Marc West joins up with some petrolheads at Blenheim Palace’s Rally of the Giants event, showcasing classic cars from decades gone by

Set in more than 2,000 acres of Capability Brown-designed parkland, Blenheim Palace’s pleasant pastures are the ideal spot for a sunny Sunday afternoon. Add to that a high-octane mix of gleaming chrome, polished paintwork and the smell of burning rubber and you have a petrolhead’s dream day out.

Established in 1965, the Pre 50 American Auto Club is the association for enthusiasts of all classic US vehicles and hosts this annual gathering that sees hundreds of Detroit’s finest four-wheeled fantasies in attendance – including some of the rarest and most valuable examples to be found on this side of the pond.

Collectors, restorers, owners and enthusiasts alike gather to admire, share stories, buy, sell or just to dream…the American Dream. With golden rays emanating from an azure sky this could be the Sunshine State complete with V8-powered visions of (back to) the future – that glittering age when the promise was of bigger and better, and the car really was the star.

From the elegant thirties, stately forties, fabulous fifties, slick sixties and oh-so-cool seventies, there were dream wheels for everyone. If I had to pick, it’d be the go-faster striped 1966 Ford Mustang…or maybe a burnt orange Dodge Charger in General Lee livery.

However, head of the class of ’62 (and subtly stealing the limelight) was a Ghia L6.4 Coupe. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised, as this black beauty is exceptionally rare and a similar model was once owned by none-other-than the King of Cool himself, Mr Dean Martin.

The effortlessly enduring entertainer would have no doubt been impressed by another gang of rat-packers gliding in glamour around the parade ring in the Blandford’s back garden. Tommy gun-toting hepcats show off their souped-up ‘rods – perfect for running moonshine across the county line or a quick blast on Oxfordshire’s B-roads on the long road home.

Break Out Box

Blenheim Palace, the ancestral home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough, is situated just eight miles from Oxford and is open to the public daily from 9am-6pm. Special events take place throughout the year with Saturday Jazz, BBC Countryfile Live and FriendsFest still to look forward to this year. However, an essential date for any car lover (like me) is September 3. Newly launched for 2017, the Blenheim Palace Classic & Supercar Show provides an unmissable opportunity to get closer than ever before to the world’s greatest marques – such as Aston Martin, Bentley and Ferrari.