On Friday morning the skies above Syon Park on the outskirts of London were filled with a curious mix of looming dark grey rain clouds, a whiff of barbecuing lobster and the sound of clinking champagne flutes. Down on the manicured lawns below, some of the finest automotive creations ever made were arranged, with visitors to the final day of this year’s Salon Privé mingling, chattering and admiring the exquisite vehicles on display.
Salon Privé is a heavenly event for the automotive enthusiast that enjoys the finer things in life – free-flowing Pommery champagne throughout the day, a lobster luncheon to keep your stomach happy, and practically every car you’ve ever dreamt of owning, all set in beautiful surroundings.
Now in its eighth year, Salon Privé has established itself as a key event on the British automotive calendar, and was the show of choice for many up-and-coming brands to ‘reveal’ their vehicles, including the Spyker B6 Venator Spyder concept, the Icona Vulcano concept (that’s the one with the wall of flames behind it in the promo images, in case you were wondering) and the VUHL 05, with company founders, the very likeable brothers Icker and Guillermo Echeverria, on hand to happily answer questions. I’ve been watching the progress of the VUHL 05 with a great deal of interest, first seeing it at the Goodwood Festival of Speed back in July when it was hard to even get within several metres of due to the number of people crowding round it, so it was great to spend some time up close to the car and chatting to the men whose vision has come to reality.
Each day of this year’s event had a key sponsor, with Friday’s show being billed as the ‘Audemars Piguet British Super Car Show’, the ‘Boodles Ladies’ Day’ on Thursday and the ‘Chubb Insurance Concours d’Elegance’ on Wednesday. Although you arguably pay quite a lot of money for entry to Salon Privé, with tickets at £195 plus VAT per person for Friday’s event, the key thing that endears people to the event, in addition to its exclusivity, is that absolutely everything is included in the ticket price, and there are no ‘off limit’ areas for not having ‘the right type of ticket’. At far too many motoring events you end up being forced to buy a higher grade of ticket than the advertised base level entry price to ensure you are able to actually see the whole show and don’t end up going home disappointed. After you’ve paid for your ticket to Salon Privé there is really no need to spend another penny all day, unless you want to treat yourself to something from the tempting wares on offer in the luxury retail village, of course!
As Salon Privé is an al fresco event, your full enjoyment is always going to be at the mercy of the British weather. So if you are going to go next year, try and pick a day with a good forecast. After a drizzly Friday morning and lunchtime, the afternoon was thankfully a lot drier, meaning I could get to enjoy both of the event’s areas – the Super Car Lawn and the Concours Lawn.
One thing that really struck me was that even the car park at Salon Prive was packed with an amazing array of vehicles. You can tell just from walking through the parking area to get to the event entrance that this is a show that attracts true enthusiasts, who are able and aren’t afraid, to spend serious amounts of money satisfying their automotive cravings. It says something about the type of event you are attending when the car park is better than some other car shows you can pay to attend.