Salon Privé is now less than a week away. As Lockton prepares for this year's event, we sat down with someone who is also busy getting ready for the Concours D'Elegance.
If you have ever attended Salon Privé, or indeed any other concours event, then you have probably marvelled at the staggeringly pristine motor cars on display and competing for trophies. You may have also wondered what it takes to prepare and present a vehicle to such a high standard.
We sat down with Bradley Scott-Stevens of BlueChip Detail to find out just this. Bradley is well-known in concours circles, having travelled the world to fettle all manner of cars. Given that the season is now well and truly underway, we are grateful that he took the time to share his knowledge and experience with us.
Bradley, you are widely known as one of the foremost detailers specialising in Concours D'Elegance. How many cars have you prepared for Concours competitions?
I started detailing cars for concours in 2011. The first car I prepared was a Porsche 911 2.7 RS Touring for a client of Josh Sadler's Porsche specialists, Autofarm, based in Oxfordshire. The car bought home the 'Best of Show' award and I was hooked. I have since detailed just over sixty cars for concours, here in the UK, Europe, and the United States.
How many trophies have been picked up for cars you detailed?
While I've prepared around sixty cars in total for Concours, I've probably assisted clients to pick up over eighty trophies. This is due to clients winning both their entered class and maybe also a 'best of show' or a class win and an additional award for 'best interior' or 'spirit of the concours'.
What is the typical process involved in preparing a car for these competitions and how long can it take?
I'll start at the beginning by asking the client: “are you going to make up the numbers? Or are you going to win?”. Next, I'll take an in-depth look around the car, checking for inaccuracies in the fixtures and fittings, decals, glass etching, tool kits, wheels and tyres, original paperwork, even the carpet thickness. There are a multitude of factors to take into account given that every incorrect item may lose a vital point and ultimately a trophy.
Usually, I'll then turn my attention to the engine bay, as no judge wants to look at fuel-stained carburettors. Next would be the wheels, suspension and underside of the car. The machine polishing of the car takes the most time, typically around three to four days depending on factors like the complexity of the body, hard or soft paint and the colour. Lastly, the interior is detailed and finished as it would have been for the factory – you won't be seeing any stripes brushed on to those carpets.
The completed process can take up to two weeks depending on the initial condition.
Have the expectations of both your clients and Concours judges changed over the last 10 years?
Yes, a client once requested my detailing service and outlined an-depth plan for the competition, including how I would detail his Bugatti, his presentation to the judges, our lunch while they deliberated, and our return to the prize-giving ceremony to receive a trophy, before going out to celebrate. Fortunately, it all went to plan and the car won its class.
Judges have become more scrupulous over the past ten years with their marking. The quality of restorations and level of attention paid to details is now of the highest standard. After I had assisted my client in winning the Ferrari Owners' Club annual Concours 'best of show' on consecutive years, the judging committee added a 'pro-detailer' class for cars that were professionally prepared, I came back to win 'best of show' a further three times, including with a detailed Ferrari F40 in 2019 that received a perfect score of 100 points.
Aside from using your services (of course), what advice would you give anyone seeking to enter their motor car in a Concours D'Elegance?
During the Concours event, you have a very short amount of time to impress the judges. I believe one of the key elements is to be prepared for the questions they may ask you. Yes, the car has to be freshly detailed and as factory-standard as possible in every detail, but it also pays to have a story to tell the judges. For example, does the car have an interesting history? Was it raced in period or owned by someone famous? Some Concours have provenance points, so this kind of detail can count.
If you have had the car restored, some pictures of the restoration in a neatly presented book is always a nice touch, along with any period photos and original paperwork. Instead of the tool-roll being hidden in the boot, if it is complete, display it. I like to use a tray lined with green baize to match the Concours lawn – this can be slid out from under the car when the judge wants to inspect it.
If there is a tour before the Concours, take part in it; not only will you get to meet the other owners, but it will stand you in good stead if the judges are deliberating over yours and another Concours entrant who didn't attend the tour.
There is definitely is a great deal more to Concours than may first meet your eye, but above it all, it's most important to smile and enjoy it.
What is your favourite event?
Concorso d' Eleganza Villa d' Este, on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, where, by invitation only, fifty of the world's finest automobiles are displayed at one of Italy's most famous luxury hotels. Nothing compares to this.
I have been fortunate to attend four times and care for some amazing cars. I've meet some fantastic owners from around the globe, many of whom have become good friends.
You have prepared some amazing motor cars. What is your most memorable?
That would have to be Anne Brockington Lee's 1949 Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta - Chassis: 0008M. Hailed as 'the world's most significant Ferrari', winning both the Mille Miglia and Le Mans in the same year and putting Ferrari on the map as a force to be reckoned with in motor racing and engineering.
Is there a car you haven't yet prepared for Concours that you'd like to work on?
I'd love to detail David Sydorick's 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B, a true masterpiece of style and engineering.
Is there one detailing product or tool that you wouldn't be without on the concours lawn?
A small crochet hook for removing gravel from tyre treads, as it looks unsightly in my eyes.
Taking off your detailer's hat for a moment – on your perfect road trip, what vehicle are you driving? Who is with you? And what's playing on the radio?
Well that's a very difficult choice, but I'll go with the elegant 1957 Pininfarina bodied Ferrari 250 GT Convertible Prototipo #0655GT. It was a gift to racing driver Peter Collins from Enzo Ferrari and a car I detailed for Ferrari Under the Skin at the Design Museum, London in 2018.
I think I'd start my trip in St Tropez and drive along the coast road to Portofino then north to the hotel Villa d' Este and on to my final destination of Badrutt's Palace, St. Moritz. 'Everybody Loves the Sunshine' by Roy Ayers is playing on the radio and I'm accompanied by my wingman and fellow petrolhead, Sam, for some jolly japes along the way.
Bradley, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and for sharing your obvious passion for fine motor cars. We look forward to catching up with you again at Salon Prive.
If you'd like to see more of Bradley's work, then you can reach him on 07801899003 and you can follow him here on instagram @themasterdetailer