Then, passing a modern Zagato-bodied Bentley with a double-bubble roof and a delicious Lancia Dilambda with its narrow-angle V8 engine, I came upon a car at once familiar and subtly different. It was almost an early Aston Martin Vanquish, but not quite. It was Project Vantage, the concept car that became the Vanquish but only after every panel had been changed as required to render it suitable and legal for production.
It was never really meant to be driven in anger, but then-boss of Ford (and therefore, at that time, ultimately of Aston Martin) Jac Nasser ragged it around the Millbrook test track before giving it the go-ahead and its fragile suspension bent so much the wheels disappeared into the arches. There ensued an all-night rebuild because the Project was due to be dispatched to the Detroit show the next day, where it was received rapturously.
Today it's road legal, with proper, specially-made glass where it once has Perspex, but its race-style pushrod suspension is still present. The whole modern-Aston look began properly with this car, and here is found the beginnings of the extruded and bonded aluminium construction and the design of the bold centre console. It's a vital part of Aston Martin's history, but it belongs to an enthusiastic private owner who bought it at auction and made it work properly. Project Vantage was designed by Ian Callum, nowadays Jaguar's design director. He was at the Concours too. Are you judging, I asked. 'No, I've retired from Concours judging. People are too worried about the right rivets. I'm more worried about how a wheel looks in its wheelarch.'
Not far behind Project Vantage was a car which does belong to an official Aston organisation, the Aston Martin Heritage Trust. Trustee Rob Smith was the day's custodian for A3, the oldest surviving Aston Martin and a car I've been itching to drive for ages. That ambition is drawing near but is temporarily thwarted by the gearbox's current habit of selecting two gears instead of one.
And the Concours entrants continued to arrive, multifarious exhaust notes marking their passage: the Lindner-Nöcker Lightweight E-type, a Lancia Astura Aerodynamica coupé by Castagna bodied in 1935, a 1953 Ferrari 340 MM Vignale Spider in American racing colours – and one of my favourite cars in the whole event, a one-off Fiat 1100 Spider bodied in 1946 by the just-established carrozzeria of Frua. It looks amazingly modern for its time, with low headlights faired into the front wings, a horizontal five-bar grille in between and a fetching dorsal fin.