UAE gets its first Concours d’Elegance car rally

Taking place at the Burj Al Arab the invite-only event will mix vintage Ferraris with modern bespoke Bentleys.

Neil Churchill October 20, 2016

It sounds funny now, but just over four years ago it was illegal in the UAE to drive a car that was more than 20 years old.

The law, which had existed since 2008, discarded all motor vehicles that were two decades old or more, and even ten-year old cars were not allowed to be sold.

Since 2012 however, when a special registration was passed allowing vintage cars to be driven legally on roads, there’s been a noticeable rise in classic motors across the UAE, which we at EDGAR have been pretty happy about.

Now, to complete the handbrake turn from four years ago, the UAE’s adoration for vintage cars will be displayed at the inaugural Gulf Concours, to be held at the Burj Al Arab next month. Set in the grounds of the luxury hotel’s new terrace, the invitation-only event will be the most notable gathering of priceless and rare classic cars the UAE has seen. 

Designed specifically for the local market, Gulf Concours is expected to introduce a new format of Concours d’Elegance, not only showcasing classic cars but also judging the best modern bespoke vehicles too, so expect to see some two-tone Bentley and Rolls-Royce custom jobs scattered among the vintage cars.

In case you’re not familiar, Concours d’Elegance is French for ‘competition of elegance’, dating back from the 17th century when the aristocracy would parade their horse-drawn carriages through Paris. As for Dubai's inaugural show, it should immediately become the country’s – and probably the region’s – most prestigious and exclusive car event, although in fairness there’s not a huge amount of competition for that moniker.

While more motors will be added to the entrants list as the date gets closer, several cars are already confirmed to be on show, including: a 1951 Jaguar XK120 Roadster, a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, a 1961 Aston Martin DB4, a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB, a 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 prototype, a 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV, a 1996 Ferrari F50 and even a Ferrari F1 car from 1982.

The only car confirmed for the modern bespoke category so far is a gold-coated Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR by Mansory Renovatio. 

However, the pick of the bunch may turn out to be a 1955 Ferrari 250 GT Competizione Berlinetta Sport Speciale, which according to rumours was originally commissioned for Hollywood star Ingrid Bergmann. 

The car, which is being displayed by renowned UK Ferrari dealer Talacrest, has a unique bodywork designed by the legends of Italian sports car styling, Pininfarina, and has been a feature at other Concours d’Elegance events around the world. 

Taking place across two days, the exclusive event will include ‘breakfast with the cars’, a garden party, afternoon tea and an opening party on the first night.

While the rally is a significant moment in the UAE’s love-hate relationship with older cars, there is an irony that in being such an exclusive event many owners and enthusiasts of classic motors may not get to attend. But Dubai's first ever concours was always going to be a little different, wasn't it? 


November 17-19, admission to display and view is by invitation only. For more visit: gulfconcours.ae