37th Annual Concours d'Elegance of America at St. John's

37th Annual Concours d^Elegance of America at St. John^s July 2015
The 37th annual Concours d'Elegance of America, established in 1978, celebrated a gathering of 300 significant cars on the beautiful green at the Inn at St. John's. This year, the featured classes included Vintage Bentley, Auto Show '55, Bonneville Streamliners, Cars of Bruce Meyers, Hearses, Bizzarrini, and Dream Cars of the 1980s.

Auto Show '55
The 'Auto Show '55' group celebrated the beginning of the jet age, excessive chrome, tri-tone colors, and high-compression V8 engines. World War II was in the rear view mirror, the Eisenhower economy was beginning to boom, and credit was easily accessible. The market was diverse, offering a stylish alternative for those seeking family-friendly station wagons or flamboyant convertibles. The vehicles were stylish, the future was bright, and sales reach 8.7 million cars and trucks for 1955. That total would not be surpassed until 1965. Claiming 94% of the market share were Detroit's 'Big Three', with General Motors taking the top honors as number-one producer. Sitting side-by-side at this year's event, were nearly a dozen of the finest examples of 1955 vehicles. The list included a Chrysler 300, a Kaiser Manhattan, a Packard Caribbean, and a Studebaker President. The judge's favorite in this group was a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air owned by Robert Chauvin, followed by the Chrysler C300 owned by W.K. Laird.

Perhaps never before seen at a Concours events was the 'Hearse' group. A ride in a hearse, for most of us, is expected to be our last. The early Hearses were often quite elaborate, as demonstrated by the 1893 Cunningham funeral coach built by the Cunningham Coach Company of New York. It was produced for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair at a cost of $12,000, and was purchased by the Blake Funeral Home of Detroit. Currently it is part of the Detroit Historical Society's collection. It was used for funeral processions until 1915.

Motorized hearses began to appear during the first decade of the 20th century. Many of the early motorized hearses were mainly powered by electric motors, as they were quiet, dependable, and easier to start without the hand-cranking required by early internal combustion engines. The exterior coachwork often imitated the designs of horse-drawn carriage hears with very ornate Victorian details such as hand-carved columns and drapery panels. These motorized Hearses were often 2 or 3 times more expensive than a horse-drawn carriage, coupled with the natural conservatism of the funeral industry, meant that horse-drawn and motorized hearses coexisted for quite some time.

This year's concours event brought a great history of Hearses, from the 1893 Cunningham Carriage Hearse to a 1959 Superior-Cadillac Crown Royale Landaulet. Perhaps the most ornate and elegant was the 1916 Winton and built by Crane & Breed, which was the foremost professional coachbuilder of the time. They manufactured and distributed a full line of funerary materials, including coffin nameplates, plumes, undertaker supplies and caskets. It was originally purchased by a livery company in New Jersey. The car was later stored in a horse barn in the mid-1920s. It was eventually purchased by the current owner and treated to an extensive restoration.

Enthusiast of the Year - Bruce Meyer
Automotive collector Bruce Meyer is well known and respected by all in the hobby and the industry. His collection is diverse and vast, from Duesenbergs to dragsters, from Cobras to Corvettes, and from Indians to Indy cars. This year he brought a Shelby Cobra, a Ferrari 625 TRC, a Bugatti Type 57, and a Bentley 4.5 Litre. The Cobra is CSX2001, the first production Shelby Cobra built and among the initial 75 delivered to the dealers in 1962. Although not included in the 'Cars of Bruce Meyers' group, he also brought a 1934 Pierson Brothers Ford Coupe, which was a stunning addition to the 'Bonneville Streamliners' group. From its first outing with the Pierson Brothers in 1949 to Tom Bryant's final run at Bonneville in 1991, this HOT ROD magazine cover car was featured in virtually every performance publication of its day. Its aggressive 9-inch chop, innovative hand-craftsmanship and advanced mechanics made the one-of-a-kind race car a stand-out amongst its peers!

Japanese Sports Car
Japanese sports cars are becoming very collectible and highly sought after. As very few examples were imported into the United States, they are incredibly hard to find. Examples that are in great condition are demanding top dollar at auctions. This year's event brought six spectacular examples, including two Datsuns, a Nissan Fairlady Z432, an Isuzu 117, a Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO, and a Hino Contessa 1300S. The most elegant, as chosen by the judges, was the 1967.5 Datsun SRL 2000 shown by Shant Saroukhanian. It is considered a 'mid-year' example, making in one of the most desirable. Features include the earlier lighter body and rare optional Solex carburetors. Unencumbered by the forthcoming strict emissions standards, the 1967.5 models are sought after by collectors. It is believed that fewer than 1,000 of the SRL 2000 models were sold in the United States, and fewer than 100 are currently known to exist.

Vintage Bentleys
Early Bentley's served double duty, as they competed in motor sports and in the luxury car segment. Ettore Bugatti referred to the Bentleys sarcastically as 'the fastest lorries in the world.' In comparison to the small, lightweight vehicles that he produced, the Bentley's were larger, heavier and often more powerful; capable of winning races. The company was founded in 1919 by W.O. Bentley who was known for his World War I rotary aero-engines. The company was also well respected for its racing success. In the 1930s, Bentley was at the top of the British sports car market, with only a few competitors - primarily Bugatti and Hispano-Suiza. In 1931, Rolls-Royce acquired Bentley and has been owned by Volkswagen since 1998.

This year's event included several wonderful examples of early Bentleys including the 3-, 4.5-, 6.5-, and 8-liter models. The earlier models, the 3, 4-1/2, and Speed Six built Bentley's reputation primarily on their racing prowess. The 8 Liter was a departure in that it was built primarily as a large luxury car to compete with the Rolls Royce Phantom II. It was available with 144 or 156 inch wheelbases, with 6 cylinder 8 Liter overhead cam engine having 4 valves per cylinder, dual side draft carburetors and twin ignitions producing over 200 horsepower.

The 3 Liter cars won Le Mans in 1924 and 1927, the 4-1/2 in 1928 and the Speed Six in 1929 and 1930.

The most elegant Bentley on the show field was 1925 Bentley 3 Litre shown by Todd & Peggy Nagler who purchased the car in 1975. It wears a Vanden Plas Tourer body and has been toured extensively on car rallies i the U.S. over the past 40 years.

Best of Show
Two best of shows were awarded, one for 'American' and one for 'Foreign.' The 'American' title went to a 1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton by Murphy shown by Charles E. Letts, Jr. Murphy was a popular choice for Duesenberg owners, and the car owned by the Letts is one of only three Dual Cowl Murphy-bodied Phaetons. Duesenbergs were built between 1913 and 1937, and they were some of the most luxurious and innovative cars of their time. The Model J Duesenberg was regarded as the most outstanding motor car of the day; the chassis alone cost $8,500. It was by far the most expensive car in America. Depending on the coachwork, the price could reach $20,000; A staggering sum at a time when a new family car cost around $500.

For the 'Founder's Trophy: Best in Show – Foreign', the judges found their favorite in the 'European Classic Pre-War group.' The 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante shown by Jim Patterson was crowned as the most elegant Foreign car on the show field. Few cars are as synonymous with Concours d'Elegance as Bugatti's masterpieces, illustrated by this extremely rare Atalante Coupe. Its sleek, aggressive coachwork is perfectly complemented by the low Type 57S surbaisse chassis. The car features a 200 horsepower, 3.2-liter DOHC supercharged inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, live axle front suspension with semi-elliptical leaf springs, live axle rear suspension with reversed quarter-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel drum brakes.

It was completed on July 23, 1937, finished in black with pigskin upholstery. It has received a comprehensive restoration, with several items returned to original. It was the 'Best of Show' at Pebble Beach in 1976, and has a well-documented history from new. It is, without question, the very definition of art in motion.

The Concours d'Elegance of America
The Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance was moved in 2011 to the Inn at St. Johns in Plymouth. This new location has helped spawn and expand additional shows and events held in conjunction with the concours. RM Sotherby's auction held their Motor City auction where they generated $7.4 million in sales. A 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Dual-Cowl Phaeton earned the top sales honor with a selling price of $852,500. Other events included the TDC/AIG Motor Coach Tour, the Hagery Motoring Tour, an Art Preview, a Concert in the Park in Downtown Plymouth, MI, the Kip Sheward Motor Sports Autobahn Night, Cocktail receptions, Lecture series, Concours d'Lemons, 'Italian Happening' car show (a very impressive gathering of Italian car shows), and the Northville Concours Preview party.


1905 White Model E  
1909 Austin Model 60  
1909 Sears Model H  
1909 Thomas Flyer 6-40  
1911 Ann Arbor Convertible Touring  
1912 Simplex Model 38  
1913 Peerless Model 48-Six  
1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost  

1919 Ford Model T  
1922 Haynes Model 75  
1923 Detroit Electric Model 97B  
1924 Rolls-Royce 20 HP  
1924 Studebaker Light Six  
1927 Studebaker Model EU Standard Dictator  

1928 Auburn 8-88  
1930 Auburn 8-95  
1930 Cord L-29  
1932 Auburn 8-100A  
1933 Auburn Model 12-165  
1936 Auburn 852  
1936 Cord 810  
1937 Cord 812  

1929 Duesenberg Model J  
1929 Duesenberg Model J Murphy  
1932 Duesenberg Model J  

1929 Buick Series 129  
1929 Durant Model 4-40  
1930 Chrysler Series 66  
1931 Chrysler CM Six  
1935 Chrysler C-1 Airflow  
1935 Studebaker President  
1936 Ford Model 68  
1936 Hudson Custom Eight  
1937 Graham-Paige Series 116  
1937 Studebaker Dictator  
1938 Buick Series 40 Special  
1941 Ford Deluxe  
1941 Ford Super Deluxe  
1942 Lincoln Zephyr  

1926 Franklin Model llA  
1929 LaSalle Series 328  
1930 Franklin Series 147  
1930 Packard Series 733 Standard Eight  
1931 Cadillac Series 452-A Sixteen  
1931 Lincoln Model K  
1933 Packard 1005 Twelve  
1934 Buick Series 90  
1936 Pierce Arrow Town Car Prototype  

1928 Packard Model 443 Eight  
1928 Stutz Model BB  
1929 Packard 645 Deluxe Eight  
1930 Cadillac Series 452A V16  
1930 Pierce Arrow Model B  
1931 Chrysler CG Imperial  
1931 Lincoln Model K  
1931 Marmon Model 16  
1931 Packard Model 840 DeLuxe Eight  
1932 Chrysler Series CL Imperial  
1932 Packard Model 906 Twin Six  
1933 Stutz DV-32  
1934 Cadillac Model 355-D Eight  
1934 Packard 1104 Super Eight  
1935 Packard 1201 Eight  
1935 Pierce Arrow 1245 Twelve  
1938 Buick Series 40 Special  
1938 Packard 1605 Super Eight  
1940 Packard Custom Super-8 One-Eighty  

1925 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost  
1930 Lancia Lambda 8th Series  
1934 Hispano Suiza J12  
1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante  
1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K  
1937 Peugeot 402 Darl Mat  
1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B  
1938 Lagonda LG6  
1938 Steyr 220  
1938 Talbot-Lago T23  
1939 Rolls-Royce Wraith  

1940 Kurtis Kraft Midget  
1941 Ford Pappy Wood Sprint Car  
1947 Haller Essex Sprint Car  
1948 Kurtis Midget  
1949 Kurtis Kraft Midget  
1950 Kurtis Sprint Car  
1958 Kurtis Kraft Midget  
1960 Hillegass Sprint Car  
1962 Watson Sprint Car  
1963 Knight Midget  
1968 Edmunds Midget  

1962 Chrysler 300H  
1962 Dodge Dart  
1962 Ford Galaxie  
1963 Chevrolet Impala Z11  
1963 Ford Galaxie  
1963 Shelby Cobra Dragonsnake 289  
1964 Dodge 330 Lightweight Superstock  
1964 Ford Galaxie 500  
1965 Mercury Comet Cyclone BFX  

1948 Buick Series 70 Roadmaster  
1948 Chrysler Town and Country  
1948 Tucker 48  
1950 Nash Statesman Series 40  
1953 Buick Series 70 Roadmaster  
1953 Hudson Hornet  
1953 Pontiac Chieftain  
1956 DeSoto Fireflite  
1957 Pontiac Bonneville  
1960 Mercury Park Lane  
1961 Chrysler 300G  
1963 Studebaker Avanti R2  
1968 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado  

1966 Ford Mustang  
1966 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350  
1967 Chevrolet Camaro  
1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 KR  
1968 Mercury Cougar  
1969 Pontiac Firebird  
1970 AMC Javelin  
1970 Chevrolet Camaro  
1970 Mercury Cougar  
1970 Plymouth Barracuda  
1971 AMC Javelin  
1971 Plymouth Barracuda  
1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am  

1950 Healey Silverstone  
1952 Jaguar XK 120  
1953 Nash Healey Pininfarina  
1953 Woodill Wildfire  
1954 Arnolt Bolide  
1954 Fiat 8V  
1958 Austin-Healey 100-6  
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06  
1964 Jaguar XKE E-Type  
1967 Ferrari 330 GTS  
1967 Shelby Cobra 427  
1969 DeTomaso Mangusta  
1973 Ferrari 246 Dino  
1975 Lancia Stratos HF  

1947 Bentley Mark VI  
1947 Delahaye type 135 M  
1953 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn  
1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S  
1964 Jensen C-V8 MK II  
1972 Mercedes-Benz 600  
1974 DeTomaso Longchamp  

1950 Ferrari 275S/340 America  
1957 Kurtis 500X  
1957 Maserati 250S  
1959 Ferrari 250 GT Interim  

1955 Buick Roadmaster Series 70  
1955 Cadillac Sixty Special Fleetwood  
1955 Chrysler C-300  
1955 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer LaFemme  
1955 Ford Station Wagon  
1955 Kaiser Manhatten  
1955 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight  
1955 Packard Caribbean  
1955 Pontiac Star Chief  
1955 Studebaker President  
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air  

1955 Chevrolet Corvette C1  
1955 DKW Souderklasse  
1955 Ford Thunderbird  
1955 Porsche 356  
1955 Sunbeam Alpine MK III  

2001 Lamborghini Diablo VT 6.0  
2005 Ford GT  
2008 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione  
2011 Lotus Evora  
2013 Superlite SLC-R  
2014 Ferrari LaFerrari  
2015 Alfa Romeo 4C  
2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S  
2015 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante  
2015 BMW i8  
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06  
2015 Dodge Viper  
2015 Polaris Slingshot SL  
2015 Porsche 918 Spyder  
2015 Superlite SLC  
2016 Jaguar F-TYPE R  

1966 Bizzarrini 5300 Spyder S.I Prototipo  
1968 Bizzarrini 5300 SI Spyder  

1929 Bentley 4.5 Litre  
1935 Bugatti Type 57  
1957 Ferrari 625 TRC  
1962 Shelby Cobra  

1903 Marr Runabout  
1914 Buick Cycle Car  
1915 Buick D55 Twin-Six  

1893 Cunningham Carriage Hearse  
1916 Winton Hearse  
1934 Pierce Arrow Arrowline 836A  
1937 LaSalle 510-C  
1938 Packard Formal Town Car Art-Carved Hearse  
1954 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood  
1959 Cadillac Crown Royale  

1927 Ford Modified Roadster  
1929 Ford Hot Rod  
1932 Ford Hot Rod  
1934 Ford Hot Rod  
1936 Ford Hot Rod  
1951 Tom Beatty Belly-Tank Lakester  

1924 Bentley 3 Litre  
1925 Bentley 3 Litre  
1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre  
1929 Bentley 6½-Liter  
1931 Bentley 8-Liter  

1980 Ferrari 512 BB  
1981 DeLorean DMC-12  
1982 Ferrari 308i GTS  
1982 Porsche 911 Turbo  
1984 Aston Martin V-8 Lagonda  
1984 Lamborghini Countach  
1985 Rolls-Royce Campargue  
1986 Ferrari Testarossa  
1986 Porsche 959  
1988 Porsche 928  

1966 Hino Contessa 1300S  
1967 Datsun 2000  
1970 Datsun 240Z  
1970 Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO MR  
1971 Nissan Fairlady Z 432  
1979 Isuzu 117 Series 3  

1933 Dymaxion Car  
1934 Ford Brewster  
1950 Bentley Mark VI  
1955 Cadillac Elegant Special  
1985 Pontiac Trans Am Experimental  

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