Concours events

A concours d’elegance takes many forms, but each of them has roots within the French aristocracy, who used to gather their horse-drawn carriages for a ‘competition of beauty’. Automobiles soon made way for carriages, and the events evolved into the major international gatherings that you see today. At their heart they are a celebration of perfection, originality and rarity in the automotive world. Levels of judging vary (there’s even an International Concours Judging Association) but cars are generally appraised on the quality of their restoration or their preservation. In both cases originality is of utmost importance.

At Thornley Kelham we’ve prepared and restored entrants for all the major concours d’elegance events in the world, and even won a few awards along the way. We’d be delighted to help you find your next concours entrant. Perhaps the rundown of a few of the top concours d’elegance events below will provide some inspiration…

Top image: Amilcar C6 fully restored by Thornley Kelham with owner, Michael Gluckman and co-driver, Chief Mechanic, Paul Woodward, greeting Prince Michael of Kent at the Concours of Elegance

Concours of Elegance – Hampton Court Palace

Sometimes referred to as the ‘Royal Concours’, this event is each year hosted within the regal Fountain Gardens of Henry VIII’s former home, Hampton Court Palace. The selection of cars at the heart of the event are among the rarest and most extraordinary automobiles in the world. Uniquely, there is no judging panel – instead, owners of the cars themselves vote for an overall winner.

Top image: Lancia Flaminia Super Sport Zagato

Bottom image: Amilcar C6, both fully restored by Thornley Kelham

Salon Privé – Blenheim Palace

Welcoming more than 100 cars and motorcycles across nine carefully curated classes, the Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance takes place at ‘Britain’s Greatest Palace’, Blenheim.  Treasured relics from the Edwardian era are joined by some of the rarest and most valuable grand tourers, classic sports racers, era-defining icons and racing legends. In addition there is now a super car day for enthusiasts who prefer their classics to be those of the future….

Top image: Mercedes 300SL Gullwing fully restored by Thornley Kelham

Pebble Beach – Concours d’Elegance

Undoubtedly the most famous concours event in the world, Pebble Beach is the one that everyone wants to be at. Each year the fairways of the Pebble Beach golf course are overrun by hundreds of automotive artworks, preserved or restored to perfection. For more than 70 years, the event has attracted significant collectors and the rarest of the rare from all over the world.

Top image: Lancia Aurelia B20GT ex-Giovanni Bracco, fully restored by Thornley Kelham

Chantilly Concours Arts & Elegance

The world’s greatest car collectors and some of the world’s finest cars descend on the Chateau de Chantilly for the annual Chantilly Arts & Elegance event.

Displayed on Le Nôtre’s lawns, they create a unique display of some of the rarest and sought-after cars in the world.

A hand-picked jury examine and judge the cars on rareness, history, state of conservation and upkeep, with ‘Best in Show’ being the ultimate accolade.

Thornley Kelham was asked to prepare a stunning 1931 Bentley 8 Litre Foursome Coupé to the meticulous levels of detail required by the Chantilly Concours d’Etat.

Weeks of hard work and years of experience in preparing cars for top-level concours events resulted in the 8 Litre being awarded ‘Best in Show’ (Pre-War) by an expert panel of judges.

Top and bottom images: Bentley 8 litre prepared and maintained by Thornley Kelham, winner of ‘Best in Show’.

Photos courtesy Mathieu Bonnevie

London Concours

The Honorable Artillery Company in the centre of the City of London is the stunning setting for one of the newer concours events which has now become internationally renowned. Classic cars sit comfortably next to the classics of the future at this luxurious automotive garden party.  Up to 80 of the world’s most wonderful cars gather in the gardens of this historic building and grounds, showcasing specially curated and themed displays in classes which vary each year. Not to be missed!

Top image: Lancia Aurelia Outlaw Number 4 Class Winner at London Concours

Villa D’Este – Concorso D’Eleganza

Taking place at the iconic Villa d’Este hotel on the shores of Lake Como, there’s no more beautiful place for a concours. Smaller than most other events worldwide, the Concorso feels particularly exclusive, both as a guest and as an owner exhibiting a car.