John D. Groendyke, Bill Warner honored at 41st Concours d’Elegance of America

Bill Warner's 1952 Muntz Jet at the Concours d'Elegance of America in Plymouth, Mich. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

Plymouth, Mich. — The 41st Annual Concours d’Elegance of America returned to the the beautiful setting of The Inn at St. John in Plymouth, Mich. on Sunday.

The annual event celebrates the history, styling, art and design, and technological advances of the most sophisticated automobiles in the world.  There were about 250-300 automobiles showcased yesterday.

The 2019 Collector of the Year was John D. Groendyke;  William “Bill” Warner was chosen the Enthusiast of the Year;  and Wayne Carini was the Grand Marshall.

I spoke with Ben Burnham-Fleck regarding his 1923 Cole Series 890 two-person coupe which was built in Indianapolis.  The company built only 41,000 cars from 1909-1925.  There are 77 cars left today.  “They built only one of the Series 890 and I own it,” says Burnham-Fleck.  He told me the car cost $3,500 back in 1923.

“This model has a V8 engine and is the first 90-degree V8 built in 1915 by Northway with detachable aluminum heads.  It is a stick with three gears.  The top speed is 65-70 mph and has 12,435 original miles.  It also gets 20 miles to a gallon.  We use marine fuel because if it sits, regular gas can corrode the gas tank and fuel lines.  If, say, you broke down, it has a detachable light to work on the engine at night,” he explained.

“Cole was ahead of the game.  This car was used as a test car for new technology.  There are two spare tires in the back to show off the balloon tires which was showcased at the New York Auto Show.  There is a button inside to open the cowl ventilator for air conditioning.  There is also a shade inside the rear window.  What is unique is, it has a golf club door designed to hold two golf clubs located on the side of the car.  The turn signal is located on the left side on the rear of the car.  These turn signals weren’t mandatory until the late 30’s or early 40’s,” added Burnham-Fleck. 

This was also the first time attendees in metro Detroit could see the all-new 2020 Chevrolet C8 mid-engine Corvette. The vehicle made its official debut last week in Tustin, California. It will go from 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds with a price tag just under $60,000. There was a huge line to see the new sportscar.

Another interesting vehicle that caught my eye is the 1931 Chrysler CJ which was built in August 21, 1930 in Detroit.  This brown and beige two-tone was shipped to Minneapolis to be sold to its first owner.  It was an instant hit at the dealership.  The hydraulic brakes, dual side-mounted spares and side windows made it a prestigious model.  This is his first Concours showing.

The purple Muntz Jet was produced by Muntz Car Company in Glendale, Calif., from 1949 and 1954.  Some considered the Jet to be one of the first personal luxury cars.  Many celebrities owned Muntz Jets and this one is believed to have been the personal car of Hollywood icon, Grace Kelly.

Each year brings new car participants of collectors and owners showing their magnificent automobiles.  I’m sure a wonderful time was had by all.   Mark your calendar now for July 26, 2020.  See you next year.


Ben Burnham-Fleck regarding his 1923 Cole Series 890 two-person coupe which was built in Indianapolis. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

Inside the 1923 Cole Series 890 two-person coupe owned by Ben Burnham-Fleck. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

“What is unique is, it has a golf club door designed to hold two golf clubs located on the side of the car,” Burnham-Fleck said. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

“This model has a V8 engine and is the first 90-degree V8 built in 1915 by Northway with detachable aluminum heads,” Burnham-Fleck said. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

Another interesting vehicle that caught my eye is the 1931 Chrysler CJ which was built in August 21, 1930 in Detroit. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

The all-new 2020 Chevrolet C8 mid-engine Corvette made its first public debut at the Concours d’Elegance of America. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

Huge line to see the all-new 2020 Chevrolet C8 mid-engine Corvette. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

Stay tuned for more great photos…


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