Lockton has been closely involved with Salon Privé since its inception fifteen years ago. The brainchild of brothers Andrew and David Bagley, the event brings together the finest motor cars and luxury brands in the world at the stunning grounds of Blenheim Palace, home of the event for the past six years.
2021 saw Lockton increase our sponsorship level to 'Gold' as we agreed a three-year partnership with the event. As such, we now host and exclusively sponsor the Club Trophy, which we award to the best car in attendance. The contenders were selected from the owners' clubs attending and judged by our team.
This year, we were operating from two bases on the premises. We had a pavilion on the South Lawn immediately in front of the palace and a marquee on the North Lawn to the rear and overlooking the magnificent grounds and lake.
For the first three days, the focus was on our pavilion and its adjacent private terrace. We were joined by colleagues from other parts of the business and we entertained guests. We were all looked after fantastically by the catering team, with delicious food and refreshments served throughout the day.
It was very satisfying to see people laughing and enjoying themselves in the sunshine and at several points our terrace was standing room only – refreshing after so many months spent in relative isolation.
I spent Tuesday taking part in the Salon Privé Tour, where a group of drivers spent a very pleasant day driving through the countryside in a collection of wonderful and eclectic cars.
Cars are at the heart of Salon Privé and this year did not disappoint. The centrepiece was 'The Red Collection', with some genuinely superb cars on display. The line-up included a McLaren F1, Alfa Romeo Monza, Pagani Zonda and Huayra and several Ferraris including the wonderful and iconic 1964 250 GTO, which sat as centrepiece to the collection.
As if one of these iconic motor cars wasn't enough, a second GTO was also on display and a genuine £100million-plus moment was created when the two were parked nose-to-nose on the podium.
If Ferrari isn't for you, you would still have been spoilt for choice. As Jaguar's E Type celebrates its sixtieth birthday, there were numerous examples on display including modified versions from Building the Legend, Eagle and the famous Lindner-Knocker Low Drag racing variant.
Our neighbours at the event displayed Group C Porsches, beautifully restored and upgraded Land Rovers, Aston Martins and electric reimagined classics – an eclectic and wonderful mix. Several of them will feature in future content that we're looking forward to sharing with you all.
Thursday evening saw many of the cars take to the streets of nearby Woodstock for a parade in front of hundreds of excited enthusiasts. From vintage to hypercars, there was something for everyone.
We have said numerous times before that we have the best clients, and never was this more apparent than at Salon Privé this year. We were loaned several very special cars to display on both lawns, including a supercharged 4½ litre Bentley, Jaguar E Type V12, a rare Porsche 911RS and recently restored Ferrari Daytona. Our thanks go out to those who so generously allowed us to borrow their amazing cars.
One of my own highlights was driving the Bentley to the North Lawn. Centrally located accelerator pedal, lever operated handbrake and a starting sequence that rivalled the McLaren F1 GTR that we arranged to be displayed for Aviva's marquee. That was a bucket list moment ticked.
On Friday, we entertained our guests in the 'glasshouse' – a semi-permanent private dining venue set apart from the main lawn. Lunch and afternoon tea were served alongside live music before a sunset barbeque for all those exhibiting at the event. This was a welcome opportunity to relax with our team and fellow businesses as the sun gently set over a beautifully-lit Blenheim Palace.
Saturday dawned as bright and warm as the previous day and we started work on our second site, located immediately outside the gates to the fabulous courtyard to the rear of the palace. We successfully manoeuvred the cars into place and watched as hundreds of cars began arriving and heading to their respective club parking areas.
From Aston Martins of all ages to Lamborghinis resembling sweets of every hue, we stood for a few minutes taking in the sights and sounds of millions of horsepower gracing the North Lawn.
I remain humbled by the support our team had from colleagues from other divisions of Lockton. Motoring enthusiasts one and all, they worked tirelessly across the weekend, talking to our clients, friends, club members and officials.
Saturday was the Lockton-sponsored Club Trophy day. For Lockton, this included the daunting task of judging two cars from each car club before picking a winner. This was not an easy task, but the team almost unanimously agreed that the 1953 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith was our winner. It was also a fantastic counterbalance to the McLaren Senna that picked up the award in 2019 when the trophy was last presented by Lockton.
Congratulations to all the entrants – you made our job very difficult.
As Saturday wound down, we were treated to the arrival of the rally cars. I defy anyone who is a motoring enthusiast not to at least smile when they see cars including Subaru Imprezas and Martin-liveried Lancias crackling and snorting.
They headlined the event's closing day as part of a new element to Salon Privé – the dynamic hill sprint. This saw the driveway leading to the lake turned into a sprint course for the rally cars, supercars and sports cars of all descriptions. It also welcomed an ever-growing number supercar clubs and their members from around the UK.
As the gates to Blenheim closed after five days of motoring nirvana, we returned to base feeling a little sad that it will be a whole year before we get to do it all over again. We are already planning to be bigger and better in 2022 and, if you're planning to visit Salon Privé next year, please do come and see us.
I would like to close by thanking my entire team for their hard work. We spent several months doing all that we could to make the event a special one for our guests and they did us proud.Thanks also to Andrew and David Bagley and team for a fantastic event, which remains the premier Concours D'Elegance in the UK and finally to His Grace, the 12th Duke of Marlborough, for his hospitality.