Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Midsummer Classic at Stoke Park

Last Saturday I attended an Aston Martin Concours d’Elegance in the wonderful setting of Stoke Park, where a line up of fifty Astons dating from 1929 to the present day were waiting to be judged. Stoke Park proved to be a fitting location for such a day, having also been the setting for scenes from the James Bond film ‘Goldfinger’. I was invited to be a judge by the very personable Nick Mee, whose Aston Martin garage in Hammersmith is a veritable treasure trove of pre-owned Astons that Nick kindly has lent me from time to time for Hackett photo shoots.

Judging motor cars was not something I had ever done before, and to be honest I know very little about cars. Knowing that these sort of events are taken very seriously indeed, I thought I had better dress for the occasion: a khaki cotton suit, blue striped shirt and navy polka dot tie combination was donned on what proved to be a blisteringly hot day - yes, I was overdressed!

When I arrived, I was given a badge and a clipboard and suddenly I felt like an expert. I strolled knowingly from car to car, marking each one on style, presentation, condition and provenance. This was no mean task I can assure you, as to my untrained eye they all looked immaculate - which is more than I can say for many of the owners, who obviously spend all their money on their cars and not on their wardrobe. However, one chap caught my eye, as he looked splendid dressed in a denim-coloured linen jacket and buff cotton trousers, topped off with a Panama hat. I gave him full marks for style and presentation, though for the life of me I can't remember what model his Aston was... I was also intrigued by an early 1980s Volante that had a boot fitted with a range of powder blue luggage - very Roger Moore, but sadly missing one piece, which resulted in a point being deducted.

After an exhausting day of judging, the evening was rounded off with a dinner where the order of the night was black tie. I have to say, the Aston owners looked great, although someone on my table was wearing a ready-made bow tie. Oh dear. I shall have to knock a point off for that.

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