When global luxury real estate legend Joyce Rey began her career in 1974, she never imagined she’d be invited to one of the world’s most exclusive events at Hampton Court Palace, one of King Henry the VIII’s favorite residences that is now owned by Queen Elizabeth II, or that she would fall deeper in love with classic luxury cars from a bygone era at the Concours D’Elegance. Until a recent trip made possible through an invitation from her long-time friend and philanthropist Merle Mullin, who with her husband Peter Mullin entered the Best in Show winning car, Rey was not privy to all the devotion required to enter and win the competition, and it gave her a new love and appreciation for the cars.
“It was a dream trip and experience of a lifetime!” said Rey. “To be the guest of a car owner who is in the competition was an unforgettable added dimension and fascinating learning experience. I have attended a few car shows in Pebble Beach in the past, and always loved looking at the cars, knowing they were a work of art. I always admired how they were restored so beautifully, especially the cars from the ‘30s that were handmade. I didn’t fully grasp until this trip where I was really involved with the whole community, as opposed in the past being just an observer, all that goes into automobile restoration, why it’s so important and valued, and the collectors’ passion and dedication.”
The festivities included a black-tie dinner hosted by Prince Michael, a delightful evening of whiskey tasting, polo matches and lunch at the Polo Club.
“The first thing we did was buy hats at Harrod’s,” added Rey. “And we stayed at the marvelous Coworth Park Hotel situated on 250 beautifully manicured acres.”
Swept up in the excitement of the Mullins’ Voisin C-27 Aérosport prestigious Best in Show win, Rey explained that the competition was voted by the owners of all the cars on display. It was designed and built in 1934 by Gabriel Voisin, who was considered one of the great mechanical engineers of the 20th century.
“Such detailed and exacting care went into its restoration,” Rey added. “The Mullins located a loom from France from 1934 and remade the upholstery from that loom. It was remarkable!”
And so has been her experience and growing passion for vintage cars.