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World’s finest car set for Hampton Court Palace concours

Published 23 April 2018

A Pebble Beach Concours-winning classic is making its first appearance in the UK for 60 years. The best-in-show winning 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer ‘Boat Tail’ will be a part of this summer’s Concours of Elegance. 

The Mercedes, which can arguably call itself the world’s finest car, will be at the Hampton Court Palace event on 31 August to 2 September. Based on the 1927 Mercedes S-type, the unique ‘Boat Tail’ was one of the most powerful road-going cars of its time – developed as a race-ready car for the road.

Originally owned by racing enthusiast and British Racing Drivers’ Club co-founder Earl Howe, this car was fitted with a unique body. One that incorporated a lightweight and aerodynamic shell with aircraft-inspired aluminium side pods and crafted by English coachbuilders Barker.  

The car was a regular on tours, trials and competition events in the UK before new ownership in 1958 took it to America, where it has remained. When it was first sold to American owners, the car was repainted in a dark maroon colour and the rear of the car was renovated to sport an additional spare tyre instead of its distinctive ‘Boat Tail’. But its most recent owner has restored the car to its original spec – a job that wasn’t easy.

1928 Mercedes -Benz S Front Dark (1)

The majority of Earl Howe’s unique specifications were all-but-lost until a host of photographs unearthed aspects of the original vehicles. They revealed the missing ‘Boat Tail’, numerous reflective surfaces, custom touring luggage and a red spotlight which was given to Members of Parliament to alert other road users to their status. When the vehicle was being dismantled, patches of the Earl’s signature Peacock Blue paint were also discovered, which has now been sympathetically recreated.

Visitors to this year’s Concours of Elegance will not only be able to see the unique ‘Boat Tail’ but also around 60 other fascinating vehicles.

1928 Mercedes -Benz S Engine Intake Side Cropped

Tickets to the Concours of Elegance are on sale now, available from


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