Speed / June 2018

Concours d'Elégance Suisse 2018: The Rake's Review

Concours d’Elégance Suisse is a gathering of the greatest and the good in the classic car world, a display of motoring elégance that is only rivalled by the idyllic backdrop…
A stunningly restored Ferrari from the Italian manufacturer's golden era.

Mother Nature was especially kind two weeks ago in Coppet, a small Swiss municipality that sits on the south-western waters of Lake Geneva, and is, perhaps by design, surrounded by the mostly Chasselas, Doral, and Chardonnay grape varieties that make up the bulk of the Nyon region's excellent (but sadly under-exported) white wine. Not a cloud was in sight as a fleet of spectacularly rare and pristine motors that ranged from 1920 to 1985 gathered in the grounds of Château De Coppet — the home of Madame de Staël — for the third edition of Concours D’Elégance Suisse, which The Rake was immensely honoured and proud to be a key partner of.

The roars of 35 classic and modern-classic engines — although I believe a mid-30s Bugatti, unfortunately, didn't start — provided the soundtrack on Friday morning as we set off for a leisurely 70-kilometre drive alongside the northern edge of Lake Geneva and as far away from main roads as some car's chassis would sustain. Unbeknown to myself, there are strict rules and regulations regarding planning permissions in Switzerland and specifically Geneva. As such, all of the mellow yellow houses featured the same burnt red roof tiling, which only added to the overall ambience. We set off at 9am sharp, a trio of Rake staff riding shotgun in a 1965 Corvette Stingray, the latest Aston Martin Superleggera (on its maiden voyage on Swiss soil),  and the latest Bentley Bentayga, which I can confirm is as luxurious a ride as you imagine it would be. So far, so spoilt. We headed towards Cully, a UNESCO protected site on the north-eastern side of the lake and six kilometres from Lausanne, and gathered for an easy-going lunch.

The location was idyllic, with slowing ageing fishing boats bobbing slowly in the foreground, uninhabitable cliffs to the west, cloud-topped hills to the east and the gentle slopes of Nyon's vineyards to the rear. The sun hammered down on us and reflected off svelte body kits of the posing classic cars while we enjoyed glasses of Champagne, cured meats and Switzerland’s finest chocolate mousse. Following lunch, we took our seats again, only this time in the back of a one-of-one Rolls Royce Wraith from 1939. The saddle work in the car was still in its original condition, and those years of wear only heightened its comfort. We relaxed, took in our surroundings, contemplated our regret for ignoring the benefits of suncream and waved at local onlookers like we were Queen Elizabeth II. As dusk came in, we arrived back at the Château for a barbecue.

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Benedict Browne

Benedict is The Rake's Associate Style Editor.