Masterpieces 2017 ... very private and exclusive

Best of Show Celebration

Best of Show Celebration


Jüchen, 7th - 9th of July, 2017 

There are countless events throughout the classic car season, some of them are popular and need no more introduction, some are small and regional and a few are very private and exclusive. The Masterpieces in Schloss Dyck are certainly one of the latter because despite being in the third edition it’s likely that not many people have heard about them although Schloss Dyck certainly rings a bell.

The Schloss Dyck Classic Days is the biggest and likely most popular event of its kind in Germany and it often compared to the Goodwood events with a lot of attractions including demonstration runs on a closed road including an alley, picnic-area and classic car fields and a concourse. With increasing popularity an event often changes and what worked in a smaller version gets difficult with increasing size and changing crowds. The concourse of the Classic Days was one of this elements that started as a key feature of the Classic Days but became more and more difficult to handle with the number of visitors flocking to the Orangerie peninsula in front of the castle. At times access even had to be restricted due to the geography with very limited exit paths. But not only the access became a problem, more and more owners did not feel comfortable any more having their priced treasures in between the masses. Also with increasing visitor numbers the interest shifted from the exotic French coach built 8-cylinder towards the known cars from the time of the German economic miracle, the exotics were still admired but the other cars brought back more memories.

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Finally the organizer Marcus Herfort and a few friendly collectors came up with the idea to set up a new event to give those a platform who want to present their car in a more private format and the idea of the Masterpieces was born. But not only should the Masterpiece be another concourse, the idea was to go new ways compared to many similar events. Some might say the American concourses are very much about the restoration and work invested in the car rather than the car itself (although one has to be fair and attest that this has changed a lot in previous years), others are judged by designers and artists who might put elegance on first place but at the Masterpieces the focus lies on originality. The international jury led by Christian Kramer includes restorers as well as historians and marque specialists and has the aim to inspect the car more carefully over a full two days event than it would be possible in single day events where the time with the cars is very limited. As mentioned in a symposium at the sponsoring Classic Car Trust premises in the recently finished rooms of the former mews the cars are checked by a very strict list to give as much objectivity as possible in a decision made by humans.

Furthermore the Masterpieces are intended as a meeting of the collectors rather than a spectators event. Although after a closed inaugural edition in 2015 there were tickets available in the last two, the amount of people attending is negligible as originally intended giving the owners a rather private relaxed atmosphere. This atmosphere is best visible on the Friday evening after the arrival and scrutineering when the owners are having a nice barbecue rather than the formal dinners they will attend the next evenings. This is the ambience the organizers had in mind to bring together the collectors as friends rather than competitors.

65 cars in 15 different classes came to Jüchen for the third edition ranging from a mighty Napier Record car from the Edwardian era to the Ferrari F50 in the Supercars class. As one can see in the galleries the overall quality was superb but certainly there are always cars that stand out, be it because of their rarity, their influence in the development of the car, their provenance or simply personal taste of the onlooker. Some cars are very much known in the scene, others have a rare outing or even a post restoration debuted making the trip worth alone.

One of these debuts was the BMW 328 MM freshly finished after a 10-year long research and restoration to bring it back to original configuration in the most sensitive way possible. Being one of the 4 team cars for the 1940 MM by BMW the car ended up in pieces as a long time restoration project that was never finished before being bought by the present owner who entrusted Tom Fischer with the lengthy resurrection of this important piece of BMW history. Dating no less than 10 years before the Jaguar XK120 in the same class one could easily see how the lines of the William Lyons cat were influenced by the earlier Touring design. The BMW 328 with its 2-litre engine straight-six was the car to beat in the two litre class before the war but to compete at the Mille Miglia against the bigger capacity engined cars the 328 had to be lightened and streamlined giving the MM Coupe and Spiders a sleeker line compared to the series production cars. 

One step further with an even smaller engine was the Adler Trumpf Rennlimousine in the streamliner class. With just 1.5 litre displacement the Adler was a small and nimble car but to compete in the 24h of Le Mans it needed the bodywork of aerodynamic pioneer Baron Reinhard von König-Fachsenfeld. After setting records in Montlhery three cars where entered at Le Mans winning their class and finishing sixth overall. The car of Huschke von Hanstein retired but three years later he was the one that led the BMW 328 MM armada to the overall victory at the Mille Miglia. Talking about aerodynamic before the war another name is not to be missed: Paul Jaray. The Hungary engineer and aerodynamic expert created the Tatra 77 and 87 as seen on the lawn.

Another rarely seen class are the sport racers ranging from the late 1960s to the early 1980s before Group C took over Le Mans. No less than three exceptional Porsche were lined up in front of the castle. When the regulations at La Sarthe were changed limiting the capacity to 5 litre Porsche finally challenged for the overall victory rather than just class victories. The 917K was the first car to give Porsche the desired success to lay the foundations of the Le Mans history of the marque from Zuffenhausen that should be second to none. By that time both Porsche and the rival Ferrari built a race car to suit each condition and so the small Porsche 908/03 was developed for tracks like the Nürburgring and even more so for the Targa Florio. Exactly these two venues are in the records of the car on display, chassis 908/03-003. It was the practice car for Hans Herrmann at the 1970 Targa Florio before finishing second teamed up with Richard Attwood at the Nürburgring 1000 km in the same month. Today the car is finished in the yellow livery of the Nürburgring race and for all those interested in owning one of them: it was just consigned for the RM Sotheby´s Monterey auction where it will go over the block in a couple of weeks.

After the dominance of the 917 the regulations changed again and the 917 was not eligible for Le Mans or the Sportscar World Championship any more, but the 917 lived on in the Interseries and CanAm. The 917/10-001 was the prototype used as engine and wind tunnel test car before being raced by Willi Kauhsen in the Interseries. Today the car is in a mix of white and gulf livery remembering the test days and just like the 908/03 it was at RM Sotheby's auction in Paris earlier this year but failed to sell.

After the 917 it was the 936 that was the spearhead of Porsche efforts in Le Mans and the car on display is the only non-factory car ran by Kremer Racing in the DRM (Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft). Chassis 936-005 was presented by three times Le Mans winner Marco Werner who campaigned the car on selected vintage races for its present owner. This car certainly brought back some memories for Jürgen Barth who won in the sister car alongside Jacky Ickx and Hurley Haywood in 1977 at Le Mans and who presented the 908/3 that day.

Now it is time to talk about the major award winners and the most important cars on the field. Ferrari is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and most likely no concourse will be held without its own Ferrari class. The Masterpieces were no exception and certainly the two Vignale Coupe on the field were the stars of the class. Although the 212/225 S (chassis 0170ET) might be the better-looking car the brutal 250S (chassis 0156ET) was certainly the favourite once entering the field. The very first of the three-litre 250-series and a one-off the car combines rarity with provenance as this is a genuine Mille Miglia winner in the hands of Giovanni Bracco and Alfonso Rolfo in 1952 beating the all new Mercedes-Benz W194, better known as the 300 SL Prototype. The Ferrari was also one of the favourites of the judges as it won the most prestigious post-war cup that day in Dyck.

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL on the other hand was featured in a class of Roadsters including the cars of Rudolf Caracciola (who finished 4th behind the Ferrari in the 1952 MM) and Clark Gable.

But those were not the only prominent Mercedes-Benz owners seen that day on the lawn. One of the most important pre-war Mercedes was awarded Best of Show: the famous Malcolm Campbell Mercedes-Benz 710 SS known by its registration “GP10”. Apart from a later repaint the car was presented in exceptional original condition including the original stamps of the Royal Automobile Club for the scrutineering at one of the Brooklands events. Campbell is the archetype of the British sportsman competing in record runs with its famous Bluebirds both on land and sea and GP10 was a common sight in Brooklands and the Tourist Trophy at that time.

One might think that Best of Show is the most prestigious award given at a concourse but again the Masterpieces are different as there was still a car to top that. Even more original was a duo of Packards brought to Jüchen by dealer Axel Schütte. Both the Packard 236 Phaeton from 1926 and the winning 645 Phaeton of 1929 carried a lot of wonderful patina but in full working condition. What would be the dream for every preservation class is exactly the car the founders of the Masterpieces had in mind when setting up this wonderful event making this a deserved winner. 

Now in its third edition the Masterpieces established themselves among the collectors mostly from the Benelux and the German-speaking countries. As word spreads about the great relaxed atmosphere and the quality of cars we hope that future editions will get even more international with more entries from the UK or even overseas. Just as the event slowly opens to the spectators it also opens to the press, making this report possible. We hope we can help to put this event to a wider prominence to make it even more attractive in the future.

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Report & Images … Peter Singhof