Taking place in the heart of the City, London Concours is fast becoming a highlight of the classic car calendar. And ‘fast’ is very much the theme this year, with concours cars classified as Fast, Faster, Very Fast, Superfast, Hyperfast and Era-Defining. We kick off with the Era-Defining cars, the “quickest and most iconic of their day”, then round up the best of the rest. Which one earns a place in your dream garage?
Where better to start than with the very first supercar? The Lamborghini Miura is arguably the most beautiful of the breed, too, with sensual Gandini styling wrapped around a mid-mounted V12. This 1969 Miura S makes 370hp and hits 170mph – although a notorious predilection for front-axle lift means you need big cojones to get there…
Another front-runner for the ‘most beautiful car in the world’ title, the Jaguar E-Type defines the swinging sixties. This 1965 FHC (Fixed-Head Coupe) is a desirable Series 1, powered by a 4.2-litre in-line six. At the time, it was the fastest car ever tested by Autocar magazine, reaching 153mph.
The going rate for a McLaren F1 seems to be about £10 million, so this relatively compact and unassuming supercar may be the most valuable machine here. The 240mph F1 is famed for its central driving position (for ideal weight distribution) and engine bay lined with heat-reflecting golf leaf. However it was also the first road car with a chassis made entirely from carbon fibre composite.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
The 1954 300 SL was a genuine race car for the road. Indeed, it was more powerful than the W194 Le Mans legend that shared its 3.0-litre straight-six engine. The ‘Gullwing’ (nicknamed thus due to its vertically-opening doors) was also the first production car with fuel injection. A Roadster version followed in 1957.
The AC Cobra is such an endlessly copied design, you’re rarely certain if one is real or a replica. This 1963 289 is, of course, real. The Cobra recipe was simple: stuff an oversized Ford V8 into the flyweight AC Ace roadster. The results, however, were spectacular. The mighty 7.0-litre Cobra 427 could hit 185mph in competition spec.
Hands up who had one of these on their bedroom wall? The F40 is one of Ferrari’s most celebrated sports cars: a mid-engined monster with 478hp and no creature comforts. A 201mph top speed was serious stuff in 1987, outgunning the more technologically-advanced Porsche 959. The F40 was also the last Ferrari to be signed off by il Commendatore, Enzo Ferrari himself.
If the E-Type sums up the sixties, the XK120 defines the decade before. As Britain emerged from the shadow of World War II, Jaguar’s pretty straight-six roadster pointed to a brighter future. This 1950 XK120 OTS set 24-hour and seven-day speed records when new, averaging more than 100mph.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
‘Modern’ Aston Martin is known for its sleek sports cars (and, um, the Cygnet supermini), but it wasn’t always thus. Astons of the 70s and 80s were upright, big-engined brutes – and few more so than the original V8 Vantage. A 380hp carburettor-fed engine lurks behind its blanked-off front grille, giving 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds and a 170mph top speed.
Is the Porsche 911 really ‘era-defining’? It’s been in production for so long – 55 years – that it belongs to multiple eras, invariably being the benchmark against which other sports cars lare judged. This particular Neunelfer is a 1967 911S, the flagship of the range until the RS debuted in 1973. Its flat-six produces a punchy 160hp.
How do you follow up the Miura? Amazingly, Lamborghini managed it. The Countach was another Gandini masterpiece, its wedgy, low-slung lines setting the supercar template for decades to come. This 1987 Countach 5000 QV (Quattrovalvole, or four valves per cylinder) belongs to Harry Metcalfe, former editor of Evo magazine. It was displayed in the Hyperfast concours class.
Lancia Delta HF Integrale
It wasn’t all supercars at London Concours – although this Delta Integrale could challenge many of them on a twisty road. The Integrale won the World Rally Championship six times for Lancia between 1997 and 1992, and this 1992 Evo I wears Martini rally livery. A 210hp four-cylinder engine drives all four wheels.
BMW 3.0 CSL
Giving the Integrale a run for its money in the (unofficial) category of coolest car at the show, this BMW 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ is another homologation hero. Its advanced aero package includes fins alongside the bonnet, a spoiler on the trailing edge of the roof and a huge rear wing. The CSL took the European Touring Car title in four consecutive years, from 1975-1979.
Fiat 8V Supersonic
Looking every inch the Jet Age concept car, this 1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic is one of 15 designed and constructed by Italian coachbuilder, Ghia. Powered by a 2.0-litre V8, it has independent suspension and a four-speed manual gearbox. The bodywork is unusually aerodynamic for the era, while the tail lights resemble jet afterburners.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
From the sublime to the faintly ridiculous, this 1968 Mustang has been tuned to 750hp. The work was carried out by the original owner after importing the car to the UK in 1970. Even in standard 420hp guise, the Shelby GT500 is the ultimate incarnation of the original ’Stang. Trust us, its V8 rumble registers on the Richter scale…
Aston Martin One-77
Forget the Vulcan and Valkyrie, this is our favourite Aston supercar. Only 77 examples of the £1.2 million One-77 were made from 2009-2012. Its chassis is carbon fibre with aluminium panels, while its 750hp 7.3-litre V12 was the world’s most powerful naturally-aspirated production engine when new.
Porsche 911 GT2 RS
Fast-forwarding into the here-and-now, this is the latest ‘991’ GT2 RS: the most powerful Porsche 911 ever made. This fire-spitting 700hp flagship recently claimed the Nurburgring lap record, with a time of six minutes 47.3 seconds – 10 seconds quicker than Porsche’s 918 Spyder hypercar. It also blasts to 62mph in 2.7 seconds, despite being rear-wheel drive.
The Alpine A110 is another current car deemed special enough for a place on the lawn at London Concours. And rightly so. This 252hp retro recreation costs from £46,905 and takes on the Porsche Cayman. It was displayed alongside an original A110 – one of France’s best-loved sports cars.
Ferrari 250GT SWB
We may have to eat our words about the McLaren being the most valuable car here. This Ferrari 250 GT SWB ‘Sefac Hot Rod’ was driven six times by Stirling Moss, including at Goodwood, Silverstone and Daytona, and won five of those six events. It was the most successful sports car racer of 1961. It also happens to be utterly, almost incomparably, gorgeous.
Speaking of stunners, few cars hold a candle to the 1960s Ford GT40. However, the 2016 GT comes close, with dramatic lines that clearly evoke the original. Breaking from the supercar norm, the GT uses a V6 engine, albeit one boosted by twin turbochargers to 656hp. So it’s a bit quick, too (2.8sec, 216mph).
Click the images to see more supercars of London Concours
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