Eye Candy: San Marino Motor Classic

Photos by Howard Koby

At the historic Rose Bowl and the Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena, California, the Los Angeles Concours d’Elegance staged its inaugural event May 21, 2006, featuring more than 250 antique, classic, exotic and vintage automobiles being judged in 31 classes. For an added treat, KABC’s “Motorman” Leon Kaplan broadcast his popular radio show surrounded by all the beautiful cars.

Someone on the advisory committee said, “Pebble Beach maybe the pinnacle, but that is in Northern California and we hope to bring the same kind of event to Southern California.”

The Los Angeles Concours continued only to 2009. In 2011, co-founders Aaron Weiss, Ben Reiling and Paul Colony established The San Marino Motor Classic as a successor. The 2011 edition was a hybrid of a Classic Car Club of America Concours d’Elegance and is held at San Marino’s best-kept secret, Lacy Park, a 30-acre lush green span with a woodsy surround in the middle of a posh residential area.

For 2014, the theme was “Design in Motion” and the event featured 22 classes of cars with more than 200 examples including Brass Era, Depression Era, Post-War luxury and sports cars beautifully showcased on the expansive lawn.

Jerry Rosenstock who was Chief Judge in 2006 is still on the podium and had his work cut out for himself with about 70 honored judges to choose class winners and best of show. ABC’s Eye Witness News automotive specialist Dave Kunz and noted commentator and racing expert Ed Justice Jr. handled the emcee task with finesse and a touch of humor.

One of the most prized awards at the show is the Paul Cerf Memorial Award (CCCA- first won by Phil Hill with his 1931 Pierce-Arrow in 1955) which this year went to Fred Lax for his stunning 1934 Auburn Phaeton Saloon Coupe.

Best of Show Pre-War honored John Muckel for displaying his superb 1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton and Best of Show Post-War went to a beautiful black-on-black 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster done by Hjeltness Restoration Inc.

I must say the Duesy surly deserves Best of Show (I even picked it), but my favorite vehicle was the 1913 Mercer Type 35-J Raceabout (once owned by Phil Hill) presented by the Petersen Automotive Museum. This gem was built by C. G. Roeling, who also constructed the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City (where I’m from) and is believed to be the most original Mercer Type 35-J in existence.

Proceeds from this year’s show benefit the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA, the Petersen Automotive Museum and the Rotary Club of San Marino. For more infomation, visit www.sanmarinomotorclassic.com .

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