Automakers are increasingly turning to Britain’s Salon Privé to debut new cars to a U.K. audience, with Bentley becoming the first to hold a global reveal during the automotive garden party.
The 14th edition of the Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance by Chubb Insurance kicked off Sept. 5 at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, with a record 11 cars making their regional, national or worldwide premieres. Along with showcasing the newest models from luxury marques, the event will include a showcase of classic cars, including a special tribute to the Bentley brand as it marks its 100th anniversary.
Salon Privé was reached for comment.
Salon Privé is held on the grounds of Blenheim Palace, a world heritage site and the home of His Grace, the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family.
The four-day event includes a display of 50 rare classic cars and 20 motorcycles, which will be judged by a panel of experts.
Bentley is the star of this year’s Salon Privé. In honor of the marque’s 100th birthday, the event directors are organizing a special celebration for owners.
Included in the weekend festivities is Bentley Masters, a display of cars that traces the brand’s history from its EXP No. 2 from 1920 to models from 2019.
On Sept. 8, there will be a gathering of more than 1,000 historic Bentleys, which Salon Privé says is a world record.
In addition to looking back on history, Salon Privé is also host to new luxury automotive reveals.
Bentley’s restored Corniche will be making its world premiere at the concours. Originally made in 1939, the prototype was thought to be lost during World War II, but it has been given a new life by Bentley Mulliner.
Bentley's Corniche. Image courtesy of Bentley
The British automaker will also be showcasing its EXP 100 GT for the first time in Europe. The concept, which first debuted during Pebble Beach’s Concours d’Elegance in August, is an electric grand tourer with a digital personal assistant (see story).
Also making its European debut is Rolls-Royce’s Ghost Zenith collection. The line, being made in a limited run of 50, marks the 10-year anniversary of its Ghost vehicles with heightened bespoke touches (see story).
— Rolls-RoyceMotorCars (@rollsroycecars) September 4, 2019
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Electric supercar maker Pininfarina is participating in Salon Privé to showcase its Battista for the first time in Europe.
For its appearance at Salon Privé, Italian automaker Maserati is putting attention on its Levante V8 Trofeo SUV and GTS.
Rounding out the experience are fine dining opportunities and test drives of supercars. During the event, companies and individuals can also host private hospitality experiences, such as a cocktail reception or a dinner for up to 300.
On Sept. 6, a Salon Privé Ladies’ Day by Boodles includes a luncheon, Champagne and afternoon tea. The day also features luxury shopping opportunities, including a showcase of jewelry from Boodles, and a competition for the best hat worn by an attendee.
Ladies' Day by Boodles 2018
Automotive events give brands the chance to engage with enthusiasts in-person in a multi-brand environment.
For instance, luxury automakers from around the world celebrated milestones and touted new models at Monterey Car Week, including at the iconic Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Monterey Car Week, which ran through Aug. 18, is America’s most prestigious automotive event. Automakers leverage unique experiences and share innovative concepts to reward loyal drivers and earn headlines (see story).
Luxury automakers, ranging from British icons Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin to upstarts such as McLaren, also made their presence known at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed in an effort to reach motor enthusiasts.
The 26th annual Festival of Speed, considered the world’s largest automotive garden party, welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors from July 4 to 7 to Goodwood House. This year’s theme was “Speed Kings – Motorsport’s Record Breakers,” while automakers looked to the past and future for their Goodwood celebrations (see story).
"The element of exclusivity is absolutely key for brands activating at any such gatherings of car collectors and enthusiasts," said Shamin Abas, president of Shamin Abas Ultra-Luxury Brand Marketing & Business Development, New York. "For example, at Monterey Car week, ultra-luxury brands that understand the importance of offering an extremely exclusive hospitality experience reserved solely for owners, and a series of by-invitation event activities within that space – even an area for VICs, lead.
"Few do it better than Ferrari North America, which took over the new wing at The Lodge three years ago and every year build out their own ‘Casa Ferrari’ on-site so that their top clients staying at the lodge never have to leave, as well as Aston Martin, whose Sunset Center, Carmel, activation is so beautifully thought through in every way and is experienced by Aston Martin owners only," she said. "For VICs there are daily lunches hosted by chief designer Marek Reichman and North American dynamo president Laura Schwab, which draw top clients and provide enough magic dust to intrigue owners who may then choose to keep going and buy another car."