Cincinnati Concours d'Elegance

The 45th edition of the Cincinnati Concours d'Elegance featured the 75 Years of Porsche, the 70th anniversary of the Chevy Corvette, and 85 years of the Volkswagen Beetle. Several hundred vehicles in twenty-three classes were carefully arranged on the ample lawns of Ault Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, surrounded by blooming flowers and sun-soaked vegetation. The deceptive skys showed warmth and sunshine but quickly changed its mind after most of the cars had been arranged on the show field, letting loose several weeks of stored rain. The skies watered thirsty lawns and left the once shiny sheetmetal to its solitude as everyone left to seek shelter. When weather reports promised a few hours respite, a truncated awards ceremony began in earnest, forgoing the usual 'parade,' replaced by a brief announcement of the award, award winner, and name of its owner. The announcement of Best of Show was equally muted, trying to outpace the impending deluge. The crowds had come to see these automotive sculptures and to find which was the best of the best. With little time, the ceremony concluded, and a champion had been crowned - two actually, one for 'elegance' and another for 'sport' (Best of Show Concours d'Elegance and Esprit de Sport).

The inaugural Cincinnati Concours was held in June 1978 on the estate of William and Helen Williams. After nearly two decades at various locations in the Greater Cincinnati area, the Concours adopted Ault Park as its permanent venue in 1996. The show day was also changed at this time, from Father's Day to the second Sunday in June. The Cincinnati Concours d'Elegance Foundation was formed in 2006 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization to manage and produce the Concours. All proceeds benefit the Arthritis Foundation with a focus on supporting their Juvenile Arthritis (JA) programs.

The Cincinnati Concours d'Elegance is one of the longest-running automotive celebrations of its kind in the country, celebrating its 45th year of operation. It is the longest-running event outside of the West Coast and the fourth oldest overall in the United States.

Best of Show Esprit de Sport
The award 'Esprit de Sport' was bestowed upon a 1954 Cunningham C-3 Coupe owned by the Cogan Collection of Louisville, Kentucky. It is the second to last of around twenty C3 Coupes completed by Cunningham, is powered by a Chrysler Hemi V8 engine, and was once owned by Briggs Cunningham's grandson Robert.

Briggs Swift Cunningham was a racing enthusiast from his early years and, in fact, imported the first racing Ferrari to America. His quest for winning at the 24 Hours of LeMans included many cars from Cadillac, Corvette, Jaguar, and even those he built. The C-3 was purpose-built to be raced at LeMans, but rules indicated that the constructors of cars also had to offer road cars to the general public. Between 1952 and 1956, approximately 19 or 20 coupes and 4 cabriolets were built at a cost new in excess of $10,000. Vignale coachworks of Turin, Italy, built the bodies using a design by Giovanni Michelotti.

The car shown at Ault Park was the penultimate C-3 Vignale Coupe which returned from Vignale to the Cunningham plant near the close of 1952. The first owner was R.L. Parish of New York City, who ordered the vehicle with the optional Ford radio and heater. Following a crash in 1964, the car was repaired and sold to Paul Rawn, who also owned the Cunningham C-3 Cabriolet (chassis 5441). William Cattell purchased the car in 1974 and treated the Cunningham to a total restoration. Upon completion, it appeared in Car Classics magazine in April 1977. Robert B. Cunningham owned the car until 2000. Following a more recent restoration, the car was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2015.

The 331 cubic-inch Chrysler 'Hemi' V8 engine breathes through four Zenith downdraft carburetors and produces 235 horsepower. The complicated trans-continental assembly line had the C-3 shipped from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Italy, where the Vignale body was fitted. It was then shipped back to Florida for final detailing and sale.

From a show field filled with many 'sporty' automobiles, from the numerous Chevrolet Corvettes and the German automaker Porsche, many with racing pedigrees, the judges selected the Cunningham as their favorite. For its elegance and its motorsport lineage, the Cunningham was a worthy recipient of this prestigious award.

Best of Show Concours d'Elegance
Perhaps the barometer of a quality event, one that surpasses attendance and ticket sales, is when there is no clear winner for Best of Show. In the author's humble opinion, several vehicles could easily have been crowned Best of the Best. The car that ultimately won was deserving and had recently won Best of Show at a recent event, but it was a hard-fought battle for the judges' admiration amongst a well-curated field of automotive gems.

For the second time this year, Richard and Helen Harding of Beavercreek, Ohio, received 'Best of Show' honors for their 1928 Auburn 8-115 Boattail Speedster. 1928 was the first year for the Auburn Speedster, and they were one of the iconic automobiles of the 1920s, with raked windshield, doors and hood louvers that personified speed, complemented by the 'boat tail' rear end. The sporty persona was matched by its performance, proven through land speed records set both in the United States and in Europe.

The Auburn Speedster was exclusive, with as few as 226 examples built in Auburn, Indiana, in 1928. The owner's father found this example in 1992, resting peacefully in a cacoon of weeds in New Paris, Ohio. The years that followed were spent searching for parts and materials. With the task complete, the current caretaker began a frame-off restoration, completing all the work himself, with the exception of paint and upholstery. The work was completed in 2021.

Although weather reports had warned that rain was imminent, most entrants embraced the threat of moisture and showed their vehicles regardless. A vast army of volunteers remained throughout the day, ensuring smooth and fluid operation for everyone in attendance. Finally, eager enthusiasts dawning umbrellas and ponchos soldiered through the elements, giving credence to the hard work of the show organizers and the dedication of entrants. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, the event was over, the crowds scattered, and the cars quickly traded the grass for tarmac, some finding shelter in trailers while others stretched their 'weary legs' on the open road. The 2023 Cincinnati Concours concluded.

2024 Cincinnati Concours
The 2024 Cincinnati Concours d'Elegance will celebrate Italian Style - La Dolce Vita! (the 'the sweet life'), Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg, and the 60th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang.

Vehicle information, history, and specifications from concept to production.