Our Focus Turns from Motown to Monterey
By Larry Edsall
Before we turn our focus to the annual classic carpalooza on California's Monterey Peninsula, a few comments about Motown's Concours d'Elegance of America weekend:
- Where a disappointingly few cars participated in the Concours driving tour on Friday;
- Where, and despite time pressure to move nearly 100 cars before an evening filled with galas, the highlights of RM's annual Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook auction included the sale of the 1953 Chrysler "Thomas Special" coupe designed by Virgil Exner and built by Ghia for $858,000 and of a Murphy-bodied 1929 Duesenberg Model J convertible sedan from the collection of the late John M. O'Quinn for $825,000;
- Where those Saturday evening galas included the first Legacy soirée at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, where nearly 600 people paid $500 a plate to enjoy the company of Legacy honorees Lee Iacocca, Richard Petty, the son of the aforementioned Exner (Virgil Jr. also is an automotive designer of note) and Jay Leno - and of unexpected but very much welcome guest Sergio Marchionne, who now runs Chrysler as well as Fiat;
- Where what turns out to be the last Concours at Meadow Brook featured an absolutely stunning array of classic cars - including (hey, after all, this is Motown) a special class for A/FX drag racers, the "factory experimental" cars of the late 1960s that were the predecessors to what we know as Funny Cars, which at 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon all revved their engines for a couple of crowd-pleasing if ground-shaking minutes;
- Where Joe Bortz, the Chicago-based Indiana Jones of 1950s concept car dream machines, unveiled the now completely restored 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne that he found in pieces scattered around a Detroit area auto salvage yard;
- Where two best-in-show awards are given (hey, after all, this is Motown), with the best-in-show for vehicles produced off-shore going to a 1938 Talbot-Lago 150-C teardrop coupe (see photo) owned by the "Off Brothers" (Bill Johnson and Ron Elenbaas) Collection in Richland, Michigan, and the best-in-show domestic award to a LeBaron-bodied 1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton (see photo) that was the only Duesie ever sold new in Detroit and which now is owned by John D. Groendyke of Enid, Oklahoma;
- Where, the day after the event, the Concours d'Elegance of America announced that after 31 years in Rochester, Michigan, at Meadow Brook Hall, 110-room, 88,000-square-foot former home of the widow of one of the Dodge brothers, the show will move to Plymouth, Michigan, a western suburb of Detroit, and the Inn at St. John's, a former Catholic seminary converted into a hotel and conference center.
And Now, On to the Monterey Peninsula:
- Where the 60th Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Alfa Romeo and of the Indianapolis 500-mile race, the 75th anniversary of Jaguar, the 50th of the Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta, in addition to special classes for Pierce-Arrow, cars designed by Ghia, hot-rod "lakesters," Bonneville speed racers and pre-war American motorcycles;
- Where that Alfa Romeo centennial display will include seven cars from the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo, the Alfa museum in Italy, as well as a 1910 A.L.F.A. 24 HP to the brand new Bertone-designed Alfa Romeo Pandion concept;
- Where the Concorso Italiano celebrates its own 25th anniversary and everything Italian - including the Zagato Perana Z-One, a flock of Fiat 500s of all vintages, a Ferrari F40 reunion, and even former Ferrari designer Leonardo Fioravanti and the cars he's designed;
- Where the pre-Pebble Beach schedule includes the Motorworks Revival (Wednesday at the Monterey Jet Center), The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering (Friday at The Quail Lodge), and the aforementioned Concorso Italiano (also Friday at the Laguna Seca Golf Ranch), half a dozen classic car and motorcycle auctions (see below) and the inaugural Monterey Motorsports Reunion at the Mazda Raceway (nee Laguna Seca);
- Where the sixth annual Pebble Beach Motoring Classis, a nine-day, 1500-mile vintage car tour that starts at Seattle and ends on the Monterey Peninsula, will include the oldest Mercedes-badged vehicle still on the road - a 28-horsepower, 1903 Mercedes Simplex from Arturo an Deborah Keller's collection;
- Where auction action at Monterey includes Bonhams & Butterfields at The Quail, the second MidAmerica Vintage Motorcycle auction at Pebble Beach's RetroAuto, and:
- Where Russo and Steele celebrates its 10th anniversary with an auction that includes the 1971 Trans-Am series-winning AMC Javelin campaigned by Roger Penske and Mark Donohue, a couple of Shelby Cobras, primo Ferraris and Corvettes and classics including an Auburn boatail speedster;
- Where Mecum's consignments include a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Competizione Berlinetta, a 1936 factory stainless steel Deluxe 2-door sedan, the first 1967 Corvette RPO L88 and Bing Crosby's 1966 Aston Martin DB6;
- Where RM's expanded format opens with a special sale Thursday of historic Fords consigned by the automaker to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and The Children's Corner and continues with such outstanding vehicles as "pontoon fender" 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rosa, 1931 Bugatti Type 51 factory Grand Prix racer and a 1955 Jaguar D-type;
- Where Gooding & Co. lineup includes a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider, 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta hot rod, 1955 Maserati A6G/54 Berlinetta with Zagato bodywork and a 1995 McLaren F1.
In Other Classic Car News:
- The Simeone Museum in Philadelphia stages its second "Legends of Motorsport" event on Saturday, August 7, and will exercise its Roger Penske/George Wintersteen Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, with Wintersteen on hand to talk about how he acquired the car from Penske and about the 1966 U.S. Road Racing Championship season in which he raced the historic vehicle;
- For the first time in the 24-year history of the Goodguys' West Coast Nationals at Pleasanton, California, muscle cars will be included on the field August 27-29 with Goodguys staffers seeking potential 2010 Muscle Car of the Year award nominees;
- Fifty-six cars participated in the 16th annual Millers at Milwaukee Vintage Indy Car Event staged by the Harry A. Miller Club (see photo);
- General Motors has donated a vintage crash test dummy - 50H-1, an Anthropmorphic Test Device -- to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History;
- We sometimes forget that RM, world-famous for its auctions, actually started as a classic car restoration business and still is among the best at such work, as evidenced from the fact that the Talbot Lago that won best-in-show honors at Meadow Brook, as well as that concours' Most Elegant Award-winning 1933 Duesenberg Beverly Sedan by Murphy and "The Art that Moves Us" award-winning 1930 Stutz SV-16 by Weyman went through restoration at RM's facility in Blenheim, Ontario.
Now that www.classiccars.com has launched its gigantic classic car calendar, instead of listing a few upcoming events here, we're simply closing with a link to the searchable calendar with all the bells and whistles, including maps to guide you to the events: Click here for event calendar.
Click here for more articles by Larry Edsall.