PLYMOUTH, Mich. — The 37th annual Concours d’Elegance of America was held at The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth on Sunday, July 26. What a hot day it was, not only the temperature outside but the hottest, most elegant cars on the planet. There were over 300 of the most significant cars of the world that were showcased here.
Bruce Meyer was awarded the “Enthusiast of the Year” at this years’ show. As a renowned collector, he had some of his cars on display such as his 1957 Ferrari, 1962 Shelby Cobra, 1937 Bugatti, 1929 Bentley and the 1934 Ford Pierson Brothers Coupe. He acquired the 1934 Ford Pierson Brothers Coupe in 1992 and restored it to its 1950 configuration. Bruce Meyer is the founding Chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.
Walk with me and my husband from AmericaJR.com as we take a journey through the elegance and history of the automobile as we point out our favorites and some interesting exhibits.
Let’s begin with the 1985 Pontiac Trans Am Kammback station wagon. The Pontiac Firebird was recognized as one of the neatest Pony cars ever built. This Firebird station wagon was a concept car built by Pontiac Motor Division. It was labeled the “K” car for Kammback. The car never saw production but two models (one gold and one silver) were specially constructed in Italy for GM’s Design Vice-President David Holls. It had two gull-wing doors that a gave access to the rear cargo area. The Kammback Concept was used as the official pace car for the 1985 PPG and IMSA race series.
The 1947 Bentley MK V1 convertible was introduced in 1946, just after World War II. The body is by Rolls Royce, as it was dubbed one of the most beautiful cars in the world. It was built for French Industrialist, Monsieur Gudol and was exhibited at the 1947 Paris Auto Show.
The 1967.5 Datsun SRL 2000 Convertible Roadster was interesting. In 1963 Datsun launched the SPL3100, one of the first of the Datsun sports cars to offer left-hand drive. It also features a unique sideways rear seat, suitable for the smallest occupant. The Datsun 2000 was labeled as a bargain sports car. A well-tuned stock Datsun 2000 was capable of cruising at 120 mph and making better than 30 mpg.
Donald Healey made his mark in the 1920’s as an ace rally driver and formed the Donald Healey Motor Company Ltd. in 1945. His first sports car was the Silverstone, named after Britain’s then-new Grand Prix track: Silverstone. On display was the red 1950 Healey Silverstone Roadster. It is powered by a 2.4 liter Riley engine and had a welded chassis and Healey’s own trailing arm independent front suspension. This car can reach speeds of 110 mph and accelerates from 0-60 mph in 11 seconds.
There was quite a selection of old, vintage hearses on display which I thought was a fascinating exhibit for the show this year. The 1893 Cunningham Carriage Hearse began with a cost of $12,000. It features unique rectangular glass towers at each corner, capped with an acorn-shaped cupola, swelled plate glass side windows and a large doved ornament in the center of the roof.
My favorite vehicle was in the Gaslight Section prior to 1915. It is the 1909 Austin Model 60. The Austin Automobile Company of Grand Rapids built this vehicle and was in business from 1903 through 1920. The Austin Model 60 was in the Chicago Auto Show in 1909 and this vehicle sold at the Auto Show for $5,000 to Charles Herbst in Lima, Ohio. There have been three owners since new and is currently housed at the Stahl’s Automotive Collection Museum in Chesterfield, MI as the fourth owner. I spoke to Terry from Stahl’s and she said it had a 141 inch wheelbase supported by an inline 6 engine.
“This vehicle is the only one left in existence and it is all original, not restored. The Amish did the wood exterior and interior of the car. There is a 784 cubic inch engine with a four-speed transmission, rear wheel drive and rear mechanical drum brakes,” added Terry. After World War I, the company fell victim to the post-war depression. It is estimated that around a thousand Austin vehicles were produced by the company during its lifespan.
My husband’s favorite was the 1928 Stutz. Originally called the Ideal Motor Car Company, Stutz built cars in Indianapolis beginning in 1911 and grew famous for its high performance roadsters. He talked to Plyllis, the owner of this vehicle and she said the Stutz brothers were race car drivers. They continued to build cars that were fast and sporty, then added luxury cars in the 1920’s. This car is a 299 cubic inch overhead cam eight-cylinder engine with a 131 inch wheelbase.
“There is a dual split cowl which opens to get into the rear seat,” says Phyllis. Her car gets eight to nine miles per gallon, gets up to 110 miles per hour and she’s had it for 20 years. Stutz Motors eventually went out of business in 1931 after the 1929 stock market crash. “It sold for $8,000-$10,000 back then, but now could sell for $250,000-$400,000, added Phyllis.”
From its beginning in the 17th century in France, the Concours d’Elegance has evolved into a tradition of showcasing classics, rare and exquisite automobile from around the world. If you are a car enthusiast like I am, you would enjoy it.
For more information about the Concours D’Elegance of America, visit their website at: www.concoursusa.org.