Klassisches rotes Automobil auf Bergstraße
BCCM/David De Martis

A royal automotive affair

Rory FH Smith looks forward to St. Moritz’s quintessentially British car event, taking place in July

It is no secret that the British Royal Family have a love for all things automotive. From the late Queen Elizabeth II proudly piloting her own Land Rovers to the newly crowned King Charles III’s sustainably-powered Aston Martin DB6, Britain’s best-known family have supported the nation’s car industry since King Edward VII took delivery of a 6 hp Daimler in 1900.

To honour this historic year of royal celebrations, the 29th British Classic Car Meeting (BCCM) takes on a regal theme as it rolls into St. Moritz, from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 July 2023. The BCCM’s Royal Rally is the crowning event in the three-day programme, which also features cocktail receptions, a Concours d’Elégance, an awards ceremony and a gala dinner to celebrate some of Britain’s best classic cars and their owners.

“It is a high-class automotive event, without airs and graces,” says Fabrizio​ D’Aloisio, Vice President of the British Classic Car Meeting in St. Moritz and a member of the event’s Organising Committee. “The event manages to bring a touch of extravagance without taking itself too seriously.”

Elegance and class

Since 1994, the event has attracted some of the most iconic British classic cars dating up to 1980, with participants travelling to St, Moritz from across the globe. Newer vehicles are admitted to the Youngtimer Class by invitation, giving more recently made vintage cars a chance to shine alongside well-established, blue-chip classics.

“In keeping with tradition, we have many Jaguars, Aston Martins, Bentleys, Rolls-Royces and Austin Healeys on the grid, but since we opened it up to all British brands, the field of participants has become more colourful,” explains D’Aloisio.

 In recent years, the event has seen the participation of everything from a tank to Eddie Irvine’s Formula One Jaguar and even a 1970s three-wheeled Bond Bug. “Most participants come from Switzerland, but we also have guests from Germany, Italy, Britain, Belgium and even Canada,” says D’Aloisio. With a special award given to participants who have made the longest road journey in their vehicle, it is the drivers who make the 1,600-plus-kilometre (1,000-plus miles) pilgrimage from the UK who typically take the prize.

Front of classic F1 racing car
A classic racing car makes an appearance at the BCCM; BCCM/Rosario Liberti

The Royal Rally

With festivities kicking off with a drivers’ briefing, a welcome cocktail reception and an opening dinner on the Friday at Badrutt’s Palace, the following morning will see an eclectic mix of classics make their way on the Royal Rally, from St. Moritz over the Maloja Pass to the Bergell and on to Chiavenna in Italy before heading over the Splügen and Julier passes, back to the Engadin.

“The rally is always a highlight for the participants,” says D’Aloisio. Equipped with a generously stocked Royal Hamper, the drivers will navigate 110 kilometres (68 miles) of twisting Alpine passes on their way to the picnic stop. Once refreshed, it is back behind the wheel for another 100 kilometres (62 miles) before arriving back in St. Moritz.

Classic Formula 1 racing car
Eddie Irvine’s R3 Formula 1 racing car at Badrutt’s Palace; BCCM/Davide De Martis

“The area brings together everything car lovers look for – from wonderful alpine roads to stunning scenery,” says D’Aloisio. “This region has always been known for design, elegance and pioneering spirit, so this great automotive tradition brings together people with an affinity for cars and the incomparable lifestyle of St. Moritz.”

After the rally, it’s down to the lakeside for a white tie and cocktail dress gala dinner before the Concours d’Elégance and prize-giving the following day. “I can’t give too much away,” says D’Aloisio, alluding to the surprise guests lined up for the event, “but since this year’s event is a Royal Edition, we also have a corresponding chef on hand as well as a music act, the British Ambassador and Michel Vaillant cartoonist Christian Papazoglakis, who designed this year’s BCCM poster.” With the final event, the Concours d’Elégance, open for general access, both participants and the public will have the chance to appreciate both the Britishness and beauty on display over the weekend. Fast approaching its 30th anniversary, this special edition of the BCCM will be one royal affair to remember.

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