If you want stodgy, you might want to steer clear of the Concours d’Elegance of America later this month. Oh, sure, the 300-vehicle showcase will include the usual array of American and European classics. And, yes, there will be an entire class of Model J Duesenbergs.
This being Detroit’s own concours, there also will be special classes celebrating the anniversaries of the Ford Mustang and of the Pontiac GTO.
Now in its 36th year, and its fourth at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan, this event has long been recognized as one of the nation’s most prestigious concours — in most eyes joining Pebble Beach and Amelia Island as the Big Three of American concours.
One thing that sets this event apart from others is the way the organizing and car selection committees like to spice up the show field. This year that means a special class for drag racing motorcycles — several of which carry two and even three engines — as well as a set of 10 High-Style Haulers: Pickups of the Jet Age.
The organizers promise the 300 or so vehicles on display will be the most diverse in the concours’ history. For example, in addition to the typical concours categories, there will be a class for pre-1916 motorcycles, a class called “Racing Through the Ages,” a class to celebrate the anniversary of Lamborghini’s first production cars (after years of manufacturing farm equipment), and three classes featuring cars designed by Virgil Exner when he led the styling department at Chrysler.
And because the committees found a bunch of cars that really didn’t fit into any specific class, they created a “Special Display” category that will include a Ghia Supersonic-bodied 1954 Fiat 8V, the Alexander Brothers’ 1965 Dodge Deora concept, a 1931 Ford Model A ice cream truck, a 1934 Ford V8 sedan delivery, the 1997 Laird, a 1935 Hoffman X-8, and a car that the Historic Vehicle Association will present as the fourth to be included on the National Historic Vehicle Register, a joint project of the HVA, the Library of Congress and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Oops, almost forgot, there’s one other vehicle in that special grouping — the 1953 Weber racing boat.
But wait, there’s more… at the concours’ media preview day Tuesday, it was announced that the “Evolution of the Sports Car” will be documented with an array of 36 vehicles spanning nearly 100 years and multiple continents.
For the first time, a car collector is being singled out and honored, which means inaugural Enthusiast of the Year honors for Oscar Davis, who will display five cars from his new museum, each of them a 1 of 1: his 1937 BMW 328 Mille Miglia “Buegelfalte,” 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 “B” Touring Spyder, Figoni et Falaschi-designed 1938 Talbot Lago, Zagato-bodied 1954 Maserati A6G 2000 and 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Speciale.
Also new this year is a fourth charity beneficiary as Yatooma’s Foundation for The Kids joins Hospice of Michigan, Leader Dogs for the Blind and the College of Creative Studies.
The concours takes place Sunday, July 27, and again will feature the Sirens of Chrome, live models wearing historic gowns previously seen only at auto shows.
While the concours takes place Sunday, there are activities that fill the weekend calendar.
On Friday, there is an art exhibition, a couple of tours — one involving a caravan of cars and the other via charter motor coach, a German-oriented car show, a concert in the park and the preview of RM’s Motor City auction.
The art exhibition continues Saturday, when the auction takes place, as well as a Concours d’LeMons for “oddball, mundane and truly awful machines,” an Italian car show, a High Heels & Wheels gala, and seminars on the value of unrestored cars, on whether to preserve or restore, and a design seminar featuring Virgil Exner Jr.
For more information, visit www.concoursusa.org.