On Saturday 20 August, during the Ollon-Villars Hillclimb festivities, a brand new and exciting car club – the Automobile Club de Villars – was launched in the famed mountain village of Villars, Switzerland, and the event was attended by some of motor racings greatest names, including Sir Jackie Stewart, Giacomo Agostini, Paul Stewart, Claude Sage and Craig Pollock.
The launch event, hosted by Automobile Club de Villars President Jonathan Procter, brought together the Club’s members for the very first time – including those from F1 – to enjoy a day of celebrations that coincided with the Ollon-Villars Hillclimb. Guests socialised, spectated and some even drove the Hill, before partying at the new Automobile Club de Villars HQ – home to a treasure trove of historically-linked memorabilia – in the recently reopened Villars Palace (an Alpine Resorts luxury 5* hotel).
Founded in 2022 by esteemed historic car dealer and lifelong enthusiast Jonathan Procter, and local estate agency owner and entrepreneur Miguel Ernand, the Automobile Club de Villars is an exciting new classic and supercar club based in the historic motorsport destination of Villars. The Club aims to revive the village’s motorsport culture and reignite its automotive community with other international members from around the world. With a vast array of prestigious annual events in the pipeline, the Automobile Club de Villars is set to be unlike any other ‘village car club’ in the world. It is already well underway in curating an impressive and growing members list of F1 racing drivers, owners, collectors, experts and more.
Set against a picturesque backdrop of Mont-Blanc and the Dents du Midi, the mountain village of Villars – inhabiting just 5,000 residents – has a star-studded and illustrious motorsport history dating back to 1953 when the Ollon-Villars hill climb was first founded. Over the past seven decades, Villars has been at the forefront of the country’s motorsport culture. It has attracted a plethora of World Championship Formula One drivers – such as Jim Clark and Derek Bell – who have not only raced at the Ollon-Villars Hillclimb but who have resided and partied here too. Some racing legends still call Villars ‘home’ to this day.
In 1962, 60 years ago to the day, the ‘Club International des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1’ (now known as the F1 Grand Prix Drivers Club) was founded here by Louis Chiron, Juan Manuel Fangio, Franco Comotti, Giuseppe Farina, Paul Frere, Albert Divo, Toulo de Graffenried and Yves-Giraud Cabantous. It was also home to a lesser-known event of the ‘60s and ’70s, the Festival des Neiges; a thrilling winter sports festival that was attended by the likes of Graham Hill, Emerson Fittipaldi, and Sir Jackie Stewart. It saw F1 drivers and petrolheads take to the snowy slopes to race Meyers Manx beach buggies, Skidoos, and skijorns. The Automobile Club de Villars hopes to bring the winter Festival back to life at some point in the future.
Designed for international members of all ages and nationalities, the new Automobile Club de Villars’ events calendar promises to provide regular seasonal events including monthly breakfast meets in unique Alpine locations; prestigious social events at the Villars Palace and other exclusive venues; training days to help inspire and educate the next generation of classic and supercar owners; and national and international rallies, driving some of Switzerland’s and Europe’s finest roads.
Members of the Club can expect to park up alongside a plethora of rare and exotic motorcars at its events, including a Ferrari 250 TDF, Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’, Lancia Aurelia, Aston Martin DB2, Aston Martin DB5, Ferrari Monza, Ferrari 212, and even a Voisin Aerosport; whilst mingling with the likes of motorsport royalty.
After a quiet pause in Villars’ motoring timeline, the Automobile Club de Villars promises a new lease of life for the area, and aims to fire up plenty of exciting engines to fill the hills once more with the sound of ‘music’, making Villars a destination on any international petrolhead’s map.
Membership is available to all classic and supercar owners, and enthusiasts from around the world by application at acvillars.com. Annual membership fees start at 300 CHF for under 30s, 500 CHF for over 30s, and 750 CHF for families (including two adults and all children under 18) and includes access to all Club events.
Automobile Club de Villars President, Jonathan Procter, said:
“We are all tremendously excited to welcome friends old and new to the Automobile Club de Villars and build on the incredible motoring heritage that our little mountain village has to offer. We very much look forward to the wonderful variety of events we have planned and returning the sights, sounds and glamour of classic and high-performance motoring and to our idyllic Alpine home.”
Automobile Club de Villars Vice President, Miguel Ernand, said:
“It’s extraordinary to think that the launch of the Automobile Club de Villars takes place on the very same day as Le Club Internationale Anciens des Pilotes was created back in 1962. Same day, same place, same track, 60 years later. I was 9 then and dreaming of racing cars. Now I’m 69, and still dreaming of cars.”
Automobile Club de Villars Events Manager, Georgia Peck, said:
“We are extremely excited to launch our Automobile Club de Villars events calendar. We aim to provide a varied and exciting mix of seasonable events that appeals to all of our members, despite their age or driving experience. Regular events in the calendar will include our monthly breakfast club, hosted at different scenic Alpine destinations; a range of rallies including a generational rally, Presidents rally, and Swiss driving tour; family driver training days to help inspire the younger generation to get to grips with classic cars; and social events at our new Villars Palace HQ. We hope there will be something for everyone to enjoy!”
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About Automobile Club de Villars:
Founded in 2022 by esteemed historic car dealer and lifelong enthusiast, Jonathan Procter, alongside local estate agent and entrepreneur owner Miguel Erand, businessman and investor Ian Bagshaw, journalist Mimi Bertmark and former motorsport sponsorship manager Tony Pascarella, the Automobile Club de Villars is not your average village car club.
Composed of a hand-picked alchemy of owners, racing drivers, collectors, experts, and enthusiasts from the global automotive community, the Club aims to breathe new life and reignite passion for exciting motorcars in its village home, Villars-sur-Ollon. With an extensive motorsport history spanning the past seven decades, breathtaking Alpine scenery, and some of Switzerland’s most exhilarating driving roads – including its own 8.3km world-famous hill climb – Villars provides a unique and enviable backdrop for our select community of car lovers.
The Club is open to classic and supercar owners of all ages by way of invitation or application. It aims to bring together an interesting and dynamic mix of people from different worlds, both new and established, to help ensure the petrol-fuelled passion and story of Villars continues to be enjoyed for generations to come.
Set up as a not-for-profit association, the Club will host a wide variety of car meets, rallies, and events throughout the year, helping drive much-needed funds to a variety of worthy causes. The Club is currently looking to partner with likeminded brands and companies to join on their mission.