Organised by the Royal Automobile Club, it was staged in Marlborough Road outside St James’s Palace right at the heart of London’s regal Westminster on Saturday, November 4.
Despite a damp start to the day, the prestigious concours attracted many of the pioneering pre-1905 automobiles setting out for the Sussex coast at dawn the following morning.
With the road closed to traffic, all those in the capital – whether keen enthusiasts, visiting tourists or passers-by – were treated to a wonderful opportunity to admire an eye-catching collection of these remarkable ‘horseless carriages’.
Adding to the occasion, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, President of the Royal Automobile Club, was present among the crowds admiring the historically significant gathering. As a new initiative this year, fill-in activity sheets were also provided to keep younger visitors amused.
One of the main attractions for all to savour were the two movie star cars from the much-loved Genevieve film, first screened 70 years ago in 1953. Marking that remarkable milestone both the eponymous Darracq and rival Spyker from the BAFTA award-winner have been reunited for this year’s London to Brighton, and both were crowd-pleasers on Marlborough Road.
Other head-turners included the 1903 ‘Dreadnought’ from the Brooklands Museum, believed to be the world’s first motorbike purpose-built for racing, along with an 1892 Peugeot from a Turin museum thought to be the first car ever to turn a wheel in Italy; it’s the oldest starter on the road to Brighton on Sunday.
Providing extra interest, a panel of expert judges presented a series of coveted awards. Those adjudicating included Alan Titchmarsh MBE, the television personality, gardener and classic car lover, and Edd China, famous for presenting car programme Wheeler Dealers on Discovery Channel.
All eight winners received a magnum of champagne from event partner Piper-Heidsieck and an elegant travel case courtesy of event insurance partner Lockton.
The overall victor also won an overnight stay and dinner at the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall, and this year the honour went to the 1897 Daimler owned by Tim Summers.
The amazingly original twin-cylinder, 4.5 horsepower wagonette has been a regular on the Run for many years. It has recently undergone an impressive restoration and was presented to the judges in pristine condition. This Daimler started life as a bus in Falkirk, Scotland and has been returned to the smart and original blue-and-yellow livery of all Falkirk buses to this very day.
2023 St James’s International Concours – winners
Concours d’Elegance – Overall winner: 1897 Daimler, Tim Summers
Concours d’Equip e – For the vehicle, drivers and passengers wearing appropriate period dress symbolising the veteran era: 1904 De Dion Bouton
Period Motoring Attire – For the person(s) wearing appropriate period dress symbolising the veteran era: John Bottomley/1903 Dreadnought
Young Driver Award – For a stand-out participant aged under 30 years old: Kelsey Whittemore/1904 Peugeot
Historic Veteran Car Award – For the car with the most impressive provenance and historical connections: 1892 Peugeot
The Judges’ Overseas Award – An award presented to an overseas participant selected by the judges: Jos van Genuglen/1900 Amédée Bollée
Concours d’Elegance Light Vehicle Award – For the small vehicle which embodies the spirit of the veteran car era: 1903 Darracq
The Royal Automobile Club Chairman’s Award – Any car selected by the club’s chairman Ben Cussons as worthy of special recognition: 1905 Spyker from the Genevieve movie
Set on Marlborough Road, the St James’s International Concours was adjacent to RM Sotheby’s annual London Sale taking place in the magnificent grounds of Marlborough House.
Stand-out lots included a number of barely-driven, mint condition supercars from The Factory Fresh Collection in Singapore, as well as racing trophies and memorabilia from the stellar career of double Formula 1 world champion Graham Hill.
“The annual concours has become the perfect entrée to the RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run,” said Ben Cussons, chairman of the Royal Automobile Club.
“It provides participants with a wonderfully relaxed opportunity to share their passions, and visitors the rare chance to meet these extraordinary machines up-close.
“Marlborough Road is a wonderful place to do this, and there’s no better backdrop for our unique event than the historic magnificence of St James’s Palace. I congratulate all the wonderful winners.”
With the prestigious auction and concours complete, attentions turned to the 2023 RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run which was flagged away from Hyde Park at dawn this morning (Sunday, November 5).
For more information on both the St James’s Concours and RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran car Run, log on to the official website: veterancarrun.com.
You can view a selection of brilliant pictures from the 2023 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run – seen here at Burgess Hill – from photographer Steve Robards in the gallery below.