The Concours d’Elegance is to automobiles what the Ms Universe pageant is to women around the world. French for “competition of elegance”, the prestigious event has roots steeped way back to 17th-century France, where horse-drawn carriages were put on display by aristocrats at parks during the summer. It wasn’t long before horses were gradually phased out and the spectacle became a competition for the best-looking carriage.
As the number of serious car collectors around the world burgeon by the thousands, so does the standards of the Concours d’Elegance. Held all over Europe and USA, the competitiveness of the event now forces owners to restore their car beyond “mint” condition. To be Concours-quality, cars need to look even better than they did when they left the factory line, and when the emphasis is as much on originality than the condition, you know these owners have their work cut out for them.
This year, classic car owners and enthusiasts on local shores will have a chance to show off their babies and get up close with others at the Fullerton Concours d’Elegance. The inaugural event is a three-day automobile spectacular that will transform The Fullerton Heritage precinct from 29th June to 1st July 2018 with more than 90 vintage rides — a timely celebration that also marks the 90th anniversary of the iconic building.
Just as the landmark property has had to adapt with modern times, the event will also feature newly-launched supercars alongside the classic ones, taking visitors on a journey through time in the automobile world. Other highlights within the panoramic vicinity include art and cultural exhibitions, luxury yacht displays and live music performances for the whole family.
Ahead of the event, we acquaint you with eight of our favourite cars — both old and new — that will be showcased at the Fullerton Concours d’Elegance.
1934 Austin 7 Ulster Special
With no doors and an aluminium body, this Austin 7 truly is “special”. The Ulster — a sporting variation of the series — was produced as an economy car in the U.K., and was widely considered affordable in its day. The Austin 7 had an enormous effect on the British market — it replaced most other British economy cars from the early ‘20s, and was licensed and copies by companies all over the years.
Many manufacturers around the world owe their initial success to this car, including the likes of BMW, whose first car — the BMW Dixi — was a licensed Austin 7. It still holds the accolade of being one of the pinnacles of driving in the ‘30s.
1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K
As one of the most sought-after Mercedes-Benz on the planet, this grand touring car was distinguished by its 500 sedan counterpart by the “K” (for Kompressor, German for “supercharger”), which was only fitted to performance cars. Created to meet demands for greater luxury and performance, it was the successor to the 380 presented only a year before. With four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes, four-speed manual transmission, and a whopping supercharged straight 8, the 500K was an engineering marvel for its time.
Pristine models such as the one at the Concours d’Elegance are valued at several million dollars, much less the extra rare right-hand drive variation presented at Fullerton.
1958 Porsche 356A Speedster
The 356 is Porsche’s first production automobile, and the lightweight, rear-engined coupe, is known widely to be one of the most beautiful sports cars ever made with its sleek, minimalist looks. The 356A Speedster is a true legend, having been given small but significant changes to the original version, such as a four-cam Carrera engine that was initially available only in the spyder race cars.
The Speedster was Porsche’s way of breaking into the American market at a time where the market was filled with Triumphs and MGs, and despite having the bare necessities, became largely popular with racers as it earned itself a place in American sports car culture. It’s even now worth more than the better-equipped 356A.
1961 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II
First introduced in 1959, the Silver Cloud II is really one of the best-looking Rolls to ever roll out of the factory. Very little was changed externally compared to the original iteration, but a new 6.2-litre V8 engine greatly improved its performance, raising the torque-lovin’ car’s top speed to 183kph.
While the new engine didn’t sit as well with drivers for being not as quiet or smooth as the Silver Cloud I’s straight-six engine, the updated car saw interior changes such as blue instrument lighting and a handbrake warning light. Fullerton’s very own pristine example will be on display.
1972 BMW 3.0 CSi
Producing 200hp from its fuel-injected, straight-six engine, the 3.0 CSi was a true tour de force to come out of Munich, setting itself apart from standard 3.0 CS with 20 additional horses. The body was designed by coachbuilder Karmann, whose portfolio included other legendary cars such as some Porsche 356s.
1973 Triumph Stag V8
Its sharp Michelotti-penned lines could only be shadowed by the monstrous roar from its torquey 3.0-litre engine. The quintessential British “muscle car” was initially designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL with its four-seater convertible configuration and V8 power. Unfortunately, its warm reception — despite being launched one year late in 1970 — was quickly doused by its reputation for being unreliable, usually in the form of overheating. A number of owners even replaced its troublesome engine with powertrains from other cars.
Although famous for being featured in the James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever”, the Stag also snagged a spot in Time magazine’s “50 Worst Cars of All Time list”.
2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom
The eighth-generation Phantom is a mega machine of opulence, and it’ll finally be making its Singapore debut. Under its tank-like dimensions is an all-new aluminium platform and a twin-turbocharged V12 that will drive like a shadow in the night despite all its 563 horses of power.
Alongside its whisper-quiet demeanour is a spacious interior, state-of-the-art technology, and lavish materials, making this grand saloon the ultimate epitome of luxury for the roads.You’ll also be treated to the largest Starlight headliner you’ll ever see within.
2018 Ferrari Portofino
The well-loved California replacement is set to take four-seated, open-top motoring to the next level in Singapore when it makes its debut here. Although its Ferrari’s latest entry-level car, the Portofino remains big on performance, with 591hp coming from its 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 and electronic limited-slip differential. A nought-to-100kph run will take just 3.5 seconds, and if you keep your foot down, you’ll see the speedometer hit 320kph.
Aggressive styling and handsome proportions give this Prancing Horse its sporty good looks, one that’s further elevated by its rich Rosso Portofino launch colour.