2011 Wilton House classic rendezvous and supercars event
On Sunday, the 18th Earl of Pembroke played host to the third annual supercar day at his country pile, Wilton House. A bit of a ‘Goodwood-lite’, Wilton House is a much smaller, less corporate event with modest ticket prices and a relaxed festival atmosphere. Whilst there isn’t the motorsport flavour or track-side ambience that makes the Goodwood Festival of Speed so unique, Wilton House offers a similarly stately setting, and the opportunity to get close to an eclectic array of exotica.
Entry costs a tenner for adults and kids get in for a fiver, with proceeds split between a local hospital charity and the Wilton House Trust. Situated three miles outside Salisbury, the village of Wilton is not a hard place to reach – the main A303 is close by – but local roads struggle to cope with the volume of traffic. After a brisk 45-minute drive from Marlborough, I spent another hour crawling in traffic half a mile from the venue. If the event grows, organisers should look at alternative parking solutions, and avoid bottlenecking show traffic through one entrance onto the estate. At least the traffic jam was interesting – my Audi providing the filling in a 550 Maranello/Maserati MC12 sandwich. The sight of balmy August air shimmering with riot-grade heat haze from roasting V12s provided a welcome diversion from the boredom.
Once you’re finally in, is it worth the wait? Well there’s certainly more than enough on display to warrant the entry fee. E-types rub door handles with Koenigseggs, from the mundane to the sublime, classics mix with supercar. Yet despite the upscale setting it never feels like a snooty affair. The absence of roped-off corporate enclosures to shield the Veuve-Clique set from the camera-wielding enthusiast give Wilton House an accessible feel.
In front of the main house the ‘hypercar’ display starred an Aston Martin One-77, which attracted huge attention despite being flanked by an asbo-loud Ferrari Enzo, a Koenigsegg CCX, McLaren MP4-12C and a gold-on-black Bugatti Veyron. Car clubs were also out in force with a big turnout from the Aston Martin Owner’s Club, who sported some gems including a particularly striking signal red DB5.
Local dealers and trade stands also dusted off their wares, with Swindon-based Dick Lovett Sporting putting a brace of Ferraris on the front lawn, ranging from the contemporary 599 GTO and 458 Italia, through to the limited specials – Enzo, F40, F50 and 288 GTO. Mercedes also had an official stand with the SLS, and a C63 AMG on display, whilst Morgan’s Three Wheeler drew lots of positive attention. Forget the contemporary stuff though – standing out like a Constable original at an exhibition of Ikea prints, a gorgeous Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta SWB was the show-stopper for me.
Wilton House is worth a look if you want to get close to a large array of supercars and classics in an archetypal, bucolic English setting. There’s an easygoing atmosphere to the day, with beer tents and live music jostling for attention against some exotic and rare metal and it’s certainly more of an occasion than your average car club meet. Bringing a picnic rather than relying on the onsite catering is a good idea though – queues for the burger vans were almost as long as the traffic jam outside the venue. The only worry with an event like this, is that because it’s good value, not overcrowded and relatively uncommercial, it’ll probably get busier in future years. As it is, it’s a pretty appealing way to while away a Sunday in sunny August. Just take some ear defenders with you.
Wilton House video posted on YouTube by KeithBrandy:
Wilton House Supercars 2011 pictures