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Saville Row Concours – how traditional contributes to sustainability

I found this year’s Saville Row Concours much more interesting than 2023 and started off by attending ‘The Future of Fuels – the road to zero emissions’ in the Royal Academy which was informative and well chaired by Simon Taylor. A key point is that, with longevity being a key part of sustainability, good quality cars and tailoring have something to contribute to the achievement of zero emissions.

Word and Photos by Keith Mainland

Out in Saville Row there was the usual mixture of old and new as well as ICE and EV. I’m still struggling with the latter as a world-saving solution but the seminar did provide some useful context as well as hope that current reality will influence the rather blinkered view of regulators. There was also a broadly held recognition that the repurposing of existing vehicles will be an essential part of the necessary reduction in consumption of resources and that, in the longer term, a mixture of methods of propulsion will be used for land and air travel according to their strengths and weaknesses.
With things to see in the tailoring companies as well as on the street, the partially restored Spitfire airframe in Gieves and Hawkes was particularly interesting. With just 52 operational hours spent doing aerial reconnaissance, AA810 is the longest serving Spitfire Mk1 survivor and was flown by Scot Alexander ‘Sandy’ Gunn who took part in the actual ‘Great Escape’. Car-wise I found myself admiring two Rolls Royces, not a usual favourite of mine. The first was the recreation of John Lennon’s 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V with its Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band paint job. The Rolls would evidently have been seen around Saville Row in the 60s because Apple were at No3 at that time.
The second Rolls that intrigued me was Lunaz’s electric 1956 Silver Cloud S1. I learnt at the seminar that this car was unused by the person who inherited it and deteriorating. This is evidently not uncommon as younger people find themselves owning cars they find unappealing for modern road conditions. So, if you would prefer to see the cars in use, a restoration including an updated power train is a viable option. Given the S1 lacked the V8 of later Clouds and Rolls-Royce used to claim ‘the only thing you will hear is the clock’ this conversion seemed more palatable.
Other things that caught my eye were more traditional: the oldest MG with its original bodywork, the 1913 Sunbeam 16/20 and a beautifully detailed 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster. I was amused by the matching leather engine cover and upholstery of Everrati’s Mercedes-Benz SL ‘Pagoda”.


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