5 one-of-one unicorns we saw shine at the Salon Privé
One of one. It’s the singular dream of car connoisseurs the world over to have the only example ever made, and for the obvious reason that car manufacturers generally need to build in bulk to make any profit, it’s not common to find these unicorns. Yet on the lawn at Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace Salon Privé, a rather fancy-pants annual car show, there were no less than five such rarities on display. Feast your eyes on these mythical beasts.
1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider by Scaglietti
This 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider by Scaglietti is the only right-hand drive California Spyder ever made. The young Italian racing driver who originally ordered the car specified it just like Ferrari’s first racing cars, with the steering wheel on the right, so that the driver would be able to accurately judge the inside of the track on clockwise-running race circuits. From 1967 to 2013 it remained in the hands of collector Dennis De Ferranti, before being discovered by supercar and classic specialist Tom Hartley Jr., who sold it on to its current owner. The car was subsequently fully restored by GTO Engineering and earned its Ferrari Classiche Certification Red Book.
1971 Citroën SM Cabriolet by Heuliez
Henri Chapron famously chopped the top off the Citröen SM to create one of the world’s most beautiful convertibles but he had a little-known rival in the form of French coachbuilder Heuliez. In 1971 Heuliez created a remarkable prototype T-topped version with slatted “lamellar” panels that retracted inwards to open the cabin to the elements. The ingenious roof was granted a patent, but Citröen never put it into production, making this example the only one in the world.
1922 Bentley EXP4
EXP4 is the last of four experimental cars built by Bentley Motors in 1922 and chiefly used to test the idea of fitting four-wheel brakes. Chief engineer Frank Burgess rigged up a way of measuring the improved stopping power using a brush that would apply paint to the road when the brakes where hit. It was enough to convince the skeptical W.O. Bentley to adopt the system on future models. In later life, the same car was fitted with a 4 ½ liter engine and rebodied as a saloon (sedan), then a tourer, and was even a successful racer. The records might show that it was one of four, but with that rich history we reckon it’s absolutely unique.
1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 B Convertible by Graber
Before the war Alfa Romeo’s most powerful models would wear their MM Mille Miglia badges with great pride. In total, just 107 6C 2300 B models were built in MM trim and only one was ever made with a convertible body by the Swiss coachbuilder Graber in 1938. Power was from a 2.3-liter six-cylinder engine with a cast iron block but aluminum cylinder head and the MM cars ran with twin Solex carburretors in lieu of the standard model’s single carb, upping the ante from 76 to 95 hp and boosting top speed to 90 mph. According to factory records this car took 1888 man-hours to build and cost 5500 Swiss Francs—an absolute fortune at the time.
Ferrari Testarossa Spider
Despite its appearance in the classic video game Outrun, Ferrari didn’t make a Testarossa Spider. Well, that is, apart from the one custom-built for Fiat boss Giovanni Agnelli to celebrate his 20 years at the helm of Fiat. The car featured a unique louvered engine cover, was finished in bright silver paintwork, and was fitted with a Valeo clutchless manual transmission to save L’Avvocato some legwork. A unicorn, indeed.