6 oddballs on the London Concours lawn in 2023
It’s an unusual place for a cricket pitch, to say the least. The Honourable Artillery Company’s lawn in London is surrounded by glass towers and terraced homes that are certainly within striking distance of a well-struck “six.”
It’s not the sound of leather on willow that bounces off the buildings today, however, but the aural delights of internal-combustion engines. The annual London Concours is taking over the field. There are 80 cars of all ages on show, some tunefully firing up their engines to entertain the crowds or to impress the judges during the three-day event in the city’s heart.
Among the highlights are a Make Green Great Again display with a suitably hued selection of new and old from Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Bentley, and more; a French corner with Alpines and Citroëns; a celebration of Lamborghini’s 60th anniversary; and a collection of Land Rovers commemorating the marque’s 75th year.
Given that the venue is home to the occasional off-spin pitch, however, it was the oddballs to which we were drawn. A ripple of applause, please, for this gallery of googlies that pushed the boundaries.
1921 Leyat Hélica
French aviator Marcel Leyat seemingly lopped off the wings from one of his aircraft to create the Hélica. Since the big prop provided thrust, there was no need for a clutch, transmission, or drive axle, which made the Hélica reliable—if rather risky for pedestrians and cyclists. Some 30 were made, and only two survive today.
1962 Crayford Mini Mojito
This beautiful beach car is actually newly built by recently revived coachbuilder Crayford. Using yacht-standard teak for the flooring and rear deck, the sun-seeking runabout can be specified with an original Mini motor or an electric powertrain.
1971 Monteverdi 375 High Speed Fissore
If it weren’t for a falling out with Enzo Ferrari, there would be no Lamborghini, and the same is true of lesser-known sports car maker Monteverdi. Peter Monteverdi was Ferrari’s official importer for Switzerland—until he had a disagreement with Il Commendatore, who had demanded Monteverdi pay for 100 cars up front. Monteverdi commissioned his own Lamborghini rival, sourcing bodywork from Fissore and power from a 7.2-liter Chrysler V-8. Just 80 cars were built before his money ran out.
1973 Peugeot 504 Break Riviera
Pininfarina showcased a Peugeot 504 shooting brake at the Geneva Motor Show in 1972, but what happened to it afterwards is unknown. One fan was so enamored with the design that he employed HC Classics to recreate the car on the chassis of a 1973 Series 1 504 cabriolet. Aren’t we all glad he did?
1995 Autech Gavia Zagato
Autech is Nissan’s skunkworks, and one of the wildest projects is this collaboration with Zagato. Based on the Nissan Leopard, its aerodynamic aluminum panels were hand-beaten by artisans in Italy. Under the hood is a three-liter turbocharged V-6 from the 300ZX. Just 16 were made.
1999 Bentley Continental Sedanca Coupe
This British bruiser is a rare beast. Bentley made only 73 examples of the T-topped Continental Sedanca coupe, with Mulliner assembling a further six. A pair of glass roof panels could be removed and stored in the trunk, disrupting the car’s lines but opening the cockpit to the elements.