at the Inn at St. John's
Plymouth, Michigan, USA
July 26 - 28, 2019
Poster art: Jay Koka
(Editor's note: The Concours features an invitational art exhibition Exhibiting artists for 2019: Dan Brown, Alex Buchan, David Chapple, Gerald Freeman, Jay Koka, Dan McCrary, Steven Macy and David Snyder. Rob Alen's full report on the event follows.)
story by Rob Alen
photos: Rob Alen and Jay Koka
2019 Best in Show Foreign: Fred and Sue Leydorf, 1954 FERRARI 375 MM. 2019 Best in Show American: The Off Brother's Collection, Bill Johnston and Ron Elenbaas, 1938 GRAHAM 97
The Concours of America is held in a suburb just outside of Detroit. The weekend kicks off Saturday morning with a "Cars & Coffee" as cars line up to the end of the block to get in. And as you would expect, there is a lot of American iron. Longer, lower, wider -- the look exaggerated in the advertising illustrations of the 1960s for Buicks, Pontiacs, GTOs. The sleeper class on display were the pick-ups: Detroit is Pick-Up City.
Detroit was America's most important city in the 20th century with famous names and fabulous wealth. Before automobiles, fortunes were made in lumber. David Buick found early success and hired Louis Chevrolet to drive his racecars. And obviously, Henry Ford revolutionized industry.
Detroit is full of history: the Detroit Symphony established in 1887, hosted the world's first radio broadcast of a symphony orchestra.
Today's Detroit Art Institute, built in 1927, is a world-class encyclopedic museum featuring controversial murals by Diego Rivera, paid for by Benson Ford.
The Concours begins Sunday morning on the lush grounds of the Inn at St. John's. It is the canvas for cars creatively arranged in semi-circles and grouped to make sense. St. John's was a former seminary, now a hotel and golf course; the contemplative atmosphere pays off.
While the Concours entertains all types of cars, on this visit, cars of the 1930s and 1950s made a big impression. Lead by Duesenbergs and V-16 Cadillacs in their magnificence.
Augie and Fred Duesenberg were engineers smitten with racing and not good with the financials. They were bought out by E.L. Cord, who managed Duesenberg, and Auburn and Cord into a financial empire including airplanes, airlines and radio stations.
Cars of the 1950s are stylish: it was a period of chrome and the popular "jet plane" influence on numerous cars but especially Cadillac with their famous fins.
The organizers report the Concours of America is the third most popular show in the country. No doubt meaning after Pebble Beach and Amelia Island; but it is more accessible, no elbow-to-elbow crowding, with intelligent commentary as the cars parade before the guests, and the feel of a local show only with the heft of being in Detroit's backyard attracting automotive industry senior executives to be judges and officials.
Chevrolet gave the new Corvette C8 its first public premiere, giving honor to the locals who deserve it, rather than wait for Pebble Beach.
Detroit is transforming itself for the 21st century, but remains an automotive powerhouse worth a visit; you are reminded of that with the famous names on museums, medical centers to R&D centers.
Hampton Court Palace
Richmond upon Thames, UK
September 6 - 8, 2019
all photos Concours of Elegance
The 2019 Concours of Elegance took place Friday 6 to Sunday 8 September at Hampton Court Palace, UK (near London). It brings together a selection of 60 of the rarest cars from around the world – many of which never have been seen before in the UK. Some features this year: a world-first display of each and every Aston Martin Zagato variant built supported by the Aston Martin Owners' Club; four Ferrari 166MMs and arguably the most significant Ferrari of them all – the 1949 Le Mans and Mille Miglia-winning 166MM #0008M; some of the most important Bentleys... The Bentley Speed Six Gurney Nutting ‘Blue Train’ and Her Majesty’s State Limousine.
Hundreds of other fine motor cars were also on exhibit.
Many of the Concours cars take part in a 2 day driving tour in the days running up to the main Concours event. Uniquely, the Concours of Elegance winner isn’t selected by a panel of judges but by the Owners of the cars themselves. Each participant is asked to vote on the other models on display to decide which car is considered to be the ‘Best of Show’.
The Concours of Elegance began at Windsor Castle in 2012, before moving to St James’s Palace in 2013, Hampton Court Palace in 2014 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (Her Majesty The Queen’s official residence in Scotland) in 2015 before returning to Windsor Castle in 2016 and Hampton Court Palace in 2017.
Learn More: Concours of Elegance
Detours continues... »