Chantilly Arts et Elegance 2022
Volume 47 Issue 21
Oct 15, 2022
Chantilly Arts et Elegance is north of Paris. It is one of the most elegant in terms of location and setting. Marc Sonnery attends and describes in detail several of the excellent Ferraris on display.
The sixth edition of this grand occasion 40 kilometers north of Paris took place on September 25.
Organized by Peter Auto, it was the first edition since 2019, post Covid, and a grand edition it was.
The weather held most of the day except for a couple of brief showers. The quality and quantity of cars was outstanding and 20,000 spectators attended.
Most played the game of elegant 1960s-style attire even if the percentage of those doing so is not as high as at the Goodwood Revival as the French are not as much into playing dress-up as the Brits.
Clearly the most spectacular setting ever used for a concours, the Chateau de Chantilly, was the abode of the Duke of Aumale, Henri d’Orléans, fifth son of King Louis- Philippe, born two hundred years ago in 1822. Not only did he have an extraordinary destiny, inheriting a mind boggling fortune, but he also had exquisite taste.
A multifaceted man, he was a writer, historian, officer, politician and art collector on a staggering scale impossible to reproduce nowadays.
Suffice to say that the chateau, kept exactly as it was when he passed in Sicily in 1897, has the second finest collection of paintings in France after le Louvre Museum and the same goes for statues, furniture, etc.
An optional tour is included during the event as the chateau and the grounds are privatized for the occasion.
Regarding art on wheels, particularly made in Maranello, there was a fine selection.
The 512 M Sunoco is a major legend of Prancing Horse history and was the undisputed star Ferrari at Chantilly.
One of the best prepared Ferraris of all time it was the brain child of the fearsomely competitive and competent Roger Penske-Mark Donohue pairing with the former as team owner and the latter as driver engineer.
Helped and sponsored by wheeler-dealer extraordinaire, Kirk White, and a couple of investors, the car became the ultimate U.S.-style Ferrari hotrod in terms of engineering development and its saga is thus worthy of a closer look.
Having bought a somewhat tired 512 S from Chris Cord and Steve Earle (he of later Monterey Historics organiser fame), chassis S/N 1040 which had been running in Can-Am, the team set about the task of bringing out its full potential à la Penske.
Every detail was rethought and reworked. The car was completely dismantled, a pair of engines was sent to Traco in California, the company of Travers and Coon, Trans Am specialists and the most competent racing engine builders in America.
As White recalled in his brilliant memoirs “Don’t Wash Mine”, it is while Donohue visited Traco and one of the two engines was on the dyno that he was astonished to hear that the factory recommended oil pressure at a staggering 125 psi. He wound it down to 60 psi and the power reading instantly went from 590 to 614 hp!
Suffice to say the car was superbly prepared; fabricators improved everything that could be, new body work was made which was lighter yet more durable. Daytona 1971 would be its first race.
The dark blue jewel on wheels was very much a potential winner for the 24 Hours on the Volusia county oval and road course; the Porsche contingent was worried - it was a serious challenge for their 917s and they noted right away how well prepared the car was.
The fast refueling system fitted to the car was unheard of in sports car racing and had the Stuttgart teams agape...even more so that Donohue achieved pole position. All looked promising. Indeed Mark led the race at will until almost midnight.
Alas, its short career would be plagued by legendary and almost unreal bad luck. Starting right then.
Near midnight a 917 had a puncture on the banking and crashed into the outer wall. Donohue slowed down in avoidance but a clueless amateur in a 911 did not react at all and plowed into the back of the 512M sending it in the wall.
The 911 driver was punished for his blindness by barrel rolling several times but was unhurt. The Penske entry crabbed its way into the pits, badly damaged, and while most would have given up the ghost, it was repaired.
Repaired with spontaneous help by Chinetti NART staff and loan of parts upon an immediate and very gentlemantly decision by Luigi himself.
By the time the taped up car, looking like WWI wounded, was sent out again, 70 minutes had elapsed, so it was all for the glory....or was it? In fact, such was the pace of the car that in the end it had climbed back to third!
Sebring was next and the massive repairs took a lot of time and budget but despite communication and parts supply issues with the factory, the car was ready for the 12 Hours.
Things started badly... at the team base in Pennsylvania, Donohue badly sprained his ankle. He then fired the team’s truck driver and drove it himself the distance to Sebring... breaking down an hour before arriving.
After a tow truck brought the team transporter into the paddock all was well again and Donohue was eventually able to drive, his foot having healed enough, to get pole position...right in front of the factory 312 PB of Andretti/Ickx!
Ferrari team manager Mauro Forghieri was so impressed he stated it was the best prepared Ferrari he had ever seen, the highest possible praise.
At the start, Donohue led for 20 laps then came in to pit. When he went out he was third behind the 312 PB followed by Rodriguez’s 917.
Mark then misjudged the pass on the Mexican in a tight part of the circuit as a slow 911 was right there on the racing line and he had to brake seconds later.
Pedro hit him and since he thought he was brake testing him he lost his temper and hit him twice more on purpose! The two badly-damaged cars crawled into the pits, Penske was furious and as in Daytona, massive repairs were carried costing a 20 lap delay.
Again Mark and Hobbs flew and climbed up to sixth place while Ickx/Andretti won.
Le Mans was next. In the Sarthe a still-young Penske did not exactly get along well with the “suits” from the ACO and there was a lot of culture shock between the team and them (White had never been to Europe).
One mandatory task was to put two BP stickers on each car entered as BP was event sponsor.
Penske being sponsored by Sunoco, a smaller yet rival company, refused point blank at which point he was told the car would not be allowed to start.
Kirk White then had an epiphany and suggested putting the stickers at the back of the car on the vertical body lip, saying they would be covered with soot within an hour of the start...and Penske relented.
It wasn’t an easy week for the colonials who were more than a little lost in the old world with many misunderstandings and the sole Ferrari factory representative advising them on using a far too-short differential ratio.
Still Donohue qualified fourth and things were looking up...or were they? A tapping noise in the engine was making the team nervous on Thursday evening.
Penske accepted the dubious offer of a replacement engine, untested from the factory, as opposed to using the spare Traco block. He did it surreptitiously as he knew that Donohue and White would have refused...rightfully so it would turn out.
The pomp and national anthems before the sunny start was a very emotional moment for the team as the huge crowd enthusiastically saluted the star American Ferrari entry.
After three hours, Donohue was third behind the Wyer Gulf Porsches of Rodriguez and Siffert.
Mark moved up to second, the car was clearly on par with them...but then disaster at 20:15 the engine had a sudden and massive failure, game over.
The effort in the Sarthe was history, which was very, very hard for the team to take. What might have been if one of the Traco engines had been used?
The final race weekend of the Sunoco 512 M would be at Watkins Glen, for both the six hours on Saturday and the Can-Am race on Sunday. Again the car was entirely rebuilt.
Donohue got pole for the six hours in front of the 312 PB of Ickx/Andretti and several factory 917s.
He led at the start, ran away from the pack to a nine second lead...until the steering failed and he sailed off the track; day over. The disbelief in the team was profound, it felt like a curse.
In the Can-Am race he was outgunned predictably and then the engine failed. End of the saga, so much potential, five retirements, a really undeserved outcome.
The car was sold in 1972 to Robert Harrison of Pennsylvania, then in 1986 to Peter Heuberger of Chateau d’Oex, Switzerland.
Heuberger took it everywhere from races in Europe, Capetown, South Africa, the Aida circuit in Japan, Monterey and to the Bagatelle concours in Paris. He won at the Spa Ferrari Days in 1996.
That same year, a sale to Carlos Monteverde was cancelled due to legal issues. In 1998 it was bought by fashion tycoon Lawrence Stroll.
Bob Houghton in the UK restored it. Stroll competed in it and won in numerous Ferrari Challenge races until his recent acquisition of a Formula one team.
French dealer enthusiast Jean Guikas acquired the car at the end of 2021.
While there were other worthy cars in that Le Mans Legends class “Speed and Aerodynamics on the Mulsanne Straight”, none could hold a candle to this icon and Jean and one of his daughters paraded the mighty macchina around the fountain to collect the class winning award.
The other Ferrari entry in the class, also brought by Guikas, was 512 BB/LM S/N 35527. This was sold new to Chinetti and was the fastest BB/LM at Le Mans in 1981 before crashing out.
The following year it finished 9th. Among a succession of owners the main ones were Chris Cox who was very successful in the Ferrari Challenge in 1998.
The next season it was sold to Todd Morici who would go on to four victories and three podiums in the Challenge that year and the next two years.
In 2003, it was bought the first time by Jean Guikas who won the Paul Ricard Challenge round in July of 2006.
In 2007, Chuck Wegner of Chicago bought it, winning a Challenge race at Fontana, California, before reselling it to Guikas in 2011.
2023 will mark the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For this, a special winner’s trophy, 5-feet tall, was made and it was displayed right in the middle of the line up for this class, along with framed images of Le Mans editions from decades ago.
The Carrozzeria Touring post-2000 class featured two interesting Ferrari-based creations.
The 2015 Touring Superleggera Aero 3 was built on an F12berlinetta. Its sleek lines were highlighted by a spectacular rear dorsal fin extending from the roof and ending vertically at the rear; a throwback to design patterns not used for decades and reminiscent of the Bugatti Atlantic.
Ironically, current Le Mans prototypes now almost all feature such a fin for stability.
This event always brings out obscure cars almost no one has heard before and is part of the fun to expand one’s horizons and not be overly marque-centric.
One of these curiosities was the 1925 Itala Tipo 11 single seater with a 1050 cc...V12! 87 cc pistons, the size of a beaker of Lemoncino!
One class was organized in homage to Betty Kadoorie, who passed last year, she was the wife of major collector Michael Kadoorie.
It featured “Open American Sports Cars”. Apart of one each Allard, Chaparal MK1, Kurtis Kraft, etc., who has heard of a 1953 Marmeco Ardun Glasspar G2? There it was with a Mercury 4.7-litre engine and a plastic body; a true novelty back then.
The post-war original condition class was won by the Citroën SM Mylord Chapron cabriolet of Belgian Ferrari collector Thierry Dehaeck, one of just five made; when new they cost double the price of a standard SM.
The iconoclast cars from 1968 to 1980 was won by one doing a grand tour of all the concours this year: after winning silverware at Cavallino and Villa d’Este, the 365 P Tre-Posti Berlinetta Speciale was at it again.
Its very engaging owner did the mandatory parade fountain laps with one child on each side of the central driving position.
Also in that class was a Silver Shadow Estate Wagon for the ultimate picnic day out of course, and the “Thomas Crown Affair” Meyers Manx dune buggy in which Steve McQueen terrified Faye Dunaway on a New England beach. He himself supervised its build and made sure it had plenty of oomph thanks to a Corvair flat six tuned to 230 hp.
De Tomaso was honored by a class and there beyond several Panteras, including a Group 4, was the handsome new P72.
It was good to see the marque’s first Berlinetta, the gorgeous Vallelunga of which just 50 were made and a Mangusta, one of 402 made, the very handsome predecessor to the Pantera.
A one-off show car won the class: the 1973 Pantera 7 X Montella.
The 1950s barchetta class featured a car seen at many events but still little known: a 1953 625 TF. Its identity is a bit confused and confusing as it carries 0304 TF, 0306 TF and a tag stating 735S; one could call it schizophrenic!
Nevertheless, owned by respected collector Juan Quintano since the early 2000s, it has a well-known and confirmed history.
It made its debut June 29 as a factory entry in the hands of Mike Hawthorn at Monza for the 6th Grand Prix dell Autodromo. Handicapped by its stubby shape on the long straights the bow-tied Brit could only finish fourth.
On July 12, having received a smaller radiator grille, it came third in the hands of Umberto Maglioli in the Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti.
Early in 1954 it was bought by Argentine Luis Milan and shipped off to the southern hemisphere. Milan got decent results, including some podiums in Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata.
At the end of 1955, he sold it to star driver Froilan Gonzalez who did not race it himself though. Instead Milan continued to race his ex-car, with co-driver Milo Capotosi, and they won the Premio Primavera in October 1956 at Buenos Aires.
For 1957, it was bought by Brazilian Celso Lara Barberis, who kept it in Argentina but let others do the driving.
It won a couple of times with Cesar Rivero at the wheel but was now long in the tooth and a bit sorry looking. After a third place in Asuncion, Paraguay, it was retired, almost certainly with a dead engine because it then received the indignity of a...Lincoln V12 transplant!
It then disappeared for years only to reemerge when Italian automotive treasure hunter Franco Lombardi found it in a scrapyard in Sicily with empty engine bay. It was restored by Ellis Garuti in Rubiera near Modena.
A 625 engine was sourced and installed. It made its first appearance at the Mille Miglia in 1984 with Medici/Bottero and again with them in 1986.
In 1989, Brit Jeremy Agace bought it and competed in the same event. Then it was acquired by respected French Ferrari author Antoine Prunet who did the 1990 MM and Spa Ferrari Days in it.
Finally after further brief ownerships it passed to Juan Quintano in the early 2000s.
The most handsome in the class however despite the presence of two superb Maseratis, a 300S and a Birdcage, was the Talbot-Lago T26 GS Barchetta Motto.
It was stunningly beautiful as it perfectly incarnated the purest form of barchetta design, reminiscent of a 375 MM but prettier and sleeker. It won the class and also post-war Best-of-Show.
As per Chantilly Arts et Elegance tradition the actual Concours d’Elegance gathered nine one-off brand new prototypes by manufacturers paired with a fashion house’s bespoke creation presented on a fashion model.
Bentley, Aston Martin, Bugatti, de Tomaso, McLaren, Aston Martin, DS (the luxury brand of Citroën), Renault, VW and... Delage? Yes Delage, yet another great marque in the midst of a rebirth attempt.
While some of these were elegant, others outlandish or plain ugly, the Delage was most unusual for a supercar in having its driver sit in front of the passenger, who had better be a slim model like those posing with the cars that day as the space is quite tight.
It looks like a jet fighter or an F1 car with Airforce jet-like fairing, gaps beween the central body and that covering the wheels and a pop up canopy...and there is a V12 at the back.
A 7.6 litre V12 producing 1,100 hp, 990 of these from the actual engine, the rest from an electric motor.
It is the first road car ever with F1-inspired contractive suspension and was set up by 1997 F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve. Only 30 will be built at €2M each so hurry with your checkbook.
The Aston Martin DBR22 won the class. Each car was paraded around the fountain with a model walking alongside the car, very glamorous tribute to true concours d’elegance of days gone by.
On the side of the Concours d’Etat there are the club enclosures. The Club Ferrari France had a nice selection of cars starting with S/N 13367, a 1970 Daytona raced at Le Mans. It is not a Group 4 however.
It started life as a street car in Milan but in 1974 Modenese workshops made it into a racing car for Chinetti. He then sold it to a Dr. Harry Jones of Fort Lauderdale who raced at Le Mans with Marcel Mignot finishing 16th in 1974 and 13th in 1975 joined by Philippe Gurdjian with a DNF at Daytona 1975.
Local character, Preston Henn, of Swap Shop and racing fame then acquired it. He raced it at Daytona in 1978 but did not finish.
In 1979 he had better luck at Sebring and if the result wasn’t much (17th) as Daytonas were by then long in the tooth, the 365 GTB/4 gained some notoriety as the Miss Budweiser car which Henn shared with his daughter Bonnie and Lynn St James.
It was then successively sold to European owners John Bosch followed by Philip Lancksweert and Pierre Mellinger.
In the club enclosures there was an Aston Martin Supercar, the Valkyrie, frankly ugly, looking like some bottom-feeding deep-ocean creature beached after a storm.
In front of one of the chateau’s entrances there was a special display of BRM single seaters with several of the howling 16-cylinder engines; not a sound you forget if you have seen them at historic races.
A long catered gastronomic lunch for the entrants and VIPs as well. More or less elaborate picnics with fine wines and Champagne for the clubs was an obvious part of this day devoted to the art of living: this is France after all. Sunday lunch is important!
Other activities included hot air ballooning (tethered), sailboating on the chateau’s canals, pony rides for the kids, period hair salons, flower arranging classes, etc.
There were centuries-old table games laid out on the expansive lawns and you could see people try them out, harkening back to simpler less hurried times.
The Chantilly Concours is all that, a dream escape into a picture-perfect day with world class cars at one of the grandest locations man has ever created.
Mick Walsh editor-at-large of Classic & Sports Car told me during a long chat that this is his favorite concours and he has been to all of them; high praise indeed.
I can’t wait for the next one which will be in late June, 2024, as organiser Patrick Peter of Peter Auto declared.
Watch this space or see: https://www.chantillyartsetelegance.com/en.