PLYMOUTH, Mich. — On Sunday, we celebrated the 40th annual Concours d’Elegance of America in Plymouth at The Inn at St. Johns. There were more than 300 of the world’s most elegant vehicles that featured the beauty of art with spectacular styling and design of each car present.
I had the privilege of speaking with Steven Plunkett about his 1958 Pontiac Parisienne. He said it was built in Canada for the Canadian market. The options include a high-performance 348 cubic inch, Tri-power V-8 engine, power steering, power brakes, automatic transmission and bucket seats.
“The Parisienne has a “sportable” AM transistor radio, which is removable. Only 759 Parisienne Convertibles were built in 1958. The Canadian Pontiac Parisienne is similar to the American Bonneville. But the Parisienne is built with a Chevrolet chassis and Chevrolet drivetrain; and the Bonneville has a Pontiac engine,” says Plunkett.
“It probably get 10 mph and uses Super gas. There are no custom features on this car, just standard. One unique thing about this car is the Trinidad carpet which is sparkly,” added Plunkett. I happen to like it a lot.
This car has been restored six years ago and took two years to restore. “The dashboard is unique with lots of chrome and detail.”
AmericaJR’s Jerome Rzucidlo spoke to John Fields, the restorer of the 1931 Buick Series 90 Roadster. He said this Buick took six years to restore and was taken down to the frame, including the nuts and bolts. “The metal and wood rotted and the owner, David M. Landow, was very particular and made sure everything was perfect.”
“This was the first year for the straight 8. It has a 3-speed transmission with a 132 wheelbase and a 345 cubic inch engine. It was sold new in Iowa and had a total of three owners since 1931,” added Fields.
“This Buick burns leaded fuel and gets 8-9 mpg. There is an accessory trunk and side-mounted spares. One spare on each side. The smaller lights in the front of the vehicle turn with the wheels. The Kelsey Hayes spoked wheels is an accessory. This vehicle has snap on side curtains and is not a convertible. A convertible has roll-down windows.”
Another interesting car was the 1911 Pope Hartford Model W. It first appeared in 1903 renowned for its durability and performance. The Model W was introduced in 1911 powered by 450 cubic inch four-cylinder T-head engine; favored by racers.
Bert Dingley averaged 65 mph to win the 165-mile race. The Pope Hartford has 36-inch wheels and a 124-inch wheelbase. It has a removable rear deck with twin-folding jump seats. It has multiple spare wheels for racing. It also features lightweight patent leather spats between body and frame. This powerful Pope-Hartford is one of the most thrilling speedsters of the era. It is owned by Mark Hyman.
The 1909 Sears Motor Buggy was another vehicle I thought was unique. In 1908, Richard Warren Sears, founder of Sears Roebuck & Company in Chicago, Illinois stated “this motor car is truly here to stay, it’s time we made money from it.” The selling price was $395 and was popular with women and farmers. The motor was 14 hp with two cylinders. It was easy to start. The gas tank holds 5-6 gallons and can reach a top speed of 25 mph. Sears would ship the Motor Buggy in a wooden crate with one gallon of oil. Assembly consisted of attaching the four wheels and adding the oil and gas. They sold 3500 units and approximately 200 still survive today.
Some highlights of the Awards Ceremony were:
- Most Photogenic Award: 1939 Packard Super 8 Convertible
- Best in Class in the Gaslight Class: 1910 Ford Model T (Tin Lizzie), 1912 Havers 6-44, 1911 Pope Hartford Model W, 1903 Packard F
- Best in Class Motorcycles: 1930 Indian, 1969 Triumph, 1938 Indian
- Best in Class Jazz Age: 1919 Pierce-Arrow Model 66A-4
- Best in Class American Classic: 1938 Cadillac 60 Special
- Best in Class American Post War: 1956 Lincoln Premier, 1956 Chrysler New Yorker, 1964 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special, 1956 Continental Mark II
- Enthusiast of the Year: Mark Reuss. He drove up in a 1959 blue and white race car, which made a lot of noise. Mark’s first car was a 1967 Camaro that he bought for $1,300 which he fixed up in his dad’s garage. Today he leads the design, engineering, safety, quality, research and development of GM vehicles as EVP of Global Product Development at General Motors.
What a glorious day. The weather was perfect. Today for one day, we step back in time to marvel at the designers and engineers who produced some of the world’s most beautiful machines. If you are a car enthusiast or just a spectator, the Concours d’Elegance is the place to be. Which car do you want to take home?
For more information about the Concours d’Elegance of America, visit www.concoursusa.org.