Concours d'Elegance of America at St. John's

The 42nd annual Concours d'Elegance of America at the Inn at St. John's was a celebration of art, design, and technology by showcasing a diverse array of classic, rare and magnificent automobiles. Over two hundred of the world's most spectacular contributions to automotive history were on display with featured classes that included Detroit Collections, Cars of the Jet Age, Muscle Cars of 1970-1971, The Wedge, 100-Point Classics, Supercars, and Drag Cars. Since 2016, the concours have honored individuals who have made a significant impact on the event and the historic world of automobiles. This year's honorees were Judge Joseph C. Cassini (Collector of the Year) and Moray Callum (Enthusiast of the Year).

History and News
The event began over four decades ago at Oakland University's Meadow Brook Hall, the historic, Detroit-area home of Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of automotive pioneer John Dodge. In 2011, it moved to a new location at the Inn at St. John's in Plymouth, Michigan where its expansive 18 hole golf course provided ample space for the concours to 'stretch its legs' and grow further. With fine dining, two regal ballrooms, over twenty distinct meeting rooms, a two-story Atrium room, and hotel rooms for guests, the St. John's location has provided all of the qualities and amenities to foster the growth and evolution of this world-class event. In March, the event made three significant announcements - the first being a partnership with Hagerty Insurance. 'The Concours d'Elegance of America is a premier event in the home of American car culture, and we couldn't be more honored to have the opportunity to help make it even better,' said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty. The second announcement was a change in venue to the Detroit Institute of Arts in the cultural epicenter of the country's automotive capital. The third announcement was rescheduled from July to September. 'This move honors Detroit's heritage as a hub of commerce, industry, design, and culture. We couldn't think of a better place to recognize the automobile than the Detroit Institute of Arts. It, and its 65,000 works of art, serve as the perfect backdrop as we celebrate the automobile – another signature achievement of mankind,' said Hagerty.

Concours Day
This year, the event enjoyed spectacular sun-filled skies on concours day. While sunny on Sunday, the previous day had been plagued by rain. As many areas of the golf course were flooded and the ground completely saturated, organizers switched to 'plan B.' So in its final year at the Inn at St. John's, the concours was forced to trade the lush, well-manicured lawn of the golf course for the parking lot. It was a necessary, but very unfortunate change, as it lacked the elegance and relaxed ambiance that have greeted automotive enthusiasts in the past. The black asphalt radiated the relentless sun, with temperatures easily eclipsing ninety degrees. Cars sat side-by-side, in various parking lots, located at the front and back of the Inn (a significant walking distance as noted by many), with spectators at the front unaware of the progress of the awards ceremony held at the back lot. As in past years, the awards ceremony was entertaining and informative, but it was far more 'stop-and-go' traffic than its typical smooth 'highway' driving. The anti-climatic announcement of Best of Show - devoid of fireworks, trumpeters, confetti, or even a drumroll - brought an unceremoniously end to the day's activities and the concours's association with the venue. Only mother nature was to blame, as it was clear that everyone associated with the event had gone 'above and beyond to make 'lemonade from lemons.'

Best of Show
The Concours d'Elegance of America awards two 'Best of Show' awards - one for the most significant and elegant 'American' and the other 'Foreign' automobile on the show field (or parking lot). This year, those honors were bestowed upon the 1937 Cadillac Series 90 Cabriolet owned by the Patterson Collection and a Vignale bodied 1953 Ferrari 250MM Spyder (chassis 0260MM) owned by the 'Cultivated Collector.'

Both of these vehicles were Paragons among their peers, with the Cadillac's elegance personified by its long and swoopy proportions reinforced by teardrop styling cues and sixteen-cylinder engine. The chassis was delivered new to Lausanne, Switzerland, to be bodied by Carrosserie Hartmann per an order by local resident Philippe Barraud, a wealthy playboy of the 1930s. Barraud wanted an outrageous, bespoke automobile to suit his stylish lifestyle. Stretching 22 feet in length, the car was designed in the sweeping cabriolet style of the Delahaye built by Figoni & Falaschi for the 1936 Paris Auto Salon. The car soon suffered several accidents, possibly because its size was unsuitable for small European roads, and it was permanently parked in 1939. More recently, it received a meticulous restoration that brought it back to its original configuration wearing its original off-white paintwork with distinctive gray body stripe and fender skirts.

At approximately half the size of the Cadillac, the Best of Show 'Foreign'-winning Ferrari was admired for its subtle and gentle coachwork, three-liter Colombo-designed V12 engine, rarity, and racing pedigree that included a victory at the Pebble Beach Road Race in the Sports Car class in the hands of the legendary racer, Phil Hill. In their April 1953 issue, Road and Track magazine stated that this was the fastest car they had tested to date. Along with being successfully campaigned by Hill throughout the 1953 racing season, this Series 1 Vignale Spyder was Ferrari's New York Salon car in 1953.

Looking towards the future
Like many, we are cautiously optimistic and hopeful about the event's future as it embarks on a new chapter, trading the suburbs for the city center. The move from Meadow Brook to St. John's proved to be a strategic and prosperous decision, allowing the event to grow and mature by adding seminars, galas, and various events in one location that had not been possible in the past. The plentiful greenery of the golf course easily accommodated several hundred vehicles, allowing the concours to paint the canvas with many classic, rare, and magnificent automobiles. Event organizers have proven that 'change is good,' endowing us with optimism that the new location will retain the ingredients that have made it among the greatest concours events in the country while introducing new features that will raise it even further amongst its peers. Only time will tell. But for now, we bid farewell to the Inn at St. John's as we prepare to welcome the many new (and dare we say 'exciting') changes in the event's future.