Epitome of Elegance – A Day at the Concours

*WARNING* Elegant photos of automobiles displayed in a beautiful setting present in this post.  Prepare to spend some time gawking…

Elegance, it’s a lost art.  Men in suits, ladies in dresses and hats.  Seems we have reserved this elegance for Wall Street and the Kentucky Derby alone, but pulling out all the stops, I present to you the Epitome of Elegance…The Concours d’Elegance of America.

A few fancy dresses, hats and a sea of blue sport coats were definitely present, but it was the cars that brought the elegance to the Inn at St. John’s this past Sunday in Plymouth, Michigan.

Normally I would be in attendance at a venue like this for the golf, but to my pleasure I was beckon come for an award, an Automotive Heritage Journalism Award.  Honored and humbled, this event started my day with a bang.  Friends and family flanked the Brembo tent table to cheer on their favorite blogger.

2018 AHJA JulesOnWheelz

Jules and Steve Purdy

Veteran journalist and Chief Judge Gary Witzenberg did the honors.  Organizer Steve Purdy was on hand for an “atta boy” as well.  Check “award-winning blogger” off my bucket list.  Now, enough about me…let’s get to the cars!

They started to roll in at 6 am.  Fresh from the media table, I with my treasured award and media credential around my neck proudly, moseyed down the course towards delight.  Arranged over three long fairways, the green velvet underfoot gave a cool layer to the ankles as I watched the owners prepping for the day with fevered brows.

1958 Pontiac Parisienne Convertible by GM

Ahh the smell of Meguiar’s and turf in the morning.  As the sunrise cut through the cloud of polish it was prime time for exhibitors to take one last look around the show…the calm before the storm.  The grown-up amusement park was soon to open.

From find to famous, some entries were fully restored.  Scrapbooks with pictures of every stage of resolution were proudly shown.  One that stood out was a car that was almost completely destroyed and saved by local Detroit businessman Jim George, seen in the background of this photo below.

Jules and 1958 Bentley SI Continental Drophead Coupe

More details to come in a future post, but know that this bullet ridden, gutted, rust heap made its way to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for its cotillion in 2017.

Divided into classes like Jazz Age, American Post War, and Modern Collectibles, each car is judged by an esteemed group of car experts in blue sport coats.  They stroll the fairway with clipboards crowning “best-in-class” which then move onto the “best-in-show” competition.  Ribbons appear on the windshield later in the day.

I’m able to spot Wayne Carini from the Velocity Channel’s show Chasing Classic Cars, whom I met on Saturday, scoping the merchandise.  I continue to be impressed with Wayne as he strolled leisurely amongst the bevy of beauties. Later he would gladly pose for a picture with my family as he is one to encourage the young who are interested in cars.  *See teenagers in photo below.  **Yes, teenage girls.

Mornings with Wayne

Now…find a comfy seat and settle in…

I don’t apologize for the number…narrowing was never my strong suit, the more the merrier.

1958 Edsel Pacer Convertible
1958 Edsel Pacer Convertible
1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable
1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable
1937 Bugatti T57S Coupe 2
1937 Bugatti T57S Coupe Owned by 2018 Distinguished Judge Keith Crane
1937 Bugatti T57S Coupe
more of the 1937 Bugatti T57S
1915 Stanley Mountain Wagon
1915 Stanley Mountain Wagon
1939 Bugatti T57 Cabriolet by Letourneur
1939 Bugatti T57 Cabriolet by Letourneur
Bugatti racer
Bugatti racer
Bugatti emblem hood ornament
Bugatti hood emblem
57 Lancia and 50 Aston Martin
Left – 1950 Aston Martin DB2 Coupe, Right – 1957 Lancia B24S Convertible
1957 Lancia B24S Convertible by Pinin Farina
1957 Lancia B24S Convertible by Pinin Farina
1950 Aston Martin DB2 Coupe
1950 Aston Martin DB2 Coupe
1950 Aston Martin DB2 Coupe front
more 1950 Aston Martin DB2 Coupe
Minty Fresh
1947 Deleheye 135M Cabriolet by Henri Chaprone
Mercedes
Mercedes
Lovely Lady RR
Rolls Royce
1958 Ford Thunderbird Roadster
1958 Ford Thunderbird Roadster
1962 Sunbeam 11 by Thomas Harrington
1962 Sunbeam 11 by Thomas Harrington

Flip ups

King rat and The Judge

Whew! Ending with a King is appropriate.

The bridge from found to famous, barn find to blue ribbon is paved with mystery.  The story is the treasure.

Get out to a concours someday, you just may pick up something more than a sunburn.

Maybe even an elegant award.

Title photo:  1966 Bosley Interstate MKII 2-door Coupe by Carrozzeria Bosley

Alfas Galore…and More

There’s no denying its prom season.  Limousines, tuxedos, beautiful dresses, flowers, dinners out and dancing ’til dawn.

Alfa Romeo displayed all its finery in prime prom style at the inaugural 2018 meeting of the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).  MAMA Secretary, Kelly Enright, outdid herself with beautiful tables and centerpieces complete with information about the Alfa Romeo “Prom King”, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

MAMA Alfa Romeo centerpiece

Photo by Jules Stayton

The venue was chosen carefully for this shindig, Collectors’ Car Garage in Chicago, IL. Preserve your treasured auto in a climate controlled, dustless environment.  Members enjoy social events, coordinated drives and breakfast events…sounds like prom!  Should your baby need detailing, an in-house staff is in place upon request. Locations in New York and Chicago provide patrons with shelter from those severe winters the Big Apple and Windy City are known for.

Alfa Romeo lineup

Photo by Jules Stayton

Pictures are a big prom deal.  The flashes were flying when classic Alfa Romeos were gracing the display area.  Appetites were whet with a 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV and 1986 Alfa Romeo Duetto present.  The bevy of historical Alfas brought realism to the fact that current day Alfa Romeo models are award-winning and as popular as their grandfathers were.

Photos by Jules Stayton – 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV

Photos by Jules Stayton – 1986 Alfa Romeo Duetto

Introduced by the MAMA principal/president herself, Jill Ciminillo, Ben Lyon, Head of Product Marketing for Alfa Romeo spoke highly of the “Prom King”.  The Stelvio was named after a twelve-mile pass in the Italian alps.  The fastest production luxury SUV around the Nurburgring is another jewel in the crown of the “King”.   A 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds and 505 horsepower add to the sparkle and finish adorning the crown with all the other added amenities of the Quadrifoglio. The “Queen” was present, Alfa Romeo’s Giulia, but bowed to the “King” at this meet-up.  She was glorious in white by the way…

IMG_3462

Photo by Jules Stayton

Not to be left out, the luxury interior of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio…Alcantara 12-way front seats with thigh support and cockpit-like console and dash.

Photos by Jules Stayton – Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio interior

Signs of spring abound.

If you have an adolescent attending a prom, you know how important this rite of passage is in the life of a teenager.

The significant moments don’t end because of age.

Just ask those in attendance at the festivities in Chicago. Seeing fifty years of Alfas…that ranks right up there with prom.

The Stelvio is assembled at the FCA Cassino Plant, Cassino, Frosinone, Italy.

Stelvio pricing starts at $79,995.

The Quadrifoglio,  as pictured above, hovers near $93,000.

FCA’s Beautiful Child Continues to Excel – Alfa Romeo in All Its Glory

I grew up in a large family by today’s standards, my parents in even larger ones.  Often, genius runs in families.  We see this in the Olympic athletes that are second or third generation and as talented or more than their parents or grandparents.  Whether nature or nurture or both has shaped us, it shows up in what we become.

When Fiat and Chrysler merged in 2014 to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) the Italian and the American came together as one and the ensuing plethora of children resulting from the union ensued.  Abarath, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati and Ram Trucks blended like the Brady Bunch.

I was especially taken with two of the siblings at the Chicago Auto Show just a couple of weeks ago.  While cruising the Concept and Technology Garage, formulated for the media to get a head start on the show by getting up close and personal with both the cars and their product specialists, I was stunned by the Alfa Romeo Stelvio sitting before me in Alfa Rosso.  Starting at $41,995 and $37,995 respectively, the Stelvio, like the Giulia, have entered their classes by storm.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio frontAlfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (1)

Photos by Jules Stayton

Four trims complete the Stelvio lineup:  base AWD, sport AWD, Ti AWD and Ti Sport AWD.  One might also choose the Lusso package on the Ti for those wanting luxurious touches and Lusso-exclusive light walnut accents in the cabin. The race-inspired Quadrifoglio bumps up the horsepower, handling and price ($79,995 plus a $1,595 destination fee) but still boasts the Q4 AWD system.  Whether it’s the Quadrifoglio’s 505 horsepower or the 280 horsepower yielded from the Stelvio it’s balanced 50/50 weight distribution manages the eight-speed transmission nicely with available steering column-mounted paddle shifters.  The Stelvio is the consummate Italian as it is produced at the Cassino plant in Frosinone, Italy.

Berj Alexanian, my product specialist, was eager to have me set eyes on the Giulia Quadrifoglio as well after we took our walk around the Stelvio drooling all the way.  I remember first setting eyes on the Giulia in 2016 at the Chicago Auto Show. Jules needs a Giulia I thought…

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio full

Photo by Jules Stayton

I still think that today…Jules needs a Giulia Quadrifoglio! The “halo” would look great in my driveway.  I would have to settle for the show floor to visit with my future this day.

I guess Jules knows how to pick em’.

Praise overflows for the Giulia in the form of Motor Trend Car of the Year®, Car and Driver’s 10 best, and most recently the Best New Luxury Compact Car Award from Good Housekeeping Magazine in cooperation with Car and Driver.

The Giulia’s all-aluminum 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbo with an eight speed automatic transmission is a class leader with 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft. of torque charting it’s zero-60 in 5.1 seconds at its top speed of 149 mph.  Should the Quadrifoglio’s motor sport DNA be in your future like mine, 505 horsepower screams 3.8 seconds in zero-60 mph.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio front R panelAlfa Romeo clover emblemAlfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Photos by Jules Stayton

The Chicago Auto Show was the perfect setting for FCA to showcase this branch of the bunch.  The Stelvio and the Giulia, each with its own praise and slot in the market that even Alice would approve.

Large or small, blended families don’t always find harmony as FCA has…hopefully it will last.

At least everyone played nice at CAS, making their parents proud…

 

 

Start It Up – Concept and Technology Garage at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show Media Days

The Chicago Auto Show has already begun for some.  Prepping for any event involves careful planning and follow through in order to make it successful. #CAS18 gave it’s media the opportunity to rev-up their experience by hosting the Concept and Technology Garage on Wednesday, February 7, 2018.  

Those of us who were able to defy the odds and arrive on time come plane, train or automobile to Chicago in February, were treated to driving experiences, in-depth chats with manufacturer representatives and a few surprises as you will see…

For me, I rolled in after one cancelled flight and a day long train ride…but I made it! Registration complete and media credential hanging around my neck like a gold medal, I was off.

**NOTE:  One important thing to know about attending The Chicago Auto Show is footwear.  You will be hoofing it all over creation.  Get out those comfortable shoes.

Upon entering, what does my wandering eye see? The KIA Stinger GT Federation Concept car in a most stunning shade of orange.  Some oranges…not so much…this orange…YES!  KIA rep Neil Dunlop was more than happy to give me the low-down of the specs and specials that make this KIA tick.  Waiting in a short line was worth it to take this concept for a spin around the garage.

Video by Jules Stayton

What a dream.  Handling, acceleration, braking…all A+.  Designer and engineer influence surface in the skin of this Stinger.  Body hugging bolstered seats provide stability and feel like a firm hug from a high school sweetheart as the well-appointed interior reflects necessities within easy reach.

I reluctantly give up my seat of comfort and allow the next person in line to light-up their life.

My eye turns to the next kid on the block…the Lexus Black Panther inspired LC Concept Coupe.  Highly anticipated, the movie releases on February 16, 2018  and if the car has anything to do with it’s success…brace yourself for a box office bash!  

Photos by Jules Stayton

Claws on the side view mirrors, panther on the hood, ground effects, WOW. What a statement in “deeply saturated, iridescent Structural blue”. An eight month process takes place for this “first-of-its-kind” paint.  There is no blue pigment, instead, a reflection of blue light.  The Black Panther LC Concept Coupe is part of the limited-edition 2018 Lexus LC Inspiration Series.  Collaborating with Marvel Studios, this Lexus is special.  Only 100 will be sold in the U.S.

Fresh from being voted “Best in Show” at the L.A. Auto show by Cars.com…looking beautiful in Alfa Rosso…comes the Alfa Romeo Stelvio.  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) brought multiple models from some of their various platforms…Alfa Romeo,  Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram Trucks .  Alfa Romeo rep Berj was friendly and well versed in his brand.  He encouraged me to stop by the floor of the show to see interiors and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio,  I did and they are spectacular.

Photos by Jules Stayton

Being in the market for an SUV myself, I welcomed a chat with FCA rep Jordan about the all-new Jeep Cherokee.  Having been a Cherokee owner in the past…this is not the Jeep I remember.  Luxury seating, leg room galore and functionality…accolades abound.  Four inches wider in the cargo area will fit my golf clubs nicely, thank you.  I’m liking the re-design very much.

Jeep Cherokee

Photo by Jules Stayton

Why wouldn’t a Concept and Technology Garage include a snow monster concept like the Nissan  370Zki (Ski)?  After all, it IS February in Chicago.  It’s presence almost guaranteed the snowstorm that hit on day two of the media preview.  Complete with American Track Truck front skis and Dominator® Tracks on the rear, it forms the biggest souped-up snowmobile you’ve ever seen.  Hauling the 370Zki was a loaded Nissan Armada complete with the Snow Patrol concept trim package that will tower you three inches higher than the production model.

Photos by Jules Stayton

The Leaf came equipped with Pro Pilot Assist Technology, Nissan’s flagship semi-autonomous feature.  The Kicks took its place in the garage as well as the Star Trek inspired Rogue and 2018 Special Forces TIE Fighter Altima.  

Photos by Jules Stayton

Whew, glad I wore those comfortable shoes.  

The thrill of the day, driving some “old” technology the 1950 Ford F1 truck.  My Ford rep in tow, we cruised the room in the three speed manual transmission.  No power steering, giant steering wheel…what a way to end the event with the opposite of “technology” but innovative in concept.  The F1’s current day counterpart receives “Truck of the Year” year after year, I guess it succeeded as a concept in its day.

The million feet of show space and over 1000 cars wait patiently for the media to descend…we are revved up thanks to the Concept and Technology Garage…more Chicago Auto Show coverage to come…goodnight for now you beauties.

Waiting Patiently

Photo by Jules Stayton