The Silverstone Classic, which fêtes historic motorcars from across the globe, celebrated its quarter-century this weekend. The event lets classic racing cars half a century (or more) old relive their glory days on Britain’s Formula 1 track in a series of races.
It wasn’t just the event reaching a milestone this weekend. 2015 saw the Bentley S1 celebrate its 60th anniversary. The car was launched alongside its near-identical twin sister, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, in 1955. The models were significant because they saw the beginning of the shared bodystyle approach between Bentley and Rolls that continued until the Arnage and Silver Seraph models of the 1990s, at which point Vickers decided to sell both marques.
There were no Silver Clouds this weekend as we enjoyed Silverstone hospitality courtesy of Pure Michigan, but a lone S1 opened the anniversary parade, leading the cars celebrating a special birthday this year, which included the fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz SL, also turning 25.
This version, the last with a fabric roof, caused controversy when Princess Diana took delivery of one. She was married to Charles at the time, and her decision to ditch her Jaguar XJS for the Teutonic cruiser caused such an outcry that she was eventually compelled to return the car to Mercedes. At Silverstone, a fleet of them – nearly all, coincidentally, silver – took to the track for a birthday lap.
The Aston Martin DB6 has reached an age where it can probably be described as ‘venerable’. Were you to use the term to describe a 50-year-old man, he might take offence; we hope 50-year-old cars might be less sensitive.
The DB6 has long lived in the shadow of its older brother, James Bond’s DB5, though it was perhaps easier to live with. It was more a cruiser than a sports coupe, and it was the first Aston to be offered with power-assisted steering and air conditioning. Aston owns the DB6 in which Paul McCartney reportedly composed ‘Hey Jude’; the car was fitted with a reel-to-reel tape recorder for moments when inspiration struck him, like it did that day.
The DB6 sold for around £90,000 when new. Nowadays, you’ll need at least £200,000 for a good one, with extra-special examples touching £1 million. The combined value of the vast number on the track on Saturday was probably not far off of Greece’s national debt.
A final anniversary of note is that of Alpina. The tuning house was founded in 1965 in Bavaria, and has been turning out tweaked versions of almost all of BMW’s product range since.
Alpina is actually seven years older than BMW’s in-house tuner, M Division, and what it produces goes just as quickly as any M car. Should you care, they’re currently producing the world’s fastest production diesel, the D3 Bi-Turbo – so it was quite apt that a slew of Alpinas from across the years came together for a raucous lap of the Silverstone track.