The third time was a charm.
During an award ceremony at a car show last weekend, actor Ed Herman attempted to bestow a special award to a car that he had chosen. As the Maserati drove up, Herman started to read the notecard describing the car, only to realize that he was reading the wrong card. This happened two more times until he was given the proper card.
Such hiccups weren’t enough to diminish the quality of the 19th annual Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, which, since 1995, has been held in the leafy enclave of Greenwich Connecticut. Given its location at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, overlooking Greenwich Harbor, the two-day show feels more like a garden party than a car show.
That said, the concours has a bit of a split personality. Because the field is small, Saturday’s show highlights American cars, while Sunday is given over to foreign cars. Sunday is usually the more popular day, and this year was no exception. With clear blue skies and temperatures in the upper 70s, it’s little wonder that the field was packed.
Taking best in show honors on Saturday was a 1935 Duesenberg SJ Dual-Cowl Phaeton owned by Sonny and Joan Abagnale. One of 37 supercharged models built, Abagnale’s car was originally a La Grande and was later rebodied as a sedan. When the car was restored in 2009, it was returned to its original form.
The following day, a 1930 Minerva AL convertible, owned by Joseph Cassini III and Margie Cassini took best in show. Its stunning looks come courtesy of Belgium coachbuilder Van Den Plas. Tipping the scales at more than 6,000 pounds, it was no speed demon; its engine produces a mere 125 horsepower.
Beyond the award winners, the field was filled with interesting and rare cars; such as a 1907 Fiat Targo Floria racecar built by Fiat to compete in the 1907 Targo Floria and the only one known to exist.
There also was a 1913 Franklin Model M Dirt Track Racer powered by an air-cooled, six-cylinder engine rated at 32 horsepower. On the cuter side was the 1939 Mercedes Benz 170 V Roadster and a 1937 Ford Eifel Roadster that was as adorable as a basket of kittens. Built by Ford in Germany, it was hidden under haystack during World War II.
Of course, roaming the field and gazing on such rare and exotic motorcars is enough to give anyone car-buying fever and Bonhams auction house was on hand to scratch the itch. Bonhams’ seventh annual auction of cars, motorcycles and automobilia at Greenwich produced sales in excess of $8 million dollars – eclipsing last year’s sale by more than 40 percent, and boasting a sale rate of more than 93 percent.
The sale also established new records, including a 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP 400 ‘Periscopica’, which sold for more than $1.2 million, double its presale high estimate. On the other end of the spectrum was an all-original 1973 Volvo 1800ES Sport Wagon with 13,000 original miles. Originally expected to fetch between $30,000 and $40,000, it sold for $92,000 – a new world record for a Volvo.
But it’s little wonder that one of the nation’s most exclusive suburbs would host a show equally as exclusive and spendy. And this year, as in years past, it proved to be a great way to kick off the summer car show season.