you have one of the automotive highlights of the year, Salon Prive.
And to mark the 16th consecutive event, not only did the day include model debuts from some of the world’s leading manufacturers, and rally legend Colin McRae’s iconic Subaru Impreza WRC cars, but the organisers unveiled a unique gathering of iconic models under the veil of The Red Collection. More on that later.
But first, to the new unveilings. Alpine lifted the wraps from its A110 Legende GT. Powered by a mid-engined four-cylinder 1.8 turbo, delivering 292bhp, it’ll cover 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds, and carry on to max of 155mph. Price? From £61.555. It’s also limited to 300 units worldwide,
Next up, and raising the price tag significantly, McLaren, which took the opportunity to unveil three new models; the windscreen-equipped variant of the company’s open-top Elva, the Artura and the 765LT Spider. The Artura is a high-performance hybrid supercar powered by a twin-turbo 3.0 litre V6, assisted by a compact 94bhp axial flux E-motor.
Combined they deliver 671bhp and 531lb ft, which results in a 0-124mph time of 8.3 seconds and a top speed of 205mph. Handy also to know that it’s capable of driving in electric-only mode for around 18 miles. Price: from £185,500.
The Elva, meanwhile, is one of McLaren’s rarest cars. Powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 with 804bhp with 590lb ft of torque, it’s the lightest McLaren road car ever made. Power is sent to the rear wheels, and McLaren says it’s capable of 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, with 0-124mph in 6.7 seconds. It’ll also set you back a whopping £1,425,000 (including UK VAT).
The 765LT Spider meanwhile — with its carbon fibre chassis, and the company’s latest Longtail following last year’s fully-sold-out 765LT Coupe — has an electrically-operated one-piece retractable hard top that lowers in just 11 seconds. With 755bhp on tap, it covers 0-124mph in 7.2 seconds and has a top speed of 205mph.
And while Land Rover gave a global debut to its Range Rover Sport SVR Ultimate Edition, boasting exclusive colour combinations and detailing, it was the new supercars and hypercars which really grabbed the attention.
Italian coachbuilder Touring Superleggera marked its 95th anniversary with the Arese RH95, a mid-engined, carbonfibre-bodied supercar with a 710bhp Ferrari V8. The Turin carmaker’s first mid-engined model, it has a claimed 0-62mph time of three seconds and a top speed of 211mph.
Price? Well, I guess in this instance it’s a case of “if you need to ask, you can’t afford it”. Touring plans to make just 18 Areses, and buyers can supply their own donor car. Each takes six months to complete.
My personal favourite, though, was from another luxury Italian carmaker, this time Automobilia Pininfarina. Making its UK debut, the Battista Anniversario is a 1,873bhp all-electric hypercar and is the most powerful road-legal car ever to come out of Italy.
Power is sent to all four 21-inch aluminium wheels, and performance is eye-watering. How about 0-62mph in under two seconds; 0-186mph in under 12 seconds, and a top speed of 217mph?
Oh! It also has an all-electric range of more than 300 miles, plus it can be recharged to 80 per cent in just 25 minutes.
Price? Just €2.6 million. But there’s one big problem. Just five will be built … and they’ve all been sold.
But if you really need an all-electric hypercar, there was more to choose from. Seen for the first time in the UK, the Automobili Estrema Fulminea is the first car in the world to use an innovative ‘hybrid’ battery pack combining Li-ion cells with solid-state electrolyte and ultracapacitors.
It was joined on the lawn by the fully electric Hispano-Suiza Carmen. Designed, developed and built in Barcelona, the Carmen marks a return to car production for one of the oldest and most prestigious names in automotive history.
UK-based Everrati generated a huge amount of attention with its iconic Gulf-liveried, all-electric Porsche 911. The Porsche Gulf Signature Edition features carbonfibre body elements and a state-of-the-art EV powertrain.
Based on a fully-restored and redefined Porsche 911 964, it can deliver an emission-free driving range of more than 180 miles and covers 0-62mph in under 4 seconds. The EV powertrain, which has its power delivery optimised specifically for the Gulf Signature Edition, is coupled to a 53kWh battery pack and advanced battery management system.
Sending 500bhp to the rear wheels, the new Porsche Gulf Signature Edition has more than double the power output of an original 1990s Porsche 964.
But while some Porsche aficionados were left scratching their heads in quiet disbelief that someone had created an all-electric wide-bodied 964, they consoled themselves by visiting The Red Collection which included a lovely Porsche 904 Carrera GTS.
Bought new in April 1964 by Swiss entrepreneur and racing team patron Georges Filipinettii, it has a well-documented competition history including the 1,000kms at the Nurburgring and the Le Mans 24-Hours.
It’s difficult to put a value on the 12 cars in The Red Collection — which was actually showcased on the Duke of Marlborough’s hallowed cricket pitch, complete with markings, on the South Lawn — but suffice to say many tens of millions of pounds.
In addition to the 904 Carrera GTS, there was also a 1949 Mille Miglia-winning Ferrari 166 MM; a Scuderia Ferrari-registered Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Spider by Zagato; a McLaren F1; a Pagani Hurray Roadster; one of only 10 factory Ferrari 275 GTB Clienti Competitizione, this one being only one of three right-hand drive models; a Mercedes 300 SL Coupe Gullwing; a Ferrari F40 and a Ferrari 250 GTO.
The achievement by the organisers, led by David and Andrew Bagley, to curate such a gathering of positively mind-blowing motors to appear in one place should be applauded. It allowed such a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with rare, priceless models which normally would be shielded by significantly-sized security guards.
There is something exceptionally special about Salon Prive. It allows a glimpse into the rarefied existence of the men and women who not only own, but drive these blindingly expensive cars.
Look closely through the car windows, and you see dusters and cloths used to polish the already-gleaming metal. The owners fire the cars’ engines up, pop the bonnet and tinker away to their hearts’ content to ensure they run with the same smoothness as when they left the factory.
It’s wonderful world … and one we all must strive to ensure continues as the 2030 deadline — halting the UK sales of new internal combustion-engined vehicles — looms ever closer.