For the past 32 years, automotive devotees have flocked to beautiful Meadow Brook Hall, once the elegant manor home of Horace and Matilda Dodge, to attend the Concours d'Elegance of America. Yet the absence of area accommodations and limited show space at the impressive location eventually became obstacles the organizers had to address.
For 2011, this most prestigious gathering of pre- and post-War American and European classics moved to the Inn at St. John's in Plymouth, Michigan. The former Catholic Church retreat provided a stunning backdrop for the gathering of more than 325 invitation-only vehicles.
The three-day event began Friday morning with the First Annual Concours Track Event held at Michigan International Speedway. To celebrate 100 years of the Indy 500, owners of the 30-plus Indy cars in attendance were allowed to drive the two-mile high-speed oval. The afternoon featured a motoring tour of the beautiful Plymouth countryside.
The highlight of Saturday's schedule was the RM Auctions classic car auction. Sales totaled $7.6 million, with 71 vehicles crossing the block. The top sale of the day was a 1932 Packard Twin Six Custom Convertible Sedan at $1.1 million. A 1939 Pontiac Plexiglas Deluxe Six "Ghost Car" built especially for the 1939-1940 Worlds Fair fetched a selling price of $308,000, including fees.
Participants and attendees at Sunday's Concours enjoyed sunny skies and warm temperatures. Featured classes included an Auburn V-12, several Duesenbergs, and an array of pre- and post-War Lincolns. Mercedes-Benz celebrated its 125th birthday with a collection of classics spanning much of the company's history. The 1949 Cadillac limo displayed was once featured in Automotive Traveler.
In addition to the Indy 500 cars, several significant drag racing cars were on exhibit. Among them was Jack Chrisman's 1967 Comet powered by Ford's short-lived but highly successful 427-c.c. SOHC V8. Also present was a 1962 Pontiac Catalina Super Duty, tuned by Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac dealership in Royal Oak, Michigan. Pre- and post-war Chevrolets were abundant, celebrating Chevrolet's upcoming 100th anniversary.
Custom car enthusiasts were also treated to a number of past Detroit Autorama Ridler Award winners. One of the most memorable was Robert Massaron's 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible--named the Venturian A--which had been the 1965 Ridler winner.
Capping Sunday's schedule were the two best-in-show winners. John D. Groendyke's stunning 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ won the domestic category. Arturo and Deborah Keller took home top honors in the imported class with their 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier.
Judging by increased attendance along with more cars on display, the 2012 Concours d'Elegance of America should be on everyone's calendar next July. --Joseph Babiasz
Automotive Traveler would like to welcome photographer Stephen Williams to its ranks of contributing artists. His photographs of this event are available for purchase in the Automotive Traveler/Fotki Image Gallery.
1938 Mercedes-Benz Autobahn Kurier owned by Arturo and Deborah Keller, Best of Show, Imported
1933 Duesenberg Model SJ owned by John D. Groendyke, Best of Show, Domestic
1912 Mercedes Town Car Laundauet owned by Rudolf Kamper
1929 Duesenberg Model J Town Car by Derham owned by William Driest
1930 Lincoln L Series Sports Roadster owned by Gene and Ann Nau
1933 Auburn V-12 Speedster owned by James and Margie Cassani
1934 McQuay-Norris Streamliner by Hill Auto Body owned by the Lane Auto Museum
1936 Packard 120 Cabriolet owned by Mickey Moulder
1938 Miller Indy Car owned by Gordon Fuhr, one of 30 Indy cars on display celebrating 100 years of the Indy 500
1948 Tucker Torpedo sedan owned by Ted Stahl
1949 Cadillac Series 75 Limousine by Schwartz owned by Linda and Richard Kughn
1955 Studebaker Commander hardtop owned by Greg Ornazian
1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible "Venturian A" by Builders owned by Robert Massaron
1957 Buick Caballero Estate Wagon owned by James Sears
1957 Ford Fairlane 500 retractable hardtop owned by Paul and Suzanne Etheridge
1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser owned by Bill and Barbara Parfet
1957 Nash Ambassador Custom Sedan owned by Rich Mills
1960 Dodge Polara owned by Richard Baruk
1961 Devin S owned by Chris Wright
1962 Pontiac Catalina Super Duty Royal Bobcat owned by Bob Knudsen
1963 Studebaker Avanti owned by Craig Piper
1964 Amphicar 7-70 convertible owned by Bill and Lynne Golling
1965 AC Cobra Mark II roadster owned by Robert and Thomas Kurtz
1967 Mercury Comet Flip Top Funny Car owned by Jim Barillaro
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A owned by Stephen Bleizeffer