Jousting. That was a first for me. I’ve seen many things at car events, but never armed knights charging toward one another horseback. Losing a joust might entail being dumped from your horse, summersaulting mid-air and landing hard on the ground.
Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille co-founder Patrick Peter has now found a way to combine his three life passions — cars, sailing and horses — into a single event.
On Sunday, September 6 at the Chantilly Chateau, about 35 miles North of Paris, there were elegant cars, sailboats on the reflecting pond and armored jousters.
My weekend was full. It began with a Saturday tour. I was fortunate enough to ride in one of only two remaining 1956 Aston Martin DB3S coupes, driven by Franco Lupi. It was the perfect vehicle for exploring the French countryside. Before a recent restoration, the car had been extensively vintage raced. Consequently it was set up well, pulled strongly from its 2.9-liter engine and handled crisply. We had a trouble-free drive, aside from running out of gas (note to self – never trust the gas gauge on an old car, and fill up at the beginning of every event).
Saturday evening, I watched Bonhams sell the 1972 Maserati Boomerang for a more-than-expected $3.7m. I watched that car sell twice before in 2002 and 2005, for $628k and $1m, respectively. Following the 30-car sale, we were treated to a performance by a string quartet before a gala dinner.
The next morning I was up early, ready for my role as a concours judge for special-bodied SM and DS Citroëns. My co-judges were Michael Bock, Director of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center; Cyrille Duval, Founder and President of French news magazine Le Point; and class head judge Robert Panhard, President of the Automobile Club de France and grandson of René Panhard, one of the founders of the automobile industry.
They were deliberate and thoughtful in their evaluations of the cars in our classes — although they didn’t think ownership of a Méhari qualified me as a Citroën expert.
Among the many friends and SCMers who were also judges were Bruce Meyer, Chip Connor, Glen Mounger, Miles Morris, Adolfo Orsi, Stephen Brauer, Sandra Button, Philip Kantor, Julius Kruta, Mic Walsh, François Melcion, Christopher Pund, Nic Waller, Gordon Murray and Andrea Zagato.
We chose a lovely 1961 Citroën DS19 Chapron le Paris cabriolet and a 1975 SM Mylord cabriolet conversion as our two Best in Class picks.
SCM Editor at Large Simon Kidston picked up a class award with his long-wheelbase 1977 Monteverdi 375/4. He joked that he had filled up with 200 liters (about 50 gallons) of petrol the day before — and that its thirsty big-block Chrysler had consumed nearly all of it already.
Best of Show was awarded to SCMer Evert Louwman’s 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster. Best Concept Car went to a striking 2015 BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R designed by Karim Habib.
After watching the awards, I took a stroll through the car club area where over 600 vintage sports cars were on display.
This was my second year at this event, and founders Patrick and Sylviane Peter have made a good event even better.
It stands alone in providing an absolute top-tier show in a unique combination of ways. The setting at the Chantilly Chateau really can’t be beat. The combination of nearly 100 concours-quality cars and over 500 club cars provides for a complete viewing experience.
And at what other car event will you find activities such as remote-controlled sailboats, classes about floral arrangements, and knights in armor spearing each other? It’s total immersion in a world of wondrous happenings, with exquisite cars as the focus.