Monday, September 6, 2010

Concours d'Elegance

On Sunday I went to the Concours d'Elegance at "Paleis 't Loo" near Apeldoorn. This is an event in which owners of classic cars present their cars in the best way possible. Hours of maintenance, looking for original parts and polishing are spent before the cars are finally shown at the gardens of the royal palace "'t Loo". A very strict judge will then decide which car is the best of show. Besides this competition focused on aesthetics, there is also a sprint with pre-World War II cars. Not only must the competing cars be very quick, they must also have proper and accurate brakes, because the contestants have to stop their cars with the front wheels in front of the finish line and the rear wheels behind it. Last but not least, there is also a parking lot reserved for visitors that come to the event with a classic car.

Bugatti 110EB. Source:
The fun of the event already starts before you reach the royal palace; as soon as we exited the motorway we entered a row of classic cars, all driving to the event. One car owner with a Bugatti 110EB wanted to impress everyone by overtaking some cars. This resulted in a spectacular noise and even flames from the exhaust pipes. Unfortunately though, this action seemed a little less impressive when the car broke down not to long after this, causing a small traffic jam.

Citroën DS. Source:
Since my father has a classic car himself, a Citroën DS, we were allowed to park at the special parking lot. In front of us was a Ferrari that was also allowed on this parking lot, but it couldn't get there, because it had too little ground clearance to drive over the ramp leading to the grass field.This shows how extreme the design of these cars is, compromising practical use in order to get as much speed as possible out of the car.

Before we went to the actual show we couldn't resist to take a walk around the parking lot to see the great variety of cars parked there. Most cars were in great condition and a real sight to see, which made me think: "If these cars aren't even part of the actual show, the show cars must be exceptional!"

Classic Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
After our tour of the parking lot we went to the cars on display. The first stand we came across was the "Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupes & roadsters" stand. It consisted of a few vintage Mercedes 300 SL's as well as the new Mercedes SLS, which is inspired by the 300 SL. 

The sprint
Suddenly, we were distracted by a loud noise: the sprint had started! We hurried to see this amazing showcase of speed. No efforts were saved to go as fast as possible: some cars were swaying heavily, and the course was filled with tire smoke. Since these cars do not have an Anti-Lock Braking System, a lot of them ended up sideways at the finish line. Immediately after this sprint there was another run. At first we wanted to move on, to see the other cars on show, but the temptation to see the sprint again was too big. We observed the second sprint from the starting point. There you could see that the drivers want to accelerate so quickly, that in some cases the rears of the cars were lifted off the ground! 

Brutus. Source:
The most impressive car at the sprint was certainly Brutus. This monster houses a 750 bhp V12 airplane engine with a staggering capacity of 47 litres! These kind of cars were built after the first world war. Because Germany wasn't allowed to have any airplanes at that time, airplane engines were built onto old undercarriages to perform races with. You can find more information about this one-of-a-kind car at the website of Museum Sinsheim.

The condition of the cars was exceptional
At the end of the second sprint we could finally see all the other cars. The condition of all those cars was certainly extraordinarily well, it seemed as though they had just come from the showroom. The production year of the cars ranged from the 1900's to now, so you could also get a sense of the development that the automotive industry has gone trough in the last century. I hope to post some pictures of the cars on display at the end of this week.
Update: I have added some pictures I took on this day. Enjoy!

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