Si­mon Kidston

Hid­den be­neath a Monaco glit­ter­ing with new age bling, Si­mon dis­cov­ers a treasure trove of el­e­gance left over from a gentler time

Classic Cars (UK) - - The Insiders - Si­mon Kidston is a clas­sic car con­sul­tant, con­cours judge and event pre­sen­ter. His own clas­sics in­clude a Lam­borgh­ini Miura SV and Porsche 911 RS 2.7.

Monaco... it con­jures up vi­sions of Grace Kelly at the wheel of a clas­sic con­vert­ible on the Grande Cor­niche, Aris­to­tle Onas­sis chomp­ing a ci­gar on the fore­deck of his su­pery­acht in the shim­mer­ing har­bour, and, of course, high oc­tane thrills and spills around the nar­row streets of the most his­toric cir­cuit of them all. Right?

I’m try­ing hard to chan­nel that vibe sit­ting in a Rus­sian-owned seafood restau­rant over­look­ing that same har­bour, the ta­ble next door oc­cu­pied by a gag­gle of Chanel-clad Rus­sians girls, and a lonely Ital­ian lady in the cor­ner singing to an echo­ing back­ing track. In Rus­sian.

There’s no sign of Onas­sis, but loom­ing off­shore are two gar­gan­tuan Philippe Starck-de­signed yachts vy­ing for ‘Mine’s Big­ger Than Yours’ brag­ging rights. Ex­cept that they both be­long to the same man and yes, you guessed it – he’s Rus­sian too. It’s hard not to feel like Ed­die Mur­phy’s char­ac­ter in Trad­ing

Places – the pau­per in the Prin­ci­pal­ity. Lan­goustines are €270 a kilo, the menu boasts a choice of wines at €5400 a bot­tle, and two cock­tails cost €60. You get the feel­ing that from the mo­ment you step off the heli­copter (the cheap­est part of your stay) you’re fair game. You’ve saved the tax, so let us help you with what’s left...

Cars? Take your pick. My din­ner host has laid out a ta­ble in his sub­ter­ranean garage which would put most Lon­don clubs to shame, and they def­i­nitely wouldn’t boast a Bu­gatti Ch­i­ron at one end and a Fer­rari 250GT SWB at the other. His other 38 cars are on the level be­low – few vis­i­tors would guess how much of this town is bur­rowed into the land be­neath rather than above it.

The next day I’m in­vited to look at a mod­ern su­per­car, but the owner's housekeeper can’t find it in the war­ren of garages tun­neled into the rock. This one? No, that’s a Pa­gani. Or here? No, a Fer­rari 550 Barchetta, un­cov­ered and ready to be en­joyed – no­body here looks pale ex­cept garage at­ten­dants. A Mclaren P1 sits non­cha­lantly un­pro­tected in another. I’m not sure whether it’s be­cause se­cu­rity is so high, or lo­cals so wealthy that su­per­cars rep­re­sent pocket change, that own­ers ap­pear so non­cha­lant.

Mod­erns out­num­ber clas­sics, but the diminu­tive Fiat Jolly out­side our ho­tel up­stages the luxo­barges and ‘look at me’ pro­jec­tiles. Can it take us to din­ner? ‘Sorry,

mon­sieur, it’s not for use.’ The chic play­ground we all want Monaco to be isn’t en­tirely ex­tinct though – it’s just hard to find. The Per­suaders may have been re­placed by The Oli­garchs, and Formula E has ar­rived to snap at the heels of Formula One, but take a stroll down to the port and you’ll find the real life equiv­a­lent of Six­ties TV’S Time Tun­nel.

Built in 1954, Monaco Boat Ser­vice’s stor­age cave – the world's old­est – ex­tends deep into the rock un­der the royal palace and houses a daz­zling fleet of clas­sic Riva launches, pol­ished and tuned to per­fec­tion. Ge­nial man­ager Se­bas­tiano asks if I’d like to have a go. A shot of espresso later and we’re head­ing for the open wa­ter, twin 300-horse­power Chryslers throb­bing be­hind us. I’m hooked. Next stop – a boat li­cence...

There's still a lot of old-world chic in Monaco, de­spite the new wealth that's floated in

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.