The Greenwich Concours 2013

Splendor on the Grass

California has Pebble Beach, Florida has Amelia Island, and Italy has Villa d’Este. All are tempting world class Concours d’Elegance events. Each represents a significant expenditure of time and money. What’s a car show junkie to do? If you live in the northeast, consider Connecticut’s annual Greenwich Concours d’Elegance. Listed as a must-see in 1000 Places to See before You Die, it is a two-day extravaganza modestly described as a Festival of Speed and Style.

Greenwich mallard

The eighteenth annual Greenwich Concours, held last weekend in Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, under sweltering blue skies, has a pleasant but somewhat schizophrenic personality. Day one features American classics. Day two focuses exclusively on international marques.

Event creator and concours major domo, Bruce Wennerstrom, lays out circular car corrals that serve as a way to define the often-inventive classes. Think of a clock dial with cars facing nose out at the numbers and you’re there. This layout works well for spectators, because the car owners are generally seated behind their cars. This arrangement allows the curious to pepper owners with questions or praise their prizes. Also helpful are the license plate shaped signs placed on or near each car. These identify the marque, year, model and owner. Want to know what the heck that shiny red car is? A peek at the plate answers most of your questions. The near-by owner will supply the rest.

Greenwich ID plate

On Saturday, I arrived well before the official 10AM starting time and was greeted by a nearly full across-the-street parking lot (free, thank you very much) and a display field chock-a-block with gawkers, picture takers, certified car geeks and dozens of beautiful American cars. Where to start? The hissing antique smoking away on my right turned out not to be my dyspeptic Uncle Sol but a 1910 Stanley Model 48 Touring car. Want a 103-year-old high mileage hybrid? There it was. Walking through the maze of half-century through century-old cars and car owners, some of whom were decked out in period-correct costumes, felt much like living in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, novel.

Greenwich period costumes

Block-long Packards, Lincolns, Cords, Auburns and Buicks rubbed fenders with more common Fords, Chevys and Plymouths. All the while, I looked through rose-colored glasses for Daisy Buchanan.

Greenwich

But the show wasn’t only oldies but goodies. More modern sporty cars like Cobras, Corvettes, Pontiacs and Mustangs were featured and their fans flocked to these modern icons, all wearing the car-appropriate cap or t-shirt (sometimes both).

Greenwich Corvette

There was even a concours perfect 1964 Checker Marathon on display, oddly in brilliant silver metallic and not the expected taxicab yellow.

As often happens at a concours, one example grabs your attention and draws you in. That happened to me with a silver pre-war Cadillac 90 Convertible. Shimmering in the sun, gleaming like the Standard for the World that it used to be, it beckoned and I responded. As I stood transfixed before this commanding automobile, a fellow graybeard engaged me in conversation and waxed poetic about the car’s lines, body details and in-your-face presence. He personally owned a Packard of a similar vintage but grudgingly admitted that this Cadillac was something special.

 Greenwich Caddy

If your taste runs to red white and blue cars, Saturday at Greenwich is your day.

As interesting as it was, I suspect that the typical MMR Community member (if there is such a thing) would have been more excited by the field of dreams displayed on Sunday. With Porsche, Ferrari, and Mercedes corrals along with British, French and Italian, there was something for every taste, age or automotive inclination.

Mercedes Style

I enjoyed the Ferrari and Porsche circles most; fascinated by cars like a 1965 alloy bodied 275 GTB coupe, 1947 Ferrari 159S Corsa Spyder, 1970 Porsche 914-6, 1984 Porsche 911 SC/RS and a 1957 Porsche Speedster—any of which I would have loved to drive home and park in my garage.

Greenwich Porsche

The Elegance portion of Concours d’Elegance was not neglected because you couldn’t swing your tweed cap or paisley ascot without hitting a vintage Bentley, Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz or Aston Martin. The 1951 Bentley MK VI Saloon, of Dennis and Ann Marie Nash, was the Brit-car that stopped me in my tracks and had me thinking about the joys of bangers and mash and warm Harp lager. I may have even murmured, “…Pip, Pip Old Chap” to a perfect stranger.

Greenwich Bentley

There were also more prosaic (read affordable) vehicles like a tiny Fiat Jolly, a homely Trabant P50, a jaunty Nash Metropolitan, and a Mini-Cooper-sized Fiat Multipla Taxi, each accompanied by its proud owner.

Greenwich Triumph

For fans of cars from Her Majesty’s homeland, fear not—you were not ignored. The field boasted several Jaguars, three Triumphs, a few MGs, a couple of Moggies and even a Sunbeam Tiger.

Greenwich British Cars

Alongside the Concours d’Elegance, auction house Bonhams had two tents packed with temptations and if I had a few million to drop, there was a black Bugatti Type 43 that would have followed me home.

at the auction

Saturday’s Best in Show was a 1914 Locomobile owned by Nyle Blanck. Sunday’s big winner was James Glickenhaus’ 1947 Ferrari 159S Corsa Spyder. It earned both the Best in Show and Grand Marshall’s award.

<pGlickenhaus double award winner

Bruce Wennerstrom, and his late wife Genia, founded this event in 1996, their goal was to celebrate great cars and raise funds for their favorite charity, AmeriCares. Clearly, they have been successful on both counts.

If you love seeing great cars in a dramatic and exciting setting, pencil in the Greenwich Concours on your calendar for 2014. It is only a year away.

Bruce being interviewed