Even The New York Times took notice when an unrestored 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C-2900B Spider (see photo by Mark Usciak) won best in show honors at the Elegance at Hershey concours.
"...even though an unrestored example of a 2900 could be worth tens of millions of dollars, until recently such a car would not turn the heads of many judges awarding points at a concours," the newspaper reported of the car owned by well-known collectors Robert and Sandra Bahre of Alton, New Hampshire.
"But," it continued, "car collector culture has made a notable shift toward more vocal appreciation of these original beauties. Where once they were quietly revered by their owners and a few others, unrestored classics have been emerging as awards winners at concours d'élégance events."
But is the nature of concours judging really changing, as the headline on the newspaper's article indicated?
"To our knowledge, this is only the second time in modern U.S. concours history that a fully unrestored car like the Bahre Collection's 1938 Alfa has been awarded top honors," said Steve Moskowitz, executive director of the Antique Automobile Club of America and a member of the Elegance at Hershey board of directors. "Having such a fine vehicle win the Governor's Cup at this prestigious event can only encourage others with similar cars to enter events like this in the future.
"At every show every car is different, each with its own unique history and this selection underscores that premise."
The Elegance includes both the car show and a two-day hill climb, which was led both days by Graham Long's 1958 Lotus 7.
Orange County celebrates with concours, auction
Russo and Steele's inaugural collector car auction at Newport Beach, California, generated $6.5 million in sales, with the top four cars accounting for a third of the two-day total.
The high-dollar sale was $1.078 million for a 208 Bugatti Veyron. A 1968 Aston Martin DB6 brought $456,500, a 2004 Porsche Carrera GT went for $297,000 and a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 demanded $269,500.
The auction house offered nearly 400 vehicles at the sale, which, it said, drew 10,000 people to the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort.
"Our clients and the Southern California enthusiasts have proven their passions for this hobby and those passions were realized through the robust sales," said Russo and Steele founder Drew Alcazar.
The auction coincided with the Orange County Collector Car and Motorcycle Week based just down the coast at Dana Point and Camp Pendleton. The week concluded with the 31st annual Dana Point concours d'elegance, where a 1933 Packard convertible coupe (see photo) owned by Aaron Weiss of San Marino, California, won best in show honors.
Best in show among motorcycles was a 1969 Munch Mammoth owned by Mitch Talcove of Carlsbad, California.
Barrington concours eyes a super seventh
The seventh annual Barrington concours d'elegance north of Chicago figures to be a special event July 12-14. Featured on the grounds of the Makray Memorial Golf Club will be Avions Voisins from the Mullin Automotive Museum, a special display of Duesenbergs -- as well as Duesie expert Randy Ema -- Porsches on loan from the Porsche Museum in Germany, a group of Indianapolis 500 racers curated by Indy-winner Bobby Rahal, a 60th anniversary collection of Chevrolet Corvettes, as well as automotive marketing and development veteran Bob Lutz.
American muscle cars and Vincent motorcycles also will be featured. See the www.barringtonconcours.org website for details.
Collector Car Appreciation Day is July 12
The Barrington concours coincides with the fourth annual Collector Car Appreciation Day, established by a resolution of the U.S. Senate for July 12, 2013.
However, this year it's not just an American event as car clubs in Canada and Australia also plan classic car shows to celebrate the date.
"We again thank the U.S. Senate for the continuing recognition of the collector car hobby as a strong American tradition and pastime," said Steve McDonald, vice president of government affairs for SEMA (the Specialty Equipment Market Association). "With Australia and Canada joining the mix, Collector Car Appreciation Day has now become an international recognition of the collector car industry and the millions of hobbyists it supports. The collector car industry helps preserve our unique American automotive heritage while contributing to the economy by providing high-skilled, well-paying jobs."
Vintage vehicle owners rally against ethanol
Speaking of SEMA, the SEMA Action Network joined the American Motorcyclist Association took part in the "Fuel for Thought" rally on Capitol Hill to raise awareness of the corrosive effects of ethanol-blended gasoline on automobile engines.
At the event, members of the Antique Automobile Club of America brought vehicles and circled the U.S. Capitol.
"Under the Renewable Fuel Standard, lawmakers have eliminated the free marketplace and mandated that an ever-increasing amount of ethanol be mixed in gasoline," said Dan Sadowski, congressional affairs director for SEMA. "A mixture of 10 percent ethanol no longer achieves the arbitrary RFS mandates. The EPA has now authorized 15 percent ethanol while acknowledging the dangers posed to older vehicles and motorcycles. Despite the EPA's restrictions on ethanol in older cars, there has been an inability to obtain unblended gasoline for engines that may be damaged by ethanol." Federal regulations prohibit the fueling of pre-2001 vehicles and motorcycles with E15, but the only notice to motorists is a warning label on the pump.
"Due to a shortsighted government mandate, these vintage vehicles are at risk due to ethanol," said AACA president Tom Cox. "I encourage Congress to amend the RFS mandates and conduct further research on the damaging effects of ethanol fuel. The future of our older antique vehicles depends on it."
Click here for event calendar.
Click here for more articles by Larry Edsall.