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

Cars, Coffee and Carini

The sun arose to greet the loyal enthusiasts early Saturday in Pure Michigan.  A day had come for car lovers all over the midwest to show their wares, drool over their hopes, and appreciate the one and only Concours d’Elegance of America.

Michigan sign

A bevy of volunteers shine every year and for the past 40 in Plymouth to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.  Park here, eat there, show there, you get my drift. Over three hundred beloved beauties would be showing up shortly to be judged on their merits and loved by their fans…but that would happen on Sunday.  

Hagerty sales

Today is Saturday.  No fanfare, no judging, some polishing (diapers included) and just plain showing off.  Buy your “Shift Happens” and “Three Pedals No Problem” t-shirts at the Hagerty booth. 

The venue, The Inn at St. John’s. Today is no wedding but for many of those present, they’re married to their cars.

The stage set, I start my cruise around the asphalt…wondering what treasures I’ll find…that’s the fun.

Cars, check. Coffee (sponsored by Biggby Coffee), check. Donuts, check.  Here are just a few of the well-loved autos on display…Hagerty played a big part as a major sponsor as well as Car and Driver and M1Concourse.

Jules in Hagerty

Hagerty’s Classic Car Ride and Drive was a chance to drive/ride in a classic.  15 minutes in one of these and I’m hooked. Hagerty is happy to help me insure it, it’s their specialty.

CCC classic

“The Judge” – can you find the diaper in the picture above? lol

CCC Mustang (1)

CCC Mustang

Bullitt fuel cover

2001 Bullitt Mustang CCC

CCC Mustang interior

Bullitt fuel cover 2

2017 Bullitt CCC

Green car guys were ecstatic…Mustangs galore…Bullitts anyone?

I’ve never seen so much Highland Green in my life!

CCC Dodge SRT

CCC fire engine.JPEG

Every show brings a few unique looks…a shoe salesman from Arizona used this truck for his business before a local Detroiter got his hands on it.

My stroll through the maze begins to slow as the sun rises high in the sky.  The witching hour approaches. “The One That Got Away” seminar is being hosted by Hagerty.  Their featured panelist, none other than Wayne Carini himself from Velocity Channel’s Chasing Classic Cars, will be in attendance. 

Also present on the panel, Jeff Lane of Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, TN, and Dave Kinney writer at Automobile Magazine.

A chance to meet Wayne highlights my trip to automobile Mecca.  

Hagerty’s Brad Philips did a great job of moderating the gathering of over 300 in the Judea Room of The Inn.  Slides were shown of cars that each of the guests had owned.

Their happiness/regret was highlighted by showing what they paid for the car and then what it would be worth now if they had kept it.  Sounds simple right…boring…NO WAY! 

Responsible for valuations was Vice President of Valuation Services Brian Rabold from Hagerty. His comedic anecdotes meant to stir conversation from the panel, worked like a charm.  The all-too-familiar PowerPoint format came to life.

Stories, it’s always the stories, that win the day.  Hearing each account of purchase, circumstance, and thought process was fascinating.  Most of us have an epiphany of some sort as we recall our past choices. These accounts were laden with them.  First cars, mid-life crisis cars, sentimental cars, the list goes on. Some are still owned to this day and bring pleasure to families and friends.  Some tax the owner so, they are happy to see them leave the garage.

The oohs, the ahhhs.  All expressed sincerely, by both crowd and panel.

Wrapping up the almost one hour presentation was a Q & A session.  One guest wanted to know what to buy.  The comment was made by the panel, “are you a polisher or a driver”?  Chuckles radiated through the room like spectators doing the wave at a baseball game. 

Polisher? Buy a car that runs well.  The latter…get your on-board toolkit ready and snatch up one of those hard to fix, but really awesome to drive, barn finds.

Jules and Wayne Carini wide

After meeting Wayne in person, I can understand why he’s so successful.  Those piercing blue eyes, that moustache and every hair in place, but as personable as you could ask for.  He exudes kindness and never refuses a fan photo-op.

As you can see above…I took my opportunity.

I walk away from this Saturday in July realizing again that cars bring us together.

I’m glad to be part of this culture…It makes me happy.

So did Wayne.

 

Dave Kindig, Kevv Dogg and Dreams: an Adventure on Woodward Avenue

Never did I think in a million years that I’d have the pleasure of meeting Dave Kindig and Kevin Schiele aka “Kevv Dogg” of the Velocity Channel’s Bitchin’ Rides at the Woodward Dream Cruise.

Cruising down Woodward in a dream car or on foot is a treat for sure, but noticing Dave at the top of a tower laden with Kindig-it Designs logos was that chance in a million defined.

Dave pointing to Jules
Photo by Jules Stayton

He had arrived with his kit-and-kaboodle to experience the Dream Cruise himself and from the look on his face, even from afar, he was into it.  There was a no more appropriate place for Bitchin’ Rides to grace.  A treasure trove of auto enthusiasts all in one place, Dave is a genius.  It is no wonder, considering he started Kindig-it Designs in 1999 with his wife Charity and grew it into the multi-media empire it is today.  His artistry and design fulfill the dreams of car lovers everywhere as he is a “one stop, complete custom shop”.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City his move to meet-and-greet those of us strolling the streets of suburban Detroit made for an experience his fans, including me, won’t soon forget.

Mementos will come and go, but my memories meeting Dave and Kevv won’t be forgotten and will hang on my wall as an inspiration.

DK signatures and shirt
Photo by Jules Stayton

While meeting Dave and Kevv was the highlight of that sun-filled Saturday, the rest of the field didn’t disappoint.  If getting a closer look at all those beauties was your thing, ample opportunities were available.  Parking lots along the Avenue and local parks shut down to accommodate the metal beauties.  Observation towers normally used for play-by-play reports of little league baseball were chances to get that perfect photo from above.

Photos by Jules Stayton

Pocket-doors aren’t just for homes…check out this 1954 Kaiser Darrin, #039/435.

Photos by Jules Stayton

Corvette on Woodward

Photo by Jules Stayton

No Woodward Dream Cruise day would be complete without a visit to Vinsetta Garage for some food and a beverage. Being the oldest garage east of the Mississippi has its advantages.  Once a functioning repair shop, it continues to exist as a restaurant filled with stories of a bygone era as well as new tales for car-buffs from all walks of life.

Over 1 million people attend the Dream Cruise annually and over 40,000 cars of all kinds participate.

If you haven’t experienced the wonder of the Woodward Dream Cruise yourself, Dave and I would highly recommend it.

Cruise on my friends…cruise on.

 

Woodward Eve

The day had finally come.  Six months in the making.

As I lay in bed on the eve of what would be one of the greatest outdoor car shows I’ve ever seen, I marveled at how aware I had become of everything auto.  My long chestnut hair was perfumed with exhaust as I lay my head down on the pillow. The rumble that I heard wasn’t thunder or reindeer on the roof, it was engines on Woodward Ave. just two blocks away.

I was lucky enough to stay at a friend’s house just steps from the famed thoroughfare in Royal Oak, MI.   My best friend and her family welcomed us with open arms to the local event of the year.  We shared the excitement of seeing each other after a long hiatus and I was equally delirious about the Dream Cruise on the books for Saturday.

Crowd on Woodward Eve

Photo by Jules Stayton

Everything from babes in arms to seniors in wheelchairs were on hand as we strolled the Avenue on Woodward Eve.  The next day was the “actual” event, but don’t tell that to the thousands of spectators and hot rod drivers cruising on a beautiful August night.  The pre-game was a thrill.  Whether meandering through the crowd or riding in your well-loved roadster, the experience was exceptional and stirred anticipation of what was yet to come.

One of the many highlights of my expanding adventure at the Woodward Dream Cruise was riding in a 1967 Shelby Cobra kit-car with my friend Brian. He had been showing me pictures of his baby over the past year and the prospect of feeling that hot rod rumble under me was nearing its peak.

 

As I slid into the passenger seat I loved the fact that I had to clip into a four point harness.  Just the reality of that car requiring that amount of restraint up front, before ever rolling an inch, was exciting.

As soon as that engine fired up the neighborhood awoke, even though it was late afternoon.  Children and senior citizens stirred from their slumber to stumble onto the porch to see the spectacle and the source of their awakening.  So interesting to be in an area laden with “car culture”.  Suburbia had been infected with a need-for-speed around every corner.  A late-model Challenger lingered in the driveway next to us awaiting it’s release later that evening. Thank you Detroit.

With safety concerns put to rest, we motored through the Royal Oak neighborhood amongst tall trees and admiring eyes towards our destination.  The longed for rumble was reality.  My long hair was tethered and with a glint in our eyes we ventured onto Woodward Avenue with the rest of the pack.

Dusk on Woodward

Photo by Jules Stayton

Looking at the Dream Cruise from the driver’s perspective was enlightening.  Watching the crowd’s reaction as we motored by was priceless.  As I took the photo above,  we were met with a plethora of interested parties with cameras of their own.  We were now the subject of adoration from fans just like ourselves.  Some held paddles with a “thumbs-up” sign to show their silent approval.  We garnered a wave or two as well and smiles galore during our journey past the crowds.

The eve of any event is filled with anticipation of things to come and lots of hard work…somehow cruising Woodward Avenue didn’t seem like work at all.

After what seemed like a minute, we drifted towards home for some long awaited porch-sitting and planning for the next day.  We pulled in the driveway to be greeted by our adoring fans (i.e. the aforementioned children now awake thanks to us) and reached into the door pocket to find the wire release for the doors of the Cobra.  Having singed my skin on the pipes of a motorcycle before, I was careful to shed my harness and push up out of my seat and step over the heated cylinders before me.  That was one tattoo I was not willing to bring home to commemorate my maiden voyage at the Woodward Dream Cruise.

The eve was waning…slumber was calling…the official WDC impending.

More to come…stay tuned to JulesOnWheelz.net

 

 

Ford Mustang GT an American Icon

To muscle or not to muscle…that is the question.  Most shoppers look for practicality, space for the kids and their stuff, and/or super-sized mpg when debating their next car purchase.  Ford however, has thrown a wrench into that thinking for the last 53 years.  Thank God for the designers who had more than cargo in mind…my recent test drive of one of the most legendary sports cars ever built-in America gives testimony to that fact.

Power, performance and pure ego bubble-up inside just looking at the fine lines of the Mustang GT.  Seeing that 5.0 stirs emotions that no van ever will.  Gazing at the design features that make my ride prime, sharpens senses.  Opening the door is like entering the cockpit of a fighter jet.  Where is my helmet?  My flight plan?  Oh yea, I’m just coming home from golf, but boy does it feel good.

I’m lowered into a body hugging surround of power and placement.  Everything is at my fingertips.  The clutch is tight, I feel power under me.  This is not your Mama’s grocery getter.  The six speed manual transmission is a must and directing the symphony that is Mustang begins.

5.0 engine
Photo by Jules Stayton

Purring like a tiger, not a kitten, I rumble from the clubhouse to longing looks from jealous spectators.  Angels in heaven could not sing a more beautiful aria than the flow of air that rockets out of those pipes.  Just a little rev for the crowd and I’m off…

If you’re new to the Ford Mustang GT or just love hearing that exhaust note click here.

For $33,195 Ford presents it’s Mustang GT 5.0L 302 cu. In. Ti-VCT V8 engine.  Seems like a small price to pay for the head turns and feel of pure power off the line.  435-hp and 400 lb. ft. of torque assure its success every time.  My beauty actually rides for a combined 18-mpg in the dancing 6-speed manual transmission that I wouldn’t trade for the world.  Perfecting it’s dynamics is short in tutelage and killing the engine at the line is no option, so rev it up and launch your dream.

The rubber on my 18″ wheels grip the pavement and the Advance Trac® with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) pepper my enthusiasm with reasonability…but not too much.  Selectable-effort Electric Power-Assist Steering (EPA) helps me focus on the drive, not the iron I’ve neglected to pump.

IMG_1937
Photo by Jules Stayton

 

As I settle into the spacious cabin and enjoy the surprising amount of leg-room for both driver and passenger, my dream is complete.  I pass the vans with vim and vigor and peer around to enjoy the envy of those passers-by intrigued by the aforementioned exhaust note.

Important to mention is that the trunk, even without the 50/50 fold down seats in use, holds two sets of clubs easily.  That weekend away is the perfect use for this baby.

Ford offers ten models for 2017 in the Mustang line.  The V6 base model will be discontinued as they refresh for 2018.

Flex your muscles in the Ford Mustang GT, an American icon built at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, MI.