The French sure know how to put on a show – and this classic event rolls concours, driving and displays into one spectacular weekend. AutoClassics was there…
Launching a new classic car event and gaining traction isn’t easy these days, with a plethora of concours, tours and displays to choose from. One way forward is to combine all of these elements into one weekend – which is just what the Sarthe-based Classic Grand Tour did when it burst onto the scene three years ago.
The 2018 Classic Grand Tour has just taken place, over the weekend of June 8-10. More than 100 sumptuous classics used the Le Mans Country Club as their base – and what a weekend it was! A key sponsor was Lamborghini, which offered your intrepid reporter a 400GT 2+2 with which we could immerse ourselves in the event. Turning down the opportunity would seem rather churlish...
The format of the Classic Grand Tour is pretty straightforward: a bunch of classics gathers in the magnificent grounds of the chateau that is the Le Mans Country Club in Yvre-l’Eveque just outside Le Mans. To maximise the event’s appeal, the range of cars runs from pre-war greats including Lagonda, Bentley, Voisin, Lorraine-Dietrich and Alfa Romeo, to modern supercars such as the Lamborghini Aventador, Ford GT, Bugatti Veyron and Ferrari Enzo, with plenty in between.
On the Friday there was a concours, with owners discussing the significance of their cars as they were displayed in front of the chateau. While all this went on, there was ample opportunity to spend plenty on high-ticket items such as clothing, luggage, Champagne and watches – as well as, of course, classic cars including Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, an array of big Healeys and much more. In typical French fashion things weren’t exactly over organised, and with spectators able to get in for a mere five Euros the weekend drew plenty of enthusiasts out of the woodwork to pore over the assembled classics.
As a main sponsor, Lamborghini took along half a dozen cars including the oldest-surviving Miura (chassis #2), our 400GT 2+2 (chassis #1) an Aventador S plus three Huracáns. But by far the biggest manufacturer at the Classic Grand Tour was Porsche, which celebrated its 70th birthday on the Friday. To mark the occasion, the company provided all of the pace cars and some fabulous exhibits including a 550RS, 928 GTS, its current range and a beautifully restored diesel-engined tractor, which towed the 550RS onto the concours stage, to the clicking of hundreds of shutters.
While the event attracted plenty of interesting classics such as a 1959 Mercedes 220 S cabriolet, 1974 Daimler Double Six, 1932 Horch 780 and a truly luscious Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS from 1939, local enthusiasts who turned up to get a closer look also provided us with a few thrills. Among these was the owner of the Alpine A108, parked near to a Facel Vega Facel II, Jaguar S-type 3.8 and Peugeot 403 cabriolet – all classics rarely seen in the UK.
The Friday event was purely static, but the Saturday and Sunday consisted of drives out to chateaux for coffee stops, along with the iconic Hotel de France in Chartre sur le Loir. The routes were carefully chosen to avoid main roads where possible, so we got to sample the Lamborghini’s magnificent 3929cc V12 on scenic winding roads virtually devoid of traffic. All we needed was a radio on which to play Matt Monro’s Days Like These, and the weekend would have been complete.
For more on the Classic Grand Tour log on to the official website here.