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.