The summer months of June and July are usually a little quieter for us with many people taking some valuable holiday time and 2017 was no different, but as August arrived so did the late summer motoring events in the UK with their final flourish before the Autumnal weather started to creep in. Our first stop in August was to the beautiful Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire for Salon Prive where we
On the concours ramp at Salon Prive 1956 Bentley S1 Continental Coupe at Salon Prive entered our 1956 Bentley S1 Continental Coupe by Park Ward and “Honeysuckle”, the very distinctive Vanden Plas Open Tourer. Emma commandeered the S1 Continental for the day and I had the privilege of driving Honeysuckle up onto the concours ramp just as the sun came out. After the standard Salon Prive lobster lunch and a glass or two of champagne we attended the gala dinner with our fellow concours entrants. The evening concluded in the central palace courtyard with all of the day's winners on display. Best in show this year was awarded to the 1960 Alfa Romeo Superflow by Pininfarina. With its perspex roof and smooth lines the car exuded a somewhat quirky beauty which clearly captured the judges' imagination and the wonderful Blenheim architecture, lit from the ground up, formed the perfect back drop for the concours prize winners, ending a superb day and evening.
R Type Continental by H.J.Mulliner and an S1 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward at Hampton Court
The following morning we were up early and back to London to another splendid, iconic British venue - Hampton Court Palace, for the Concours of Elegance. We were delighted to be invited back to this top class event following our participation at Windsor Castle last year. This year's selection of entrants was again quite spectacular, with hundreds of millions of pounds worth of cars on display over the three days.
My personal favourites included an Aston Martin DB4GT by Zagato, a Ferrari 250GT short wheel base California Spyder and eventual best of show winner, a Lancia Astura Aerodinamica Coupe. We exhibited two “blue chip” post war Bentleys over the weekend, an R Type Continental by H.J.Mulliner and an S1 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward. I was delighted to drive the latter onto the concours stage on Sunday afternoon where I gave a talk on the history of this particular well-loved model, as well as discussing the detailed restoration we recently carried out. As some of you may know, public speaking is not my favourite pastime, however I am happy to report I didn't suffer any form of stage fright, with the car providing a beautiful distraction.
Our penultimate event of the year saw us return to The Goodwood Revival for, I believe, the 20th year in a row. Emma and I remember attending the first ever Revival back in 1998, when the only attractions aside from the racing on the circuit were our five car stand, a candy floss seller and the wall of death! It was great fun but very low key back then and if you had attended the first ever Revival and hadn't been back until this year you would scarcely believe your eyes. It is arguably now one of the most well attended motoring events in the world and brings people together from all corners of the globe to enjoy the high octane racing, the period clothing and the general buzz about the event. Sadly the weather was fairly miserable this year, turning the car parks into mud baths but we enjoyed our time in Sussex once again and it's always in the diary for the following year. We will be back, come rain or shine, in 2018 with more wonderful cars on display.
The following weekend saw our final outing for 2017 when we attended the Warren Concours in Essex, taking our infamous matching pair of S1 Continentals - a Coupe and a Drophead Coupe with striking silver over black paintwork and red leather interiors. The drive up to Essex on a sunny Sunday morning was a real pleasure, with many admiring glances for the cars in convoy. Another superb selection of classic cars were on display when we arrived, bathed in sunshine at the very smart Warren Club. There was also a large number of super cars on display so petrol heads with all tastes were well catered for. We saw a number of friends at the event including P&A Wood who were proudly unveiling the new Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII. We also bumped into motoring journalist Simon Taylor, who was showing his wonderful Bentley 4 ¼ Litre Sedanca Coupe by Gurney Nutting in the concours. We know his beautiful Derby Bentley very well which we look after for him whenever it needs any workshop attention. Simon went on to win the Bentley class, so many congratulations to him and no hard feelings! And so our year of exhibits and events came to a close that afternoon, and we are already looking forward to 2018 where we plan on being out and about even more. Hong Kong. Our service centre and showrooms in Hong Kong have now been open for two years, how time flies! Any fledgling business often takes time to find a stable footing so I am pleased to report that the facility in Hong Kong is doing very well. The workshop is constantly busy and the showroom has been selling a number of modern and classic cars to new and existing customers in and around Hong Kong. Looking to the future, the Chinese market place is next to explore and we are planning to exhibit a number of high calibre cars in showroom space in Shanghai during 2018, with a view to introducing maintenance facilities to support this growing area of the market. It's potentially a very exciting time for us as a company and also the classic car market more generally in the Far East region so we look forward to bringing you further news next year.
SO WHAT'S NEXT? With 2018 on the horizon we have plenty to look forward to. The calendar is full of great events we'll be taking part in again, from Essen Techno Classica in March, the summer national rallies, through to the Concours of Elegance and the Goodwood Revival in the autumn. In addition, we are intending on making our first trips to both Amelia Island and Villa d'Este with two of our restoration projects entered into both events, so we will be there to support and cheer on their proud owners. Expansion in the Far East is also high on our agenda for 2018 as well as continuing our mission to find and prepare the very best
Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars from around the world and offer them for sale. So it simply leaves me to do one final thing, and that is to thank you for your support in 2017 and for keeping up to date with everything at Frank Dale & Stepsons. On behalf of myself, Emma, Vincent, Greg and all the staff at the company, we would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy 2018.