An aluminum body covered a space frame made of “Elektron” magnesium and an alloy that weighed just 30kg, and achieved an impressive drag coefficient of 0.25 that helped the car reach a top speed of 142.9 miles per hour. This car helped further the utilization of streamlined design in passenger cars and racing cars, much like the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Lungo Berlinetta that won “Best of Show.”
Design, whether in the world of watches or cars, is always subject to personal preferences, and just as the RM 11-03 is surely not everyone’s cup-o-tea, the early aerodynamic automobiles had their fair share of critics. However, no matter what you think of the look of these cars, or Richard Mille’s timepieces, you cannot deny the impressive engineering found in both.
With these parallels in mind throughout the weekend in Chantilly, I found myself enjoying the event more than any other I’ve attended. I’ve been going to car shows since I was a little kid and having lived in Los Angeles for the past 9 years – very little surprises me anymore when it comes to vehicles. But as I walked around Le Nôtre’s gardens, I found myself slack-jawed time and time again. I found the variety among the 100 vehicles competing in the “Concours d’État” category to be more impressive than that of the other Concours event I recently attended in Northern California.
A 1969 Alpine Renault A110 1300 S, 1937 Delage D6-70 S Coach Letourneur & Marchand, and 1965 Citroen DS 19 Chapron Majesty all sharing the same lawn, separated by ponds and a canal, on a property that’s eight centuries old?! It’s not even a contest, Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille is the Concours to attend.
I thought about the various people in Paris that I had shared the purpose of my trip with, all of their eyes had lit up at the mention of Chantilly. When I had arrived, it was quickly apparent why the town that’s home to roughly 11,000 is held in such high regard.
The Château de Chantilly, once a home to the cousins of the kings of France, has been home to the Musée Condé since 1898. It is truly a sight to behold, as are The Great Stables and Chantilly Racetrack that lie just up the road. Construction on the oldest part of the remaining estate, the Petit Château, began in 1560, while the “Grand Château” was commissioned to be rebuilt in 1876, with the original section having been destroyed in 1799 during the French Revolution.
The orchestrator of this restoration was Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale, the last to inhabit the palatial home. The Duke bequeathed the Domain of Chantilly, and all the artifacts within, to Institut de France on the condition that the home remain as it was at the time of his death, and that the pieces not be loaned out. The collection of French art and literature is rivaled only by The Louvre, so that should give you some idea of the importance of this place in French culture.
Privileged doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt to be invited to admire the impressive collections during a cocktail hour, don a tux for a black tie gala in the Grand Stables, and roam the 115-hectare gardens throughout the course of the weekend. Had there not been a single automobile present, I would have been perfectly content to sit and admire the work of legendary French landscape architect André Le Nôtre, but that was not the case.
Instead, the grounds that were brilliantly conceived by the man behind Versailles, Fontainebleau, and the Tuileries, to name a few, played host to a jaw-dropping selection of automotive hardware for the 3rd consecutive year. Hopefully, it will continue to do so for many years to come because an event like this is where future automotive enthusiasts are made.
In addition to the Concours d’État, there’s also the Concours d’Elegance which features concept cars presented with one model representing the work of a fashion designer, and the Concours des Clubs, which brought out 800 different cars from 40 different clubs. If that’s not enough for you, there’s also the many parking lots just across the road from the chateau, where I found cars ranging from a 1966 Ford Fairline 500 to a mint condition Bentley Turbo R, a criminally underrated car that you’d be surprised to find won’t set you back all that much considering what you’re getting in return.
Whether you are a casual admirer of automobiles, a diehard enthusiast, or deep-pocketed collector that falls somewhere in the middle, Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille is an event you must attend. You will be most welcome, as long as you adhere to the dress code which isn’t too much to ask for such a grand event. A copious amount of wine will be drunk, an excessive amount of bread will be devoured, and you may even find yourself discussing the merits of the Facel Vega and Alfa Romeo Gulia with John Malkovich in the wee hours of the morning. richardmille.com