It was last week the Zoute Grand Prix, a Rally dedicated to gentlemen drivers and a tremendous popular event.
The elegant seaside town was indeed the place to be towards a prestigious autumnal weekend, indeed the meeting point for all the collectors of automotive ancestors or more elegant recent cars and all the automobile enthusiasts. A classic major car event in Belgium, in the presence of the finest multi-cylinders of the automobile history. To attend the various organised events throughout the weekend allowed in having a comprehensive overview on the history of the automobile world of exception. As well during the Rally, the Bonhams sales, the GT Tour, the Competition of Elegance or the Top marquees. Various opportunities to admire and to discover from every angle and in movement any details of a Jaguar, Bentley, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini, Bmw, Maseratti, McLaren, Land Rover, Ferrari, Audi, Tesla, Alfa Romeo, Rolls-Royce… In brief, an exclusive event in a city of exception: where both owners and lovers of beautiful mechanics were able to live their dreams in open air.
The Zoute Rally was the opportunity for the drivers, with their cars registered between 1920 and 1965, to participate the first day to a regularity test and to a 1/4 mile to Heist. On the second day to a ballad on a course drawn in the Flemish Ardennes with a stage in Kortrijk. A seductive and surprising route that passed through Damme, Kruisouthem and Kortrijk among others. Two driving days that combines quality, quantity and innovation to the success of the event and the happiness of all. Even a Bmw 328 of 1939 usually exposed at Autoworld has taken the departure over there.
The Concours of Elegance this year had nothing to envy to Pebble Beach or the Villa d’Este, with remarkable and exclusive bodied cars exposed. The unique classic cars were displayed on Saturday at the mini golf in the heart of the Zoute, and on Sunday at the Royal Zoute Golf Club. Where the International Jury could be able to decide between the seventy participants selected by an organizing committee with strict criteria. These were then parading before the public on Albert Square in the afternoon. Friday night is the traditional day to the Bonhams Sale, during which the famous London auction house was selling vintage cars. As a Porsche 911R from 2016 or a Porsche 928S that belonged to Derek Bell, a former five-time winner at Le Mans 24 hours, and many others to the joy of collectors. Or the Sunday morning to the GT Tour, during which it was possible to admire more recent sportive and unusual cars in action.
A time for celebrations, happiness and passion throughout a dream weekend at the discovery of prestigious and exceptional models in movement. The general public as well as the personalities were present in Knokke, like Paul Belmondo who attended the rally on a Maseratti 3500 GT or the Belgian Olympic medalists in Rio like Nafissatou Thiam and Tom Boon were present too. A highly exclusive event not only for car dreamers, but in fact where everybody was welcome to have an eye on the cars free of charge, there were so many differents occasions to admire these dreamcars in various settings: that you had the impression that all the weekend spent in a few minutes. A cocktail of passion, rarity, prestige and exclusivity mixing with younger and older, collectors, drivers and a larger audiance… The formula acquired indeed its nobility and its success, the organizers of the Zoute Grand Prix will export it from next year in May in Spain to Sotogrande in Andalusia, near the trendy town of Marbella and some reputed automotive circuits like Jerez de la Frontera, which was the witness of many Formula 1 Grand Prix . An exceptional location for a new prestigious event.
When the dreams becomes reality, like Sir Winston Churchill once said: “I’m always satisfied, but only with the best”.
Text and pictures: Olivier Bulto.